Top Buys for Fun and Affordable Cars

By: Unique Cars magazine staff

Presented by

We asked our resident car nuts to nominate five fun but affordable cars that you'd never lose your shirt on. Here are the picks that'll beat the base rates

ANDY ENRIGHT'S top five:


1. BMW Z4 M COUPE
Price range - $40,000 - $50,000

Bmw -z 4m -coupe -rear -angle

Prices of the BMW Z3 M Coupe have gone bananas, so the Z4M is my sneaky pick. Still feels wild and raw but it got the S54 engine from the E46 M3 with traction control. Smart buy right now.

 - BMW Z4 M coupe review

 

2. CITROEN 2CV
Price range - $3000 - $60,000

Citroen -2cv

It might also be worth excavating your granny’s garage for a Citroen 2CV, values of which are marching north at a terrifying rate. I saw a tidy 1986 Charleston fetch $60k at auction last year.

- Buyer's guide: Citroen 2CV

 

3. FORD EB FALCON
Price range - $2500 - $50,000

Ford -falcon -eb

Ask yourself when was the last time you saw one? I’d tip any EB Falcon with a Windsor in the nose, S-XR8 models currently trading from $2500. Finding one’ll take some spadework.

- Falcon history: EA, EB, ED, EF, EL series 1988-98

 

4. MG RV8
Price range - $23,000 - $30,000

Mg -rv8

MG’s brawny and old-school RV8 is starting to attract a bit of a cult following. Think of it as a TVR that’s less likely to catch fire.

- Buyer's guide: MG F (1996-2005)

 

5. HOLDEN MONARO CV8 V2
Price range - $15,000 - $30,000

Holden -monaro -cv8
As safe an Aussie car investment as you can make. Take this one to the bank and have some fun at the same time.

- Buyer's guide: Holden Monaro CV8 V2

 

ANGELO LOUPETIS' TOP FIVE:

1. FALCON BA/BF XR6 TURBO
Price range - $6000 - $25,000

Ford -falcon -xr6

Brilliant power for their age and still a great-looking local shape. Find one now before they're all crashed and stolen.

- Top ten Fords: Falcon XR6 Turbo

 

2. NISSAN PULSAR ET TURBO
Price range - $4000 - $10,000

Nissan -pulsar -et -turbo

80s Japanese cars are known for their reliability. But when was the last time you saw one of these intact?

- Nissan Pulsar/Holden Astra review

 

3. 1960/61 FORD SUNLINER
Price range - $20,000 - $60,000

Ford -sunliner

Want an iconic US droptop that is rarely seen in Australia? You can't go past one of these "Jets on Wheels"

- Ford Thunderbird SR 1962-63 review

 

4. HOLDEN CALIBRA TURBO 4X4
Price range - $7000 - $15,000

Holden -calibra

A car that in my opinion has aged gracefully. Get your hands on an AWD and have the only one at your next car gathering.

 

5. MG ZT-T
Price range - $5000 - $15,000

Mg -zt -t

A great-looking wagon that would be the ideal city runabout. If you can triple your budget, track down a ZT-T 260 which was powered by the Mustang's 4.6L V8 and sent drive to the rear wheels instead!

- The re-rebirth of MG

 

DAVID MORLEY'S TOP FIVE:

1. HOLDEN COMMODORE VN SS - 1989-90
Price range $6000 - $15,000

Holden -commodore -vn -ss

Okay, these have jumped up in value recently, but if you look at what’s being asked for HJ GTSs, HQ SSs and any chrome-bumper Commodore V8, then there’s more to come. And the old VN mightn’t be a world-beater dynamically, but they have what I’ve previously referred to as `righteous simplicity’. Get a manual and one without the power windows, ‘cos they’ll cheese out on you. And store the factory alloys: They’re ugly, but you’ll need them in a few years when the collectors come a-knockin’.

- Future classic: Commodore VN SS

 

2. TOYOTA COROLLA TWIN CAM AE82
Price range - $2000 - $8000

Toyota -corolla

These Aussie-made Corolla Twin Cams used the 4A-GE 1600cc gem of a thing and were just gorgeous to drive. Get the hatch rather than the Seca liftback.

