10 future classics you should buy in 2024

18th April 2024
Russell Campbell

Getting your money in a car before it hits the highest echelons of classic status has got to be one of the most rewarding pursuits in the automotive game. Not only do you get to experience the delights of a true motoring great, but you also get to sit back and watch as the values creep up – they may even shoot up if you're particularly lucky.

That's the theory; in practice, choosing an appreciating classic can be like sticking a finger to the wind; it's a gamble with no guarantees. What we can (almost) guarantee is that none of these cars will depreciate with quite the same gusto as a modern equivalent. So grab a cuppa and dare to dream as we take a look at our top tips for future classic stardom.


Peugeot 106 Rallye

The Peugeot 106 Rallye is the palette cleanser to the modern hyper hatch. With little more than 100PS (74kW) to its name, unassisted steering, a manual gearbox and doors that close with a clang that confirms its mere 900kg kerb weight, it's about as pure as hot hatches get.

But what the 106 lacks in shouty performance figures and lightning-fast gear changes, it more than makes up for with a word lost on a modern hot hatch owner – communication. The 106's steering delivers road detail to your fingertips like a loudspeaker, and its eight-valve engine has sharp responses and an eager power delivery that'll leave you asking why you ever needed that turbocharger.

Despite its modest power figure, the 106's light weight leaves it feeling surprisingly nippy and allowed Peugeot to fit relatively soft suspension that makes it gratifyingly easy to pirouette around bends. Prices start from less than £8,000, although they're thin on the ground.

Lotus Elise S1

Spearheading this list of the best future classics is none other than the Lotus Elise S1, a car that needs no introduction around these parts. Thanks to its groundbreaking bonded aluminium tub, the Elise made other so-called lightweight sportscars look positively lardy, tipping the scales at roughly half the weight of a contemporary Porsche Boxster.

As a result, the Elise feels every inch the junior exotic built by a company with true F1 provenance. It devours corners like a hungry terrier and has breezy acceleration despite the modest output of its early K Series Rover engines. Rover's rorty and lightweight motor – complete with an aluminium block – was the perfect engine for the Elise, and by now, most cars will have the weak head gasket replaced. While a Caterham 7 makes an Elise look luxurious, the Lotus is still a relatively uncompromising sportscar with windy windows, no central locking and a stripped-out cabin. We like it, especially because prices start from less than £13,000.


Audi R8

The original Audi R8 is an excellent car in its own right, but it also serves as a bookmark in history when Audi graduated from making stonkingly fast but under-steering family wagons to selling one of the best performance cars ever made, sticking a single digit in the face of naysayers as it went.

The recipe was an excellent one. Take the fabulous 4.2-litre V8 from the B7 RS4, add a dry sump and fit it midships to an aluminium body before bolting on a six-speed, gated manual gearbox and four-wheel drive that refuses to engage the front wheels until 100 per cent necessary. The result? A supercar with a NASCAR soundtrack, the engagement of a Ferrari but with the all-weather capability of one of the firm's famed Quattro rally cars and build quality that would give an Italian exotic palpitations. Prices start from as little as £25,000, but we'd recommend spending £35,000 for an unabused example.

BMW Z4 M Coupe

You could be forgiven for thinking the only sporty car BMW built in the early 2000s was the E46 M3, the thick mist of plaudits it receives blocking our memory of a performance catalogue running many cars deep. One such car that's MIA in our memories is the BMW Z4 M Coupe, and we think it's an even more exciting specimen than the much-loved M3.

For one, the Z4 M breadvan is a far more interesting (though not necessarily better looking) shape than the E46, its oil-tanker-long bonnet and stubby behind a more contemporary play on the clownshoe coupe that came before it. Behind the grille, you'll find the same independent-throttle-bodies straight six as lived in the E46 M3, so there's plenty of punch and a soundtrack that would play at the entry gates to petrolhead heaven. Unlike the M3, the Z4 could be spikey on the limit, offering the challenging drive that enthusiasts crave. Prices start from under £15,000.


Porsche 986 Boxster S

We’ve covered the 996 911 on our YouTube channel, and it remains an absolute gem of a modern classic. But the 986 Boxster S is an even more compelling proposition for the performance car lover on a budget. This ludicrously good sportscar can be picked up for less than £4,000 – shockingly good value that surely can't last long.

So what do you get? Well, whisper it, you get a car that many journos believe handled even better than the hallowed 911 with purer steering and a better mid-engined handling balance. Porsche magic seeps from every one of the 986’s orifices, from the flat-six howl of its motor to the endless bite of its brakes. It feels solidly put together (IMS and RMS notwithstanding) and has a handy electric roof and two boots, all conspiring to make this superb sportscar a very usable daily. What's not to like?

