Classic convertibles worth buying this summer instead of brand new

With summer in full swing some drivers might be tempted by the idea of owning a convertible car.

As Britain enjoys bursts of sweltering conditions, inbetween the rain and clouds, the opportunity to motor along with the wind in your hair (or on your scalp if you’re follically challenged) can be very appealing.

But instead of splurging on a new model and reeling at its rapid depreciation, there are plenty of classics – and modern classics – you can buy today as an investment and watch their values stay steady or potentially climb in the coming years, according to one classic car expert and collector…

Drop-top investments? If you're in the market for a convertible car this summer, it might be a more fruitful financial opportunity to buy a classic - or modern classic - instead of a new model Drop-top investments? If you're in the market for a convertible car this summer, it might be a more fruitful financial opportunity to buy a classic - or modern classic - instead of a new model

Drop-top investments? If you’re in the market for a convertible car this summer, it might be a more fruitful financial opportunity to buy a classic – or modern classic – instead of a new model

Marcus Holland is the co-founder of classic car businesses DM Historics and E-Type UK. 

Based in Hadlow, Kent, the DM Historics and E-Type UK teams are specialists in selling, upgrading, restoring and modifying classic cars. 

Marcus is well aware that the collectible vehicle market has enjoyed a period of rich activity, with values of some models soaring in the last 10 years.

But he says there are still some ‘undiscovered gems’ out there that offer plenty more room to grow in value.

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‘Now we’re in the midst of summer, it’s the perfect time to look at buying a convertible,’ he said.

 ‘I’ve outlined a few of my picks for both classic and modern classic cars that will not only hold their value, but could make you a bit of money, too.

‘With all car-buying decisions, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is – which is a good rule of thumb. 

‘In our business, we see plenty of shiny looking cars that hide all sorts of terrible secrets. Buy the best example you can afford, and save yourself pain further down the line.’

Marcus has offered his top picks at varying price points – so petrolhead investors can decide how much they want to put down now. 

To give you an idea of value for money, we’ve compared the price you should expect to pay for one of these classics today with brand new cabriolets on the market currently. You can decide which is the better option.  

Fiat X1/9 (1972-1982)  

For less than a new Smart ForTwo Cabrio…

 Price you’ll pay now: £9,000

Expected value in 2024: £13,000

Fiat X1/9 Smart ForTwo Cabriolet ‹ Slide me ›

Old or new? For around £9,000, motorists can get their hands on the latest Smart ForTwo Cabriolet (right). Alternatively, the same amount of money would buy a good example of the Fiat X1/9 (left)

MH: ‘These have been overlooked for too long – and a recent unflattering appearance with a particularly bad example on The Grand Tour didn’t help. 

‘If Ferrari or Lamborghini had made a junior supercar, the X1/9 would have been it. 

‘Full of poise, with precise steering and handling, not to mention the dual benefit of a lift-out targa roof, the wedge-shaped Fiat is a cracker. 

‘Best sampled in post-1978 1.5-litre form – the early 1.3-litre versions were underpowered – it’s a bit cramped for the taller among us, the interior is flimsy, corrosion is always an issue while the electronics can go haywire. But then you could say the same about most cars from this era. 

‘The really good news is how little these cost. Less than £10,000 should buy a really solid car from a specialist with all the above faults cured. Then you’ll have a rare, head-turning little sports car you can use every day, the value of which should only be going in one direction. 

‘We even have a rare Fiat X1/9 Group 4 Rally Coupé in our stock – look for these special race-prepared examples starting for around £15,000.’

Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible (1975-1991)

For the same price as a new Mazda MX-5… 

Price you’ll pay now: £20,000

Expected value in 2024: £30,000

Jaguar XJS Convertible Mazda MX-5 ‹ Slide me ›

Twelve cylinders or four? If you have £20,000 to spend on a convertible, you could have a brand new Mazda MX-5 (right). Or you could go for a V12 Jaguar XJS

MH: ‘Launched in 1975, the XJS carried a lot of weight on it shoulders: after all it was the car that replaced the legendary E-type. It suffered for some time as a result but fast forward to 2019 and the XJS, particularly in V12 Convertible guise, is a lovely thing to covet. 

‘That 5.3-litre V12 is silky smooth and very powerful, while the cabin is a luxurious, elegant and old-school Jaguar environment. It all adds up to a soothing feel-good experience. 

‘When buying, check for rust – always the enemy – and that all the electronics work. 

‘The V12 is naturally very thirsty but regular oil changes, every 3,000 miles, will keep it in fine order. These cars are extremely scarce now: find one with low mileage that’s been lovingly cared for and you’ve got a good bet for the future.’

Aston Martin DB9 Volante (2004-2016) 

For the same price as a new BMW 4 Series Convertible… 

Price you’ll pay now: £40,000

Expected value in 2024: £50,000

Aston Martin DB9 Volante BMW 4 Series Convertible ‹ Slide me ›

BMW or Bond? If you’re considering splurging £40,000 on a BMW 4 Series Convertible (right), did you know you could also probably stretch to an Aston Martin DB9 (left)?

MH: ‘The DB9 Volante is a true modern classic in the making – and it represents phenomenal value. For the price of a brand-new BMW 4 Series Convertible you can put yourself in the driving seat of a 450bhp 6.0-litre V12-engined convertible with one of the most prestigious badges. 

