10 of the best investment cars you can buy today

August 19, 2022 by

Hoping to pick up a car that could increase in value as well as providing transportation? We have some ideas

It is a generally acknowledged fact that most cars lose money over time. We say ‘most’, as some vehicles reverse that trend, appreciating as the years go by and their desirability grows, either making their owners a tidy packet come sale time, or at least paying for their own upkeep.

We should preface this guide by saying that the best investment car to buy is the one you want to own: most successful collectors of anything – art, wine, watches, cars – say the wisest object to buy is one you love: that way if its value goes down rather than up, you will have enjoyed owning something regardless of its financial performance.

We should also caveat this piece by saying that there is absolutely no guarantee any or all of the cars in this list won’t lose money over time: the car market, as seen recently, can be unpredictable, and the jury is very much out on what the forthcoming ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars will do to the used sector.

With all that said, here are 10 cars that have the potential to make a good investment, particularly if you buy them because you love them.

  1. Lotus Elise S1
  2. BMW M3 E92
  3. Audi R8Mk1
  4. Mercedes SL R129
  5. Renault Avantime
  6. Toyota GR Yaris
  7. Alpine A110
  8. Porsche 911 997
  9. Vauxhall Monaro
  10. Honda Integra Type R

1. Lotus Elise S1 (1996-2001)

1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol, 120hp
0-60mph 6.1 seconds
Top speed 126mph

One of the best-handling cars ever made, the original Lotus Elise featured a pioneering extruded and bonded aluminium structure that both kept its weight well below 800kg, and taught the rest of the car industry how to build cars from aluminium.

The Elise offered a near-telepathic connection to the road, while also being a masterclass in packaging and ergonomics – don’t think just because you’re tall you won’t fit in, either.

Prices start at around £16,000, but consider getting any potential purchase inspected by a specialist, as that aluminium tub can be very difficult to repair following damage.

2. BMW M3 E92 (2007-2013)

4.0-litre V8, 420hp
0-62mph 4.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph

There are six generations of BMW M3 to pick from, so why the one model without BMW’s famed straight-six engine? Well, being the only V8 M3 marks the E92 out as something a bit different, while prices remain on the right side of reasonable for now, and you can choose between coupe, convertible or saloon formats.

High-mileage examples start at around £15,000, but the M3 needs fastidious maintenance; budget more than this and get a car with full service history either from BMW itself, or a respected M car specialist. Plus make sure all fluids and service items have been attended to at the correct time.

3. Audi R8 Mk1 (2006-2014)

4.2 V8, 420hp
0-62mph 4.6 seconds
Top speed 187mph

The original Audi R8 was that rare thing: a genuine supercar you could use every day. Power came from a 4.2-litre V8 and later a 5.0-litre V10, while there was also a Spyder convertible (which is tight for taller drivers).

We’d opt for the original iteration, which means a 4.2-litre coupe with a manual gearbox – not only because it’s relative rarity compared to automatics, but also because the gated manual shifter is a joy to use and adds to the R8’s character.

You’ll need £36,000 plus to get behind the wheel of a manual V8 R8, and as with any performance car, be ruthless when interrogating its condition and history, and consider an independent inspection.

4. Mercedes SL R129 (1989-2000)

5.0-litre V8, 320hp
0-62mph 6.5 seconds
Top speed 155mph

The R129 Mercedes SL is the archetypal overengineered Mercedes from the late 20th century, and remains modern enough to be driven every day with no hardship, and a great deal of comfort.

A soft-top grand tourer in the classic form, engines range from a 2.8-litre straight six to the extremely rare 7.3-litre V12 of the SL 73 AMG, but the 5.0-litre V8 SL 500 is arguably the pick of the bunch. The detachable metal hardtop and optional rear seats are extras worth looking out for, while decent-condition, reasonable mileage SL500s start at around £20,000.

