Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

In the current climate of spiralling interest rates, soon £100,000 won’t get you more than a Mars bar and a packet of crisps so, while you still can, get the money invested in the dream machine you’ve always promised yourself.

We’ve got something for everyone here, from limited-edition hot hatches to big-engined GTs and a history-defining super saloon. Will any of them appreciate it? That remains to be seen but at the very least, you will enjoy owning them.

1. BMW M3 CSL

As sure as the earth is round and what comes up must come down, a BMW M3 CSL must feature on a list of the best investment cars for less than £100,000. Using what is widely accepted to be the best BMW M3 – the E46 M3 – as a base, the CSL stripped it of 136kg weight (and fog lights), stiffened up the chassis and blessed it with a carbon-fibre airbox that produces one of the best induction noises we’ve yet encountered.

Power, meanwhile, went up by 17PS – to 360PS (265kW) – and 0-62mph dropped from 5.2 to 4.9 seconds. The elephant in the room is the BMW’s automatic single-clutch transmission which is, well, slow and not very good. The question is, do you drive around the gearbox’s limitations or save yourself the bother and retrofit a six-speed manual? Jerky auto or not, the CSL seems like one of the safest ways to make money on a car that can still be had for well under £100,000.

2. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

There’s something delightfully endearing about putting a large engine in a small car and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S proves that to the full. To create it, Aston took the smallest and lightest chassis available at the time and then fitted it with the 573PS (421kW) 5.9-litre V12 from the DBS. The result? A top speed of 205mph and 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.

Thankfully, Aston also sorted out the chassis. The V12’s suspension sits 15mm lower and is 45 per cent stiffer than the standard car’s, giving greater composure without sacrificing comfort. Perhaps the best part of the V12 Vantage is its pumped-up looks courtesy of long bonnet vents, wide sills and aggressive front and rear bumpers. It’s far more striking than the standard car. Yet, manual versions of the V12 can still be scooped up for well under our £100,000 limit. You can wager it won’t stay the same for long. 

3. Lotus Carlton

Few cars define their era quite as well as the Lotus Carlton – the fastest saloon of its day, the Daily Mail launched a campaign to ban it, while smash-and-grab robbers found themselves an ideal getaway vehicle. Law-abiding drivers also loved the Carlton. Lotus got the styling just right adding a subtle body kit and a (slightly less subtle) rear wing in what would become a blueprint for the modern performance saloon.

The performance, meanwhile, is impressive even today. The Lotus’ 382PS (281kW) twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 is good for 0-62mph in around five seconds and with no nannying speed limiter (ala a contemporary German performance saloon), the Lotus was good for 177mph. Sadly, the delights of the Lotus Carlton have not gone unnoticed and a clean one will set you back close to our £100,000 self-imposed limit. Cheap for such a large slice of motoring history. 

4. Maserati Gransport

As a Maserati that goes as well as it looks, the Gransport brings cause for celebration.

Even without the distinctive ‘boomerang’ tail lights of the original 3200GT, the Gransport cuts an athletic figure that’s enhanced with a subtle body kit and 10mm lowered suspension, giving a sense of menace that was absent on the original. Subtle changes were made beneath the skin, too.

In the Gransport, Maserati’s 4.2-litre V8 produced 400PS (294kW) – ten more than before – you get adjustable suspension and a sports exhaust that gleefully opens its flaps at 4,000rpm. Even the Cambiocorsa automated manual gearbox gives faster shifts.

The result is a car that’s as happy grand touring as it is dissecting your favourite B roads and with prices still low – you can pick up good examples for less than £40,000 – the Gransport makes for a tantalising used buy that’s ripe for appreciation.

5. Porsche 997 911 GTS

If the 997 represents the sweet spot in Porsche 911 production, then the GTS provides the icing to the proverbial oily cake – it’s one of the best road-going 911s ever built. The 997 has the small size of the 996 but without the goofy fried egg headlights, while a slick manual gearbox and hydraulic power steering mean it still feels like an analogue Porsche.

