Axon's Automotive Anorak: Four modern classic Brits we'd invest in

13th July 2017
Gary Axon

At this year’s Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard a couple of weeks back, my duties during the event including stepping into help with some live commentary, conducting a number of radio interviews, hosting press and some of Goodwood’s partners and guests, plus giving the occasional tour of the Bonhams historic vehicle auction on site.


Acting as tour guide around the fine motor vehicles due to be auctioned off by Bonhams at Goodwood on the Festival Friday was always fascinating, as some guests were very knowledgeable and keen to know more about each car, whilst others had a more generalised interest, or gravitated towards a particular car that they personally had a soft-spot for – usually either a Porsche 911 or Jaguar E-Type. At the end of each tour, the guests would invariably ask me the same question – what is the car to buy now that is likely to increase in value? If I knew the answer to that question, I probably wouldn’t need to be conducting classic car tours!

However, occasionally my crystal ball does get it right and I spot a car that proves to be the next big thing in collectors’ car terms. The problem is, by the time I’ve spotted these, they have usually climbed beyond my reach in value. Also, as my own personal leanings tend towards French and Italian cars, this can exclude a number of potentially profitable buys for cars from other lands.

So, if I do have to commit to putting my money where my mouth is, I would opt for a quartet of British ‘modern’ classics that are currently as affordable as they are ever going to be, and can only gain in value in my humble opinion. Here’s my selection, but please don’t rush out and buy the first one you see straight away as values can decline as rapidly as they increase, and as always, provenance, condition and history are of key importance. So, here’s my tip for four Brits potentially on the up…  


Aston Martin DB7 (1997-2004)

Under the guardianship of Ford’s Premium Automotive Group (including Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo, as well as Aston Martin), the DB7 was developed with Ford’s funding using the already-dated 1975 Jaguar XJ-S platform as its base, plus plenty of other Ford Group components (e.g. cheap Ford buttons and column stalks, ‘disguised’ Mazda 323 F tail lights, and a truly woeful Volvo satellite navigation system). Over its seven-year production cycle, Aston Martin built 7,000 DB7s, a staggeringly high number for this once-niche prestigious British sportscar maker. With so many examples produced, it is not too difficult to find a nice, tidy DB7. At present values range from around a bargain-basement £12,500, up to about £75,000+ for a pristine, low-mileage example with a full recorded history, with the rare limited-production Zagato derivatives worth considerably more. These prices look set to rise over a short period.


Bentley Continental R (1991-2003)

It may cost as much to run as a small country, but the weighty Continental R coupe is a sure-fire winner in the metal-for-the-money and investment stakes. For Bentley purists, this imposing four-seater GT coupe is considered the ‘last true Bentley’ developed in the Rolls-Royce ownership era before the companies split and Bentley fell into Volkswagen’s ever-expanding brand portfolio. With a bank balance-sapping thirst for fuel (low-to-mid-teens mpg is an average if driven gently) and servicing and tyres costly enough to lead to instant debt, running a Continental R is not to be taken lightly. However, with values currently ranging from as little as £17.500 for a perfectly useable example, right up to around £90,000 for a late, rare wide-bodied Mulliner model, these Crewe coupes now offer serious flash for not much cash.


MG ZT 260 V8 (2003-2005) (ZT-T estate)

The timeless MG ZT (and its more refined Rover 75 sibling) is arguably the most intrinsically ‘British’ car of the 21st Century to date, with the solidity of BMW engineering combined with the subtle good-taste of a British gentlemen’s club. Shoe-horn in a thuggish 260 bhp Ford Mustang 4.6-Litre V8 engine, and the MG and Rover re-define the definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove. Just when MG Rover could least afford it, in the Phoenix, post-BMW ownership era, the Longbridge engineers transformed the front-wheel-drive ZT/75 to these rear-drive V8 brutes. With hindsight, this was an utterly futile exercise, when Phoenix should have been concentrating its limited funding and engineering resources into finalising the all-new Rover 45’s production and launch (much of this model later being transformed into the first-generation BMW 1-Series!). So, a pointless distraction perhaps, but the handful of rear-drive V8 MG ZTs and Rover 75 built were excellent and entertaining cars, especially in their stylish estate car formats. Finding one of these overlooked V8s for sale is rare, but with prices currently ranging from just £5,000 to £15,000, these models are well worth a punt, as they are currently at a bargain-basement price, but won’t stay that way for long.


Lotus Esprit (1976-2004)

An icon of the mid-1970s to mid-80s (helped by a couple of brief stints on the silver screen in the hands of Roger Moore’s James, Bond) the wedge-shaped, mid-engined Lotus Esprit ‘supercar’ was in production for a whopping 28 years. In that time Hethal produced just 10,675 Esprits in total, equating to an average of just 381 examples built per annum! From the original Giugiaro-styled Esprit Series 1 of 1976, with its very 1970s green tartan trim and Fiat X1/9 tail lamps, right through to the more-rounded 1987 Peter Stevens facelift, and on to the final Lotus-developed V8 models of the early 21st Century, this range-topping Lotus was always an exceptional drive when things were going to plan, although it often suffered Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious, in line with most other Hethal sporting models of the era. At present, a basket case Series 1-3 Esprit ‘shed’ can be picked-up for sub-£5k, with a useable example ranging in price from £7,500 upwards, and a late (and scarce) V8 now commanding anything up to around £50,000+. A great and affordable British supercar with character that may prove rewarding and profitable to own, as long as you are willing to offer it plenty of TLC. 

  • axon's automotive anorak

  • Aston Martin

  • Lotus

  • Bentley

  • MG

  • anorak-austin-1300-gt-main.jpg


    Remembering one of Britain’s best-selling cars | Axon’s Automotive Anorak

  • anorak-queen-elizabeth-main.jpg


    The Queen oversaw a golden age of British Motoring | Axon’s Automotive Anorak

  • aston-martin-dbs-vantage-1969-william-towns-main-goodwood-25092020.jpg


    William Towns was a British car design hero – Axon's Automotive Anorak