5. Renault Avantime (2001-2003)

3.0-litre V6, 210hp
0-60mph 9.2 seconds
Top speed 134mph

The Avantime was a huge sales disappointment for Renault, but this luxury coupe based on the Espace people carrier offers character and rarity in spades. Fewer than 9,000 Avantimes were produced worldwide, yet Avantime enthusiasts are a dedicated bunch, so there’s likely to always be a market for the cars.

There are two engines to pick, but the 3.0-litre V6 with an automatic gearbox arguably suits the Avantime’s character better than the 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder. So sit back in the captain’s chair style driving seat, hit the single button that opens all four windows and the panoramic sunroof, and bask in the sheer unusualness of it all.

Prices are hard to gauge as Avantimes are such rare cars (we found only two for sale), but £6,500 seems to be the starting point for reasonable examples. Do consult dedicated buyers’ guides though, as there are a few issues to look out for.

6. Toyota GR Yaris

1.6-litre three-cylinder, 261hp
0-62mph 5.5 seconds
Top speed 142mph

To say reviews of the Toyota GR Yaris were rave is an understatement: this four-wheel-drive, rally-bred hot hatch blew testers away with its grip, engagement and sheer capability.

And while the GR Yaris shares its name with the sensible hybrid supermini, don’t think the two cars have much in common besides that: the GR features two fewer doors and is built on a different mechanical platform. Used values remain stable, starting at around £32,000 for the desirable (and popular) Circuit Pack model.

7. Alpine A110

1.8-litre four-cylinder, 252hp
0-62mph 4.5 seconds
Top speed 155mph

The Alpine A110 is arguably the spiritual successor to the Lotus Elise: aluminium bodied, incredibly light at 1,102kg despite meeting modern safety standards (a Porsche Cayman is around 300kg heavier), and with just the right amount of power to be feasibly used on the road.

The A110 also offers superlative handling, while its relatively attainable price only adds to the appeal. Early 2018 cars start at around £46,000, just £4,000 or so less than a brand-new model is available for.

8. Porsche 911 997 Carrera S

3.8-litre flat six, 355hp
0-62mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 182mph

There are so many different versions of Porsche 911 to choose from that any selection is fraught with bewildering choice, but the 997 version both resolves the divisive ‘runny egg’ headlights of the earlier 996, while also being relatively attainable.

The 355hp Carrera 2 should provide all the performance you need, with a 186mph top speed and 0-62mph taking just 4.8 seconds. Rarer models are clearly more desirable, but with a 2005, 65,000-mile Carrera 2 coming in at around £27,000, that’s relatively little outlay for a potentially appreciating Porsche.

9. Vauxhall Monaro

5.-7litre V8, 354hp
0-60mph 6 seconds,
Top speed 160mph

The Vauxhall Monaro is a car full of surprises. First, it’s a Vauxhall with a whopping 5.7-litre V8 under the bonnet, and second, while its high CO2 emissions make it pretty expensive to tax, it actually complies with London’s ULEZ and other emission zones.

But such a sensible credential is no reason to buy the Monaro. No, instead consider the appeal of a traditional, old-fashioned V8 muscle car, with the added bonus of rear seats. The Monaro is rare, and prices have been climbing slowly for some time now, but you can pick up a 60,000-mile 2006 example for around £13,500 at time of writing.

10. Honda Integra Type R DC2

1.8-litre four-cylinder, 190hp
0-60mph 6.2 second
Top speed 145mph

Generally considered one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of all time, the Integra Type R is also renowned for its rev-hungry 1.8-litre engine, which features variable valve timing that comes into the fray at 6,000rpm, before peak power at 8,000 rpm on its way to the 9,000rpm red line.

Such a high-revving engine gives enormous character to the DC2, but the precision of the handling, the high levels of grip and the sheer engineering pedigree also shine through. Prices have been on the rise for a while, but you can still pick up a 70,000-mile Type R for £16,000 or so.

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