Most of the country's population eagerly tuned in to this year's budget announcement with hopes of cheaper beer, bargain cigarettes and a freeze of fuel duty – but those of us in the know are more excited about the 40 year rolling tax exemption, which came into force last year. Of course, this means that – as of 1 April 2015 – a raft of classics will now fall into the tax-free bracket for cars built before 1 January 1975.
Here are the Classic & Sports Car team's picks of the top tax exempt classics introduced after 1974 that will now be fractionally easier on the pocketbook.
Or, click here to make your own selection from the full list of classics that will now be tax exempt on 1 April 2015.
James Elliott – Maserati Quattroporte £POA
The Maserati Quattroporte is one of those poor cars that has got steadily less appealing the longer it has been in production. As a result there have been few highpoints since the original 1960s executive wagon, but the two cars custom-built (on a stretched Indy platform) for the Aga Khan and King of Spain are the exceptions to that rule.
What a magnificent waft-machine, airy and plutocratic, refined yet powerful (thanks to the 4.9-litre V8), brutal and delicate, its girth offset by some very beautifully resolved details. Frua just made two of these cars and, while I am sure that I would enjoy driving it, what shocks me about this car is that I reckon I would enjoy it just as much as a passenger. And in that it is unique: I cannot think of anything else post-war that I would feel as comfortable being chauffeured in as I would behind the wheel.
Greg MacLeman – Porsche 911 2.4T £POA
Few motoring heroes – and even fewer actors – have captured my imagination in quite the same way as Steve McQueen, and I've always held a deep interest in both his racers and road cars. Last year, I spent a week chasing his former wheels through California, and though I found his XKSS, Cooper T56 and Ferrari 285GTB/4, his famous slate grey Porsche 911 eluded me.
Fortunately, other people share my passion for McQueen's cars, including the builder of this fabulous homage that's for sale at Specialist Cars of Malton. The original 911 sold at auction in Monterey for upwards of £800,000, and while the price of this copy isn't disclosed, it's safe to say it will be much more palatable. I'm sure a picture of the King of Cool with the original car could be found for the price of a couple of years' road tax.
James Page – Lotus Europa £37,950
With the model having been introduced in 1966, most Europas have long since been tax exempt, but the Twin Cam-engined version continued until 1975. This restored Special features the five-speed gearbox and is pretty much my ideal Europa, with the evocative JPS colour scheme and 126bhp big-valve 'Twink'.
It might not be the cheapest example, but it looks immaculate and I have a very real weakness for Lotus road cars of this era – be it Europa, 'baby' Elan or +2. With its race-inspired mid-engined layout, ultra-sharp handling and 'lay down' driving position, here is a classic that would make every Sunday morning blast feel like the Nürburgring 1000km. Not many cars can pull off a similar trick, and those that can tend to be priced an awful lot higher than this.
Malcolm Thorne – Caterham Seven £20,995
As a fan of minimalist motoring I’ve always been taken by the Lotus/Caterham Seven concept, but find the high-powered modern incarnations a bit extreme. If these cars are all about a less-is-more philosophy, is it necessary to have massively-grippy tyres and a hugely potent powerplant? I don’t think so.
Okay, if you want to shave a few tenths off your track-day personal best a 620R might make sense, but as a road car the 126bhp from this car’s Lotus twin-cam ought to be plenty. That still gives you a power-to-weight ratio of around 250bhp per ton, which on those skinny tyres ought to be enough to put a smile on even the most jaded of faces.
And just look at it. Forget about wide-rimmed alloys and carbonfibre trim, those prosaic Cortina wheels are simply gorgeous, while the whole thing just exudes early-70s chic. Throw in the fact that it’s now free to tax, and this Caterham is a very tempting purchase.
Martin Port – Land Rover Series III 88 £3500
With prices for Series II Land-Rovers now following the direction of that for Series Is, the next star in the ascendency has to be the Series III – and why not? While some used to scoff at the plastic grille and full-width padded dash, these now offer the last pre-County/Defender excursion into classic Landie ownership at a price that doesn’t need some serious soul-searching.
Looking past the clutter in the interior photographs, this 1974 88” looks to be a pretty straight buy, and although I’d want to crawl around underneath and have a good poke around the chassis, the panels look pretty straight and it’s got the highly desirable combination of free-wheeling hubs and Fairey overdrive to help make the most of your tank of petrol.
There’s no nasty chequer-plate or aftermarket seats and the ‘safari’ roof will help keep the Land-Rover cooler in the warm weather. For £3500 you’ll get yourself a very presentable, very usable SWB that is only going to go up in value if current trends are anything to go by.