Best modern classics to invest in and enjoy in 2021

  • Parkers and Modern Classics magazine choose the hottest cars
  • If you can stomach the fuel costs, V8s are bargains right now
  • Japanese, German and British sports cars are the current best bets

We’ve teamed up with Modern Classics magazine to bring you eight great V8s that represent great value at current prices and are either about to rise in value, or could do in the future.

The trend for new cars is a familiar – downsizing engines, a move to electic and hybrid powertrains and, if you believe some noisy – yet still niche – elements of the motoring press the end of driving for sheer enjoyment. Poppycock. This isn’t the forum to discuss the future of propulsion, but the here and now – and what should be pricking the ear of true petrolheads right now is that V8 coupes are an absolute steal.

This sector of the market has dropped back markedly over the past year. Fears of regime change in Number 10, Brexit uncertainty, various fashions – whatever the reason, there’s never been a better time to indulge your petrolhead desire for a V8.

But you should be quick – since the election result dealers have started to see interest in these cars once again. So if you want one, now’s the time to pounce.

We’ve picked eight fantastic modern classics that offer a taste of the high life for less than the price of a mid-range Ford Focus. Yes, they’ll not be as cheap to run, fix or insure, but they’ll pay you back with a rich, full-bodied driving experience that not even Tesla can hope to replicate. And with a little luck, some of them might even break even – or perhaps more – when you come to sell. You'll find the most recent ones with mainstream dealers though Parkers cars for sale; for specialists, check out our sister title Classic Cars for Sale.

So, here’s your starter for eight, as MC’s assistant editor, Nathan Chadwick, brings you this fully updated guide to the hottest properties in the modern classics world…

 In association with Modern Classics magazine

Jaguar XKR (X150)

2010 Jaguar XKR

Ian Callum’s XKR has to be one of the prettiest cars of the past 20 years. As newer coupes up the body addenda, the classical less-is-more approach of the XKR just gets more and more appealing. So too does is interior stylings – lighter interiors with a  smattering of wood, which seemed a touch old-fashioned in the '00s, now appear to be back in trend in new cars, and now provide welcome respite to the funereal cabins of some of the Germanic choices in our list.

The engines are soulful, heart-pumping machines that liberate grins as quickly as they rev out. The first XKRs used a supercharged 4.2-litre V8 that doled out a chunky 420hp and a sub five-second 0-60mph time. A 2009 facelift saw the introduction of the AJ-V8 GEN III powerplant, which saw a supercharged 503hp.

Jaguar have always managed to balance ride and handling well, and the XKR is no different. It is still very much a GT car – the steering is much lighter and less focused than the BMW M3 below, for example – so this means the ride is endlessly comfortable, and the smiles per mile are high. With strong independent specialist support, a healthy club scene and well-known mechanicals, this appeals to the head as much the heart.

There’s plenty of choice below our £20k limit – we found a 90k-miler 4.2 in Peterborough on 07 plate for £12k, but boost your budget a little more and you can snare even tastier big cats. A Scottish 2010 supercharged 5.0 car with 510hp on 52k miles can be yours for a snip under £18k with a dealer.

BMW M3 (E92)

2010 BMW M3

This era of M3 is a long way from the motor sport-derived 1980s original, but its increase in size and weight also meant a leap to eight cylinders and even more refinement. The party piece has to be the S65 engine – a 4.0-litre V8 that revs to the heavens. It’s an absolute masterpiece, a unit of pure petrolhead thrills. There’s enough innate torque to shuffle around town, but drop your right foot and all 414hp is unleashed, screaming all the way to 8,300rpm.

Don’t go thinking that the M3 has gone soft – get into the swing of things and the M3 removes its mini-M5 demeanour to reveal a sharpened focus very few cars get close to. It changes direction with the aplomb of something far smaller, and you always feel as if you’re involved. There isn’t quite the steering feel of previous M3s, but the chassis is so predictable the entire car’s 1,600kg mass is dutifully malleable. And the best bit? Well, if a coupe or cabriolet isn’t your thing, you can pick up a saloon version too…

For our sub-£20k budget there’s a vast range of car to choose from. At the top of our budget, you’ll get into an 09/10 DCT car with less than 50k miles at a dealer, though you can pick up a 90k manual from upwards of £12k.

