These are the 20 'ordinary' cars that became unlikely classics


Some ordinary – and frankly underwhelming – everyday cars from the past are rising in value faster than desirable classics like the E-Type Jaguar.

Models like the Ford Cortina, Renault 4, Hillman Imp, Austin Princess and the infamous Allegro – all motors that were commonly owned but often underappreciated and never predicted to become collectible – have jumped in value by as much as 20 per in the last 12 months, according to a new report.

With their numbers dwindling and nostalgic car enthusiasts frantically attempting to track down remaining examples of vehicles from they owned years ago, some very unlikely motors are starting to sky-rocket in value at levels even the most eagle-eyed collector wouldn’t have predicted seeing.

Better than a savings account: Hagerty has revealed the top 20 'unexceptional' motors from our past that have sky-rocketed in value in the last 12 months. It includes the Mk1 Ford Cortina. Pictured: The 250,000 Cortina to come off the assembly line at the Ford Dagenham plant in September 1963

Better than a savings account: Hagerty has revealed the top 20 ‘unexceptional’ motors from our past that have sky-rocketed in value in the last 12 months. It includes the Mk1 Ford Cortina. Pictured: The 250,000 Cortina to come off the assembly line at the Ford Dagenham plant in September 1963

The list of the fastest-appreciating ordinary cars has been revealed by Hagerty, the UK classic car insurer that also monitors sale prices of the world’s most exotic classics – and some that you’d never have considered becoming cherished collector’s items. 

The Hagerty Price Guide tracks market values for nearly 2,200 collectible motors so owners, as well as buyers and sellers, have an accurate picture of their car’s worth. 

The latest update to the guide has seen an impressive 196 once-average models added to the review, and the Hagerty analysts that compile the data – taking sales results from UK auctions, trade sales and private sales – have compared average value in 2020 with their average in 2021 to date.

It has seen once-mainstream motors become soaring assets in the last 12 months – though, it should be pointed out, all of them starting from a very low base price in the first place.

Increases for the top 10 performers is between 4.4 per cent and a massive 20.4 per cent (we have also listed the best performing models from 11 to 20 in the table at the bottom of the page).

That compares to an 8.2 per cent rise in value for the Jaguar E-type Series III in the past year, from an average sale price of £54,988 across all models in 2020 to £59,500 in 2021. 

The Ferrari 308 GTB has gone from £61,200 to £65,475 too – a gain of 7 per cent – no match for the value increase of some of the unlikely once-ordinary collectibles in the list below. 

At a time when precious few bank savings accounts better a return of 1 per cent, investing in one of these 10 cars looks set to provide a much better financial return.

The Covid-19 lockdowns have sparked a boom in classic car projects, with owners discovering they have more time and disposable income to spend on their unfinished restoration jobs

The Covid-19 lockdowns have sparked a boom in classic car projects, with owners discovering they have more time and disposable income to spend on their unfinished restoration jobs

This is predominantly due to them becoming far less ordinary than they were in their heyday, with many scrapped, dilapidated beyond repair, stolen and then crashed, or ditched by former owners.

There has also been a significant boom in people taking on classic car restorations and projects since the lockdown hit, with enthusiasts finding they have more time and funds on their hands to work on their neglected vehicles – a pastime that can be enjoyed without worrying about social distancing. 

This means examples of even the most bland models from yesteryear are becoming increasingly collectible – if you can find one. And with this healthy rise in value they can often offset any associated running and maintenance costs, making them a surprisingly sound investment that owners can enjoy at the same time they’re rising in worth. 

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Explaining the reason for the surge in values of these previously undesirable models, John Mayhead, head of automotive intelligence for Hagerty said: ‘These everyday cars are becoming increasingly rare. For decades the vast majority were unloved workhorses that would eventually be sold for scrap at best. 

‘Now, with rarity on their side and nostalgia tugging at the heartstrings, enthusiasts are snapping up the remaining examples, sometimes because of an emotional connection and sometimes perhaps because they feel a duty to preserve them for the enjoyment of future generations.’ 

Here’s the top 10 countdown of the highest-appreciating unlikely collectibles. 

10. Alfa Romeo 33 (1987-1994) – up 4.4%

Avg 2020 value: £2,288 

Avg 2021 value: £2,388 

There can't be many Alfa 33s left on the road today. In fact, DVLA records show there could be fewer than 30 registered in the UK today

There can’t be many Alfa 33s left on the road today. In fact, DVLA records show there could be fewer than 30 registered in the UK today

Alfa Romeo is one of the brands that has a dedicated following of cult fans – so it isn’t surprising to see one in this list. The long-forgotten 33 – which was available as a hatchback and a rather wonderful estate – has seen a 4.4 per cent gain in value in the last year.

While that’s only a £100 rise, it means the prices being paid are in the region of £2,400. In terms of affordable classics, this definitely fits the bill, though only around 30 remain on the road in Britain today.