‘These cars sound incredible, go like the clappers and are proper grand tourers, perfect for covering long distance in comfort. They’re also elegant and classy in a way that current Astons just aren’t. 

‘Needless to say, running costs aren’t cheap – you’ll need to budget around £1k a year for servicing and, of course, fuel. 

‘Manual versions are very rare – no bad thing, the paddleshift automated box may not be as slick as current technology, but it suits the car. 

‘Early models had issues with suspension, which prompted a recall, but most of these problems should have been ironed out by now. Buy a low mileage model with full service history and enjoy.’

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (2004-2013) 

For the same price as a new Jaguar F-Type V6… 

Price you’ll pay now: £60,000

Expected value in 2024: £80,000

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder Jaguar F-Type ‹ Slide me ›

Serious money: The Jaguar F-Type V6 (right) is a beautiful cabriolet – probably one of the best looking drop-tops on the market right now. But for the same price as a new one you can get your hands on a used Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (left)

MH: ‘Like the DB9, another car that looks like it should be worth double what you can actually pay for it. 

‘The Gallardo is that rare thing: an open top Lamborghini you could – at a stretch – use every day, but still a full-fat supercar with the looks, handling and noise to match. 

‘You can thank Audi for the former, there’s some DNA crossover with the R8, though with outrageous styling and that badge, not to mention a howling 500bhp V10, it feels every inch the Lamborghini. However, there’s one crucial box to tick if you want your investment to go up: make sure it has the six-speed manual gearbox. 

‘The Gallardo was the last car to be built in Sant’Agata with the option of the traditional open-gated box – which can draw on 40+ years of heritage – and it’s a delight to use. Always buy a car like this from a specialist with low miles, a sure-fire tip for future value increase.’

Jaguar E-type Series III Roadster (1971-1975) 

For the same price as a new Porsche 911 Carrera S… 

Price you’ll pay now: £90,000

Expected value in 2024: £115,000

Jaguar E-type Series III Roadster Porsche 911 S Cabriolet ‹ Slide me ›

Icons: Both the Porsche 911 (right) and Jaguar E-type are iconic cars. However, only one is going to go up in value in the next few years

MH: ‘The Series III was the final iteration of Jaguar’s most famous car; the E-Type. It retained the same design philosophy as its Series II and Series I predecessors but felt very different to the first E-Types. 

‘With a big V12 engine, a lengthened wheelbase, a wider track and a generally softer set-up, it was more comfortable GT car than out-and-out sports racer. We’re recommending you go for the Roadster rather than the 2+2; it’s always been the model more in demand, and they tend to be better looked after. 

‘In our work with E-Type UK, we see a lot of restored examples that look great from the outside, but in reality, the mechanicals underneath need a lot of work. 

‘If you’re test-driving we’d recommend listening out for misfires, checking you have a steady oil pressure and ensuring the rear brakes and handbrake aren’t sticking – all can be a sign of neglect.’  

BMW Z8 (2000-2003)

For less than a new Audi R8 V10 Performance…  

Price you’ll pay now: £150,000

Expected value in 2024: £180,000

BMW Z8 Audi R8 Spyder V10 Performance ‹ Slide me ›

Rarity wins: The BMW Z8 (left) had a very low production run, which helps to guarantee its value. The Audi R8 Spyder (right) is a phenomenal car, but it will ultimately depreciate more quickly

MH: ‘Swap the run flats for regular tyres and you can immediately transform the way the Z8 rides and handles. The quality is incredible, BMW used the Z8 project as a test run for the first Rolls Royce Phantom, essentially creating all switches and materials from scratch. 

‘Where these days you may find a BMW 8 Series uses the same buttons, switches and stalks as a 1 Series, the Z8 felt completely bespoke compared with the rest of the range, even down to its aluminium chassis. 

‘Only 6,000 RHD models were built, and its beautiful styling – alongside a starring role in a Bond film – have helped ensure values have been steadily rising. 

‘The final 555 cars were built by Alpina, with a more relaxed character and – clearly – an additional dose of exclusivity. Look for low mileage examples that have been well cared for, and you can’t go wrong.’

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II DHC (1959-1962) 

For the same price as a new Lamborghini SVJ Roadster…  

Price you’ll pay now: £375,000 

Expected value in 2024: £425,000

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II DHC Lamborghini SVJ Roadster ‹ Slide me ›

Vintage versus vicious: The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (left) is widely recognised as one of the most distinguished and stunning vehicles to ever grace the road. The Lamborghini Aventador SVJ might not have the same grace, but it’s monumentally quick

MH: ‘A symbol of wealth and discerning taste, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud was the car of high society in period. The Silver Cloud II was introduced in 1959, with key differences under the bonnet compared with the Silver Cloud I. 

‘Alongside a range of luxury optional extras, the Silver Cloud featured a Rolls-Royce developed 6.2-litre V8 engine replacing the earlier six-cylinder unit, improving acceleration and overall performance. 

‘The car we’d recommend is a Drop Head Coupé, featuring a special coachbuilt body by HJ Mulliner. Only 32 RHD Silver Cloud II models were produced with this DHC body, so it undoubtedly fulfils one of the key criteria of a good investment: rarity. 

‘You’ll have to look out for rust, but many of these cars have now been beautifully restored; in fact, we’ve just completed work on one.’

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