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10 modern car investment opportunities

10 modern car investment opportunities

Buying a second-hand car that not only suits your lifestyle but has a chance of increasing in value is the holy grail, but it can be a hugely sensible way to buy.

The money and/or time you spend maintaining and restoring can be recouped over your ownership period if you buy smartly.

This is a bit finger-in-the-wind, but here are a selection of cars that may well have reached the bottom of their valuation curve and the only way is up...

01 Alfa GT 3.2 V6

01 Alfa GT 3.2 V6

The final hurrah for Alfa's legendary Busso V6 before emissions regs stole it from us and replaced it with a muted, General Motors-based six.

While most eyes were on the ungainly Brera (which debuted the latter engine) the 146-based GT snuck under the radar with its low-key appearance, but it has perfect proportions (particularly compared to the on-stilts Brera), a sumptuous interior and that sonorous engine, so it's a sure-fire future classic.

02 Lotus Elise Mk1

02 Lotus Elise Mk1

The buggy-shaped road-and-track gamechanger utilized a revolutionary bonded extruded aluminium chassis to be super-light but mega-stiff.

Game-changing cars usually become highly collectible, and with the Elise become increasingly grown-up (relatively speaking) over its model life, there will be a renewed interest in the simple, basic original in the future.

03 Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy

03 Renault Sport Clio 182 Trophy

Hot hatches from the 1980s are climbing just now, with the Peugeot 205 GTi, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Golf GTi reaching five-figure valuations for original, low mileage examples.

The 1990s' best hot hatch is likely to follow suit, but you will need to buy now and cosset it. The optimum example is the low-volume 182 Trophy, but these are also the ones that are likely trackday refugees... 

04 BMW M3 (E46)

04 BMW M3 (E46)

With E30 prices in the stratosphere, eyes are now turning to the E46 M3. With perhaps the finest version of the M Sport straight-six, bulging wheel arches, and tremendous power and poise, the E46 is a wolf in wolf's clothing.

Values of the special edition CSL are already flying, expect it to suck pristine examples of the regular M3 up in its wake. 

05 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000

05 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000

Impreza 22B, RB5 and P1 examples are already well-known investment opportunities, so it's worth trying to find the car that started the whole thing off – the first Impreza Turbo 2000.

A pre-facelift model is essential, and it should be completely unmodified (or at least have some easily reversible alterations). The only way is up for these, if you can find one. 

06 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16

06 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16

The Cosworth-fettled 190 has potential silly money written all over them, and they're not quite near that yet. Yes, you'll find Evo models beyond 50k at specialist auctions (we've seen Evo IIs at £200k!), but we'd recommend that you seek out one of the very first examples (even if it's in the £10-20k bracket), ensure it's been regularly maintained, return it to original spec if it's been modified, and check its value again in 10 years' time.

07 Audi TT Quattro Sport (Mk1)

07 Audi TT Quattro Sport (Mk1)

Here's one car where we wouldn't recommend the launch model as the most likely to increase their value. The original TT's final iteration is also its best – the most powerful production version of Audi's legendary 1.8-litre 20-valve turbo engine sends 240bhp to all four wheels, and its gloss black roof treatment ensures it stands out from standard TTs. Limited to 800 models in the UK, it's a certain future classic.

08 Mini Cooper S JCW GP

08 Mini Cooper S JCW GP

Known as the GP1, this stripped-out Mk1 'new' Mini, with no rear seats, striking decals-n-spoilers and a 218bhp engine was basically a Mini Challenge race car for the road.

Its £22k price had punters baulking at launch but you'll now find it at around £10k and the GP is very likely to prove more and more desirable as newer Minis get larger, and with a more detached driving experience. Be quick!

09 Mk1 Focus RS

09 Mk1 Focus RS

Fast Fords like the Sierra and Escort Cosworth, and Mk1 Escort RS Turbo (and even the Mk2!) are going through the roof just now, joining their '60s and '70s predecessors in the valuation stratosphere.

There's no reason why the first fast Focus won't do the same, a great road car with a motorsport pedigree and a Colin McRae connection.

10 Honda S2000

10 Honda S2000

Honda's birthday present to itself was a treat for us, too. A screaming VTEC engine that revs to 9,000 rpm and similarly bike-influenced, driver-focused cockpit make the S2000 utterly unique, and its looks – criticized for blandness at launch – have proved classy and timeless.

Peak S2000 is probably the Gen 2 GT model, available from 2004, but the great news is that you don't have to tuck these up in a barn – use it every summer, cosset in winter, and watch your investment rise.