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Best cars & vans

Best British modern classic cars

Britain has its fair share of automotive icons, with many now finding themselves at a tempting price

If you're looking for a modern classic from Britain, then you're pretty well-catered for. We managed to find mid-engined sports cars, luxury limousines, practical hatchbacks and off-roaders which could all prove to be a savvy investment for years to come. 

Investing in a modern classic isn't just for the wealthy either. We've included a wide variety of cars for all budgets, from the relatively cheap but still appealing MGF sports car to premium models like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage

There's always an element of risk in predicting which cars will become collectable in future and what mechanical demons can surface during your ownership, but we’ve done our best to get you ahead of the curve with our list of the best British classic cars you can afford.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

  • Price range: £22,000-£169,000
  • Our pick: V8 Vantage N430
  • Engine: 4.7-litre V8 petrol, 430bhp
  • Years produced: 2005-2018
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With its thunderous exhaust note, blistering performance and head-turning looks, the V8 Vantage is one of most desirable Astons ever. Launched in 2003, the two-seater coupé marked a return to form for the British brand, proving to be a match for talented rivals such as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8

At the heart of the car’s appeal is its muscular 380bhp 4.3-litre V8 (later cars got a 430bhp 4.7-litre) and engaging rear-wheel-drive handling. Plus, prices for early cars start at £30,000, while using a specialist means servicing needn’t break the bank. If your budget stretches, then the limited-run N430 is the pick of the bunch.

Caterham Seven

  • Price range: £12,500-£40,000
  • Our pick: Seven 310R
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol, 152bhp
  • Years produced: 1973-present
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Few cars at any price offer as many driver thrills as the evergreen Caterham Seven. Fast and fun, the brilliant British machine has been serving up the same simple recipe for more than 60 years. 

With its lightweight construction, classic rear-wheel-drive layout and acrobatic agility, the Seven is as close to a racing car for the road as you can get. Performance is electrifying even in the entry-level three-cylinder models, while all the Caterham’s major controls fizz with feedback. 

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Yes, its stripped-out cabin and fiddly roof mean it’s best reserved for high days and holidays, but when you do make the effort, no other car will get your heart beating faster. Better still, depreciation is virtually non-existent, so Caterham’s classic sports car is a solid investment, too.

Jaguar F-Type

  • Price range: £25,000-£140,000
  • Our pick: F-Type Convertible V6 S
  • Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6, 375bhp
  • Years produced: 2013-present

How do you replace a car as iconic as the Jaguar E-Type? It was a question that bosses at the British brand had struggled with for decades, but when the F-Type finally appeared in 2012, it was well worth the wait. 

Not only does the sporty Big Cat look great in both drop-top roadster and sleek coupé guises, it’s brilliant to drive thanks to engaging rear-wheel drive handling and a range of powerful engines. The four-cylinder model is surprisingly frugal yet fun and the bellowing V8 serves up scorching performance, but the supercharged V6 S is our pick. Take the plunge and you’ll be grinning like the cat that got the cream.

Land Rover Discovery

  • ​​Price range: £2,000-£20,000
  • Our pick: Discovery 200 TDi
  • Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl, 111bhp
  • Years produced: 1989-1994
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More than 30 years ago, Land Rover combined the chassis, suspension and engines from the more expensive Range Rover with a more functional and fashionable body, and the original Discovery kick-started the company’s current success. 

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It offered the brand’s typical off-road excellence with new levels of refinement and composure on tarmac. Inside, British design legend Jasper Conran’s bright and airy design delivered unrivalled practicality and space. Many examples of the early Disco led hard-working family lives, so survivors are hard to find, but track one down and you’ll be rewarded with a design classic that’s as desirable today as it was all those years ago.

McLaren MP4 12C

  • Price range: £75,000-£140,000
  • Our pick: 12C
  • Engine: 3.8-litre V8 petrol twin turbo, 616bhp
  • Years produced: 2011-2014

Designed to beat Ferrari at its own game, the 12C is the machine that put McLaren on the supercar map. Built using the brand’s extensive Formula One know-how, the 12C features a carbon-fibre chassis, electronically controlled and interlinked suspension, a high-revving twin-turbo V8 and a rapid-fire paddle-shift twin-clutch gearbox. As you’d expect, the British bruiser delivers stunning performance, with 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds and a 207mph top speed. 

Yet it’s the McLaren’s remarkable chassis that’s the real star, thanks to its ability to combine razor-sharp race-car handling with a supple ride. Electrical glitches are common and, as you’d expect, running costs are eye-watering, but not many cars are as fast and thrilling as the pioneering 12C.

MGF

  • Price range: £995-£6,000
  • Our pick: MGF 1.8i 
  • Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 118bhp
  • Years produced: 1995-2002
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The MGF could be one of the most underrated small sports cars of all time. It’s great to drive, affordable to buy and cost-effective to own, but when new, buyers were swayed instead by the Mazda MX-5

Yet with its mid-engined layout, innovative Hydragas suspension and body styled by the current Land Rover design chief, Gerry McGovern, the MGF has ‘modern classic’ written all over it. Crucially, you can now pick up tidy examples for as little as £1,000.

MINI Cooper S

  • Price range: £750-£14,500
  • Our pick: Cooper S
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol supercharged, 168bhp
  • Years produced: 2000-2006

It’s been more than 20 years since BMW reinvented the Mini for the 21st century, but the upmarket British baby’s appeal remains undimmed. It’s a particularly compelling choice in flagship Cooper S guise. 

With a supercharged 168bhp 1.6-litre engine under its bonnet, the muscular MINI is as fast and fun as it was two decades ago. Driver engagement is enhanced by the quick steering and roller-skate handling that makes every turn laugh-out-loud fun. The rare, two-seater GP has great investment potential, but the standard version is still hard to beat.

TVR Cerbera

  • Price range: £21,000-£40,000
  • Our pick: Cerbera Speed Six
  • Engine: 4.0-litre 6cyl, 350bhp
  • Years produced: 1996-2006 

If high-octane excitement is at the top of your sports car shopping list, then look no further than the Cerbera. With a choice of straight-six or V8 engines, the rear-wheel-drive TVR will get your heart beating harder and  adrenaline flowing faster than almost any rival. This big Brit bruiser looks distinctive inside and out, while the 2+2 layout makes it almost practical. 

Electrical and mechanical problems were common when new, but most have been sorted by previous owners. Prices aren’t likely to get any lower, so as an investment, it’s a solid choice.

Modern classics on Auto Express...

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