Everyday classic may be cheap, but that just makes me cheerful


Author: Alastair ClementsPublished:

Regular readers will know that I recently invested a fairly small sum of money in a new (old) classic runabout, because I had become so bored with commuting in a modern. And it's a revelation (except perhaps for the dog).

Several people have since asked me how I managed to come by a bona fide classic with a year's MoT for less than a grand and, while there was – and always is – an element of luck, it was pretty simple. All it took was a saved search on eBay for 'Classic Cars/less than £1000/within 100 miles' and an awful lot of patience. Oh and, as it turned out, a couple of glasses of wine to loosen my inhibitions and stick a £950 bid on a ’79 MG BGT that had stalled at £705.

Somehow, though, now that I have the thing and it has been (sort of) accepted by my wife as part of the driveway furniture, the knowledge that it cost so little makes it more fun. It also has a happy knack of helping me to ignore – or at least not be so bothered about – any niggles that might have stressed me out in a car on which I'd forked out my kids' trust funds.

Yes, I'm aware that the suspension is, erm, how shall I put it, a bit tired, but I wobble and bounce my way into work oblivious to the clunks, squeaks and creaks. I don't even mind the fact that on occasion it just stops for no apparent reason – particularly because it always restarts after a count to five and carries on as if nothing had happened.

That's not to say, I must stress, that I don't care about it. I will admit that, at first, I was rather blasé and a bit over-critical, but I'm starting to fall in love with this tatty bit of faded Abingdon glory. If I can help it, I don't want this to be a disposable classic, either – it's a car I want to keep, hopefully improve a bit, and continue to enjoy using for as long as funds (or my wife) will allow. That said, the realist in me knows that it'll never be a minter, and that makes me much less fussy, which for a daily hack is a very good thing.

It means that I don't look out at a rainy sky, mutter darkly and then take the Ford Focus – the GT's surprisingly reasonable heater blower and wipers, plus its enjoyably limited grip, makes it just as much fun in the wet as it is in the dry...

...Well, almost. Because for me the greatest joy of this car is its Webasto-style roof - so much so that my workmates (well, Page) have started to rib me almost daily for my borderline obsession for a roll-back piece of vinyl. For fellow Webasto obsessives, by the way, it's neither a genuine Webasto nor a Britax, but a 'Weathershield trademark' – which I presume was an aftermarket fitment, but one that was rather better executed than the Britax in a colleague's matching ’79 GT.

I have a feeling that I wouldn't have been so seduced had I been expected to pay more than the insurance premium for my wife's modern on this car, but I didn't, and that has helped me to accentuate the positives. It's a brilliant reminder that, in these straitened times – and when it seems that most of the classics I lust after are moving increasingly out of my reach – you don't need to spend a lot of money to have an awful lot of classic fun.




"...you don't need to spend a lot of money to have an awful lot of classic fun."

Absolutely! Looks like an eminently useable daily driver, and the perfect antidote to the loony sums changing hands these days for classics. Enjoy!

Chris Leopold


Welcome to the fold. In truth, you're enjoying what 'old', read 'classic', cars are all about. The most enjoyable time I had was with my 'old' MGC GT. Bought in 1973 for £675.00, used every day; drove to the artic circle in Norway; used it to move washing machine and furniture to a new flat for my girlfriend; inspired me to help form the MGC Register in the MG Car Club; UPE 677F where are you now? Well now I have a MKl MGB GT which is worth far more than £675.00 I paid for the MGC, however, my every day driver is a superb 'neo classic', a1995 Mercedes C200 Elegance bought for £1375.00 with full service history and with only 87,000 miles on the clock. Which again proves you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy driving 'old' cars. In fact, I think the less you spend, the more you enjoy, because you don't have the worry of driving a valuable vehicle. The 'rubber bumper' MGB is a great every day 'old' car, with a 'classic' heritage. You can't get much better.


I have used Triumphs as my primary transport for most of my adult life. Currently I have a 1978 Spitfire 1500 which has covered 35,000 miles since March 2010. It's my only car, and here in Austin, TX, USA, I get many odd looks driving around in it. The low cost, fun, and general fun of using a classic every day can't be quantified. Once my 1971 MGB is back on the road, the Spitfire goes for a new paint job. Purchase price of both cars combined: $1900.00 US, includung a 1973 MGB I immediately sold for $500.00 US. Happy motoring!

Nuno Granja

A. Clements,

Thanks for sharing.

I've been doing that all my motoring life and I cant regret.

Chose the car carefull respect the maintenance specs, improve it if not expensive or irreversible and... "...you don't need to spend a lot of money to have an awful lot of classic fun."

have good times at the wheel...

nuno granja

Uncle Benz

Excellent stuff.

I'd love to have something like this for the daily hack, use it in all weathers etc, but lack of space means that it would have to be instead of my existing hack and there are just too many occasions when I need some of the comfort/benefits of my modern(ish) daily - long journeys etc.

I shall continue to ponder the young-timer type options which could offer the right compromise. An XJS perhaps... but then again I promised myself that one of the criteria was room for 4 adults.... perhaps this is a rule which should be broken.


Absolutely agree with your thoughts. Classic car world became kind of a bussiness a long time ago, but the internet moved things really fast raising prices due to non professional sellers having imputs to estimate prices for the cars they own easily, just by watching tons of similar cars for sale on a click (even if it´s an uncommon model you are able to find the same car for sale), making prices of many cars to rocket in a short period of time and putting them into the "dreams zone" for the regular enthusiasts without deep pockets. It´s remarkable that this has also happened to those cars you could consider "popular classics" (the typical cars everyone remembers for having had one in their families when kids), cars that not so long ago where just "old cars" and now they carry the tag "classic" when advertised. Many examples are well known (here in spain it´s incredible to see not concours seat 600 advertised for more than a w116 mercedes fully loaded in good condition, when seat 600 where never exclusive or limited and can´t compare to the luxury car the w116 still is)

That said, there is still people who aren´t aware of this "classic car bubble" and sell their cars for a fair price but it requires more searching and patience to find them. My point is that when I go to a classic car show and watch the people´s reaction to the cars they see, I usually find the same enthusiasm in watching a facel vega than a well cared for MGB or similar. Maybe it´s for different reasons, but it´s always nice to know you are always going to be able to get a classic car you can enjoy and improve without excesive trouble even if it´s not "dancing queen" and that, even if it breaks down due to be used as a commuter  it´s not a catastrophic loss.







Well stated. I've long gotten over the keep it original or even close. I love my 1993 Range Rover BECAUSE it has quirks.

1993 Range Rover LWB


Classic cars has a legendary look, there are many online auction available online which deals for used, salvage cars you can buy them in lucrative prices and customize it as per your needs. They really help you in getting trust worthy deals.

used motorcycles

Mike Gulett

The rising prices of classic cars is why I wrote this inexpensive ebook - "Twenty-Five Affordable Classic Cars" available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0090TRG9K?tag=vglnkc2601-20

Roy G

Wow Mike

Your threshold for "Affordable" is a bit higher than mine (and I suspect Alastair's ) but its a ereally interesting list . And they are certainly all "good value" in their niches.

My cheap and cheerful classic is a 1991 Lotus Elan SE. Astonishing value and with a real fun factor. Very solid, reliable and easy to own for a Lotus too. A great stablemate for my '72 Elan +2S

Roy G

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