The love of cars has never been more mainstream or more popular than it is now, with car culture exploding across all scenes. Whether you’re into JDM sports cars or a motorsport fan hooked by the recent expansion of Formula One into America, gearheads are spreading.
Unfortunately, within the last decade, not only is the choice of entry-level sports cars dwindling, but the cost is skyrocketing with the average price for a new sports car predicted to be just shy of $87,000 this year. With this being said, more and more gearheads are turning to classic cars for their weekend fix of fuel, and thankfully there are thousands of great choices out there.
We have selected 10 of the hottest classics right now, some suitable for first time DIY fans and others suited more towards collectors and investors – there’s something here for every enthusiast out there, across all budgets too.
10 Back To Basics With The Volkswagen Beetle
The humble VW Beetle is a firm favorite choice for enthusiasts starting out with their first project car, thanks mainly to the fact they’re readily available across the globe, and parts are easy to source. We doubt there’s an easier car to work on anywhere.
Thanks to the huge range of aftermarket modifications, it’s easy to personalize a Beetle to suit the style you desire. Be it a Herbie tribute or Baja Bug, it’s been done before and there’s a wealth of knowledge out there to help new enthusiasts along.
Earlier models with smoother lines are more desirable, particularly with collectors, and while they are generally pricier with most sellers asking $10,000 plus for flat-light models, simple projects should not be daunting, so don’t be scared to pick up something to work on.
9 It Doesn’t Get More Traditional Than A 1960s MGB Roadster
Want something a little sportier? Look no further than the MGB roadster, an iconic British sports car which has a whole lot to offer. The inline-four delivers a punchy 84 hp and is capable of just 99 mph. Not record-breaking by any stretch, but when you’re sitting so low to the floor with the wind in your hair, we guarantee you just won’t care about the specs.
The perfect entry-level sports car for enthusiasts, later rubber-bumper models are much more affordable while collectors tend to favor the earlier chrome-bumper models, particularly the early MK1 cars with simple door pulls and hubcaps rather than wire wheels. Once again these are easy to work on, parts are plentiful and there’s great club support across America and Europe.
8 Collectors And Investors Love The BMW E30
German classics are hot property among investors and collectors currently, with a focus on popular models from the 1980s onwards, and it’s pretty easy to make the argument that the E30 is the king of cool from this period.
Instantly recognizable from the aggressive but yet handsome front end, the E30 is more versatile than you might think with sedan, coupe, convertible and touring models, plus a wide choice of engines available – everything from the asthmatic 316i all the way up to the legendary M3 EVO models. Collectors are scrambling to find and fund original example M3s, as it’s the 200 hp, 146 mph sports coupe that has them most excited, and prices are only going one way.
7 The R107 Mercedes SL Is A Cool Slice Of ’80s Excess
Another incredibly cool ’80s offering is the sleek Mercedes-Benz SL R107, a gracious two-door convertible that needs no introduction. Collectors and enthusiasts alike will find something to celebrate here. With prices strengthening, and excellent driving qualities, there really isn’t too much to grumble about here, plus the R107 heralds from Mercedes’ era of over-engineering and impressive build quality, so get a well-maintained example. It just might turn out to be the most reliable car to ever grace your garage.
Some examples are fetching very strong money, however honest and well specified V8 examples are still available for around $25,000, which seems like a bargain to us and surely makes this cool drop-top seriously investible.
6 Step Into Porsche Ownership With The Humble 924
If your wallet doesn’t quite stretch so far, don’t worry, you can still invest in a prestigious German classic on a budget, and end up with something pretty cool, too. The Porsche 924 has been living in the shadow of more powerful models for decades now, but has recently begun appreciating as enthusiasts cotton-on to the hidden gem.
Hagerty suggests $7,500 for a good example, which is incredibly affordable for young enthusiasts especially, as the low powered nature also means they’re cheap to run and maintain on top of great purchase prices. The aerodynamic design and near 50-50 weight distribution makes this cut-price Porsche a real treat in the corners, too – a perfect classic choice for the enthusiastic owner!