- Buyer's guide: Toyota Corolla Seca SX

 

3. MAZDA RX-7 SERIES 1
Price range $10,000 - $20,000

Mazda -rx7

Check out the price of any other elderly Mazda rotaries and tell me I’m wrong on this. Gotta happen.

- Record prices for Mazda RX-7s at Shannons

 

4. FORD FALCON EL XR6
Price range - $3000 - $7000

Ford -falcon -el -xr6

The last of the Falcons before the unloved AU. The EL XR6 was resolved, well rounded and a dead-set hoot.

- Buyer's guide: Falcon EF-EL XR6

 

5. MAZDA MX-5 NA
Price range $4500 - $8000

Mazda -mx5

I still can’t believe these are so cheap. But it won’t last, not when you consider a good one is still the best thing. Ever.

- Video: Old vs new - Mazda MX-5 NA & ND


JOHN WRIGHT'S TOP FIVE:

1. BMW E36 M3
Price range - $15,000 - $30,000

Bmw -e 36-m3

I have to rank this M3 first because I bought one on exactly this premise: what is the most underrated but affordable classic car on the market? The original E30 M3 was not built in right-hand drive but they still command mostly six-figure sums. While the six-cylinder E36 is less pure in concept – because not designed as a race car first – it is wonderful to drive. Interestingly, the early 210 kW five-speed cars seem rarer than the 232 kW six-speed Evolution. range is $15K to $30K for a 1994-95 coupe.

- Our shed: BMW E36 M3

 

2. FORD FALCON EB GT
Price range - $30,000 - $50,000

Ford -falcon -eb -gt

The EB Falcon GT may not have delivered the full 200 kW but its got style and that name makes it highly collectible.

- Ford Falcon EB GT review

 

3. MAZDA RX-7 TWIN TURBO
Price range - $20,000 - $40,000

Mazda -rx 7-bathurst

The Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo that ate Bathurst must soon head the way of the R100 and RX-3.

- Mazda RX-7 Type R Bathurst review

 

4. VOLVO 850R
Price range - $7000 - $12,000

Volvo -850R

When I saw a Volvo 850R sedan (while researching this yarn) with a roadworthy and rego at $7500 it was all I could do not to ring up and buy it. The wagon would be even neater.

- Future classic: Volvo 960/S90

 

5. AUDI TT QUATTRO
Price range - $5000 - $10,000

Audi -tt

My bargain basement special is the original Audi TT Quattro, a classic Bauhaus design of timeless beauty.

- Audi TT RS review


UNCLE PHIL'S TOP FIVE:

1. PORSCHE BOXSTER 986
Price range - $15,000 - $25,000

Porsche -boxster

You cannot believe how much fun they are to drive, with all the mod-cons. They look like they’re worth a lot more than they cost.

- Video: 2004 Porsche 996 Turbo cabriolet review

 

2. MERCEDES-BENZ AMG E55 2210
Price range $15,000 - $25,000

Mercedes -benz -e 55-amg
If you can put up with the interior quality, this hotrod has to offer the best bang for your buck.

- Past Blast: 1996 Mercedes-Benz E36 AMG

 

3. MERCEDES-BENZ AMG C43 W202
Price range - $15,000 - $25,000

Mercedes -benz -c 43-amg

A big-hearted, naturally aspirated V8 in a car built before Merc started penny-pinching.

- Future classic: Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG

 

4. MAZDA RX-7 S1
Price range - $14,000 - $28,000

Mazda -rx 7-2

I can’t fathom how these aren’t more valuable than they are. Get in quick while you still can.

- Mazda RX-7: Great cars of the '70s

 

5. HOLDEN MONARO CV8 V2
Price range - $15,000 - $30,000

Holden -monaro -cv8
A good-looking car and the last Aussie muscle coupe.

- Buyer's guide: Holden Monaro CV8 V2

 

GUY ALLEN'S TOP FIVE:

1. HOLDEN MONARO CV8
Price range $25,000 - $35,000

Holden -monaro -cv8


I’d be looking for the best stocker with the lowest miles. It’s the last of the line and something that’s truly distinctive.