Vauxhall Monaro

2007 Vauxhall Monaro

If the XKR is the artisan delight and the M3 the precision instrument, the Monaro is the hammer. Its origins lay in the Australian Holden Monaro, a land for which the V8 muscle car is just as much a way of life as in the USA. It certainly doesn’t have the sophistication inside as the other two, but its big seats are supportive and comfortable, and the soundtrack is pure Bathurst V8 supercar theatre.

The steering isn’t quite as nuanced as the other cars here, and the emphasis is most certainly on mechanical grip – or if you’re feeling playful, the lack of it. For our budget you can get into normal Monaro (328hp), or a VXR, which offers 376hp and even the facelifted 6.0-litre engine, which delivers 397hp. All take around six seconds or less to get to 60mph – providing you don’t spin up the rear tyres. Not an easy thing to avoid.

Their rarity and back-to-basics style has made these highly collectable, especially compared to more complicated, yet cheaper to buy German cars. There’s also a strong tuning scene, which can easily see upwards of 500hp liberated in the noisiest and most entertaining ways possible. We found a 61k miles 2007 VXR in Dorset with a private seller for a meal for two less than £14k while a pint’s less than £20k will see you into a supercharged 6.0-litre with a specialist.

Audi RS 5

2010 Audi RS 5

The T-1000 of V8 coupes. Whatever you throw at the RS 5, it will shrug off – its sheer point-to-point pace staggers the mind, thanks to its high-revving V8 and quattro four-wheel drive system. It looks good too – famed stylist Walter de Silva even calls the A5 shape his best, and he’s had a hand in designing some of the finest-looking cars of all time.

Downsides? This is a performance Audi so its first thought is to understeer, and as such it doesn’t quite have the playful nature of the other cars here, despite Audi’s engineers coming up with a special inboard braking system at the front to drag the nose into turns.

The 450hp 4.2-litre V8 is a peach of an engine, though – it sounds like pure metallic industrial art, thudding to 8,200rpm. That, allied to the traction from the four-wheel drive system, make this spectacularly quick despite tipping the scales at 1,800kg. The ride is firm (as per a performance Audi), but there are a variety of settings to adjust to your taste. Overall the RS 5 is a consummate long-distance machine, the kind of car that can knock off entire countries with a nudge of your big toe. It might not handle like the BMW or charm like the Jag, but if you need phenomenal all-weather pace, try the RS 5.

Prices are around the £17k mark – we found a 57k-mile 2011 car in Manchester for that, and private 42k 2010 car for £395 more in Cheshire.

Maserati 4200

2010 Maserati 4200

If the Audi ups the bicep count then the Maserati is the opposite. It’s a beautifully sculpted, exotic machine crafted by one of the original masters of the GT form – Giorgetto Giuigaro. In truth he designed the 3200, the 3.2-litre twin-turbo powered V8 of 1998. The boomerang lights from that car didn’t make it to the 4200, and neither did the Shamal-derived V8. Instead, you got a 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 similar to that found in the Ferrari F430, only with a crossplane crank rather than a flatplane.

The first time you take the engine past 3000rpm and you’ll forget all about the boomerang rear lights – trust us. It’s a glorious sound, bassy yet searing at its high notes, screaming to 7,000rpm. It’s the most exotic powerplant here, even if it’s outgunned on the horsepower count (385hp). But that’s not really the point – when it sounds and looks this good, what’s a few equines between friends?

The style continues inside, with an elegant if ergonomically peculiar Enrico Fumia-designed cabin. There’s a fluency about the handling too – like the Jaguar it’s initially very light, but unlike the Coventry creation the harder you push the 4200, the more it feeds back through the chassis.

We recommend a post-2004 car, and aim for the most expensive car you can afford. Specialist support is more sporadic, and though these cars are far more reliable than internet legend would have you believe, always get an inspection first, and don’t be tempted by £10k cars unless you’re handy with the tools.

We found a 2005 on 38k miles for £18k and a 43k-mile 04 for £16k in Worcestershire, both Cambiocorsa semi-automatics.

