Rent or Buy – Finding the Right Car 4U

Welcome to Classic Cars Driven – Finding the Right Classic Car 4U. A unique guide aimed at buyers and hirer’s alike based purely on our experience of the classic cars and coupes we have driven to date and liked the most. As we review and rate more cars we will of course update the guide and so well worth bookmarking this page and referring back periodically. Also see our Right Classic Convertible 4U guide as well.

As the first of our guides it is aimed at those wishing to hire as well as buy a classic car or coupe. You might even want to consider trying before you buy through one of the superb classic car hire companies listed on our Links page.

Saloon cars and coupes have one distinct advantage over convertibles, in the UK at least, in that you stay dry most of the time. I say most of the time because with classic cars there is always the risk of a drip or leak somewhere, all part of the experience. It is still true that on an extremely hot day you are always going to crave a convertible but as we all know, 2012 being a case in point, how often does that happen in practice and what about the rest of the year?

The guide below places cars into different price brackets for the purposes of comparison. The hire rates quoted are accurate and truly representative, but the purchase prices quoted can only really be considered a guide as in practice they vary considerably. Use this page as a starting point and then click on each of the images or highlighted text to be taken through to the appropriate page where you can experience each car a whole lot more.

Enjoy the guide and as always all feedback welcome through the comments section at the bottom of the page.

£5,000 to buy (£155pd to hire):

For us there is only one place to start when it comes to classic coupes and that is with the MGB-GT. Plenty of usable chrome and later rubber bumper models sit nicely within our first price bracket. It is true there are more than enough around to keep it from ever being considered rare and it is not high up the list for the more discerning when it comes to ultimate desirability. The MGB-GT though still ticks many boxes and therefore a great place to begin your classic car journey. A roof also means all year round motoring potential.

MGB-GT is a great place to start your classic car journey (Picture: Chris Dymock)

Cosy inside with leather and Smiths dials the MGB-GT is easy to place on the road with traditional front engine and rear wheel drive layout, a deviation from most modern cars. The rear also affects how the car reacts to undulating surfaces much more than you think it will, adding to the experience. There is no power assistance to leave a steering feel that although heavy at junctions, is a joy whilst on the move. Optional overdrive in 3rd and 4th help with touring capabilities and serve as reminders that you are in a car that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Couple all these things with stable values, plentiful and reasonably priced parts supply and you’ll always know where you stand with an MGB-GT.

Alternatively you could try an Alfasud to experience early hot hatchism with pin sharp pedal response and razor sharp handling.

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£5,000 – £15,000 to buy (£155-£200pd to hire):

Still in the market for a 2+2 coupe, but crave a bit more style and space than found in Abingdon’s finest. The car you might want to consider next is the Alfa Romeo GTV, being more saloon car than coupe in comparison to the MGB-GT, along with added Italian flair. That the GTV is clothed in a prettier and more feminine body shell should not put you off either, as it is every bit as manly underneath sitting on Alfa’s infamous 105 platform. A zingy twin-cam engine up front puts it power through a slick five speed gearbox and live back axle with enough connecting rods to embarrass most rally cars from the same era. Let us not forget the competition bias of the GTV in its day. Disc brakes all round complete the driving experience, which offers a sweet front engine rear drive balance.

Underneath the attractive Alfa Romeo GTV sits a proper drivers car

On the surface at least it is difficult to slot a Mini into comparisons with cars like the MGB-GT and Alfa Romeo GTV. That is until you experience a truly brilliant example like the Lakes and Dales classic hire car we drove up to the Hartside Café in the North Pennines. A car fitted with a tuned 1430cc engine and 5 speed Jack Knight straight cut gearbox working brilliantly together to provide true grin inducing fun. Perhaps more surprising is that with the exception of the boot, there is also a very similar amount of usable space inside compared to both cars. An original Mini Cooper S is without doubt one of the best back road buddies to have with go-kart handling, unbelievable grip and poise and Terrier like attitude. We urge you not to miss out unnecessarily and at least try a Mini Cooper or Cooper S again, working on basis you must have driven at least one Mini before right?

Mighty Mini Cooper S provides mountains of fun

Alternatively you could try a Triumph Stag for a glorious V8 soundtrack and laid back cruising capability in a package that sits neatly between car, coupe and convertible.