But the engine is the superstar. With no turbos to choke its voice or responses, the GTS’s 408PS (300kW) 3.8-litre flat-six gets from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and will hit 190mph flat out. It’s a spine-tingling experience and the fact you have to work for it only makes it better.

By contrast, newer 911s – faster and more accomplished, true – struggle to match the 997’s engagement, which makes the GTS seem like a bargain when good manual examples can be had for less than £80,000. 

6. Ferrari F430 manual

Predicting the next Ferrari that will shoot up in value isn’t easy, but we reckon a manual F430 is a safe bet. Looking like a shrunken Enzo can only be a good thing, but more than that the F430 brings the world of old and new Ferrari together. So, while you get a screaming flat-plane crank V8 mated to an open-gate manual gearbox, you also get a manettino dial on the steering wheel linked to the F430’s electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

The result? This Ferrari can pull your heartstrings like few other cars, but there’s always an electronic safety net to fall back on. Sadly, the delights of a manual F430 have not gone unnoticed and while you’ll get one for under £100,000, you’ll pay a significant premium over an identical automatic.

7. Lotus Elise 240 Final edition

While some investment cars are reaching middle age and will likely require a bit of work, the Lotus Elise 240 Final Edition was only introduced in 2021. As the name hints, the Final Edition is the runout version of Lotus’ bestseller, coming complete with unique paint jobs and badging, and a lovely set of forged alloy wheels.

The Final Edition shows you what 25 years of Lotus Elise development looks like so while it weighs 200kg more than the original it comes packing a 243PS (179kW) supercharged four-cylinder that would make mincemeat of the old Rover K-series. Factor in daily usability that eclipses the abilities of the original Elise and there are plenty of less enjoyable ways to spend a hard-earned £50,000 or so.

8. Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

The outgoing Honda Civic Type R’s styling (more like a billboard saying “race me” to anyone in visual range) might not have been to everyone’s tastes, but few could argue with the way the explosive Honda drove. Its 320PS (235kW) 2.0-litre engine hunted the redline like any self-respecting VTEC should while turbocharging delivered performance which made the official 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds seem unduly pessimistic.

The Civic Type R could annihilate A and B roads in a way that would embarrass most supercars, thanks to a stiff chassis and the expertly damped suspension’s ability to absorb any bump or camber you cared to throw at it. A swift glance at the rapidly rising speedo was the only clue to how outrageously fast you were going.

Buying as a long-term investment? Then you best seek out the Type R Limited Edition, barely used examples of which can be scooped up for less than £55,000. As the best example of the best hot hatch of the current era, prices can surely only go up – can’t they?

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Michael Jordan’s modified V12 BMW 850i

Michael Jordan’s modified V12 BMW 850i is up for sale

Michael Jordan’s modified V12 BMW 850i is up for sale

The best there ever was. No, we’re not necessarily referring to this BMW 850i, which you can bid on right now.

It’s former owner on the other hand? He gets called the GOAT more often than he does Michael Jordan. Yes, that Michael Jordan – basketball superstar, six-time NBA champ, six-time MVP ranked – the very same.

The man’s a sporting icon and indeed, a bit of a tastemaker. The logo depicting him leaping for the net is as recognisable as Nike’s own tick. This BMW it seems too, is evidence that he’s got really rather great taste in cars.

Bought brand new in 1991, the V12-engined, manual-transmissioned super GT was almost immediately festooned with the deliciously dished AC Schnitzer 17-inch wheels you see on it here. They work beautifully we reckon with the 850’s Mauritius Blue paint scheme.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

It’s covered just 30,000 miles in its 32 years and has been looked after very nicely judging by the car’s condition. That’s not to say it’s some sort of undriven queen. It also comes equipped with some massaged vocals courtesy of a MagnaFlow exhaust. The only bit that’s not working as it should, at least according to the ad, is the air conditioning.

