With Autumn setting in and Winter just around the corner, many of us will be tucking our pride and joy away in the garage ready to be tinkered with through the cold months before having ready to emerge next year better than it was when it was parked up.

If you don’t have a car to work on, or you have finished your current project and find yourself at a loose end, now is the perfect time to pick up an affordable classic to spend the winter months doing some light restorations.

Whether you want to restore the car to keep or to sell on, these 5 affordable future classics are a great buy right now and will no doubt appreciate in value.

BMW E36 3 Series

Often overlooked, the E36 generation 3 Series was launched in 1991 and feels like it’s taken a while for it to mature to the point it’s being considered a ‘classic’. Sandwiched between the iconic E30 and more modern E46 generations, the E36 styling wasn’t quite boxy enough and didn’t quite have the presence of a modern car.

Fortunately, the E36 is now reaching maturity and it’s styling has becoming more appealing. Having been adopted by the drift community for it’s great handling, relatively low cost to power ratio as well as easily sourced parts and being simple enough to modify. The E36 population in the UK has seen something of a depletion, with clean examples becoming harder and harder to find.

There are some great deals to be had if you want an enjoyable car that you can still use, restore easily and make some money on in the future. The coupe is the body style you should look for, there are some nice cabriolet’s on the market but these likely won’t hold their value quite as well. The later 328i Sport is the model to go for, this came with some M3 styling parts and a limited slip differential making it a far more appealing variant. 

VW Golf GTI Mk2

For a long time the Mk2 Golf GTI has been neglected, with all the focus on it’s older counterpart the Mk1 Golf GTI. However, the Mk2 is arguably a better car, with more cabin space, more power and better driving abilities. 

With the prices of Mk1 GTI’s becoming increasingly high and simply a lack of vehicles on the market, the Mk2 Golf might finally be getting it’s moment in the spotlight. Clean, low milers are already being bought up but there are plenty great deals to be had if you don’t mind doing some light restorations.

You can pick up a running car with very little rust for under £3,000 – less if you’re prepared to haggle. There are a few variants that were released over the years, though there is no particular variant that is expected to be ‘the one to have’ so our advice is to buy the one you like best. With the Mk2, the most important thing to look for is condition and service history, if it’s been well looked after and regularly serviced high mileage shouldn’t be a problem.

Mazda MX-5

We’re not the first to say it and we won’t be the last, but the mk1 Mazda MX-5 is one of the best buys out there. Potentially the best entry-level sports car ever made, the MX-5 launched in 1989 and remains a favourite today.

Mazda’s motto at the time of developing the MX-5 was to build ‘A car that makes everybody happy.’ and it appears, over 30 years on, that they achieved this. As with any car over time, we see less and less on the roads and more fall victim to the British weather resulting in corrosion.

There are still plenty of these available in the UK, whether original UK examples or imported Eunos models, you can pick up one of these two seaters for as little as £2,000. Don’t expect to turn a quick profit on this, but if you can pick up a clean example and look after it you may have yourself a nice little nest egg in years to come.

Peugeot 205 GTI

One of the greatest hot hatches of all time, the Peugeot 205 GTI was THE car to have for the younger generation in the late ‘80s.

These are already commanding strong money with low mileage examples fetching upwards of £20,000. If you’re in the position to do a little restoration however, you could pick yourself up half-decent example in need of some TLC for less than £7,000.

In a few years time it’s likely that even the models in need of restoration will be selling for over £10k, so if you buy now you should have yourself quite a nice little earner – even better if you can restore it well in the meantime!

Porsche 924

This front-engined Porsche introduced in 1975 caused quite a stir upon its release. It was criticized for average performance and because it didn’t look like a 911, though it was still popular and sales continued into the late ‘80s.

Just a few years ago we would have been recommending the 944 but it appears these are already climbing out of the ‘affordable classic’ price range and becoming increasingly expensive. This makes the 924 look like a great investment, with prices already starting to increase now is the time to strike.

The Turbo models are asking for reasonable money but may still be a good investment, though the 2.5L S model seems to be the one to go for in terms of value. If you can find a good, rust-free example for less than £10,000 you may have a good investment on your hands. Better yet, if you have the knowledge and facilities to restore one, you could grab yourself a bargain – though parts are becoming scarce and more expensive.

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