10 collector cars you should watch in 2021
If the last year taught us one thing, it’s to cherish the moment, buy the cars you love and get out and drive them for as long as you still can. And you don’t need to own a million-dollar, blue-chip classic or limited-edition hypercar to be a happy camper. For Tim Hutton, our Managing Editor, and Jan Baedeker, our Editor-in-Chief, it’s the more modest, democratic, cool and affordable cars that spark the most joy. In 2021, finding a well-kept, low-mileage Fiat Cinquecento Sporting or Land Rover ‘Disco’ with a funky 1990s textile interior to match your classic Reebok tennis shoes could be the ultimate collector-car goal. So here are the 10 cars we’d love to put in our garage this year...
Dreams of driving a 1990s SUV
There’s just something about those colourful cloth-and-leather interiors that lets you know you’re sliding in to a time capsule of fun. Turn the key, put that Erykah Badu CD on pause for a moment and most likely you’ll hear a brutish V8 growl into life. The ’80s have left the building, welcome to ’90s SUVs: Narrow-bodied, with crazy graphics and rapidly going up in value. We’re particularly fond of the Series 1 and 2 Land Rover Discovery with its vitrified refrigerator looks and minimalist interior, although well kept cars are hard to find.
You might also like: Range Rover P38 / Jeep Cherokee 1st Series / Non-AMG Mercedes G-Class
Farewell to the manual
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti is a car that has been unloved for so long. Prices seemed to bottom out last summer around the £40,000 mark for autos, with the manual variant going for not a whole lot more, but in the last few months prices have strengthened as the top dealers got some of the more interesting examples into stock. This is a very spec-sensitive car; colours and wheels can make or break its presence. But there’s no denying this bargain V12 Ferrari cuts a classy line through the air.
You might also like: Manual Ferrari 599 GTB / manual Lamborghini Gallardo / manual Audi R8 V8 / manual Aston Martin DB9
We blame our friends at Fuoriserie and especially Carlo Borromeo for filling our heads with thoughts of ’80s and ’90s boxy Maseratis. There’s plenty of reasons to desire models like the Maserati Shamal, too. A 3.2-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine and a manual gearbox sending power to the rear wheels. It’s a tried-and-tested recipe for success. The hardest part is finding a good one. While they’re not expensive, they are mightily rare.
You might also like: Maserati Racing / Maserati Biturbo / Maserati Ghibli
Millennium Audi RS
Everytime The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary comes on the stereo, we close our eyes and find ourselves in an Audi RS6 C5, driving flat out into Stoke Park with Daniel Craig next to us. In the 19 years since Audi released its first RS6 (and 15 years since Layer Cake came out), the super-clean Ingolstadt body style from the turn of the millennium has aged as well as the first iPods and aluminium MacBooks. But for us, the more compact and lightweight first-generation B5 Audi RS4 is the real sweet spot. The 2.7-litre V6 strikes a nice balance between subtlety and aggression and the hydraulic steering is delightfully rewarding to drive. Just put a Goodwood Green RS4 Avant with bucket seats and the iconic nine-spoke wheels into our garage, and we’re content.
You might also like: Audi RS4 B7 / Audi RS6 C5
Life after Panda
The classic, Giugiaro-designed Fiat Panda 4x4 keeps trending – and despite the pandemic throwing stones in our way, we’re busy working on the second edition of the Classic Driver Panda 4x4 Meet in St. Moritz. But once all the Val d’Isère and Sisley Pandas are gone from the scrapyards and restored to concours standard, what will be the next big, err, small thing to play with? Well, how about a nice primary-coloured 1990s Fiat Cinquecento Sporting? The sparse interior, red seatbelts and whining transmission instantly make you feel like you’re aboard some kind of ‘stradale’ touring car – and yet there’s just 54bhp to play with. That means the only option is flat out.
You might also like: Fiat Cinquecento Trofeo / Fiat Uno Turbo / Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
TVR is a name that has gone through a bit of a rough patch to say the least, but, during the ’90s and ’00s it was a manufacturer to be reckoned with. The Cerbera was the working man’s supercar. Pure unfiltered British beef that could keep up with pretty much anything else on the market. The 4.5 was the one to have and many for sale today will have already been subject to a thorough rebuild. A genuine analogue classic right now. Can you handle it though?
You might also like: TVR Cerbera 4.2 / Morgan Aero 8 / Noble M12 / Wiesmann Roadster
The archetypal Ferrari V8
What do we all lust for right now? Small, entertaining characterful cars that deliver enough power to be fun and can be driven hard without having to double the speed limit. Here’s a newsflash: Ferrari already made one, in the shape of the 308. Iconic Italian styling from Pininfarina. A mid-engined V8 and that shift gate that never gets tiring. Close your eyes and you can imagine you’re sprinting up the Col de Turini in the more exotic Michelotto variant.
You might also like: Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino
The daily Porsche
Managing Editor Tim Hutton put his money where his mouth is in 2020 and bought a pure Gen 1 Porsche 911 / 997 Carrera 3.6. He proclaims it’s the perfect British daily driver, the standard smaller wheels and a softer ride than the S offering driving enjoyment on the uneven roads of the UK. Editor-in-Chief Jan Baedeker agrees: small, exciting and so much value for money, the 997 – in all variants – is a hot ticket to a pure driving experience that nothing else can compete with for the price.
You might also like: Porsche 911 / 997 Carrera GTS
Do you dare the V12?
Watching Tom Walkinshaw lap Bathurst in a V12 Jaguar XJ-S is spine-tingling stuff. The XJ-S is a model that went unloved for so long; in V6 form they’re still relatively plentiful and cheap, but the pre-HE manual V12s are where we suggest putting your money before it’s too late. Rarer than a flat-floor E-Type – don’t say we didn’t give you a little heads up!
You might also like: Jaguar XJR-S
The car you love
This might sound silly – but don't listen to us, or all the influencers on Instagram: just buy with your heart and finally get the car you really love. Life is too short to imitate, follow the herd or invest in future fortunes. So if you lust for that manual BMW 850 CSi in bathtub turquoise, if you think a Volkswagen Jetta is the nearest thing to heaven on earth, or if you can’t get the Lancia Kappa SW Turbo out of your head, then go and buy it! We have your back.
Photography courtesy of Land Rover Archive / RM Sotheby's / Maserati Archives / House of Cars Belgium / FCA Heritage / Silverstone Auctions / LBI Limited / Image Automotive / Classic Youngtimer Consultancy / Tom Shaxson