It looks to be worth every bit of the $71,000 it’s currently sitting it. With just a few short days left for bidding, whoever snags it will be getting a slam dunk.

Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

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Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

The best sports saloons for under £10k

The best sports saloons for under £10k

If for some reason a small two-seater sportscar simply doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, there are other ways of quenching your thirst for exciting driving.

There’s a long list of larger, more practical, but no less exciting sports saloons that are capable of putting a dirty great smile on your face. Here are eight of the best.

W211 Mercedes-Benz E55

The W211 Mercedes E55 comes from a time when AMGs were as much about cosseting as they were about tyre-shredding performance. That said, there’s plenty of the latter. Power comes from a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 that hammers out 476PS (350kW) and a mighty 706Nm (521lb ft) of torque to the rear wheels via a conventional slushbox – factors that make its 4.7-second 0-62mph time all the more impressive.

Standard air suspension ensures it’s very comfortable, giving the E55 a high-speed ride not a million miles away from an S-Class of the period. It’s the ideal mile-crusher. Yet it’s also relatively agile, with neat body control and feelsome hydraulic steering. Having said that, a little more traction in the wet wouldn’t go amiss. Inside, the E55 is starting to show its age but still feels relatively plush. You get comfy armchair-like seats up front – complete with active bolsters that clamp your body in corners – and a back seat with acres of legroom.

The boot is also generously proportioned and there’s an estate version if you need more room. Sadly, you’ll need every one of our £10,000 to get your hands on one.

GD Subaru Impreza WRX

The Subaru Impreza rumbling flat-four could stake an Oasis-like claim to being a sound of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, it’s that recognisable. A delivery of more than 200PS delivered 0-62mph in under six seconds and a top speed of more than 140mph. Permanent four-wheel drive was the secret to the former and it helped the Impreza deal with the UK’s patchy climate.

Sadly, the introduction of cars like the Volkswagen Golf R – with its fancy DSG gearbox and viscous coupling on-demand four-wheel drive – sounded the Impreza’s death knell. But while a WRX wouldn’t see which way a Golf R went on a country road, the Subaru has character a VW can only dream of.

This brings us to this particular GD version of the Impreza. So long as you avoid early ‘bugeye’ versions, it’s a handsome vintage, with a chunky body that earlier models missed out on but without the ugly hatchback rear-end of later offerings. Our £10,000 buys you an exceptionally nice WRX but you could also take a gamble on a leggier (and significantly spicier) STi variant.

X350 Jaguar XJR

While this version of the Jaguar XJR lacks the svelte lines of the models that preceded it, it’s still the one we’d recommend. The X350 XJR is notable for its aluminium body that – larger than the car it replaced – meant the big Jag was capable of surprising fuel economy. Around 30mpg is within reach – not to be sniffed at in a 400PS (294kW) super saloon. That said, it’s the XJR’s performance that’s most notable.

Its supercharged 4.2-litre V8 offers effortless overtaking grunt – even compared to the competition of the time – and a buttery smooth ride makes this a great machine for tackling long distances.

Inside, the XJR misses some of the older model’s character but it’s a lot more spacious, with a usable back seat and a huge boot. Wood and leather are not in short supply, either. The best part about this unloved Jag is the price, with mint examples on offer for well under £10,000.

Saab 95 Aero

In lieu of a Volvo T5 saloon (sorry, fast Volvos need to be estates in our book), it’s the Saab 95 Aero that flies the flag for Sweden on this list. Unlike its countryman, the 95 wears its saloon car body well with a chiselled front end and handsome lines that bring to mind the aeronautical theme Saab loved to play on.

Performance isn’t jet-like but it’s not far off. Turbocharger torque and 250PS (184kW) mean the Saab delivers in-gear performance to humble far more exotic machinery and it is also an exceptionally comfortable cruiser. Unfortunately, it’s no B-road blaster. Traction is limited and the Vauxhall Vectra-derived chassis – although heavily modified by Saab – can feel all at sea if you stray above eight-tenths. But, with your family abroad, you’re unlikely to do that.

