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Rob Griffin

The 7 greatest retro cars


Rob Griffin chooses seven of the most iconic cars of recent decades, and reveals how to get your hands on one for less money than you thought.

Young women in a vintage car

For the last few years retro styling has been all the rage, with people seeking to recreate looks that were popular in decades past. Whether it’s vintage clothing, period pieces to decorate your home, or even games machines, people have an affinity with the past.

But while these items are generally modern takes on something old, motoring fans of the retro look are still able to buy the real thing

OK, they might not come equipped with the latest creature comforts, but this will be retro in its purest form.

1990s – Mazda MX-5 (Mk1)

Mazda MX-5

For little over £1,000 you can get your hands on one of the best sports cars ever made. In early 1990 the fantastic Mazda MX-5 went on sale in the UK and went on to become hugely popular. In fact, a version of the car is still being made today – 25 years later.

This immensely fun two-seater convertible has enduring appeal with looks that are reminiscent of traditional sports cars such as the Alfa Romeo Spider. The Mk1 also had quirky pop-up front headlights. This car is an absolute delight to drive and own.

1980s – Peugeot 205 GTi

 Peugeot 205

The 1980s was a time of excess – and nothing epitomised the decade more than the fantastic Peugeot 205 GTI. It had everything you could want in a hot hatch with superb handling, wonderful styling, and a great turn of speed. Three decades may have passed but it can still be guaranteed to turn heads.

Available in both 1.6 and 1.9 versions, you will need to pay between £2,000 and £20,000, depending on its condition and how much love it’s received down the years.

1970s – Ford Cortina MK3

Ford Cortina

One of the best-selling cars of the decade, this version of the Ford Cortina was an absolute beauty and its tough, muscular styling still looks cool today. As far as ownership is concerned, parts can still be sourced and it’s reality easy to work on.

Your only trouble might be tracking one to buy as there aren’t huge numbers available any more. Should you find one in decent condition, expect to pay upwards of £2,000. Well-restored examples, however, can easily cost three times this amount.

1960s – Mini


The 1960s in London was a hip time – and the mini was the car of choice for the young and trendy. This little car was simply a revelation and the fact so many original minis have survived illustrates their success and durability.

Although the basic two-door version owed its appeal to being cheap and economical, a much racier version – the Mini Cooper – ended up being produced in conjunction with a man by the name of John Cooper, who was a key figure in motorsport at that time.

Early examples of Minis are changing hands for well in excess of £10,000, but you’ll need to find double that for a restored Cooper-badged model.

1950s – Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Okay, there’s a new version out now that looks very nice, but for the real throwback look you need to source an original Fiat 500. These lovely Italian masterpieces proved themselves to be cheap, nimble, and massively popular.

Early promotional videos produced by Fiat came with the slogan ”It’s here, the little big car!” And for the next half a century people took to it in their droves, with more than a million of these remarkable machines rolling off the production line.

A new version arrived in 2007, but a restored older model will cost you upwards of £5,000.

1960s – Ford Anglia 105E

Ford Anglia

"Ford Anglia" by Charles01 is licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Instantly recognisable thanks to its US-influenced styling, particularly the prominent headlamps and full-width grille, the Anglia 105E was introduced in 1959. But it established itself as one of the iconic vehicles of the 1960s. Versions were used by the police and racing drivers.

In fact, it broke the dominance of the Ford Escorts in National Hot Rod racing with George Polley winning the World Championship in an Anglia in 1976. Expect to pay around £5,000 for a decent example.

1990s – Toyota Supra MK IV

Toyota Supra

It’s hard to believe more than 20 years have passed since Toyota introduced the MKIV version of the Supra. With its twin-turbocharged 326bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, it was an instant hit with those in need of serious speed. It also looked fantastic with its long, sleek lines, allied to a sporty rear wing.

Unsurprisingly this car still has a huge fan base – nearly 100 gathered to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2013 – and joining their number will cost you upwards of £5,000.


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