9. Austin Princess (1975-1981) – up 5.1%

Avg 2020 value: £3,163 

Poor reputation for reliability, build quality and performance means the Princess has been relatively cheap to buy for some time

Poor reputation for reliability, build quality and performance means the Princess has been relatively cheap to buy for some time

The Princess is one of those cars that the majority of owners in the late ’70s were glad to see the back of – but has such a enthusiastic following of British Leyland boffins that they won’t stand for any criticism levelled at the royal-named motor. 

Poor reputation for reliability, build quality and performance means they’ve been cheap for a while. However, the average price in 2021 is a scarcely believable £3,325. 

8. Peugeot 203 (1948-1960) – up 5.2%

Avg 2020 value: £7,750 

You'll struggle to get your hands on a 203. In fact, you'll do well to remember this long-forgotten Peugeot saloon at all

You’ll struggle to get your hands on a 203. In fact, you’ll do well to remember this long-forgotten Peugeot saloon at all

The 203 is the oldest – and most unusual – car in the top 10 list, which arguably makes it a more verifiable classic than the rest. It predated the 403 and 204, which themselves arrived ahead of the 404 and 304 – Peugeots you are more likely to remember.

The rarity impact is big on values in this case. That’s why average sales are £8,150 in 2021.

7. Renault 16 (1968-1979) – up 7.4%

The Renault 16 doesn't have the legendary status of the Citroen 2CV or Peugeot 205 GTi, but it is one French car that's starting to post appreciating values

The Renault 16 doesn’t have the legendary status of the Citroen 2CV or Peugeot 205 GTi, but it is one French car that’s starting to post appreciating values

Bar the iconic Citroen 2CV and DS – and rally legends like the Peugeot 205 GTi and Renault 5 Turbo – there aren’t many French models that qualify as bona fide classics. But the Renault 16 is one car from across the Channel slowly starting to gather value.

It wasn’t hugely popular in its heyday and is extremely rare by 2021. Despite this, affordability is good, even despite a 7.4 per cent value rise in the last 12 months. This translated to a £350 gain in the past year, to an average of £5,075.  

6. Ford Cortina Mk3 (1970-1976) – up 7.8%

Avg 2020 value: £6,527 

While some of the cars already mentioned are motors you might not recall, the Cortina certainly doesn’t fit into that bracket. One of the most popular models of its era, there is strong nostalgia appeal with this one, rather than it being entirely down to rarity.

The Mk3 Cortina has risen 7.8 per cent in average values between 2020 and 2021, an unexceptional car that has outpaced plenty of much more obvious classics recently. 

See more cars like these at next month’s Festival of the Unexceptional 

The Festival of the Unexceptional is the annual motor show purely for once common cars from previous eras that have long been forgotten

The Festival of the Unexceptional is the annual motor show purely for once common cars from previous eras that have long been forgotten

The Festival of the Unexceptional is a celebration of the cars that were once a common sight but are now a rarity on UK roads. With the event cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, it makes a return this year, hosted at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire on Saturday 31 July. 

Originally staged in 2014, the showpiece for underwhelming motors has earned its place in the automotive calendar as an attainable concours event offering a mix of rare cars and a prestigious location in an informal and friendly approach. 

The unique event celebrates cherished everyday classic cars and acknowledges this growing movement among owners and enthusiasts alike.

The show was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. It makes a return this year, hosted at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire on Saturday 31 July.

The show was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. It makes a return this year, hosted at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire on Saturday 31 July.

Whether you want to cast your eyes over an Allegro, truly appreciate a Vauxhall Cavalier or delight at a Datsun Cherry, this is the show that will deliver. It attracts much maligned and long forgotten ‘ordinary’ classic cars and commercial vehicles of the late 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s – many of which you’ll unlikely come across on the road today.

Tickets for the popular festival are strictly limited and highly sought after. 

Tickets are available at just £5.75. Children up to the age of 12 go free. Interested showgoers can visit this link.

Whether you want to cast your eyes over an Allegro, truly appreciate a Vauxhall Cavalier or delight at a Datsun Cherry, this is the show that will deliver

Whether you want to cast your eyes over an Allegro, truly appreciate a Vauxhall Cavalier or delight at a Datsun Cherry, this is the show that will deliver

5. Hillman Imp (1963-1976) – up 10.1%

Avg 2020 value: £4,200 

Picutred in 1963: Prince Philip drives away from the Rootes factory in a new Hillman Imp with Lord Rootes and the Hon. Jeffrey Rootes as passengers. The Duke reportedly twice drove the Imp at speeds of 80mph when he opened the Scottish plant at Linwood near Paisley

Picutred in 1963: Prince Philip drives away from the Rootes factory in a new Hillman Imp with Lord Rootes and the Hon. Jeffrey Rootes as passengers. The Duke reportedly twice drove the Imp at speeds of 80mph when he opened the Scottish plant at Linwood near Paisley

The first car to make our top five that is currently outpacing the Series III E-Type Jaguar – is Hillman’s Mini rival, the Imp. A reliability nightmare, it’s little surprise that so few remain on the road in 2021.

