It could have happened at any point in your life, whether at a key moment in childhood, whiling away the time in a boring day job, as you approach a major landmark such as retirement or, perhaps, when closing on a big birthday. You’ll have seen a car on a TV show, in a magazine, a showroom or just in the street and simply thought ‘one day…’
Well, let’s imagine that day has come and now is the chance to buy the car you always promised yourself. Here are five we’d have on the list, and some of the options you might want to consider before laying down the cash.
Porsche 911 (997) – £20,000 upwards
For more than half a century Porsche 911s of various generations have represented the (relatively) attainable dream of serious sports car ownership for enthusiast drivers. The timeless styling, distinctive rear-engined format and unmistakable sound of a 911’s flat-six are all part of the appeal. The fact 911s are also refined and have vaguely usable rear seats also sets them apart from rivals. For the purposes of this list we’ll go back a couple of generations to the 997 model (Porsche fans often refer to the factory codes to tell 911s apart). For here is a car that retained the classic looks of old but is still modern enough to be used and enjoyed regularly.
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A Classic British Sports Car – up to £30,000
The days of MGBs and Triumph Spitfires are long gone but the tradition of the classic British sports car is still woven into the fabric of the nation’s motoring psyche. These days Lotus still flies the flag, while Morgan also does a sterling job of tapping into that sense of nostalgia. Here, however, our choice would be a car that started out as a Lotus more than half a century ago but has enjoyed a second life as the embodiment of raw, back to basic thrills. There are many Lotus Seven style kit cars out there but only Caterham builds the real thing, with its Seven offering a combination of classic car charisma with modern performance and thrills. There are endless variations on the same fundamental theme but all deliver the classic British sports car dream and hold their money, meaning you stand a chance of getting a good chunk of your cash back once you’ve scratched the itch.
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A Ferrari – up to £120,000
A red-blooded Italian sports car will be at the top of many a wishlist and a Ferrari will always be the dream buy for a large number of car fans. There’s no real top end to the budget either, so we’ve capped our search at £120,000, which is about the price you could spend on a brand-new Porsche, Mercedes or Audi sports car. That opens the choice to a pretty broad selection of Ferraris – highlights at this price point would include classic front-engined V12-powered GTs like the 550 Maranello or 599, though racier V8 Berlinettas like the timeless F355 also could represent smart buys that – with the right care – can be refreshingly resistant to depreciation.
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Land Rover Defender – £20,000 upwards
As the Land Rover Defender eased from working life and into retirement it evolved from a rural workhorse into rather more of a plaything and style statement. By any rational level they’re pretty hard to live with as road cars, given they’re physically demanding to drive, unrefined and fairly uncomfortable too. That doesn’t matter one bit, because a Defender just has that timeless sense of cool, whether you grew up in the countryside and saw them rattling around the lanes with sheep in the back or have a more modern view of them blinged up and cruising the city. No matter how noisy, rattly or draughty the reality turns out to be it’s a car you’d drive with a grin on your face every time you went out in it and definitely one of those cars many will have on their ‘one day!’ list.
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MINI Cooper – £2,500 upwards
The classic Mini is another British style icon a huge number of people adore and would love to have owned, if they didn’t already in an earlier life. Thing is, it’s now exactly that – a classic. And with that comes the reality of rust repairs, weekends spent tinkering under the bonnet and all the rest. So why not instead enjoy the same design themes and cheeky driving style in the more up to date ‘modern’ MINI format? That argument becomes even stronger when you learn that earlier first-generation examples of this car are now contemporary classics in their own right that feel smaller, cheekier and more chuckable than the latest examples. In that respect this is a ‘classic’ MINI you can run as such, whether you’re old enough to remember the original or not.
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