Instead, it’s better to marvel at the restrained good looks of the spacious cabin – complete with its Night Panel that reduces distractions by dimming all but the speedo at night. Our £10K budget means you can pick from the best examples.

Audi S4

The Audi S4 takes its place on this list based on its engine alone – a 344PS (253kW) 4.2-litre V8 that produced more thunder than a tropical storm supercharged by global warming (ironically, its replacement would be a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with little of the older unit’s charm). The V8 started with a characteristic rumble that manifested into an old-school bark before you grabbed another gear in the six-speed manual box, revelling in the throaty splutter as the revs dropped. It’s pure theatre.

Which is just as well, because the S4 was not all ‘that’ in corners. With a large portion of its V8 sitting ahead of the front axle, it tended to understeer, which was exacerbated by the standard quattro four-wheel drive.

That said, there’s still a lot to love. The S4 looks as smart today as it did when it went on sale in 2005 and inside you’ll find an example of peak Audi interior – one that’s beautifully built, easy to use and has plenty of room for a family. Prices start from a mere £7,000.

BMW 335i

The days of the £10,000 M car might be far behind us but that doesn’t mean you’re all out of options. The 335i BMW 3 Series is a sparkling example of the hidden gems lurking below the M-car halo. Its lusty turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six has the power to worry hot hatches (and a soundtrack they’d kill for), with over 300PS (221kW), 0-62mph takes well under six seconds and you get a 155mph top speed. The rear-wheel drive chassis is a joy to behold and – unlike newer versions – you can also have a (rubbery) manual gearbox.

Adjustable dampers are another option worth looking out for, giving a handling balance that ranges from surprisingly comfortable to deliciously taut. The 335i gets all the sensible stuff right too. It looks ‘right’, the cabin design is blissfully intuitive and you can tickle 40mpg with a light right foot. All in all, the 335i could be one of the best cars – of any type – available for £10,000.

Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

We couldn’t write this list and not include an Italian stallion with room for four. But while the Ferrari-engined Maserati Quattroporte seems like an obvious choice, the DuoSelect automatic is your only option at this price and it is plagued with slow shifts and dismal reliability. The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA has no such problems.

Its six-speed manual will never age the car (we’d avoid the Selespeed auto), while the Alfa’s magnificent-looking Busso 3.2-litre V6 is arguably more characterful even than the Maser’s unit. Delivering a rich growl you’ll not find in anything modern. Sadly, the driving experience isn’t quite such a delight with torque steer and understeer aplenty. But, hey, at least it’s a challenge.

The standard 156, with its hidden rear doors and offset number plate, looks great and the GTA’s extensive body kit only adds to the sense of occasion. Considering their rarity (around 150 are left), £10,000 for a well-used example of this practical saloon seems like money well spent.

Vauxhall Insignia VXR

While the Vectra VXR was a tyre-smoking, understeering mess of a fast saloon, the Insignia VXR was rather good. It was, like the old car, a performance bargain giving you a 325PS (239kW) 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 (0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and a 155mph top speed) for the price of a bog-standard BMW 3 Series. But, unlike the car it replaced, it could also handle. Sure, it doesn’t have the rear-biassed feel of a fast BMW but standard four-wheel drive means it grips hard and is never flustered.

It’s also very comfortable if you’re looking for something to while away the miles in. The Insignia doesn’t have the wide-boy image of VXRs of old, either. Its clean shape and tight shut lines are more Audi than fast Ford – only the lovely ten-spoke alloy wheels hint that this is the performance model.

Inside, it’s more stereotypically ‘Vauxhall’. A sea of black plastic meets your eyes and the scatter of buttons doesn’t look tidy, but it is roomy. With prices starting from £7,000 for a car that is not much more than ten years old, it arguably offers the best value of all the cars here.

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