10 Classic Cars you can buy new (or nearly new) today

So you want a classic car without the hassle of dealing with 30 or more years of issues?

Here's a list of 10 "classic" cars with fantastically long production runs you can buy new or in near new condition today.

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1. Hindustan Ambassador/Morris Oxford (1957 - 2014)

 Hindustan Ambassador/Morris Oxford Indian classic car

Photo by Basil Eliyas on Unsplash

As ubiquitous as the London Black Cab the Hindustan Ambassador started life as a British Morris Oxford and widely became the backbone of the Indian taxi industry. The "King of Indian Roads", as it became known, remained in production for a staggering 57 years.

Major updates over the years include a 'modern' dashboard positioned in front of the driver (as opposed to being in the centre of the car) and, eventually, an Isuzu engine replacing the antiquated BMC unit. The Ambassador even was "re-exported" to the UK for a while as the Fullbore Mark 10.

 

2. Lada Niva (1977 - present)

Soviet Lada Niva modern classic 4WD

Photo by Ivan Lapyrin on Unsplash

The plucky little Soviet 4x4 has been around for such a long time now that its current iteration is aptly named the "Niva Legend". The offroader currently remains in production, with even an electric conversion being offered in by a German company Elantrie.

The Niva was designed to be the Riva of not-so-urbanised regions of the USSR, being cheap, reliable, easy to maintain, and, above all, able to handled rough (or non-existant) roads. Nivas have always had a modest 4 cylinder engine and all full time four wheel drive. Despite its production run being very unchanged the Niva can claim the progressive title of being the first mass produced monocoque 4WD, the basis for many modern cross overs and SUVs today.

 

3. Volkswagen Mk1 Golf/Citi Golf (1974 - 2009)

VW Mk1 Golf Side angle

Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

This list couldn't be on Mk1 Maintenance without at least one Mk1 Golf reference! VW's first generation Golf continued being produced well after its successors hit the road. The original Mk1 Golf production run went from 1974 to 1983, whilst the independent Karmann factory built Cabriolet convertible stretched over the Mk2 Golf model years until 1993. However, Volkswagen South Africa continued production right up until 2009.

The South African Citi Golf is nearly identical to the German Mk1 but later models had some very slight body style changes. Perhaps the strangest difference to the original Mk1 was the inclusion of a modern Skoda dashboard in 2004 which looks quite the juxtaposition when next to the 1970's style exposed metal door frames.

 

4. VW Beetle (1938 - 2003)

Classic Volkswagen Beetle

Photo by Adam Marikar on Unsplash

Of course the Beetle makes this list. The Beetle, as many know, had a controversial birth. Not only was the need for a "peoples car" pushed forward by none other than Hitler, but rumours abound that the designer, one Ferdinand Porsche, imitated many of the features already pioneered by Czech company Tatra (just take a look at the Tatra V570). Not to mention, there's the theory the car factory was founded just to eventually produce the Kübelwagen Jeep-like military transport, and used the forced labour of Jewish prisoners during the war years.

That being said, the Beetle endured and became perhaps the most recognisable car of all time. The chassis and drive train lent it's self to many variants including the Type 2 Bus, the beautiful Karmann Ghia coupe, the quintessential Myers Manx beach buggy as well as countless kit cars and customs. The last Beetle was built in Mexico in 2003 after a run totalling some 21 million cars.

 

5. Morgan 4/4 (1936 - 2019)

Morgan 4/4 classic British roadster

Photo by Derrick Chia on Unsplash

Morgan is the oldest family owned car company and has produced the 4/4 and its larger brother the +4 for over 80 years. The car was intended to be a nimble roadster, weighing in at just under 800kg and utilising various 4 cylinder engines over it's production run. Each car is built by hand and the body still sits on a traditional ladder chassis, with a quite old fashioned but proven live rear axle with elliptical suspension.

