Although most models are treated to a thorough refresh every few years, there are cars that haven’t been treated to a substantial update since they first went on sale.
Just because they aren’t the latest and greatest though, doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. There are some advantages to buying something that’s been around a while. For one, the car maker would have worked out all of the model’s foibles, but also with a long production cycle there should be a good supply of parts. With this in mind we scoured the new car price lists to find the ten best oldest models you can buy now.
1.Land Rover Defender
With production ceasing in the UK this year, the Defender just makes our cut. Although it has changed substantially over the decades, it’s visually, conceptually and philosophically close to the 90 and 110 it replaced in 1984. The pick-up version even shares a component with the 1948 version.
It’s crude and noisy by modern standards, but it’s the epitome of ruggedness, strength and capability. To acknowledge the car’s passing, Land Rover launched three special editions priced from £27,800 which will be available to buy from August – the last chance you’ll get to buy a current Defender in England. Although rumours are, there is an all-new Defender coming next year.
Launched in 1984.
Introduced in 1998 to replace Suzuki’s crude SJ model, the Jimny has changed very little since and combines off-road ability with city car dimensions. Costing just £12,195, it also offers decent value and is well-equipped in SZ4 trim, while the low-revving 1.3-litre engine is tough and reliable although not really suitable for anyone who does long motorway miles.
You can select 2WD or 4WD, so can boost your fuel economy – in normal driving conditions you can get almost 40mpg. There are lots of other modern cars available for the money, and while it may feel a bit dated, the Jimny’s chunky 4×4 looks are quirky and it’s fun to drive on the rough.
Launched in 1998.
Despite some mild updates in 2011, the Lotus Elise is the much same car underneath as it was 15 years ago when it was launched. It’s a classic recipe that makes for one of the finest handling sports cars on the road – lightweight, agile and communicative.
The Lotus is old now and with prices starting from £27,500 it could be viewed as expensive when you compare it to an equivalent roadster with better equipment and more refinement. But the running costs are impressive. The standard 1.6 136PS engine returns an official 45mpg, while the more extreme Elise S with a 220PS 1.8-litre engine boasts supercar performance with a modest figure of 37.5mpg.
Launched in 2000
4.Aston Martin DB9
The DB9 replaced the DB7 in 2003 and its exquisite styling hides the model’s 11 years well. Because Aston Martin is the only low-volume yet mainstream premium car manufacturer not owned by a massive automotive multi-national, they don’t have the avenues to borrow vast quantities of cash, so for now, the DB9 continues to be the pinnacle of the range.
A replacement is due next year, so there’s not much time to grab a slice of motoring history. The current model produces 517PS and combined with a six-speed auto it reaches 60mph in just 4.6 seconds. One of the world’s most desirable cars, it isn’t cheap with a price north of £130,000.
Launched in 2003
The Rolls-Royce Phantom will set you back a six figure sum, with prices starting from £285,000. Though Rolls-Royce isn’t a high-volume manufacturer, the brand is owned by BMW, which means that it doesn’t have the same financial constraints as independent brands like Aston Martin.
Whether you think of it as a symbol of elegance or vulgarity, the Phantom brought Rolls-Royce into the 21st century when it arrived in 2003. While a few minor updates in 2009 brought a modest facelift and some technical revisions – and the engine was updated in 2012 to improve fuel economy – the Phantom remains essentially unchanged and has aged gracefully.
Launched in 2003
The Altea has been around, largely unchanged, for over a decade. An extended version, the XL, was released in 2006, and a year later the Freetrack version with 4WD and higher suspension arrived.
It shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf Plus, so the Altea is well-equipped, delivers a rewarding driving experience and offers a decent level of reliability and solid build quality. SEAT has now simplified things with only one trim level and a choice of two engines. More a small estate with additional versatility than a traditional MPV, the Altea I-Tech offers good value for money.
Launched in 2004
7.Fiat Grande Punto/Punto Evo/Punto
Fiat like to keep everyone on their toes when it comes to the name of the Fiat Punto. Originally it was the Grande Punto, between 2005 and 2009, and the Punto Evo, between 2009 and 2012, when the bare Punto name was re-introduced.
Since 2012 the Fiat Punto has received several facelifts and new engines, but that aside it is essentially the same car that went on sale in 2005. While it feels dated now, in its day it was competitively priced, comfortable and economical – and proved a winning formula for Fiat.
Launched in 2005
The Pathfinder was designed alongside the Navara – which is no surprise given how similar they look – as a rugged seven seat SUV. Powered by a strong 2.5-litre diesel engine it’s ideal for those after a no nonsense but strong vehicle, especally if you need it for towing.
It’s been revamped several times over the years, but it’s philosophy has remained unchanged – an unpretentious and unashamedly rugged SUV. It may not compete with Land Rover for luxury or on-road refinement, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.
Launched in 2005
Launched at a time when convertibles with retractable hard-tops were popular, the Eos was Volkswagen’s alternative to the likes of the Renault Megane CC. It’s unlikely to be replaced with the Golf Cabriolet being a more popular convertible.
The Eos hasn’t changed a great deal since it was introduced in 2006, except for some trim updates, a mild facelift and the loss of the VR6 engine. The current range includes an economical TDI diesel in Bluemotion form offering a claimed 59.8mpg or a 210PS 2.0-litre petrol. If you shop around, some Volkswagen approved dealers are currently offering up to £5500 off the list price.
Launched in 2006
As a big saloon the S80 majors on comfort and refinement, making it a great long distance car. Over the last few years it’s had a facelift, new engines, features and AWD, yet the S80 is still the same comfortable, classy and well-equipped saloon it has always been.
It’s keenly priced too and the 1.6-litre DRIVe model is exceptionally cheap to run. It may lag behind the usual German competition when it comes to handling while the interior is looking a little dated and ordinary now, but it still has lots of appeal and represents good value.
Launched in 2006