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Top 10: Rear-engined classic cars

There was a time when the idea of having a rear-mounted engine was... well, if not the norm, then certainly far from unusual. Back in the 1960s, the choices seemed endless, and this now-alien layout was exceedingly popular. But there was a price to pay then, and today, the compromises seem even more marked. A rear-engined car can come with some rather unpredictable handling characteristics, for a start.

The simple truth is that a car with its engine behind the rear axle isn’t nimble, and could bite back in the wrong circumstances. But is that likely to bother the owner of a low-powered Fiat 500? Of course not. In fact, in some cases it can add to the overall character and enjoyment of the car. So let’s celebrate ten of the greatest rear-engined classics offered to us over the years, each one now a tempting choice on today’s classic car market. From just £2000 (or even less), rear-engined classic fun is easily achieved.

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Fiat 500

Of all the rear-engined Fiats, the ‘Nuova’ 500 of 1957 is the most iconic. Measuring just under ten feet in length and boasting a 479cc (later upgraded to 499cc) two-cylinder air-cooled engine, this smallest Fiat is now a cult classic, which has meant soaring prices.

Even the most commonplace models (like the late-model 500L) will command decent money in excellent condition, whether all-original or restored to a high standard. Rare versions attract strong money too, including the useful 500 Giardiniera estate.


WilliamRead    on 9 October 2017

Having driven many thousands of miles in a Skoda 130GL 1988 - 1990 and a Rapid 1990 - 1993 I did not experience any problems with the handling of the car. I think that duff handling could be entirely avoided by careful driving... I would buy another rear engined car without hesitation. Strange that many Porsche and all F1 cars are rear engined... and seem to suffer no handling problems on the autobahn or the racetrack.

peter hughes    on 9 October 2017

Trust me I have owned a Fiat 500 L for thirty years and yes they jolly well can be viscous,rear wheels tuck under oversteer is fast brutal and very hard to control.... a slippy corner or a bit of diesel on the roundabout and.......

I have owned numerous 911's and while the early ones- pre impact bumper- were a predictable hoot on relatively high profile tyres the first impact cars and the 930 Turbo's certainly were not. My more modern iteration is so planted I would be going at silly speeds to find any real characteristics

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