Morgan produced the car - with a slight pause during a particularly nasty period in the 1940's - until 2019.

 

6. The (Classic) Mini (1959 - 2000)

Classic Austin Mini Cooper

Photo by Victor Lu on Unsplash

It might come as a surprise to those outside of the UK that the original Austin Mini continued to be built into the new millennium. And with most of the qualities of a modern city car, why not? The iconic British car had an iconic production run, outlasting the Austin Metro - the very car designed to be its replacement. The largest changes during the production run were the car's brand name with the Mini being produced under Morris, Austin, Leyland, Rover and finally it's own 'Mini' marque.

The later model Minis did receive air conditioning, a revised dashboard and airbags, but the tried and tested A Series engine (that powered the Morris Minor earlier) soldiered on. These later models were particularly popular in Japan.

 

7. UAZ 469/Hunter (1971 - present)

Soviet UAZ Hunter modern classic car

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

The USSR's answer to the Jeep. Although produced mostly for Eastern Bloc militarys, the tough and Spartan 469 does now have a civilian version called the Hunter (which is only slightly more luxurious). The 469 ticked three major boxes for the armies of the USSR: reliability, excellent off road ability, and ease of repair. And it's probably because of those characteristics the UAZ has remained in product the last 50 years - if it ain't broke don't fix it.

The 469 utilises a 2.4ltr inline 4 cylinder specifically designed to run on low quality fuel if need be. The military versions were equipped to transport 7 troops and able to cross most terrains with an impressive 210mm of ground clearance. The newer Hunter civilian version utilises some newer interior features and a 5 speed gearbox, replacing the older 4 speed. There was also a boxy, cab-over vab variant - the Bukhanka.

 

8. Hillman Hunter/Paykan (1966 - 2005)

Iranian Paykan/Hillman Hunter classic car

Photo by Hossein Amiri on Unsplash

Iran's national car, the Paykan (Iranian for chariot) was born out of an agreement with the Rootes Group. Hillman Hunters were exported to Iran in complete knock down kits for local assembly. Eventually, the company Iran Khodro started manufacturing the Paykan its self and continued to do so long after the Rootes Group collapsed.

Over the years Iran Khodro implemented some moderate changes, the most notable being transitioning to a Peugeot power unit. Pickup and limousine versions were also added to the line up.

 

9. Fiat 1100/Premier Padmini (1964 - 2001)

Premier Padmini in India

Photo by Aatur Harsh on Unsplash

Rival to the Hindustan Ambassador, the Fiat based, Indian made Padmini reached peak popularity in the 70's and early 80s. Featuring a 1.1lt engine, the Padmini also wooed customers away from the Ambassador by later offering such luxuries as nicer, leather interiors and air conditioning, as well as, of course, that slick Italian styling. Even the name was more attractive, 'Padmini' referencing a legendary princess.

The Premier also found its fans in the taxi industry, where many, converted to run on CNG, can still be be found working today.

 

10. VAZ-2105/Lada Riva (1979 - 2012)

Lada Riva rally car

Photo by Ferencz Istvan

Probably the most well known Russian vehicle ever, the Lada Riva, or VAZ-2105 is in fact a face-lifted version of the even older VAZ-2101 Zhiguli. The Zhiguli was copied from the Fiat 124, but to say it was a clone, like some of the other vehicles on this list, would not be accurate. The Lada utilised a Russian built engine over the Fiat version and had increased ground clearance to tackle Siberian roads. Furthermore, both the body and chassis were strengthened. Although reputedly plagued with early reliability issues, the 2105 was easy to fix and maintain due to its base simplicity.

The Riva turned out to be one of the USSR's greatest exports, being not only popular in Eastern Bloc countries but also in the West as well. A whopping 18 million Ladas were sold over its lifetime, a number that puts it in the territory of the Model T and Beetle.

Part 2 of this article

Ten more cars with long production runs! 11 - 20 classic cars you can buy (almost) new today.



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