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Resurgence of interest in running a modern classic

Recently Bobbin posted about running a classic alongside a newish every day car. How about a modern classic for an every day car?

More and more buyers are shunning anodyne modern motors in favour of old cars updated to deal with modern driving.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/classiccars/8796564/Classic-cars-reborn.html

Comments

Bobbin Threadbare    on 16 October 2011

I really like this idea. I need to start buying lottery tickets in the hopes of getting myself a Jensen Interceptor...!

Engineer Andy    on 16 October 2011

For those of us getting near the "mid-life crisis" age, definately safer than buying a 200mph motorbike, but likely to hit your wallet alot harder!

An [now retired] ex-colleague of mine restored an Aston-Martin DB5 - it looks & goes lovely and is no doubt worth a small fortune, but I wonder how much he had to spend to get it that way (it included fitting a new engine!). Great weekend car for tootling around the leafy lanes in the shires!

A rep I know has been painstakinly doing up (including fitting a much bigger engine and beefier brakes) a VW camper van over the years - seems to be the in-thing at the moment!

Our firm's IT manager has a restored mini cooper and loves it.

For me (for an everyday car), I'd probably go for a completely restored Audi Coupe Quattro (the very last ones with the smoked rear lights) - as a teenager in the 1980s, I always dreamed of owning one (before Audi drivers [as did BMWs] developed a poor reputation in the eyes of the rest of the driving public) - think Ashes to Ashes!

For a "weekend car", hmmm...that's more difficult. Something I could waft in comfort around in, but with a bit of poke when I needed it - maybe a 90s Jaguar XK coupe (not the soft-top) or Honda S2000 (after they fixed the steering). Not that many [reasonably] comfortable drivers cars around from the 1980s that haven't already bit the dust. Maybe I'll just use the Audi all the time! Anything old would need some serious cash and TLC!

Edited by Engineer Andy on 16/10/2011 at 20:44

corax    on 16 October 2011

For me (for an everyday car), I'd probably go for a completely restored Audi Coupe Quattro (the very last ones with the smoked rear lights) - as a teenager in the 1980s, I always dreamed of owning one (before Audi drivers [as did BMWs] developed a poor reputation in the eyes of the rest of the driving public) - think Ashes to Ashes!

Good choice, but I bet Audi still haven't reduced their parts prices on older cars. This was a real bugbear of mine. I had an '86 90 Quattro. Probably the best car I've ever owned. Fanatastic noise from the 5 cylinder engine and it's excellent mechanical K Jetronic fuel injection, amazing traction, comfortable, reliable and full of character. But things like £60 for the cardboard shielding between the engine and side mounted rad annoyed me, especially as it was doomed to fail again at some point.

I think you'd see a lot more classic Audi's on the road if the manufacturer had made them more affordable to keep going.

As for running a modern classic - a Citroen 2CV with a subaru flat four engine. Or a Morris Minor with VAG 1.8T. Or a Volvo 850 T5 with a rear drive conversion - those mean square looks and engine, coupled with no torque steer. Perfect.

Trilogy    on 16 October 2011

"Anything old would need some serious cash and TLC!"

Depends how old aand to an extent the make and model. Depreciation on most cars and the money needed to find the replacement e.g. 3-5 years later would probably be far greater than the expenditure on the classic car, especially if its a modernish one, like a 205GTi, Mk2 Golf GTi, W124 Mercedes, Mercedes 190, Mk1 MX-5, 1980s BMW 3/5series, original Saab 900, 1980s Audi Coupe Quattro, Citroen CX, Reliant Scimitar GTC/GTE, Escort XR3, Porche 911, Citroen 2CV, Lancia Beta etc

craig-pd130    on 16 October 2011

I did this for just over two years in the mid-90s: I ran a BGT V8 as my everyday car (work commute, business trips etc).

More than capable of keeping ahead of traffic, and quite comfortable on a run, plus the V8 throb .... wonderful.

But after two years, it lost the feeling of being special, of being an occasion when I drove it ... and the constant drip-feed of cash to keep it on the road got wearying.

It was in excellent nick when I got it (previous owner had paid loads to restore it), but even so it still needed regular bits ... new fuel pump, new front calipers, propshaft UJs, a head gasket etc etc.

No matter how much has been lavished on an old car, no matter how well restored, they're always expensive to keep running, whether in daily use or not.

richardcroft    on 16 October 2011

A mate had the aforementioned Scimitar GTE in the 80s. Just a one owner car in lovely condition. Regularly it achieved 30 mpg. He tells me he spent quite a bit on it before selling it to buy a Renault 5 GTX. He lost more £££ on the Renault in a year than he spent on the Reliant in 2 years.

Some you win, some you loose.

