MARKET WATCH, January 2018

Bristol 400-403s tipped

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While investor-loved Ferraris and Porsches have seen huge gains followed by a slide back to 2014 prices, early Bristols have continued to grow – up 33% over the same period and 10% since our last Price Guide Quarterly update. That means rough projects are now £20k, usable cars circa £30k and the best are £50-70k.

If that seems expensive, compare it with the £85k-240k you'd have to find for an equivalent Aston Martin DB2. With the appeal of Bristols running outside the more fashion-driven sectors of the classic car market, we expect these finely engineered and individual saloons to continue their gentle trajectory.

Jaguar XKs on the slide

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Oversupply of Jaguar XKs coming to auction is dragging prices back to 2014 values. The Price Guide Movers update in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine reveals recent falls of 3-10% depending on model.

It's the previously strongest growers, such as the various XK150 S models, that have seen the largest percentage declines. So entry level into the vintage-feeling charms of XK ownership is now £22.5k, which buys you a 150 fixed-head coupé project, but you'll still need just over £200k for the best XK150S 3.8 Roadster, despite its near 7% slide.

So faced with choice, buyers are holding out for sensible value. But given ongoing appeal of these handsome and effective sports cars, it's hard to see the market deserting them.

Market winners and losers

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Some of the humblest classics are making the biggest gains at the moment, with the top ten climbers in the latest Classic Cars magazine Price Guide Movers chart including the early ripple bonnet Citroën 2CVs, pre-1979 VW Beetles and post-1973 Ford Capri 3.0s.

Those pre-1961 2CVs have climber 26% since our last update meaning entry level for  a prokject car is £2.5k, usable cars now commanding £5k and best being £10-14k, depending on how perfect they are. The hatchback V6 Capris now range from £3-18.5k and the Beetles anywhere from £1.2-25k, depending on condition and crucially, whether they're early enough to have the appeal-defining split windscreen.

Our list of biggest fallers is peppered with previous winners, including the Ferrari F355 Spider, Dino 206 GT and Porsche 911 GTs of the air-cooled 996 generation. With drops as great as 20% now being seen, buyer's resistance to previous hype could be gaining strength. Sadly, nothing has yet dropped enough to warrant bargain status.

You'll find the full table of the latest Price Guide Movers in the current issue of Classic Cars.

Should you buy a Morgan Plus 8?

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Our detailed buying guide in the latest issue reveals that good but higher mileage later models can be bought for £25k but you'd need to find another £10k for equivalent condition pre-1977 examples and more than £50k for the best of these early cars.

So the prices of such rugged charm hasn't moved in pace with the rest of the market. But there are no other classic sports cars the remained in production, fundamentally unchanged, for so long. It means that if you simply want the overall looks, grunt and vintage driving experience, a newer example needing less work will always be a better proposition than an older car needing money spent in it.

Of course, when faced with with the conflicting merits of period early cosmetic changes and more user-friendly or higher-performance later evolutions, the most cost-effective option is rarely our priority when considering which classic to buy. So our buying guide helps you weigh up what you're letting yourself in for if you find the right car but with some faults, like a rotten chassis costing £1200 plus 500 hours to fit.

We want this Bristol Fighter

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Why do we want this 2004 example that we evaluate in the latest issue? Well, 525bhp, a claimed 210mph top speed and a sprint to 60mph in four seconds is a fair chunk of the answer. Then there's the dramatic gullwing-door looks and the when-did-I-last-see-one scarcity.

It helps that this ex-showroom demonstrator has had just one owner since and it has a little under 18,000 on the odometer. We just need to find the £200k asking price.