8 sporty auction picks under £15,000 to enjoy this spring

by Antony Ingram
17 January 2023 4 min read
8 sporty auction picks under £15,000 to enjoy this spring
Photo: Classic Car Auctions

Winter is fine. Great even, if you’re out and about somewhere picturesque on a dry but frosty (or snowy) morning, feeling crisp air in your lungs and the hug of a scarf around your neck.

But for many of us with classic, collectable or coveted cars, it’s also the time of unavoidable road muck, pothole-dodging, squinting with each pair of blinding headlights that come towards you at night, and perhaps worst of all, a sense that copious quantities of road salt are chewing away at your precious metalwork.

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So as a pick-me up, we’re already looking towards the spring and summer with eight sporty offerings in upcoming auctions – perhaps cars you can put in the garage now and bring to their best just in time for those drier, warmer, and longer days. With a self-imposed budget cap of fifteen grand, we’ve tried to highlight obtainable cars, too.

1990 Volkswagen Golf GTi Cabriolet

Volkswagen Golf GTi Cabriolet MPC
Photo: Manor Park Classics

Manor Park Classics, 25 February, £7000-£8000

The Mk1 Golf Cabriolet had a startlingly long life, first emerging from the Karmann factory in 1980 and not calling time until 1994. Not only did it outlive the Mk1 hatch (South African Citigolf excepted), but the Mk2 Golf too – the Mk3 had already been around for three years before the lid closed on the Cabrio.

Perhaps not as desirable as conventional Mk1s, the Cabrio always felt like a bit of an anachronism as a result. But when you see a clean – indeed, recently restored – item like this, it still raises a smile. The basket handle over the cabin helps retain some rigidity, and 1.8-litre GTI power should mean brisk performance too.

1997 Mazda MX-5 Harvard

Mazda MX-5 Harvard ACA
Photo: Anglia Car Auctions

Anglia Car Auctions, 28-29 January, Estimate TBC

You’d tell us off for putting together a list of affordable sports cars without including an MX-5, and you might call the Harvard edition coming up with Anglia Car Auctions an… intellectual choice. ACA doesn’t have many details at this stage, but from the photos alone it certainly gets a passing grade.

Okay, enough with the uni references. We’re pretty sure the real Harvard isn’t silver on the outside and red within, but this classic combo was standard on this edition of Mazda’s roadster, as was the neat three-spoke Momo. The only standard-fit bit we can’t see is the Harvard’s “wood” trim, but that’s no great loss anyway. The rest? You don’t need no education to enjoy an MX-5, that’s for sure.

1992 Caterham Super Seven Sprint 1700

Caterham Seven CCA
Photo: Classic Car Auctions

Classic Car Auctions, 25 March, £12,000-£15,000

Caterhams don’t seem like the most sensible choices, but consider that glacial depreciation often means getting years of enjoyment out of them for minimal outlay, and they start to make a lot more sense. It’s not that they’re appreciating assets, more that they seem to stick at whatever price you buy them for.

And a £12k-£25k estimate doesn’t seem bad for a nicely-kept Sprint with a lightly-fettled 1700 crossflow under the bonnet – bank on horsepower in the 130s, maybe even 140s. It’s in a classic colour combo and the flared wings are a great period touch given most modern Sevens seem to have racy cycle fenders. We’d struggle not to use this one all through winter.

2000 Maserati 3200GT

Maserati 3200GT MPC
Photo: Manor Park Classics

Manor Park Classics, 25 February, £11,000-£13,000

We’ve a bit of a soft spot for the 3200GT, and included one in the 2022 Hagerty Bull Market list. Prices actually softened a bit over the past year, perhaps a result of the cost of living crisis intersecting with a car with a reputation for being a bit needy, but that just means they remain great value.

Particularly given the styling, with those iconic “boomerang” tail lights, and the Ferrari-derived V8 in the nose. This one gets a manual ‘box, and a chunky service history and matching set of Michelins should lower the blood pressure a bit. Just remember to set some dosh aside for unexpected bills.

1976 Lotus Eclat

Lotus Eclat ACA
Photo: Anglia Car Auctions

Anglia Car Auctions, 28-29 January, £10,000-£12,000

There’s a pair of ’76 Lotus in ACA’s January classic car sale but we’ve opted for the fastbacked Eclat over the bustle-backed Elite, since the estimate – about double – suggests something that’s a little more hop-in-and-go.

Previously sold by ACA in 2018, the car’s history then included bills amounting to more than £14,000, and since that sale it’s had a bit more work. It looks just as you’d hope it to inside and out, and these Winterbottom-styled wedge Lotus models carve a useful line between grand tourer and sports car. Deserves a spring road trip, this one.

1929 MG ‘M’ Type Midget

MG Midget CCA
Photo: Classic Car Auctions

Classic Car Auctions, 25 March, £15,000-£20,000

With an estimate of £15k and up we’re pushing our self-imposed budget a little for this one, but one look at this pre-war Midget and you’ll hopefully forgive us. It’s a blue, boat-tailed beauty and even at the higher end of the estimate, looks good value given the Hagerty UK Price Guide puts a 1929 ‘M’ Midget in excellent condition at nearly £25,000.

Found on top of a garage in the late 1960s it was restored in the 1970s, and has been with its current owner since 2009. It’s been fully rebuilt, and the tweaked engine should be good for 28bhp. A nice alternative to ‘T’ type MGs or Ulster-bodied Austin Sevens.

2002 BMW M3 Convertible

E46 BMW M3 Convertible MPC
Photo: Manor Park Classics

Manor Park Classics, 25 February, £13,000-£15,000

A little like the Golf further up, a soft-top isn’t the natural choice for driving enthusiasts, but assuming for a second you’re the type of driver who picks sound and theatre over lap times, then perhaps you’ll be swayed by this E46 M3 drop-top.

The colour combination is eye-catching for a start, Silverstone Blue being from the BMW Individual catalogue and even more distinctive when paired with Violet Blue leather and a blue hood. Aforementioned enthusiasts (including the Editor) will tell you 18-inch alloys work better, but 19s suit the stylish vibe here, and you still get a manual gearbox, rather than the divisive SMG auto, to play with.

1988 Porsche 944

Porsche 944 ACA
Photo: Anglia Car Auctions

Anglia Car Auctions, 28-29 January, £5000-£6000

Browse the classifieds and you’ll see the prices of Porsche 924s and 944s are all over the shop. There are so many out there that there’s a wild variance between the scraggy basket-cases and top-end low-miles museum pieces, but in the Hagerty UK Price Guide a typical ’88 car like this comes in between £3800 for a “fair” daily-driver quality car, and £15,500 for a concours example.

A £5k-£6k estimate’s probably about right for this late pre-S2 944 then – a car with the desirable later interior design, but earlier, more retro styling. Ruby red paintwork with a burgundy interior is a fabulously period combination too, but the low estimate does betray that the car was last used in 2020, so may require some recommissioning.

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