1 Mar 2013

Top Ten Future Classic cars

Which cars on sale today will be considered classic cars in 30 years time.  We asked on Twitter and Facebook and drew up a list.

What is a classic car?  The only real definition we could find was from the Classic Car Club of America, which maintains that a classic car must be 20-40 years old, and anything older is an 'antique'.

The definition in the UK is a little looser and can mean anything from 20 years onwards.  We're looking at which cars of today will be classic cars in the future, and for the purpose of this exercise that will mean 30 years hence.

We also need to define 'today'.  Again for the purpose of this exercise 'today' means anything from the past decade.  We also need to put a budget cap on todays value of our future classics.  £30,000 sounds about right.  Ferraris, Porsches will no doubt all become classics - perhaps with the exception of the Porsche Cayenne - but most people can't afford to buy one.

What we're really looking at is popular classics.  Those cars you and I, on everyday budgets, drive that, when we're older, will look back on and perhaps purchase a slightly battered example to restore in our shed or garage.

What cars on todays roads will become the MGBs, Escort Mk1s, Porsche 924s, Capris, Golf GTi Mk1s , Renault 5 GT turbos and BMC Minis of tomorrow?  To become a true classic of the people the car must be desirable, with a design that retains its draw over the decades.  The Ford Cortina is a classic, the Mondeo will never be.

We put the question out to Twitter and Facebook and collated a top ten from a shortlist of over 40 suggestions.  In no particular order our Top Ten Future Classic Cars is:

Volkswagen Golf Mk4 GTi 25th Anniversary

In order to mark the Golf's 25th anniversary Volkswagen released two special edition models in limited numbers -  the petrol powered, 180bhp, 1.8T, GTi and the diesel 150bhp, 1.9TD GTi.  900 of each variant were released.  Nothing attracts cachet in classic cars than a limited edition and, despite the market being flooded with Mk4 GTi's, the Anniversary models were different enough (brakes, wheels, suspension, bodykit) to have already started to attract higher prices.  In 30 years these will be the Golf to own and that 60 year olds will look back on with dewy eyes.

Mini Cooper JCW (R50)

The first modern Mini (model designation R50) to be released by BMW attracted a huge amount of interest in the years running up to, and after, it's launch.  The bloated cars and vastly inflated model range we see today compares to just the one model shape released at launch.  The Mini was available in it's first year as the Mini One, Mini Cooper or Cooper S.  Towards the end of it's run, in 2006, 459 examples of the Cooper S with a John Cooper Works GP kit were sold.  Whilst the R50 Mini will certainly be a future classic the Cooper JCW will become a bone fide collectors item.

Renault Clio V6

Renaultsport took one humdrum hatchback, added a thumping great V6, installed it where the back seats should be and used it to drive the rear wheels.  They then gave one to Jenson Button to use as a company car.  The Clio V6 was cool.  Never mind it was highly rated as a track tool.  It was so impractical, and challenging to drive, as to be unique.  Most Clios will have been scrapped in 30 years. Those Clio V6s that haven't been crashed or vandalised by foolish owners will be cherished as classics of the 2000s.

BMW M135i

As ugly as a bag of spanners, with a cheap interior and low standard spec, the M135i is surely destined to be a classic car in 30 years time.  Why?  Because it's fast - in a straight line and round corners - and because it's relatively cheap for what you get.  Amongst partially sighted petrolheads the M135i is already a classic.  As prices comes down to levels affordable as a second car M135i's will either be thrashed to death on tracks and b-roads or lovingly cared for by BMW enthusiasts.  In 30 years time this car will be revered as a classic of that there is no doubt.

Mazda MX5

Given that the MX5 is looked on now as a back to basics, no-nonsense roadster for the connoisseur petrolhead imagine how it will be viewed in 3 decades when automatic gearboxes, electric parking brakes, steer by wire, hybrid drivetrain, self parking, self levelling suspension and autonomous cruise control are the norm.  The MX5 will be known as the last of the real cars with it's sweet engine, real handbrake, manual gearbox and steering that actually feels as though it's connected to the wheels. The MX5 will be the the MG Midget of the 2040s.  They'll be cheap and old men will work on them at the weekends, then they'll take them out for a Sunday run to experience "driving as it used to be."

Vauxhall VX220/Lotus Elise S1

A bit like the MX5 but slightly more hardcore and less rusty.  The VX220/Elise will be owned by the more discerning petrolhead who wants to remember the wind in the hair experience they never actually got when they were young because they were really driving Mondeo company cars.  In an age of electronics and complex drivetrains these cars will be able to be worked on by enthusiasts armed with no more than a Haynes manual and a socket set.  It is impossible to believe these cars, separated only by body panels, engines and badges will not be outright classics in 30 years.

Toyota Prius

Reviled by many petrolheads for it's image, it's awkward design and the fact it was the first mainstream hybrid to break through into the mass conscience, the Prius is loved by a minority (including Alex Wakefield who wrote this excellent article).  In fact it was Alex who lobbied for it's inclusion in this list because, "it's the first car to significantly change car design since 1888."  And he's not far wrong.  When hybrids are the norm this will be looked back on as the car that changed everything and heralded in a new era - like it or not.

Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ

Another car in the Elise/MX5 mould.  Cheap, great looking, simple, perfect chemistry.  These will be the Ford Capris (UK)/Mustangs (US) of the 2040s.  Old codgers in sheds, pipe in mouth (if they've not been banned) will work on their GT86s - removing all the extras and accoutrements spotty youths will undoubtedly have attached to them in the intervening years - to take their 30 year old sportscar back to it's original spec.  For a car to be a classic it must have been regarded as quite special when it was new.  This qualifies the GT86/BRZ.

Jaguar XF

We're slightly cheating here because when released in 2008 the cheapest XF cost £33,000 but have you seen how many there are on the roads today?  Unquestionably a car for the people.  An unequivocal success, the XF was designed by Ian Callum and it looks, goes and sounds fantastic.  What the Mk2 is today as the XF will be in 30 years.  Diesels will be shunned (the world will realise what a horribly polluting fuel it is at some point), the V8 will be overpriced, the V6 petrol will be the XF to drive with the rest of the Jaguar Owners Club to watch the hydrogen powered LMP1 cars racing at Le Mans 2043.

Ford Focus RS (2nd gen)

Fast Fords always create a stirring in the loins of petrolheads.  Given this was the hot hatch of 2009 and so much better than any recent Ford with a mere ST badge, the RS will be remembered as the car that gave Ford back some of it's credibility.  Associations with Cosworth and Lotus produced fast Fords of old but the inhouse RS Performance division has occasionally shown flashes of inspiration on their own.  2010's RS500 is the better car but it cost a full £10,000 more.  The more readily available 2009 RS will be regarded as an affordable classic in the 2040s.

Other cars we considered for inclusion but that didn't quite make the cut included the Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR, Fiat Panda 100hp, TVR Cerbera, Landrover Defender, Alfa Romeo Brera, Alfa Spider, Jaguar XK8, Fiat 500 Abarth, Volkswagen Lupo GTi, Honda S2000 and more expensive cars such as the Audi RS4, Porsche Cayman, Porsche 997 GT3, Mercedes C 63 AMG and BMW E46 M3. Oh, and the Ferrari 458 - if any survive.

This was essentially a crowd sourced list.  Comments are welcome!