The best sub-£10k investment cars for 2023

by | Feb 21, 2023

Attractive finance schemes, manageable monthly payments and the backing of a manufacturer warranty makes buying a brand-new car hard to resist, but resist you must because the depreciation-free world of the modern classic awaits.

That’s right, a mere £10,000 is enough to get you behind the wheel of something a little bit special, with appreciating classic potential. Assembled here, you’ll find everything from hot hatches to luxury saloons, drop-tops and sports cars so keep reading to discover some of the best four-wheeled investments you can have for £10,000.

MINI Cooper S R53

Not that ‘mini’ and built with German money, the BMW MINI wasn’t the purists’ choice when it landed in showrooms back in 2000, but the motoring world loved its retro looks and cheeky handling. They loved it even more when the Cooper S was revealed a year later. With a burbly 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine lavished with a supercharger’s love, the Cooper S produced 163bhp for 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 135mph. Along with its addictive ‘charger whine, the MINI was blessed with independent rear suspension that gave its handling an air of sophistication not found in rivals. Factor in the MINI’s trendy looks – courtesy of a (functional) bonnet scoop and pea-shooter twin exhausts – and less than £10,000 for an extremely good example has got to be money well spent.

Volkswagen Lupo GTI

When the Volkswagen UP GTI was revealed in 2016, motoring journalists compared it to the MK1 Golf GTI on account of its modest power and lightweight, but of course, there is another option – the Lupo GTI. It can be picked up for less than £5,000, and why wouldn’t you? The Lupo GTI gets pocket rocket looks thanks to its chunky body kit, dinky five-spoke alloy wheels, four disc brakes and central exhaust pipe. You even get front wings, a bonnet and doors all made from lightweight aluminium. Power comes from a naturally 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 123bhp, which gets the Lupo from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. It’s such an enticing package we’re willing to overlook the fact that the Lupo doesn’t offer the last word in handling finesse.

Honda S2000

The Honda S2000 is a car you buy with your heart safe in the knowledge that your head won’t bounce the cheque. On the one hand, you get a sweet-handling rear-wheel drive sportscar with an engine that could have been signed off by the gods themselves. On the other hand, it’s a Honda and therefore should – when serviced regularly and maintained correctly – be very reliable. The engine is a gem. Famed for its ability to burst through 8,000rpm on the crest of a wave of induction roar, it’s an intoxicating experience brought closer by the Honda’s ability to drop its fabric roof. It’s hard to believe good S2000s can still be picked up for less than £10,000 – it can’t stay like that for long, surely?

Porsche Boxster 987

Every time you get in your 987 Porsche Boxster you’ll have to pinch yourself – how can a car this good cost less than £10,000? The Boxster gets everything right from its sublime mid-engined handling to its howling flat-six engine, inspiring suspension setup and powerful brakes – it drives like a mini exotic. But it deals with the boring stuff, too. The Porsche doesn’t cost a fortune to run, the big fuel tank gives you excellent range, two usable boots make it a practical two-seater and it feels very well built. The 987 is also prettier than the earlier 986 with its fried-egg headlights. Engine problems are widely reported but can be avoided by going for a well-maintained standard Boxster, which doesn’t suffer from the bore score issues of the Boxster S and should have a sturdier IMS bearing, too. Want to know what £10,000 of perfection looks like? The 987 Boxster gets closer than most.

Citroen 2CV

The Citroen 2CV might look like the oddball on this list but it is hard to think of a more unique driving experience that can be yours on a budget of £10,000. Famously designed to get French peasants across a freshly ploughed field with a box of eggs and a sheep in the boot – without breaking the eggs – the 2CV predates the modern crossover by several decades but shares its ability to absorb the worst UK roads can throw at it. But if you’re expecting mod cons you can forget it. The 2CV doesn’t even have windy windows and the best safety feature is the door, meaning you can escape the vehicle pre-accident. Not that you’ll be going very fast, even late models struggle to hit 70mph. But while it’s not quick, the 2CV is a piece of genuine motoring history with a marshmallow ride and umbrella gearshift you’ll struggle not to love.

BMW 5 Series E39

Naming the best car ever built wouldn’t be easy, but we’d wager the E39 BMW 5 Series would be on everyone’s shortlist. The E39 got everything right when it was launched back in 1996: it looked brilliant, drove great and had an interior that was posh and practical in equal measure – and did without the touchscreen buttons that plague new models. The E39 felt every inch a BMW from behind the wheel thanks to its sonorous straight-six engines and famous 50:50 weight distribution. Even now, less than £10,000 is enough to get your mitts on a clean 528i with a powerful 192bhp six-cylinder engine and rack and pinion steering that’s sharper than the recirculating ball system fitted to V8 models. Daily driver classics don’t come much more appealing than this.

Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z made a name for itself by offering stunning looks, entertaining handling, generous performance and the famous ‘Z’ nameplate for a knockdown price, when compared to rivals like the BMW Z4 Coupe and Porsche Cayman. Sure, the Nissan’s plasticky interior won’t be for everyone, and it doesn’t offer the last word in handling finesse, but a rear-wheel drive chassis, limited-slip differential and grunty 3.5-litre V6 can mean only one thing – easily controlled slides on demand. Our £10,000 budget is enough to get you a clean 350 to cherish or a solid example that you can tune as you like it. Either way, you’ll enjoy the experience and could end up appreciating classic a few years down the line.

Peugeot 106 GTI

Given our unending penchant for ageing French hot hatches – a 205 GTI recently sold for £69,000 at auction – a Peugeot hot hatch could be one of the most sensible investments on our list, and the 106 GTI is one of the finest examples of the breed. Unburdened by luxuries – or indeed safety features – the Peugeot 106 GTI tips the scales at a mere 955kgs, meaning its revvy 120bhp 1.6-litre twin-cam petrol engine still feels quick today and is one of the best reasons to choose it over paired-back 100bhp Rallye. It’s the GTI’s handling that’s the real talking point, though, because the 106 can pirouette around corners like its back wheels are on casters. It’s a hot hatch masterclass that’s surely worth every single one of your £10,000.

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