Such rarity explains why average sale values have now hit £4,625 – a £510 rise in just 12 months. Fans of dinky car who can’t afford one of the original ’60s Minis could be tempted by the next best thing, especially while it’s making some impressive financial gains.

4. Renault 4 (1962-1980) – up 10.6%

The Renault 4 reportedly might be making a comeback soon, though as an electric car. Values of the original are up more than 10% in a year, says Hagerty

The Renault 4 reportedly might be making a comeback soon, though as an electric car. Values of the original are up more than 10% in a year, says Hagerty 

There’s been a lot of talk of the Renault 4 making a comeback as an electric car in the not too distant future, which might have triggered the memories of collectors looking to get their hands on the original.  

The French brand’s charming people’s car of the ’60s and ’70s has still just crossed the £5,000 barrier in the last year as prices are up more than 10 per cent. Availability is limited – though a short trip over the Channel for a left-hand-drive version might be an option. 

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3. Austin Allegro (1973-1982) – up 13.6%

Avg 2020 value: £2,425 

The Allegro might have been the butt of Top Gear jokes for years, but it appears it could be having the last laugh. Values are up almost 14% in a year - though that only translates to £330. Clarkson, May and Hammond were probably right all along

The Allegro might have been the butt of Top Gear jokes for years, but it appears it could be having the last laugh. Values are up almost 14% in a year – though that only translates to £330. Clarkson, May and Hammond were probably right all along

We recently told you about the dwindling numbers of Austin Montegos, Maestros and Metros in the UK – but there’s another Austin model that is depleting rapidly in volumes.

The Allegro is – thanks to Top Gear – infamous. But despite being much maligned, it appears to be getting the last launch, with average values up by almost 14 per cent in the last 12 months, with British Leyland enthusiasts eager to keep them on the road.

2. Ford Cortina Mk1 (1962-1966) – up 19.4%

The second iteration of the Cortina to make it onto the the list of appreciating 'ordinary' motors is the Cortina Mk1. Values are likely soaring following the sale of Lotus-tuned special models in recent months

The second iteration of the Cortina to make it onto the the list of appreciating ‘ordinary’ motors is the Cortina Mk1. Values are likely soaring following the sale of Lotus-tuned special models in recent months

The second iteration of the Cortina to make it onto the the list of appreciating ‘ordinary’ motors is the Cortina Mk1. While it was bought in droves it has for a long time been a desirable classic car at the affordable end of the market.

Since the first lockdown, average values have sky-rocketed by 19.4 per cent. However, this is likely due to the hugely inflated prices some drivers are paying for the mega-collectible Lotus-tuned variants. This has pushed the average model value up from £6,367 to £7,600 in the last year. 

1. Triumph 1300 (1965-1970) – up 20.4%

Avg 2020 value: £3,375 

The biggest riser among these rather unexceptional old motors is the Triumph 1300. Values have risen by 20%  - but that still means you can get one today for £4,000 on average

The biggest riser among these rather unexceptional old motors is the Triumph 1300. Values have risen by 20%  – but that still means you can get one today for £4,000 on average

An often-overlooked rival to the Ford Cortina, Dolomite Sprint and Austin 110, the Triumph 1300 is the fastest appreciating ‘ordinary’ car in this list. 

While it might not have been as desirable as some of its rivals when new, it is finding favour in the classic market in 2021. The average price is just over £4,000, which is good value for a car from that era, but also a surprising climb of nearly £700, or over 20 per cent compared to the same period in 2020.

More ‘ordinary’ cars rising in value at an extraordinary pace: Rankings 20-11 of models offering better financial reward than a savings account

20. Peugeot 304 (1969-1980) – up 1.6%

Avg 2020 value: £4,675 

19. Hillman Hunter (1966-1977) – up 1.8%

18. Wolseley 1300 (1967-1973) – up 2.2%

Avg 2020 value: £4,475 

17. Wolseley 1100 (1965-1968) – 2.5%

Avg 2020 value: £4,050 

=16. Ford Cortina Mk2 (1967-1970) – up 2.7%

Avg 2020 value: £7,550 

=16. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 (1975-1981) – up 2.7%

14. Ford Sierra (1982-1993) -up 2.9%

Avg 2020 value: £3,466 

13. Austin Metro (1980-1990) -up 3.2%

12. Ford Fiesta Mk2 (1986-1989) – up 4.1%

11. Alfa Romeo Giulietta 116 (1980-1985) – up 4.3%

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