Honda S2000

The S2000 was Honda's 50th birthday present to itself, and coming from one of the most technically innovative companies on the planet, that has got to mean something. Actually, it meant a lot. The VTEC S2000 could rev to more than 9,000rpm and had the highest specific output for a production engine, a record only be beaten by the release of the Ferrari 458 Italia more than a decade later. In short, the S2000 rewrote the rulebook on what was possible for a road car at the time.

As you'd expect, the engine dominates the S2000 experience. At low engine speeds, it feels Civic slow, but once on cam, it relentlessly hunts down the digital redline on its purposefully simple instrument binnacle. Honda's oily, tight, short-throw six-speed gearbox only adds to the experience.

With an electric roof that gives you a front-row seat to the Honda's gutsy induction roar, you could be forgiven for thinking the S2000 is in no way sensible, but with a boot, Japanese reliability and rock-solid residuals; there are far worse ways to blow as little as £7,500.


Toyota GT86

On paper, the Toyota GT86 looks underwhelming. Its power output is nothing to write home about and is famously overrated – most people reckon the Toyota produces 180PS (132kW), not the near 200PS (147kW) it was supposed to. Outside, it's good-looking but not stunning. Inside? Well, milk cartons are better built.

When you drive the Toyota you realise none of this matters, though, because it has the power to turn any journey into a sideways lairy-athon. The Toyota can summon delightful controllable drifts at any speed you care to go with a modern stability control system that keeps you safe without calling time on your fun.

Quick steering that's surprisingly feelsome (for an electric system) and a short-throw gearbox that's wonderfully direct – once you get through the knuckley initial feel – seal the deal as far as we're concerned. Just £8,500 buys a well-used example, but famed Toyota reliability means that shouldn't be a concern.


Renault Clio 182 Trophy

The Renault 182 Trophy comes from a golden age of hot hatches that paired tiny, pre-Euro NCAP dimensions with modern power outputs courtesy of variable valve timing and no purity-ruining turbocharger. The Clio exudes cuteness, but don't be fooled because it can tripod around corners like the very best hot hatches, accompanied by the fierce induction suck of its punchy 2.0-litre motor.

The 182 Trophy brought pure motorsport kudos to the mix in the form of a set of trick Sach dampers with remote reservoirs that had no right to be fitted to a humble shopping trolley. They gave the Clio fanatical body control, making it stick to the road like a strong-armed limpet through bends. From there, Renault shaved the weight next to the standard 182, fitting simple halogen headlights, lightweight Speedline alloy wheels and Recaros.

The result guided the Clio to joint second place (tying with Lotus Exige and behind a Porsche 911 S) in 2004's Evo Car of the Year. Prices start at less than £8,000 for a high-mile example.


Ferrari 458 Italia

For many, the 458 Italia represents peak mid-engine Ferrari. Why so? It was the last car to feature a high-revving, flat-plane crank naturally aspirated V8 that sings in a way its turbocharged successors fail to do – an essential requirement for any Ferrari in our book. It's also jaw-droppingly good-looking and capable of producing serious downforce thanks in part to trick composite winglets that passively move under load. Finally, you got the Ferrari's much-vaunted electronically controlled e-diff and stability control that can empower motoring novices with the skills of a professional racing driver, making the 458 a pussy cat to control at and beyond the limit.

Even without turbochargers, the 458 is a sensationally quick car that gets from 0 to 62mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 202mph. With prices starting from well over £100,000, the 458 is the most expensive car on this list and arguably the best.


B7 Audi RS4 Avant

What did we say about Audi building under-steering family wagons? We meant to say it built under-steering family wagons until the B7 RS4 Avant. The B7 raised Audi's game on many levels. Out went the turbocharged engines of old cars, and in came a naturally aspirated V8, so good it would soon take up home under the engine cover of the R8 supercar. Almost as important as the engine, though, was its positioning, spreading behind the front axle, meaning the B7 didn't have the sledgehammer of every RS4 before it. The final key change was a four-wheel drive system that valued fun as much as traction.

All these qualities came wrapped in a practical estate (or less remarkable saloon) car body with just the right amount of menace to differentiate it from Grandpa's A4 Avant. Throw in Audi's peerless build quality, which peaked around the B7’s time, and you have one of the best everyday performance cars ever made. Prices start from around £15,000 for a good example, a situation that can't last long.

  • Lotus

  • Elise

  • Audi

  • R8

  • B7 RS4

  • BMW

  • Z4 M Coupe

  • Porsche

  • 986 Boxster

  • Honda

  • S2000

  • Toyota

  • GT86

  • Renault

  • Clio 182 Trophy

  • Ferrari

  • 458 Italia

  • Peugeot

  • 106 Rallye

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