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THERE ARE MANY GOOD REASONS FOR BUYING AN OLDER CLASSIC
Hello depreciation, my old friend. Whereas the rarest of exotic sports cars generally rise in value as they age, that strata of premium vehicle slightly below them — the luxury car — doesn’t often share the same good fortune. The inexorable march of manufacturing technology, the expensive upkeep and the simple fickleness of the buying public means that sports sedan with the $150,000 retail sticker in 1996 will be worth less than a third of that price today.
But all this is good news for drivers looking for something claaaaaaaassy and interesting on the second-hand market. Why spend $20,000 on that imported 2009 Nissan Skyline 370GT when you could have a 1989 Lotus Esprit for about the same money? Well yes, there are lots of reasons why this seems slightly risky. But you only live once, right?
Here are a handful of bargain-basement luxury cars for your alternative buyer wishlist.
Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC
Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC
Classic Mercedes-Benz models have made great bargain buying for years. The tide appears to be turning though, with W123, W124 and W126 cars from the 1970s and 80s starting to fetch higher prices as good examples become fewer and further between.
One of the ultimate 80s Mercs was the 500 SEC V8; the hi-po coupe version of the S-Class.
There are still a few of these monsters around. Although they were one of the most expensive Mercs ever built at time of launch (more than $200,000, which put it firmly in the realm of the 1980s’ stockbroker set), even a well tended example can generally be had for somewhere in the mid-$20,000s.
Or you could buy a Kia Rio.
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
Imagine a Roller in the garage. Yes, yes; the phrase “sensible buy” doesn’t really come into it. And, if anything were to go seriously wrong, a pricey trip on the back of a flat-bed to a specialist (probably in Martinborough or Nelson or somewhere like that) may be the only solution.
But what price real luxury? What price wafting down the motorway in a real point of difference? About 25 grand as it turns out.
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows of 1970s vintage appear for sale online with remarkable regularity in New Zealand. The bonus with cars of this pedigree is that, the rare exception aside, they’ve all been fastidiously maintained, usually by now-elderly gentlemen in tweed caps, who wouldn’t dream of taking them out in the rain.
There will probably be all the history you could hope for accompanying the car too, as well as a book of receipts for work done. What’s that? It’s an enormous folder and the figures at the bottom of all the invoices are quite substantial? Never mind, just look at the patina on that leather interior …
Or you could buy a Mitsubishi Lancer.
Range Rover Vogue
Given that they sell for a million billion dollars when brand new, mid-2000s Range Rover Vogues are shockingly cheap on the second-hand market.
For many this remains the only car you’ll ever need. A good Rangie is as faithful as a gun dog and genuinely capable of both turning heads in the High St and conquering mud tracks in the backblocks. Jaguar might have coined the “grace, space and pace” equation, but it applies just as comfortably to a Range Rover Vogue as well.
Online research shows that $30,000 or thereabouts will get you a 10- 12-year-old Vogue with all the trimmings and that lovely sonorous V8 under its big square bonnet. They all tend to feature beige leather interiors, but I suppose you can’t have everything, right?
Or you could buy a Toyota Aurion.
Aside from the risk of being mistaken for a Cabinet minister (especially if yours is silver), BMW’s ultimate luxury car presents a great option if you’re after some bang for your buck.
Even the older models still feel luxurious; in past decades the 7-Series is where the manufacturer debuted its latest and greatest, so even 15-year-old examples will still feature early versions of iDrive and all the best safety equipment then available.
The E65/E66 era 7-Series was derided for its styling in some quarters, with BMW’s chief crayon-wielder Chris Bangle’s bulbous boot design coming in for particular mauling. But what was seen as a flaw a decade ago appears somewhat characterful in hindsight; testimony to a time when not all BMW sedans looked like carbon copies of each other — albeit of slightly different dimensions — as they do these days.
A good example may go for about $15,000 today. Even later examples from 2008-2010 are selling for $30,000-ish. Quite a bargain when compared with the six figure price tags they sported not that long ago.
Or you could buy a Honda HRV.