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Best cars & vans

Best Italian modern classic cars

We’ve trawled the market to bring you the best modern classics Italy has to offer

There's a reason classic Italian cars are usually described as having spades of passion and soul, that's because they're exciting in a way that no other country manages to replicate. From feisty hot hatchbacks to purposeful sport saloons, Italy has something for everyone to live out their petrolhead dreams.

These Italian beauties were designed by the likes of Giugiaro, Pininfarina and Bangle but you won’t need to break any auction records to acquire them. But as with any car that's getting on a bit, it's worth setting aside some cash for potential issues later in life. 

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As ever with modern classics it’ll be wiser to spend more to avoid the ropey examples so you can spend more time on the open road enjoying your wonderful exotic car.

Alfa Romeo 159

  • Price range: £2,000-£12,000
  • Our pick: 159 3.2 JTS V6 Ti
  • Engine: 3.2-litre V6 petrol, 256bhp
  • Years produced: 2004-2011

If you’re after some Latin brio on a budget, then look no further than the Alfa Romeo 159. The predecessor to the Giulia lacks the current saloon’s poise and rear-drive layout, but it looks great, and with prices starting at less than £2,000, it’s a bargain to boot. 

There are eager four-cylinder petrol engines and frugal diesels, but the highlight is the 256bhp 3.2-litre V6 and its snarling soundtrack. The 159 is pretty good to drive, too, with accurate handling and decent refinement. Better still, it doesn’t rust as older Alfas used to, and while the interior feels a little low rent, mechanically the 159 is robust.

Alfa Romeo Spider

  • Price range: £2,500-£14,000
  • Our pick: Spider 2.0 Twin Spark Lusso
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, 150bhp
  • Years produced: 1995-2006
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The original 1960s Alfa Spider is one of the most desirable classic cars on the planet, but its nineties successor runs it close, and costs thousands less. With its distinctive wedge profile, quad headlamp layout and full-width tail-lamps, the two-seat Italian drop-top looks as fresh today as when it made its debut in 1995. 

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It’s still great to drive, too, with quick steering, agile handling and a line-up of great engines, including the raspy Twin Spark 2.0-litre petrol and howling ‘Busso’ 3.0-litre V6. What’s more, many have been owned by enthusiasts, so finding a clean and well cared-for example should be a doddle.

Ferrari F355

  • Price range: £55,000-£135,000
  • Our pick: F355 GTB
  • Engine: 3.5-litre V8, 380bhp
  • Years produced: 1994-1999

Ferociously fast, stunningly styled and invigorating to drive, the F355 set the winning template for every subsequent entry-level Ferrari. Essentially a heavily revised version of the 348, the mid-engined F355 ditched its predecessor’s knife-edge handling for a beautifully balanced chassis that was as rewarding for experts as it was secure for novices. Adding to the drama was the 40-valve 3.5-litre V8, which served up a spine-tingling soundtrack and searing pace. 

There’s a choice of coupé, GTS targa and Spider convertible bodystyles, but the values of all are rising fast, so get in now before it’s too late.

Fiat Coupe

  • Price range: £4,000-£15,000
  • Our pick: Coupé 20V Turbo
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 5cyl, 220bhp
  • Years produced: 1994-2000
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Fiat was on a roll in the Nineties, and nowhere was its confidence more obvious than in the Coupé. Designed by American Chris Bangle before he left for BMW, it turns as many heads today as in 1994. Its slashed wheelarches and domed headlamp lenses mean it won’t be mistaken for anything else, while bold details include an aluminium filler cap and a body-coloured strip across the dashboard. 

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There’s a choice of raspy four and warbling five-cylinder petrol engines, while the front-wheel-drive chassis provides crisp handling. The 220bhp 20V Turbo is the most sought-after version, delivering a supercar experience on a shoestring budget.

Fiat Multipla

  • Price range: £1,500-£3,500
  • Our pick: Multipla ELX 100 16V
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol, 103bhp
  • Years produced: 1998-2004

It’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but even its mother would struggle to find the Multipla attractive. Yet the interior is bursting with neat details. Novel three-abreast front seating means space for six, while the big windows give excellent visibility and a bright and airy atmosphere. 

The Multipla is good to drive, too, handling corners as easily as the school run. Tracking one down won’t be easy, but make the effort and you’ll have a great starter classic for all the family.

Maserati Quattroporte

  • Price range: £6,950-£45,000
  • Our pick: Quattroporte 4.7 S
  • Engine: 4.7-litre V8, 425bhp
  • Years produced: 2003-2015

What do you get when you mix Italian style, limousine luxury and a Ferrari V8? The answer is the fifth-generation Quattroporte, one of the most charismatic and classy fast saloons you can buy. The Pininfarina-penned Maserati still looks good today, while the howling naturally aspirated engines serve up a spine-tingling soundtrack and scorching performance. 

It’s not the most comfortable or refined choice, but its rear-drive handling is more fun than you’d expect given the car’s vast dimensions. Prices start at around £7,000, but bear in mind that you’ll need deep pockets to keep it running.

Modern classics on Auto Express...

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