Mercedes-Benz CL (C216)

2010 Mercedes-Benz CL

On a bang for buck basis, this has to be one of the most appealing. These graceful yet imposing machines offer Bentley-style levels of refinement and, in CL63 form, similar amounts of wallop. They aren’t cheap to run, but when you settle into the immaculate interior, arrange yourself in the comfortable seats and ease back into a long drive, it’s hard to figure out why anyone would need to drop another £120k on a new S-Class Coupe, this car’s replacement.

For between £15k and 20k there’s a vast choice of models. The CL500 is a glidng delight, its twin-turbo 4.7-litre V8 doling out an effortless 429hp, allowing you to ride along on a cloud of Stuttgart heave. But if you’re feeling a bit frisky, our budget will get you into the much more potent CL63, with 536hp and a soundtrack that could come from NASCAR. Fancy more refinement? Then seek out the rare 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12, with 510hp but yet more torque. But as this is about V8s, we’d plump for the CL63.

This isn’t a car for hardcore cornering – though the AMG cars will corner with far more aplomb than you’d ever imagine – but it makes up for that with its sheer ability to turn long journeys into very short yet comfortable ones.

We found a 49k-mile 2011 CL500 in Norwich for £15,995 in a rare burgundy, but if you’re happy with silver you could save three grand and plump for a 41k-miler in Leicestershire on an 08 plate. CL63s start at £14k for 85k+ milers, with a sub-63k-mile example can be had for £19,750 in Chesterfield.

Porsche 928

1990 Porsche 928

We’re heading a little bit further back for this one, but if ever a car was engineered for GT living, it was this. Our budget will see you into a sub-150k-mile example from £13k and up, though the best buying is at just under £20k with a Series 4 with less than 130k miles. Mileage shouldn’t be a worry as long as the car has the service history to prove concerted, careful ownership. That means you get a 320hp 5.0-litre V8 that burbles in heartwarming, gurgling way. Most 928s were sold with an automatic gearbox and compared to the other cars here, it feels very old fashioned. Well, because it is.

Don’t let that put you off as the 928’s engine an understressed, lolloping machine and though a manual 928 is a thing to savour, the auto car is an excellent place to be. You never feel less than special staring out over its long bonnet and pop-up headlamps, and as you’ll be in Series 4 territory, you’ll have a choice of extrovert interiors. Tartan cloth? Pinstripes? Full leather, in a variety of sober and lurid shades? All are possible. The cabin architecture is a delight too – it’s a full on sci-fi shaped experience, with Tonka Toy style controls and an automatic gearshifter that appears to have come straight from a Star Wars prop cupboard. You’ll certainly feel like you’ve entered warp drive when you plant it in ‘2’…

For our £20k budget we’d push it to the max. We found a white 1989 on 129k miles in Bridgwater for £19,995, while £19,980 buys a 116k-miler in Woodstock on an 88 plate. Go private and there’s a 115k-mile 89 car in Ormskirk for £15,500.

Lexus SC430

2010 Lexus SC430

Okay, so this isn’t strictly a coupe – but its folding metal roof easily turns it into a coupe. Though we might need to convince you a little further – because this car has a very poor reputation. Does it deserve it? Early cars were blighted with an uncomfortable ride (thanks to run flat tyres) and squidgy handling, but Lexus refined the car in 2002 and 2004, making great leaps with each facelift.

It is very much a cruiser though, and its 282hp 4.30litre V8 is set up for easy motorway schleps. It’s a good place to sit, with a fantastic stereo system, and it even pipes warm air into the cabin if the roof’s down. And as it’s a Lexus, it’ll be endlessly reliable too.

The looks require some getting used to – it’s very much a car you’ll take to immediately or disregard just as quickly if it’s not your thing, but don’t just take some nasty telly words as verbatim. People who love this car really love it, and it might just be your cup of tea too.

Such a poor reputation means that they’re rare cars, but very cheap to buy.  The most expensive example will cost you around £13k, which will get you into an 07-plate on 47k miles in West Drayton, while a silver 04 on 48k miles will cost you a grand less in Croydon. However, an 80k miles car for a smidgen under £10k in Bury is tempting too. You could pay a lot less, too.

Want to comment?

Post your thoughts on the Parkers Facebook page

Further reading