RAC Cars News


Going Retro

By raccars Published

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If your style is vintage but you don't want the expense or hassle of owning a genuinely classic car, there is a route that matches your retro leanings with modern convenience. These charming throwbacks are vintage on the surface only.

Fiat 500

The original 500 was a genuine budget city car and the new version, while as funky looking as its predecessor, is altogether a more sophisticated prospect. Released in 2007, it sparked a trend for personalisation options and older models have fought back magnificently against depreciation, so you won't find too many cheap versions on the used market. Unfortunately, there's more style than substance on display here and the Fiat 500 is not designed for the open road. However, if you want a cute city runabout it's ideal, but choose carefully to find a tidy example.

Nissan Figaro

The Figaro was a deliberate attempt to recreate a classic car in the early Nineties. Its pastel colours and coke bottle curves aren't for everyone but its charm is hard to deny. You'll have to watch out for rust and damp in the cabins but £3,500 should get you something in good condition.

VW Beetle

Like the Fiat 500, the Beetle has more form than function and is not as much fun to drive as it is to look at. Updating the much loved original Beetle was never going to be an easy task but, on the whole, the Beetle looks good and build quality is admirable. It shouldn't be too hard to find a well looked after example from the 1997-2010 generation, starting at £2,000.


Part of the consciously modern retro movement along with the Fiat 500 and the updated VW Beetle, the modern Mini features some cute, retro inspired styling touches. The BMW generation Mini is a lot bigger than its predecessor but has been a huge success for the German company. The Mini Cooper is the pick of the bunch, with a nice combination of equipment with economy. Look at spending at least £2,500 for a well cared for example.

Daihatsu Copen

Made from 2002-2011, the Copen is a modern version of the Triumph Spitfire and MG Midget in that it's a sports car in spirit rather than in body. The drive is more staid than its entertaining appearance would suggest and it's a bit cramped inside, but the Copen is great fun for nipping around town. Make sure you get a full service history and take care with the maintenance to avoid expensive bills.

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