European & British Car Market Review 2021

By: Cliff Chambers

lotus esprit lotus esprit

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, but what has it done to car values? Here is our comprehensive annual buyer's guide of motoring classics from Europe and the UK

Quick quiz: what do automotive brands Jaguar, Volvo, Lotus, Bentley and Fiat have in common?

Yes, they are all long-standing and revered manufacturers with proud histories in the realms of passenger, race or rally cars. But that’s not it.

Each of these very familiar names has announced that by 2030 – years earlier in some cases – their entire ranges of passenger models will run exclusively on electricity.

Those future models will not be hybrids or concealing some other alternative to stored or generated voltage. They will be 100 percent EV; hopefully by then embracing battery and fast charge technology to ensure unfettered travel throughout countries the size of ours.

Will the shift to electricity spell the end for models that run on hydrocarbon fuels? No, it won’t; at least not for many more years than I have writing or you reading have left.

Times certainly change and people adapt their means of transport without ever totally discarding ones that are left behind. The same is going to apply to hydrocarbon fuelled vehicles.

A century ago, horses were abandoned as the primary propulsion unit for mainstream means of transport. However, poor old Equus did not disappear into history and every day, horses are being raced or used for recreation.

Older cars a century from now will doubtless enjoy the same levels of interest and reverence.

European and British brands are cornerstones of the enthusiast vehicle movement and very actively involved in preservation of their heritage.

You still can buy complete body shells, reproduction panels and a huge range of mechanical components to ensure the viability of older models. One reason that Jaguar E-Types and early Porsche 911s remain popular and valuable is the certainty they offer of spare parts supply.

Values everywhere are up on 2019 levels and the international auction stage is unsure of where the ‘Pandemic Plus’ factor will take surging prices.

At the pinnacle we have Ferraris and Bugattis and Lamborghinis worth millions but in the realms of affordability are models that still cost a month or two’s pay, look okay and are reasonably reliable.

As always, caution is of paramount importance because boom times do not last forever, and trends can reverse without any apparent social or economic influence. Models that are and have been fashionable can rapidly fall from favour.

Where the market remains very strong is for models with a recognised sporting heritage. Austin-Healeys, Twin-Cam Ford Escorts, 4WD Lancia HFs and all manner of Porsches have been setting new record prices while E-Type Jaguars have maintained their momentum for much longer than is typical for the model.

Recent (21st Century) prestige models have in general avoided the price stampede which has afflicted the mainstream used car market.

For those heading out to buy something that will serve now as viable transport and be preserved into the future, there is an abundance of choice.

Follow the Germanic route and the opportunities are eclectic and generally affordable; from Golfs and TT Audis at the compact end to autobahn-storming AMG Benzes and M3 BMWs on the friendly side of $50,000.

As always, we urge our valued readers to research and consider before settling on a purchase and always be prepared to park it for a few years should the market suddenly head into hibernation.

Cliff Chambers
August 2021


Read next:

- Euro & Brit value guides

- Understanding our guides


From Unique Cars #456, Aug 2021


Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here


Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.