Mutton Geoff    on 17 October 2011

I have recently done this with a TR5 I bought this summer. I followed someone's advice to uy the most expensive example I could find on the basis that any money spent further improving the car would never be recouped. The previous owner gave me a shoebox of recent renovation invoices totalling almost double what I paid for the car.

Even compared to my partner's 2003 Fiesta, the TR5 handles worse, doesn't have any mod cons, the heater is rubbish as are the lights, the wipers, the gear change, the brakes, the road adhesion/handling & the fuel economy. As it has a separate chassis, motoring is accompanied by an orchestra of squeaks and rattles. It shows how far car design has come in the last 30 years but it is extremely good "fun" to drive, turns heads everywhere, feels like it's doing 100 when the speedo reads half that and has me seeking out A & B roads to avoid the motorways. Altogether it's brought some fun back into motoring where I thought there could no longer be any and with fingers crossed, should not lose too much money or perhaps even appreciate a little if I look after it given the rarity of the model.

I can highly recommend it as an alternative to getting 2% interest on your money in the bank!

davecooper    on 17 October 2011

Who cares! Give me a Mk1/Mk2 Lotus Cortina or a Mk1 Escort Twin Cam and I'll put up with all the problems. Failing that, a Lotus Carlton would be nice!

Mutton Geoff    on 17 October 2011

> Mk1 Lotus Cortina

These are going for some silly money approaching £30k now.

madf    on 17 October 2011

I grew up running these "modern classsics" as everday cars.

They were not too great to drive when new, were often unreliable and rusted badly..

If upgraded with modern tyres and brakes and electronic ignition , they may be OK but would I ever want to drive one in bad weather? Nope...

They were awful in snow - as well.. at least most were.. and wipers were often inadequate..

Great for sunny days, forget frost , rain and snow.. they don't go...

Edited by madf on 17/10/2011 at 15:53

Sofa Spud    on 17 October 2011

A dose of reality here: £18,000 for a Morris 1000 Traveller?

OK, I have a soft spot for them, I learned to drive in one, it was our family car at the time.

But durable they are not. The steel body rusts, the woodwork rots, the front suspension collapses...... I suppose if you take the approach of the hammer that's had 3 new heads and 5 new handles, then the Morris Traveller could be called durable.

Environmentally friendly? Well, 40 mpg from its petrol engine is quite economical but it's only something like 48 bhp (if I remember right).

The restorers might rebuild the cars to a higher standard than the original, with better rustproofing etc, plus upgraded components, but it's still no match for, say, an early example of a diesel Ford Escort Mk 3 Estate (60 mpg), which itself would now be a classic - if there are any left!

I'm not decrying the idea of refurbishing Morris Minors, so much as questioning whether any of the claimed benefits of running one as everyday transport really stand up. Better to just say 'I love Morris Travellers and so I put up with all the foibles.'

Avant    on 17 October 2011

If you're going to run a 'classic' you have to want one very much, for mostly illogical reasons, and you have to be prepared either to spend forever fettling it or paying someone else to do it for you at vast expense.

But I can quite see why people do want one: I was tempted myself three years ago when I could afford a fun car. I loved the idea (and still do) of one of the last 2-litre Triumph Vitesse convertibles (the ones where the handling had been improved from lethal to risky). But I'm no mechanic, and I realised that an MX-5 or a Z3 would give me less fun in some ways but a lot more in others.

Three trouble-free years in a Z3 have followed, and even if it starts to get expensive now it'll have been a lot less trouble than a Vitesse would have been. And it passes my basic test for a fun car - that it should have an engine with at least six cylinders.

jamie745    on 18 October 2011

Lets be honest older cars are generally quite poor, if they were the pinnacle of motoring engineering then we'd have stuck with it but we didnt. Are they better to drive? No. Are they more reliable? No. Are they better equipped? No. Are they even cheap to buy now? Not at all. Things like the Ford Capri may be a great classic car but to want one you'd have to want it for its image and culture, rather than the vehicle itself. The more modern incarnation, the Ford Cougar, is a much better vehicle but because it wasnt a Capri it never caught on.

Alot of people think they'll like the basic old style motoring of a 4 speed manual and only 6 fuses but on a cold morning when a heated screen would be very useful is when reality sets in. I think the biggest progression in car making was the 90s and 00s. Some 80s cars were way ahead of the 60s and 70s mob but its remarkable how quickly engineering came on in the 90s, you can pick up 15 year old cars now which arent that different nor feel that dated compared to todays cars.

Trilogy    on 18 October 2011

Are they more reliable? No. Are they better equipped? No. Are they even cheap to buy now? Not at all.

Some are more reliable. It depends on the make.

