Top 10: Economical insurance-friendly classics for young drivers
New car buyers have different considerations today than they used to in the past. New cars need to be frugal and cheap to insure – car adverts now feature bold claims about fuel economy, while in the 1980s you’d be told about top speed and acceleration.
It’s all for good reason, though. Fuel is expensive, as is the annual tax disc, and insurance costs never seem to come down. Unfortunately that leaves a lot of wannabe classic car owners, particularly the younger ones, with few places to go – there aren’t many classic or retro cars out there that can be run on a shoestring.
But all is not lost. There are a few cars out there with classic charm that can be picked up cheaply and kept on the road for peanuts, thanks to decent fuel economy and cheap insurance. Click through the gallery to see our selection of fuel efficient cars that also have cheap classic insurance.
Conceived as an economical car from the outset, the Mini is frugal regardless of which engine is under the bonnet. It might not be the fastest little car but it’s arguably the most fun and, thanks to a huge fanbase, there's excellent parts availability.
The same fanbase means Minis of all types have survived well thanks to being cherished and well-loved. That means there are scores for sale – but demand is high so finding a cheap one can be tricky. At least you won’t have giant fuel bills.
The Minor 1000 can be bought for relatively little and sports very appealing styling. As with the Mini, there's brilliant parts availability and plenty of support from the owners'. Fuel economy – as with any car – is down to how you drive but considerate drivers can expect around 40mpg.
Cheap insurance is another benefit Minor owners enjoy, along with simple and easy repairs. It’s a great choice of classic for someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune.
The long story of the Citroen 2CV stretches right back to before WW2 – and early production cars are incredibly underpowered and flimsy. Later models aren’t exactly solid – but at least they can keep up with traffic, as long as you're not afraid of being liberal with your right foot. With only two cylinders and very little weight to haul, fuel economy is good.
Citroen 2CVs have an avid fan club and there are plenty of parts available, plus prices are fairly low, assuming you don't buy one that needs a new floorpan. There are even three-wheeler Lomax kit cars based on the 2CV – so there really is something for everyone.
Another cheap way into classic car ownership is the Austin A30. The cute, lightweight A30 is nimble and is sure to get loads of attention out on the road – but it’s also frugal, simple to maintain, cheap to insure and MoT/VED exempt.
It’s slow, though, so needs modernisation if it’s to be used regularly. Thankfully that’s not too difficult because of its tried-and-tested A-Series engine. Austin produced saloon, two-door, van and Traveller variants.
In the UK the Renault 5 is becoming increasingly rare - many have succumbed to rust or other ravages of time. Indeed just 5300 were registered in the UK at the end of 2011 including second generation models.
The first generation car has more charm, though. Cheap fuel and insurance costs come with the lower capacity cars and not with the crazy Turbo model - as lovely as that would be to own.
There aren’t many Suzuki Whizzkids left in the UK – fewer than 100. In fact, there were never many Suzuki Whizzkids in the UK, but that just adds to the appeal. Power comes from a 970cc engine in UK cars, but those imported from Japan have a smaller 540cc three-cylinder.
The Whizzkid is surprisingly nimble and quick, partly because of the lightweight construction – which also contributes to its decent fuel economy. A fun, left-field choice – if you can find one.
The oddly styled Ami shares a lot with the 2CV. It’s fair to say the Ami looks more conventional but its hardly the most staid and traditional machine. Most have the same flat-twin engine as the 2CV but GS-engined flat-four powered Ami Supers can be found for roughly the same money. But what you gain in performance, you lose in fuel consumption.
Earlier models have strange, reverse-raked rear-windows, which you’ll either love or hate. Later cars are a little more conventional in style - and certainly practical if you go for the estate model.
The ecomomical, practical Fiesta was a bestseller in its day and its successor still tops the sale charts. The mk1 Fiesta was available in the UK from 1977 with engines ranging from 957cc to 1567cc in the exciting XR2.
If you want to keep running costs and insurance quotes cheap you’ll need a Fiesta with a smaller capacity engine which, while fairly cheap to buy, are becoming increasingly rare.
One of the cars that kicked off the surging popularity of the hatchback bodystyle, the Chevette was a practical little thing. It wasn’t just offered as a hatchback, of course – there were estate, van and two- and four-door saloon variants, too.
Britain loved the Chevette when it was in production, but like many once common cars, very few have been preserved and they’re now very rare – but they’re cheap to run, insure and fix if you can find one. And classic insurance is a doddle.
The current Golf is more or less the standard everyone else has to meet when it comes to family cars and it all started here. The shared DNA is obvious – the original Golf was well screwed together, solid, dependable and economical to run.
The fan 'scene' is so unflappably dedicated to keeping Volkswagens going – including the Golf – so it should be fairly to simple to find parts and keep up maintenance. Fuel costs should be affordable too - even on the GTI if you're that way inclined - as should be the insurance.