Top 10 undervalued classics

| 12 Mar 2018

The seemingly endless price escalation in the classic car market has put once quite affordable old cars beyond the reach of even the moderately well off, never mind the 'average' pocket.

And yet beyond the hype there is still some really desirable machinery around that seems to have gone under the radar: cars that remain curiously undervalued, even cheap in some cases.

The reasons are difficult to unravel but fashion and sheer ignorance are the chief contributing factors; while some classic cars seem to enter the collective consciousness and become 'iconic' others, of seemingly equal technical merit, driver appeal and beauty seem to get left behind.

Here, then, in no particular order of importance, are ten cars that I consider under appreciated and too rarely considered.

1. Mercedes 220SE Coupé


Price range: £25,000 to £35,000

Because everyone is busy getting excited about the convertibles and the V8s, I think the earlier six cylinder versions of this, perhaps the most beautiful post-war Benz of all, look cheap at £25,000 to £35,000.

What's more, the six-cylinder 220SE Coupé even has nicer detailing than the later 3.5 versions and they're by no means slow either: an additional £70,000 seems a high price to pay for a bit of extra horse power and two more cylinders, don't you think? 

BUY ONE NOW: Low-mileage 1964 Mercedes-Benz 220SEB Coupé for sale (£34,950)


2. Bentley Mk VI


Price range: £20,000 to £30,000

You can get yourself into one of these for £25,000 or less but even the best one on the planet would cost a fraction of the price of the shabbiest R Type Continental, if there is any such thing as a shabby one any longer.

I'm not comparing them – the Continental is as beautiful as the standard steel saloons are endearingly pompous – but they are, essentially (barring a few important differences) the same thing under the skin, and built to the same top-notch quality.

It's hard to think of any other pair of related models where the difference in price is so truly vast.

BUY ONE NOW: 1951 Bentley Mk VI Sports Saloon for sale (£27,500)


3. Reliant Scimitar GTE


Price range: £3,000 to £10,000

I suspect the Reliant name and its three-wheel connotations, plus people's latent prejudice against plastic cars, tends to count against these, but what other trend-setting late-'60s performance car can you buy for as little as £2000?

The versatile – and once-much-copied – shape gets better with age and in the right colour (something vibrant, like orange or red) with all the right bits (no wolf race wheels please) they still make quite a statement.

Got to be an SE5 or 5A, though.

BUY ONE NOW: Reliant Scimitar GTE on auction with Classic Car Auctions


4. Jensen-Healey


Price range: £5,000 to £15,000

The name 'Jensen' conjures up images of thrusting V8 grand touring cars while 'Healey' equals low slung he-man roadsters.

The Jensen-Healey is neither of those things, but if you can embrace the somewhat anodyne styling one of these seemingly unloved twin-cam-engined convertibles has got to be a more interesting buy than, say, a TR6 at £5000 to £15,000?

BUY ONE NOW: We don't have any Jensen-Healeys in our listings right now, but you can click here to view all other Jensen models


5. Peugeot 504 Coupé / Cabriolet


Price range: £5,000 to £15,000

Ever since Peugeot stopped making them people have been talking up these svelte and sophisticated Pininfarina-bodied Pugs.

While good prices have been achieved for the (rare) V6 convertibles, the four-cylinder versions seem curiously cheap compared to the Alfa/Lancia/BMW '70s competition, for as little as £5000 for a coupé.

They are rust buckets, though, and not easy to get parts for – so tread carefully.

BUY ONE NOW: We don't have any Peugeot 504s for sale at the moment, but when we do you'll find them listed here


6. Rover P4


Price range: £5,000 to £10,000

These old dears are really a sort of poor man's Bentley Mk VI.

A manual overdrive Rover 100 would be the optimum variant but all the six-cylinder models are pleasing. They seem to remain alive in enormous numbers and you can have a lovely one for £10,000; most P4s are much, much less.

They have no performance pretensions but are merely a comfortable and dignified means of classic travel and such quality is not available elsewhere for so little money.

They'll probably never have the cache of a Mk II Jaguar (or even Rover's own P5B), but then look at the price difference…

BUY ONE NOW: 1964 Rover P4 110 for sale (£10,995)


7. Triumph Dolomite Sprint


Price range: £5,000 to £15,000

While prices of quick Escorts from the '70s go ballistic, the poor old 'Dolly Sprint' can be had for £5,000 to £15,000, which is strange because pundits had these slated as a 'car to keep' almost before they had stopped making them.

Not even stardom in early episodes of The Professionals seems to capture imaginations, or the fact that it was a successful saloon racer powered by an advanced 16-valve engine.

I suspect the slightly 'granddad' image of the four-door body counts against the Sprint, but they have to be worth investigating as an alternative to a rusty 2002.

BUY ONE NOW: 1974 Triumph Dolomite Sprint for sale (£9,995)


8. Innocenti Mini


Price range: £5,000 to £15,000

The Italians built slightly better-trimmed traditionally shaped Minis for eight years, and these can still be found in Europe at considerably less exalted prices than the figures being asked for UK right hookers of the same vintage.

An even cheaper and more left-field choice would be a Mini 90 (later badged De Tomaso) with a cute, boxy Bertone-designed hatchback shell.

These were considered a better, more modern car than the original Mini but don't seem to survive in huge numbers, so finding an A-Series engine one (as opposed to the Daihatsu three-cylinder version) could be a challenge.

BUY ONE NOW: Sorry, we don't have any Innocenti Minis in our classifieds right now, but you will find (literally) hundreds of other Minis for sale


9. Lotus Elite Type 75


Price range: £2,000 to £10,000

This 2-litre, four-seater '70s wedge makes almost more of a statement now than it did in 1974.

A poor man's Lamborghini Espada? Quite possibly, but in some ways equally challenging to own and run – which is why prices have always been low and many Elites have been modified or discarded: there are more projects out there than running cars.

The most expensive, most sorted Elite will always be the cheapest one in the end and owners of the best are talking of £20,000 as being a target price. However there are lots more priced as low as £2000 to £5000.

BUY ONE NOW: We don't currently have any Lotus Elite Type 75s, but maybe you'll fancy this 1982 Lotus Esprit Turbo instead? 


10. Chevrolet Corvette C3 


Price range: £10,000 to £30,000

Barring the rarest of the muscle cars, most post-war American models look cheap compared to their European equivalents.

The Corvette stands alone as a true American sports car that offered a credible alternative to an E-Type Jaguar.

When you imagine these cars in their 1967-'82 C3 form, you tend to conjure up images of Burt Reynolds with too many shirt buttons undone; they are not the choice of the shrinking violet. But the glassfibre body has a sort of muscular beauty about it and (reliable) V8 power that could prove addictive.

Prices are all over the shop depending on year and specification – you can easily pay up to £40,000 – but start at under £10,000.

BUY ONE NOW: 1978 Chevrolet Corvette C3 Anniversary Edition for sale (£10,995)