We all that fear, don’t we?
We all want to buy a classic car, be it as a status symbol or simply as an enthusiasts dream to take on a piece of automotive history. However, as we trawl the classifieds searching for our dream car, we become acutely aware of how difficult the upkeep of some of these machines can be. Whether it’s mechanics, image or practicality, we all worry that we’re going to buy something at massive expense that will leave us bankrupt overnight due to various faults.
But fear not, as there is hope!
In this series, I’ll be listing the Top 25 classic cars you can buy that are affordable, easy to maintain, reliable, comfortable and will give you an image that will make you the talk of the town but not draw the ire of vindictive passers by.
Don’t expect the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini or Rolls-Royce to be here, but you’ll be interested to note some cars that were once humdrum machines now sought after classics of the open road.
Starting our list, a car that is pretty much the last word in luxury but can be yours for a song. Back in the day, the Turbo R would’ve cost someone with very little foresight upwards of £70,000 in yesteryear’s money, only to see it depreciate like a rock the moment they drove it off the forecourt.
Today, a mint condition Bentley Turbo R can go for as little as £8,000, an astronomical saving when you consider the little luxury titbits the car provides. With soft woollen carpets, lashings of wood and springy leather seats, the car is everything you’d expect from a historical Bentley. Better still, with due care and attention you could theoretically drive this car to work everyday and spend your commute cossetted by the car’s absolutely gorgeous refinements.
While the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur off which the car is based also sells for around the same price these days, the Bentley is by far the better choice as it’ll give you all the same luxuries but will also go largely unnoticed by the public at large. The comparatively bland and boxy shape of the Turbo R, as well as its fairly humdrum grille and badge, mean that it’d probably sneak under the nose of the vindictive public. If you were driving the Rolls-Royce equivalent with the Spirit of Ecstasy perched atop that titanic grille, prepare to face all the jeers and angry glances you’d expect driving a car built for plutocrats.
Why is the Turbo R at the bottom of the list?
In spite of all its practicality and refinement, the Turbo R can be a troublesome buy. Only go for the very best and be sure to check it top to bottom because mechanical and cosmetic gremlins could be only the top of a very dangerous and expensive iceberg. Whether it’s rust on the chassis, engine wear or issues with the hydraulic self-levelling suspension, any one of these could easily write off the Bentley if unattended.
My advice, never buy the car based on its cosmetic looks alone. Its body may be polished and its carpets may be clean, but check every inch of this mighty machine and always make sure it has a full service history. If there’s even so much as a hint that the car has suffered some kind of severe failure in the past, further issues may be on the horizon which could leave you out of pocket and lumped with a useless husk that’d probably not even be worth scrap value.
Aim high for better results is usually the best rule of thumb; with cars costing upward of £12,000 to £15,000 being more likely to have received the care and attention a car of this size and mechanical fidelity deserves. It may cost more initially, but would you rather lose what you saved, and possibly even more, having to fix it?
- Comfort – 9/10 – Finely crafted leather seats and self-levelling suspension take the cake
- Practicality – 7/10 – Plenty of interior space for passengers and luggage space in the boot, but not as much as you’d expect for a car of this size
- Reliability – 3/10 – While most are reliable, serious breakdowns will be a constant background thought for both yourself and your wallet
- Speed – 3/10 – Faster than the Silver Spirit, but this car wasn’t built to be a lightning machine
- Handling – 4/10 – Power steering helps, but it can still feel heavy. The car’s enormous length is something to consider on tight corners
- Looks – 4/10 – Not nearly as pretty as Bentley’s that preceded it, could easily slip under the radar as something more mundane
- Equipment – 6/10 – A fair few party pieces such as the suspension, but internal features are a touch spartan for a car of this price
- Price – 5/10 – Cheapest examples can go for as little as £3,000, but go for the minters at over £15,000 if you want the reliability
- Value – 4/10 – There are plenty of these cars still left on the road so resale value isn’t it’s best. This is endemic of both Rollers and Bentleys of this era.
- Total – 45/90 – The last word in comfort, but wasn’t built to perform and could be a reliability nightmare if not looked after.