- Buyer's guide: Holden Monaro CV8 V2

 

2. BMW E24 COUPES
Price range $10,000 - $30,000

Bmw -633

If nothing else I practice what I preach, as I’ve now owned two 6 Series models! They’re a fun GT car, can be made reliable and are cheap. The previous generation – the 3.0Cs – has rocketed in price and it seems only a matter of time before they take off. Plus they have a strong local race history.

- Our shed: 1976 BMW 633

 

3. FORD FALCON BA XR6 TURBO
Price range $10,000 - $25,000

Ford -falcon -ba -xr 6-turbo


It would have to be a manual (which narrows down the field considerably) and finding a good one could be a challenge. But the Turbo was and is a fascinating car that deserves to sit in any Aussie muscle car collection.

- Ford history: Falcon AU, BA, BF series 1998-2008

 

4. PORSCHE 944 TURBO
Price range $25,000 - $60,000

Porsche -944-turbo

I’m going to side with Cliff here. The front-engined Porsches are a hoot and it’s the turbo that gets my attention. Not cheap, but still value compared to a humble air-cooled 911.

- Past blast: Porsche 944 Turbo

 

5. JAGUAR XJS
Price range $15,000 - $30,000

Jaguar -xjs

Okay, I might get laughed out of the country for this, but I still reckon these things are a great buy and I’d have one in a heartbeat if I had the shed space. Seriously, we’re talking a huge luxo GT car with a big V12 in the snout for mid teens. Okay, they can be trouble, but owners swear you can fix them. Plus, here’s another one with good local race history.

- Buyer's guide: Jaguar XJS 1975-96

 

CLIFF CHAMBERS' TOP FIVE:

1. NISSAN SKYLINE GTS SERIES 1
Price range - $6500 - $24,000

Nissan -skyline -2

Yes I owned one and what a wrench it was when the time came to get something newer. A wonderfully efficient and understated car. Except for its big, attention-grabbing wheels, the all-white Skyline attracted minimal attention from other road users, at least until you drove around their BMW or V8-modded Jag and disappeared into the distance. Yes the chassis could have handled an extra 70kW but that wasn’t the point. The SVD Skyline was a sports sedan, not a brawny muscle car, built by the same folks that brought you Nissan’s controversial but effective Group A Touring Car contenders. The last time I saw GTS #88 (of the just 200 all-white Series 1 cars made) she was looking sad and neglected. I just hope someone cared enough to ensure she survived.

- Aussie original: Nissan R31 Skyline

 

2. FORD ED FALCON XR8 SPRINT
Price range $8500 - $27,000

Ford -falcon -ed -xr 8-sprint
Just think of this an EB GT you can park in your street without the neighbours laughing and pointing. Same motor and underpinnings, equipment to decent standards and $20K buys a beauty. Why they stay so cheap I don’t know.

- Future classic: Ford Falcon ED XR8 Sprint

 

3. PORSCHE 944 TURBO
Price range - $25,000 - $60,000

Porsche -944-turbo
No idea why Porsche considered its front-engined cars a failure because the 944T is exceptional to drive. Finding one that hasn’t been thrashed is difficult and maintenance isn’t cheap but all of that is outweighed by the performance and balance.

- Budget classic: Porsche 944

 

4. HOLDEN TORANA S 5.0 HATCH
Price range - $3000 - $7000
(SS pictured)

Holden -torana -ss
Yes an SS and with the add-on flares, scoop and maybe a drop tank too just to fool the mugs as it grumbles into Bunnings on a Saturday morning. "Sure buddy, this is the Real Deal and worth bucket-loads". That said, a really good SS will run close to $100K but still offers value if you want to live the dream on the cheap.

- Value guide: What's a Torana worth?

 

5. JAGUAR XJ6 SERIES 1
Price range $5000 -$30,000

Jaguar -xj6
Yes, it blew head gaskets and leaked oil but the XJ6 I owned during the 1980s saved four lives. Forced onto the gravel by an on-coming car the brilliant six-coil suspension soaked every bump and didn’t spit us into the trees. That, pretty much, is all you can ask of any car. Lovely growl from the 4.2 as well.

- Buyer's guide: Jaguar XJ6 Series I-III (1968-87) 

 

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