The man who said the magic line “Ray, fire up the Quattro” is Gene Hunt, a fictional detective in ‘Ashes To Ashes’ – a TV series set in 1980’s Britain – and he drives a bright red Audi UR Quattro. And while Hunt’s completely un-PC view of the world makes compelling viewing, it’s undoubtedly the Quattro that’s become the star of the show.
They’re fetching £8,000 on eBay, the internet forums are alive with people trying to track down a model for themselves, and for the 30-somethings who were teenagers living in the 80’s, it’s made them realize that the cars they loved then could be classic cars of tomorrow.
Some people think, with some justification that the car they’ve had for 20 years might now qualify for a great classic car insurance deal. Others have found some spare cash, gone out and bought a Mk1 Golf GTi Campaign and are now firmly in the mindset of the classic car fan.
Except this time, the talk isn’t of Morris Minors and Triumph Heralds (although we love them, of course) it’s about what will make the classic cars of the future?
Mazda MX5 – A brilliant two-seater soft-top which has a huge fan base for the original Mk1s with the popup headlamps. Started life with a 1600cc engine and then enlarged to 1800cc. Offering ‘old’ styling with cracking reliability and an excellent spares backup.
Fiat Barchetta – Weird, but strangely appealing. Left-hand drive and only sold in limited numbers in the UK, it has distinctive looks and this makes it a future classic certainty.
Lotus Elan (1990s models) – The guys at Lotus went a bit crazy and plumped for front wheel drive and an Isuzu engine. But with sharp handing and the Lotus badge, it has an appeal. But be aware of the fact that the front wheels are responsible for both steering and laying down power.
TVR S – Based heavily on the curvaceous sports cars of the 1970’s like the 3000M and introduced at the 1986 Motor Show at Earls Court in London. A retro-styled low priced model to give punters an introduction to TVR ownership. S1 had a 2.8i Ford engine but the V8s delivered 4-litre V8 madness. Of course it will break down, it’s a TVR! Vauxhall VX220 – Yes – a Vauxhall. The VX220 was built by Lotus, is very similar to the Lotus Elise, and is interestingly, rare and different. Not available in huge numbers, handles fantastically, and is every inch the future classic car.
Aston Martin DBS – Probably your best chance of a ‘bargain Aston’ and if you can, hunt down one of the original 6 cylinder DBS’s of the early 1970’s, launched as a stopgap until the V8 came out. Later models like the DB7, Virage and Vanquish already have classic kudos.
While they may have been the staple diet of boy racers in the 1980’s, there’s no doubting that ‘hot hatches’ now have their place in classic car folklore.
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus – Classic 1970’s chintz. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1979, but deliveries did not start until summer of that year. By this time, Chrysler UK had been sold to the French Peugeot concern that changed the name to the Talbot Motor Company. Originally the cars were only available in Embassy Black with broad silver side stripes and grey interior, and the very early cars also boasted twin exit exhaust pipes. Great if you can get one.
Peugeot 205 GTi – Not content with the German’s from Wolfsburg having it all their own way, the French decided to take them on with the 1980’s best rival to the Golf GTi. Available in hatch and convertible models, initially with a 1.6 then later a much meaner 1.9 engine driving the front wheels. Now a bargain buy and well suited to modification.
Ford Escort XR3i – Beloved of boy racers everywhere – so it’s very difficult to find one in one piece, which makes it a bit of a rarity. The Escort RS Turbo is a find too – even less of them on the road, but plenty embedded in trees in Essex! Great shape, iconic, fast, and endorsed by Jackie Stewart. It makes the list.
Ford Sierra Cosworth – The original ‘Cozzie’ is starting get a big following and could soon be held in the same regards as the old Lotus Cortina. Passion for hot hatches saw the later introduction of the XR4i with its V6 2.8 engine. Still a Sierra though!
Audi UR Quattro: High-tech, flying wedge with a roaring engine. It sprang into life in 1980 and with 4WD and a whole host of amazing other German car-making technology packed into it. It was brilliant on the road and brilliant on the rally scene. And now in much demand thanks to Gene Hunt. The most talked-about ‘modern classic’ of the year.
Luxury and Sports Cars
In many ways, luxury motors have the best chance of attaining classic car status – they’re well made, high value, and generally well-kept by their original owners. So what would make a good investment?
Jaguar X300: Essentially a cosmetic advance on the XJ40, but the X300 developed a faithful following. The first time Jaguar had fitted a supercharger, this put the XJ up against the BMW M5 and Mercedes E500.
BMW M3 – The 1977 E23 is already classic, therefore well-preserved models like the E30 M3 (which ended in 1992) might well follow suit. With a stiffer and more aerodynamic body shell than the straight E30, it ripped up the road race circuit.
Mercedes 500SL – The 500SL is recorded as being the fastest production Mercedes R107 design ever produced – having 0-60 times of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). A late 1980’s classic and well worth the investment. I hope this has been a trip down memory lane for many readers. These cars had style, although we may not have seen it at the time.