APR 16th 2015

GRR Read Test ‑ Classic & Sports Car's Bargain Basement

Beat the boom’ is the theme running through Classic & Sports Car this month. It’s surely not unwelcome after so much news recently of classics with five, six – or seven – noughts to their name.


Twenty thousand is the mag’s cut-off point for its chosen eight ‘bargain greats’ – each selection accompanied by words on what makes it great and figures on what makes it a bargain.

Read_test_CSC_1604201501 It’s not such a top-secret list that GRR can’t share it with you here, so, courtesy of C&SC, the names in the frame (and what C&SC believes you should be paying for them) are as follows…

Ferrari Mondial at £20,000. Audi quattro at £17,000. Ford Model A for £14,000. Triumph GT6 at £11,000. Lancia Aprilia Lusso at £16,000 (really? We’ll have one at that price thank you very much ed). Austin-Healey Sprite Mk1 at £17,000. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow for £10,000. And Alfa Romeo GT 1600 Junior at £20k.

Features like this have all been done a thousand times before of course… including by C&SC. In April 2002 the magazine chose its then-bargain greats for £20k. Guess you would like to know what they are and if they’ve gone up? Thankfully C&SC Ed James Page tells us…

Among the mag’s £20k choices in 2002 were AC Aceca (value now: £85,000), Ferrari 308 GTS (£70,000) and Lancia Aurelia B20 (now six figures). Not a bad result then. In fact the only car the mag chose that didn’t go up was the Morris Oxford.


That little fly in the ointment doesn’t deter the magazine, for elsewhere in the May issue it compares the Oxford with Hillman Minx and Austin Somerset. Essential reading for all St Mary’s Trophy fans! The Oxford rolls out an easy winner.


It could be argued that another three-car comparison of MGs Metro, Maestro and Montego takes the affordable idea a step too far. Especially when the writer likens their charisma to that of Jean Michel Jarre. We think he was being kind to the MGs but are not entirely sure.

Elsewhere in the May issue there’s more adrenalin on offer, and we particularly like the tale of taking the original 1961 Geneva motor show Jag E-type back to Geneva. Not to the show but the smart restaurant on the lake shore where Sir William Lyons broke with tradition and held a pre-show preview for selected journalists, something that happens all the time these days. He was ahead of his time as always.


It is also great to see GRRC member Paul Gregory’s beautiful Alfa 8C in this issue. The story is a compare-and-contrast job with the car the 8C inspired: the first Triumph Dolomite. Alas that car – not as beautiful as the Alfa but not at all bad – didn’t last. The mag concludes it was, ‘one of the great might-have-beens of motoring history.’ If you don’t know the story it’s well worth reading.


Anyone who fondly remembers Steady Barker’s words, in The Autocar and then Car, will enjoy Mick Walsh’s remembrance of the man, who died recently aged 94. As Mick says, Steady ‘would get as animated about a Peugeot Quadrilette cyclecar as an Audi quattro’, but he loved in particular Edwardian leviathans – his own for many years was an 8.5-litre straight-six Renault.

When similar monsters take to the Goodwood hill at the Festival of Speed this year Steady will doubtless be looking down on us all approvingly – no doubt with one of his slightly risqué but always lightning-quick puns at the ready!


GRR Read Test verdict


 Some good yarns and as thorough and well researched as ever.

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