Alright, while some people have preference over the European cars over Japanese tins, I decided to write an article telling what's the best buy for your wallet. Considering European cars have always been more expensive since inception, it is wise to up the budget to two times. Why? Because Japanese tin was more common between the early 70s to the late 90s. So European cars were really rare and less. Here are my Top 10 choices.
No. 10 Volkswagen Beetle
The Beetle is an iconic car even from our childhood days. It is an inexpensive car commissioned by Ferdinard Porsche, founders of the later Porsche Company, by Adolf Hilter, for the use of the mass public. The word "Volks" mean's People and "Wagen" means car, hence this was made as the peoples car. The name Beetle was forever enshrined when the nick name was given by the British, once they had the rights to manufacture the car in Britain. This car is one of the most popular cars in the world and still today. Hence parts are widely available since the last produced car came out from Mexico in the late 90s. 2 Modern iterations exist right now, however this original car, is the star car and is very well known in the movie industry as Herbie. Cars can be had around RM10,000 and below.
No. 9 Morris Minor
Morris Minors were designed in the 1940s to cater as the people car to everyone back then. These were reliable inexpensive cars. Although these cars look very common to the general public, but these cars very reliable. The reasons that they were so common in Malaysia, is because we were once under British colonial rule and these cars were sold by the dozen. The cars came with a 948cc or a 1098cc engine, capable of producing 37hp or 48hp in the latter version. Parts are common for this car and can be inexpensive. Jeremy Clarkson once said, this was Britain's version of the VW Beetle. If you are lucky, you can get a nice car below RM10,000.
No. 8 Austin/Morris Mini
The Mini Cooper was designed to be an inexpensive front wheel drive vehicle, capable of carrying 4 adults in the car. This car was designed to be inexpensive and fun to drive. Considering such a short wheel base design, the car is likened to a go-kart on roads. One should note that the tyres on the Mini's are only 10 inches and finding replacement tyres aren't such a big issue considering Mini's have been around for some time and quite commonly available in Malaysia. The last car rolled out of the Mini factory in England in 1999 to make way for the new BMW Mini. This car was made famous in the 60's original movies, The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine as what we now know as Alfred, Batman's butler in Batman movies. Most cars hover around RM5,000 to RM10,000 price.
No. 7 Ford Escort
Ford Escort were great cars developed in the 1960s. It appeared in either the Sedan or Coupe form. The Ford Escort was the replacement for the Ford Anglia and is famous in the motorsports or Rallying scene. In a lightweight shell carrying from a tiny 939 cc engine all the way 1994cc in the RS2000 car. This rear wheel driven car is a candidate for most modders for an CA18 or SR20 should they want to bastardise the car. The Mk1, as pictured above, is one of the most desirable, having a very nice looking aggressive face front. Car's like this can be had around RM5,000-RM15,000
No. 6 Opel Gemini
The Opel Gemini (Sold in Japan as Isuzu Gemini or Australia as the Holden Gemini) is an awesome looking vehicle from the 70s. This was the frugal version of an affordable coupe or sedan that can be bought during those days. The Opel is slightly rarer than the Escort, hence making it more rare in terms of owning it. It can turn heads, because Opel's hardly exist nowadays. It will be lucky if you can spot some Opel Gemini taxis, that are painted in the Black and Yellow liveries. The Opel serves as a very nice basic car. Coming with 3 different badges, it can either be German, Japanese or Australian, although it was the Germans who designed it. Cars can be had around RM5,000 to RM15,000. Sometimes you can pick up a Coupe under RM10,000.