5 A Homegrown American Hero – The Ford Mustang
Perhaps the coolest old car anywhere, the original Ford Mustang is a slice of American history and loved the world over – almost certainly the most popular muscle car ever produced. Don’t just take our word for it, either. Richard Hammond would rather drive his classic Mustang than a Lamborghini Countach.
Literally thousands of iterations have been produced over the last 60 years, and it’s the earlier models that collectors will want to focus on, particularly special or limited editions, such as Shelby-tweaked examples. Enthusiasts will easily be able to pick up a simple project if desired, with thousands of original survivors dotted across the country, and a massive aftermarket scene to ensure owners can turn their vision into a reality without too much stress, although certain models are better than others for modding.
4 Cheap As Chips Retro Sports Car Ownership With The Miata
Super cheap and super accessible, the original Miata is a perfect entry-level sports car which any enthusiast can easily transform into a focussed driver’s car with a few simple modifications. There’s also simple and budget-friendly forced induction options too, both turbo and supercharged.
In standard trim, the 1.6-liter Miata only has 114 hp to offer and a 0 to 60 mph time of 8.8 seconds, although this is plenty for some weekend driving fun, as the diminutive proportion and perfect weight distribution help with cheap and nimble sports car driving just as good as many much more powerful cars.
Collectors should keep an eye out for low mileage limited editions like the early RS and Sprint models, as these rare special versions can fetch some seriously strong money in today’s classic car market.
3 Colin Chapman’s Original Lotus Elan Is A Driving Enthusiast’s Dream
While the above Miata is the best-selling sports car in the world (with more than 1 million examples shifted), the Lotus Elan claims part of the credit, as it’s this tiny two-door that Mazda modeled the super popular drop-top upon.
With 117 hp from the twin cam engine, there is more than enough to keep things lively in this fiberglass bodied vintage sports car, plus the suspension was specifically designed for maximum enjoyment on twisting back roads. The joyous little Lotus has been around for almost six decades now, and as such there’s a vast difference in conditions between cars for sale.
Tweaked and improved race or rally cars are the favorite choice for enthusiasts and amateur motorsport competitors, whereas collectors and investors prefer immaculately presented original examples, some of which fetch eye watering sums, such as this record-breaking example with television provenance at just shy of $200,000.
2 Keep It Old School With A Ford Model T
The universal car that put the world on wheels – it does not get any cooler than a vintage Ford Model T. The ‘Tin Lizzie’ is to automobiles what the founding fathers are to America. It defined what a car should be and set about introducing the joys of motoring to the masses, something that had once been afforded to only the upper echelons of society.
Sure, it’s probably not ideal for the daily commute, and although prices are steady and affordable, pre-war classics like these are unlikely to provide stupendous returns on investments like other classics, but it will prove an exciting ownership that’s almost guaranteed to turn more heads than even the most illusive of supercar.
Simply put, this is a cool vintage car that demands respect from everyone and anyone. Even those outside of the car community can’t help but stop and stare when a Model T passes them (particularly if it looks like this).
1 Could The Jaguar XKE Be The Greatest Vintage Car Of All Time?
Specifically looking at the series one Jaguar XKE here, as pictured above, it’s near impossible to picture a better-looking car that carries as much road presence. The long sloping bonnet, low cabin and smooth lines are a caricature of what a classic sports car should look like. It’s no wonder Enzo Ferrari himself said it was the most beautiful car he’d ever seen.
With 0 to 60 mph dispatched within 7 seconds, this British bullet wouldn’t stop going until it was knocking on the doors of 150 mph. That’s seriously impressive for a car first produced in 1961. What’s more, it was also incredibly affordable, at three times cheaper than the comparative Italian offerings of the time.
Now though, collectors have been all over these for years and prices reflect this, with top examples changing hands for close to half a million dollars, although $100,000 still sees you into ownership of a nice example. External hood locks, flat chassis floors and moss gearboxes are all tell-tale signs of the most valuable early cars that collectors and investors covet.