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Tomorrow’s Classic Cars on a Budget

This is the first of my posts investigating modern cars that are likely to become tomorrow’s classics. Today let us try to find tomorrow’s classic coupe models that can still be picked up for relatively little money today.

Ford Puma

Built by Ford’s German factory between 1997 and 2002, the Puma was much praised in its time for its handling. The styling was typical for Ford cars of the time, with sleek lines and feline front end.

The Puma was pretty much a Fiesta ‘on steroids’ and was helped greatly by a new Zetec SE engine jointly developed with Yamaha.

Top Gear’s car of the year for 1997 for its “incredible feeling and driving sensation”, most of these will have crumbled away by now.

Take your time and bargain buys can still be found hidden amongst the classifieds if you look for long enough.

SAAB 9-3 Coupe

At the end of the nineties SAAB released the 9-3 and 9-5 hoping to safeguard the future of the company. Although it marked the end of SAAB, many regard them as a high point in the company’s car-building, albeit at a low-point for their survival.

Not a company to ever do things by half, SAABs were always engineered to the point of exhaustion and every detail was scrutinised endlessly.

You can find these last of the line cars at incredibly cheap prices. The one pictured above was advertised for under five hundred pounds and had a full service history to boot!

Smart Roadster Coupe

If you want something completely different, few production cars look more like a concept car than the Smart Roadster Coupe. First aired at the 2000 Paris Motor Show it went into production two years later.

Although sales were quite good, the Roadster was plagued with warranty claims, many of which were for water ingress, not so good unless you only take it out on sunny days! Put this to one side and this is a fast, fun car to drive, even Clarkson had a good word or two for it.

Expect to pay between two to three grand and you can find a good one. Definitely, a cult classic for the future, though something of a cult buy in its time too.

Ford Probe

More Mazda than Ford, the Probe lost out in its battle with Vauxhall’s Calibra and only went into production for four years.

The Probe was supposed to be a replacement for the Capri, yet failed to capture the hearts of its target market. At the end of production around 375,000 was produced globally.

Borrowing from the RX-7 for the instrument cluster and pop-up headlamps there was much to like about the Probe and you can still pick one up for ‘a song’.

Tomorrow’s classic? Well what do you think?

Honda CR-X 1.6 ESi

The Honda CR-X was marketed between 1992 and 1997 and most had a removable hard top that was designed to be stored in the boot, though you will occasionally find one with an electric roof.

Essentially a Civic underneath, but with lots of style, a nifty turn of speed and much more fun to drive.

The little Targa can be found as a fuel injected ESi (like this one) or the faster variable valve timing VTi versions.

This car is currently advertised on Autotrader (at the time of posting) for £1200

Ford Cougar

The Cougar was based upon the more successful Mondeo and was let down by a choice of two under-powered engines. The 4 cylinder struggled to move it to 60 MPH in under 13 seconds and the slightly better V6 was still a bit of a slug.

However, it was roomy and comfortable and with air-conditioning, leather and lots of electric toys, there was much to like. The public were not easily persuaded to part with the kind of money you had to shell out for one, so after just a few years it was axed from Fords range.

Which means there are not that many around and combined with currently very low resale values, surely a great buy now!

Honda Insight 3 Door Coupe

Forget fuel economy and don’t linger long looking for sexy styling and Honda’s little hybrid coupe still has a strong chance of being one of tomorrow’s sought after classics.

Aerodynamic and very light due to its aluminium frame, it was touted for its low emissions and good fuel economy. In actuality, the fuel consumption figures were not that good and limited room meant that it wasn’t that practical either.

Launched before the Prius, at a time when hybrids were just gaining popularity, Honda managed to sell 17,000 of them between 1999 and 2006, so they are still able to be picked up without breaking the bank.

Fiat Coupé 2.0 20v Turbo

The Fiat 20 valve Coupe is most remembered for its distinctive, angular design, with unique scalloped side panels and was produced between 1993 and 2000.

Pininfarina’s interior design looked gorgeous and included body-coloured dash trim. Combine that with the very quick turbocharged 2.0L in-line five-cylinder engine and some very sharp handling and it suggests this little Fiat has tomorrow’s classic written all over it.

This one is available currently on Gumtree (at time of posting) for around £1500

Ford Consul Capri

Surprisingly, it is still possible to find some older iconic cars, like this Ford Consul two door coupe, at a bargain price. The Capri possesses more than a passing similarity to its American cousins the Galaxie Sunliner and the Thunderbird, no doubt these influenced the design immensely.

Released in 1962 on the UK market, they were available in both floor and column shift variants. Early models had a gutless 1340cc engine that was subsequently upgraded to the preferred 1498 cc version. A poor history of early crankshaft failures blighted the former, so consider this before buying one.

A Cosworth GT version was released in 1963, with a twin-choke Weber, a first for British production cars, expect to pay big bucks if you find one of these.


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