Five great classic cars for young drivers

If you’ve pored over the advice pages elsewhere in FirstCar’s classic car buying section, and you reckon modern machinery isn’t for you, you’re probably wondering where to start in narrowing down which models to consider.

Lucky for you, we’ve done much of the legwork already, with this handy list of five classic cars worth considering, as a young driver – if you can’t see anything here that tickles your fancy, we’ve got a list of another five classic cars for young drivers for you to check out.

The key buying checks for each of these cars are the three most important areas to check, but we’re taking it for granted that corrosion is an issue, so check everywhere for rust. Before buying any of these machines you should speak to the relevant club, to research more fully what goes wrong and to minimise the chances of being landed with a heap.

This over-sized go-kart provides huge fun and will win you make friends everywhere you go
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Citroen 2CV (1949-1990)

The Citroen 2CV doesn’t offer pace, refinement or much in the way of safety, but it has charm, is becoming very collectible, and its simplicity means reliability is good – while DIY maintenance is generally straightforward too. With UK cars all getting a 29bhp 602cc engine, you won’t win many traffic light grands prix – but you’ll be having far too much fun to care.

  • Best buy: Post-1981 cars
  • Pay: £1000-£6000
  • Owners’ club: 2CVGB

Key buying checks

  • If the steering is really heavy, it’s probably because the chassis is twisted.
  • The in-board front brakes are a pain to get to, which is why they’re often neglected.
  • Post-1981 2CVs use special green LHM brake fluid. The standard stuff wrecks the system.
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Fiat 126 (1972-2000)

Fiat’s best cars have always its smaller models, and thanks to the original 500’s funky design, its successor the 126 is generally overlooked by the classic car fraternity. As a result prices are low, yet this two-cylinder air-cooled tiddler is rationally a better can than the 500, even if it isn’t as cute. They’re unusual though, so you’ll have to search to find a good one.

  • Best buy: Post-1977 6752cc car
  • Pay: £500-£1500
  • Owners’ club: Club 126 UK

Key buying checks

  • A water-cooled engine arrived in December 1987; they’re prone to overheating.
  • There’s no synchro on first gear, so cogs can get damaged by ham-fisted drivers.
  • There are kingpins in the front suspension, which wear out if not greased regularly.

 

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Ford Anglia (1959-1968)

While classic Ford enthusiasts clamour to buy the best Escort Mk1 they can find, its predecessor the Anglia 105E gets quietly forgotten – although thanks to Harry Potter the titchy Ford’s profile has been raised again in recent years. Which is great, because this quirkily styled two-door saloon (there was an estate too) makes a brilliant slightly left-field first car.

Key buying checks

  • Engines tend to last around 80,000 miles between rebuilds; check for rattling when starting from cold.
  • Weak synchromesh is the main problem with gearboxes – although there wasn’t any on first gear.
  • Make sure that all of the exterior brightwork is present and correct, as some bits aren’t easy to find.
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Mini (1959-2001)

It started out as an Austin or Morris Mini in 1959, became just the Mini in 1969 then unofficially became known as the Rover Mini in its latter years. But you can forget the badging; what matters is that this over-sized go-kart provides huge fun and will win you make friends everywhere you go. Even better, parts are cheap and easy to source – but these cars rot very badly. However, parts availability is second to none and there are several amazing club scenes to tap into. A Mini isn’t just transport – it’s a lifestyle choice…

Key buying checks

  • Seats sag making driving uncomfortable, but new replacements are available.
  • The ball joints wear in the front suspension, given away by play in the wheels.
  • Kerbed wheels can easily lead to the suspension being knocked out of aligment.
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Morris Minor (1948-1971)

The Morris Minor debuted in 1948 and the final cars were made in 1971, so these are pretty ancient machines. but few classics have the charm of the Minor and the owners’ club even has its own well-supported section dedicated to young drivers, so you could boost your social life with one of these. There are two or four-dor saloons, an estate or a convertible; all are easy to modernise in certain areas. Whatever you can afford to buy and run, you’ll find the Minor a hoot.

Key buying checks

  • Brake, gearbox, suspension and engine upgrades are common; check any such work has been done properly.
  • The gearbox is a weak point, with parts availability poor for all cars other than those with a 1098cc engine.
  • The kingpins in the front suspension need to be greased every 3000 miles, or they wear out.