Good job they are less well equipped. Do I need auto climate, auto wipers and lights, dpf, dsg and all sorts of electrical gubbins which makes modern cars so expensive if and when they go wrong? No. And expensive low profile tyres which are useless in snow. Thinner deeper profile ones are better

Many are a lot cheaper to buy now especially when you factor in depreciation. You can get a very nice Golf GTi MK2 for £3,000. A new one would be around £25,000. You'd lose half of that in 3 years. I doubt anyone would spend £12,000 on a MK2 Golf GTi in that time.

jamie I can see where you're coming from with older classsics with 6 volts etc. Anyway I'm really talking modern classics. I'm surprised the Moggie and Citroen DS were included in the list.

You pays yer ££ and make your choice.

madf    on 18 October 2011

I will tell a little story about running classic cars. In 1970, one sunny summer Sunday morning, my new wife and I saw an immaculate 3 litre Bentlley tourer driving out of Edinburgh - fully laden with three passengers.

Next day we saw pictures of the same car in the paper... a crumpled mess. 3 dead and one badly injured.

A 30 year old anything - will have largescale rust in all body seams and cavities unless exceptionally well protected. Whish means unless totally rebuilt to a VERY high standard, it will fold up in a bad crash..Crumple zones don't work very well when box sections are corroded.. (You cannot of course see inside box sections without an endoscope).

So buyinga £3000 25 years old classic - unrestored and only MOT'd - means you are placing your life and your passengers' lives in potential danger.. if you have a crash.

Some fool slowly hit my 1967 Lotus ELan Coupe in the rear - he apologised as he was so busy looking at the car.. he did not brake soon enough. Only one scratch fortunately. But it makes the point the other drivers on the road are sometimes distracted with old cars.

All very well taking care, it's the muppets in bikes on country roads or the A4 quattro coming round a blind bend on the wrong side straight at you who are the issue.. Happened to me twice..

I would never buy a 30 year old car which has not been fully properly inspected bodily.. And I mean thorughly by an engineer at great expense.

gordonbennet    on 18 October 2011

We bought our MB W124 coupe some 9 years ago, it's now 15 years old and just starting to aquire that older car status, it's been very well looked after and hasn't been without it's problems, but given the time span i'd do it again, it's my daily use car all year round.

I have no intention of parting with it till it falls apart, it does everything newer cars do and in a very compact pleasurable RWD package, it was very expensive new and wasn't exactly a gift at 6 years old either, it's now as cheap to run as a modern Diesel with it's LPG conversion, though it's obviously never seen the inside of a MB dealership in my time.

It can be done, you can run these older cars but you either have to have an honest competent and sympathetic indy nearby or you have to be mechanically minded and prepared to get your hands dirty very regularly.

They need regular rustproofing, good servcing and care.

You cannot buy one of these however well it's been rebuilt and expect to maintain it like a modern car (hardly then), they will not stand it.

They are worth the trouble though if you select the right car for your needs in the first place, not getting the one laden with every extra offered at the time is a good staring point, simple is best.

Research is all important, and before parting with the hard earned, but that goes for new cars too...how many posts have we read here and elsewhere from people complaining that their new car's tyres are expensive or unavailable or the service costs are too high, or the warranty is only useful as toilet paper.

Edited by gordonbennet on 18/10/2011 at 13:17

jamie745    on 18 October 2011

Good job they are less well equipped. Do I need auto climate, auto wipers and lights, dpf, dsg and all sorts of electrical gubbins which makes modern cars so expensive if and when they go wrong? No.

I dont need auto wipers or auto climate but i do want climate control or at least air con, heated screens etc but im willing to push the button myself to make it spring into life.

And expensive low profile tyres which are useless in snow. Thinner deeper profile ones are better

We've discussed the non-merits of big alloys and low profile tyres on here many times before, its even more ridiculous when utilitarian vehicles like the X-Trail are now being sold with such extra's. In fact i recently pointed out i feel the reason my 406 did so well in the snow was due to its smaller wheels and chunky tyres.

In other words i agree with you, so im not sure what we're arguing about.

jamie I can see where you're coming from with older classsics with 6 volts etc. Anyway I'm really talking modern classics.

By 'classics' the images in my mind were of old MG's, Ford Capri Laser's and the like etc. In my post i said 90s cars arent a million miles from what we've got now, which appears to be the sort of era you mean. There are 16 year old BMW 5 series with pretty much everything on it that my S-Type has (except sat nav).

So im still agreeing with you. How delightful.

Edited by jamie745 on 18/10/2011 at 14:08

Falkirk Bairn    on 18 October 2011

For those of you out working and keeping us OAPs in funds there is a programme on BBC1 - Antiques Road Trip. Experts travel 300 miles over 5 days looking for a profit in Antiques and Collectables.

Morris 1000, MGA, TR3, Ford Corsair, and other 50+ year old cars to get around the UK - push starts and regular visits to garages fill most episodes..........not my idea of fun.

jamie745    on 18 October 2011

I have seen one episode as i sky+ed it off BBC HD, i like Antiques Roadshow and Flog It, things like that, but that was a strange program.

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