No. 5 Volvo 240/244
This is perhaps one of the cheapest most widely available reliable car you can find in the market. While most people might disagree having a boxy Volvo as being desirable. This boxy cars are a testament to safety. Most of them described the car as indestructible, coming from a very solid body. This car hardly rusts and the metal quality is crazy! I've driven one of these when my Volvo XC90 was sent for services and this car rocked, despite its age. Having a 4 speed and an overdrive in the manual gearbox, this car still pushes forward strongly, despite clocking at 575,000 KM on the dashboard. Fantastic car. If engine or originality is none of your concerns, you could always plonk a CA18, SR20, RB20, RB25, 1-JZ or anything that can fit within the JPJ regulations. Cars can be had under RM5,000
No. 4 BMW 5 Series
The 5 series, coming from the original E28 chassis to the 2nd gen E34 are nice cars to acquire. I have personally test driven the E28 a while ago and it was pretty nice and comfortable to drive. These European luxobarge were once designed to hit the Autobahn at a comfortable speed. The newer E34 is a better known car and more aggresive looking one. Our admin on here drives a very nice souped up 5 series, which I prefer to keep hush hush about the content of the car. Another known member BlackHowling, who owns the infamous orange Supra, owns one as well. If you need further testament to the car, they are the right person to contact. Most examples of the E28 can be had for RM10,000 and below and the E34 can be found at approximately RM20,000, depending on the condition. These cars are rock solid reliable and can be considered as daily drivers. This car was also made famous in the chase in the movie, Ronin
Ronin car chase BMW vs Peugeot (HQ) - YouTube
No. 3 Mercedes-Benz 190E
The Mercedes-Benz 190E was developed as a compact car alternative to the ever growing E and SE class of the days. This was the predecessor to the currently known C class. As most cars in the 80s started to be compact, Mercedes-Benz decided to launch a product that could rival the smaller BMW 3 series. It also planned to take on the car to rallying, however their dreams were broken once Audi introduced it's Quattro powered rally car. However, with all that, they decided to circuit racing and they were a great success in the DTM races. Their main rivals of the time was the BMW 3 series (E30). The tuned Cosworth 2.5 16 valve engine in the 190E is one of the most desirable engines ever to be found in the car. Cars with that engine fetches up to RM50,000 (As seen for sale in Mudah). However, the cheaper 190E's can be had for around RM15,000. Richard Hammond in Top Gear - How to spot a future classic car starting with Volkswagen, says the 190E is one of the future classics worth collecting. Here is the video.
Top Gear - How to spot a future classic car starting with Volkswagen - BBC - YouTube
No. 2 Mercedes-Benz E Class
The Mercedes-Benz E class, coming from the W123 and the W124 (famously used as our airport taxi limos) are one of the most long lasting indestructible car. In it's days, these cars are perfect limousines that could carry passengers and hit a top speed of 200 km/h and above effortlessly. These cars are so reliable. Vicki Butler-Henderson of Fifth Gear fame tried to kill one of these vehicles in various tests involving being drowned in water, run over in a monster truck and blowing it up with explosives. Watch the video to see how durable these machines are. Perhaps you would never want to change a car anymore.
Fifth Gear - Mercedes E-Class quality test (Part 1/4) - YouTube
Fifth Gear - Mercedes E-Class quality test (Part 2/4) - YouTube
Fifth Gear - Mercedes E-Class quality test (Part 3/4) - YouTube
Fifth Gear - Mercedes E-Class quality test (Part 4/4) - YouTube
No. 1 BMW 3 Series
The final car to the list is the all famous BMW 3 series. Either in the E21 or E30 form, this car is one of the nicest to own and drive. Being a rear wheel driven vehicle with 50/50 weight distribution, this car is one perhaps one the nicest car to drive on the winding roads. Tom used to had one and have sold it a while ago and had it replaced with a 5 series. Still this was one of the nicest cars to own and collect. The Inline 6 powered engine is an aural orgasm. Cars like these can be had for RM10,000 onwards. Go for the coupe, it is the sportiest vehicle you can find in its days and a lasting classic you can own.
Thanks for reading my guide again. I hope I am able to guide potential buyers to owning classic rides like these. Repairing and restoring them will always be fun. Enjoy motoring!