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£15,000 – £25,000 to buy (£250-£300pd to hire):

A bigger budget gives access to bigger cars that carry you, your other half plus two children to make the classic experience a proper family affair. The Jaguar MK2 and Jensen Interceptor both make long lasting impressions to in no way compromise your indulgence. The Jaguar is of course a full blown saloon and despite being the smaller of the two benefits from being more spacious in the rear. It is also the most engaging when it comes to spirited driving in being lighter and having a more sophisticated suspension setup to deliver sharper handling. The walnut trimmed dash, glorious engine note and stylish looks also work beautifully well together in defining the very essence of Jaguar’s grace, pace and space. I didn’t used to really get Jaguar saloons but now I’m sold and the MK2 is an utter joy.

Jaguar MKII is a class act and Triumph Stag an interesting alternative (Picture: Alex Nichols)

The Jensen Interceptor is arguably less traditional in a British sense and instead dominated by a vast Chrysler V8 and gloriously wide dashboard. Not as refined as the Jaguar when navigating direction changes, the Interceptor is a total riot the rest of the time whether cruising or giving it the full beans. This car is powered by a big block V8 after all, let us not forget mostly found these days on the drag racing strip. How cool is that?

The Jensen Interceptor will cruise at reasonable pace all day long and amuse you with its constant determination to keep the auto-box in the highest ratio from incredibly low speeds, such is the mighty torque available. Not a car to be chucked around the Interceptor is best enjoyed at a more gentle pace with less than 2,000rpm showing on the tacho. When you do need to call up more power, for say an impromptu overtake, just release the beast up front with a firm plant of your right foot to experience nothing short of take-off in a Jumbo Jet, quite remarkable.

7.2 litre Chrysler V8 available to call upon at 30mph, that’ll be the Jensen…

Alternatively you could try a Delorean DMC-12 to put a smile on your face and the face of everyone who sees you in it.

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£25,000 – £35,000 to buy (£250-£350pd to hire):

We have two options for you in this our highest for now price bracket, the Series 2 E-Type Jaguar 2+2 Coupe and Porsche 911T. The Series 2 coupe may sit at the bottom of the desirability rankings for the mark, but is still every inch an E-Type. What you get are the all hallmark features on the slightly longer 2+2 platform that was ultimately carried over to the V12 Series 3 cars. From a personal standpoint the 4.2 engine is perfect and even capable of 25mpg on a run. More importantly you can still enjoy that lovely long bonnet and distinctive dashboard and dials. Out on the open road the 4.2 Coupe is an absolute joy with its compact 6 cylinder engine helping to deliver a totally engaging driving experience with light and nimble handling. E-Type ownership at every level though is definitely only for the truly committed, so thankfully for the rest of us there are plenty available to hire.

Admiring the view – E-Type Series 2 Coupe (Picture: Julia Nichols)

Early Porsche’s like the 911T offer a similar lightness to the Series 2 E-Type when out on the road, this time with a distinctive flat 6 soundtrack, rear engine and rear drive balance, offset pedals and a front end that tends to bobble over road undulations. The latter, which takes a little bit of getting used to, is actually thoroughly enjoyable to experience once you’re comfortable with it. Why? Well the reason 911’s bobble is because with the engine swung out back there is no weight in the front to leave a very pure steering feel that translates into genuine race car for the road dynamics. I like early 911’s, I like them a lot and the fact you don’t have to leave them as standard and can choose to subtly modify them like this one makes them even cooler. The car shown is nearly 50 years old and yet it drove like it was just 5, says a lot really doesn’t it?

Early 911 is both ice cool and drives like new

Alternatively you could try the much newer and totally bonkers TVR Tuscan for an endurance race car feel requiring a degree of brute force dressed in what appears to be a Quality Street wrapper. The removable roof panel also provides a cross-over capability between coupe and convertible.

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That completes our Finding the Right Classic Car 4U guide for now, we’ll update it as we experience more classic cars. If you want more then simply click on any of the images or highlighted text to link through to the full reviews, including in most cases video as well. Look out for our Classic Convertible 4U guide coming soon and we hope you have success in your own search for that perfect classic car companion. Remember if not quite ready to buy, then why not give hiring a classic a try by visiting our Links page for access to quality hire car companies who’s cars we have driven and featured here and elsewhere on the site.

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