RAC Cars News


Guilty Motoring Pleasures

By raccars Published

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The used car classifieds are full of Fiestas, Qashqais and 3 Series BMWs, among other best sellers, old bangers and desirable luxury cars. However, if you search carefully you'll also notice some interesting esoterica - cars which wouldn't find a wide audience but hold some indefinable appeal. Cars which may not be practical, trendy or obviously desirable but which exert a certain unusual fascination. The following have all been recently advertised and have been sold.

AC Invacar

Motability these days is an incredibly sophisticated scheme to help disabled people get back on the road, with a huge and varied list of available cars. However, before Motability came about, the Government did make a half hearted attempt at providing transport for the disabled in the form of these fibreglass three wheelers. Keen disabled drivers leased the one seaters in the Sixties and Seventies, and many were still used throughout the Eighties and Nineties. In 2003, the Government declared them unsafe for the road and many owners returned them or scrapped them. A rare few are now privately owned, most of which require considerable restoration and won't ever be road legal, but they do form a rather interesting part of automotive history.

Austin Marina pick up

Believe or not, at one time someone considered that the worst car in the world would work well as a van and a pick up truck. Production numbers were small and handling was woolly if not downright scary. However, there are a very few remaining Marina pick ups around which are worth grabbing if purely for rarity value.

Austin Allegro

Another truly awful effort from British Leyland, it's hard to work out where the Allegro's astonishing £21 million development budget was spent. Despite issues with unreliability, poor performance and, well, ugliness, the Allegro sold very well and boasts a keen enthusiast community today. You can find tidy examples for £1,500, which makes it a bargain classic.

Austin Montego Vanden Plas convertible

The Montego never reached the heights of popularity experienced by its main rivals, the Vauxhall Cavalier and the Ford Sierra. It suffered from the unreliability so often attendant on British Leyland cars but wasn't a complete disaster commercially, and even featured some rather high tech gadgets for its time. The posh Vanden Plas came with electric windows, leather upholstery and alloy wheels. While the Montego was never officially available as a convertible, you can find the occasional Tickford conversion, which somehow manages to hold itself together on the road and would certainly draw some curious stares on the school run.

Nissan Micra

Later versions of the Nissan Micra hold very little driver appeal, but earlier versions are more interesting. Released in 1984, the first generation was virtually bomb proof and, as many found homes with a more elderly demographic, have been well looked after and little used. These are now starting to gain attention from cash strapped younger drivers looking to popular classics for affordable motoring. They're unlikely to ever become truly fashionable but generate some niche appeal.

Talbot Samba cabriolet

If you're looking for exclusivity, this is it, with only 13 Talbot Sambas still registered compared to 23,000 a decade ago. The soft top models are even rarer. Once deemed Europe's most economical car, the Samba was made in France by the PSA Group and drew heavily on the Peugeot 104. It was designed by Pininfarina - and shows that even legendary Italian design houses can have off days... Ultimately, it never developed a strong enough fan base to stand against the Peugeot 205, but today offers retro soft top fun for very little money.

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