One for the road: the finest classic cars on the market this May

A quintet of top-quality vintage automobiles guaranteed to turn heads at any Concours d'Elegance – and available to buy now

"I like cars that are ahead of their times, and that were noble failures because they were built to a higher standard than the consumer needed. Cars like the Wills Sainte Claire or the Duesenberg" - Jay Leno   

30 April 2020

Bentley Continental R Mulliner, 2003

When it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1991, the Bentley Continental R was not only the world's most expensive production vehicle (at £178,000) but arguably one of the most elegant, too. What could easily have become a Russian oligarch's plaything was instead a masterclass in restraint and dignity; a timeless shape that was obviously brawny without being aggressive. It could propel you to speeds of up to 150mph, while inside was like being in a gentlemen's club. Bentley introduced further models down the line including the S (385bhp), the short-chassis and monstrous T (420bhp) and the open-top Azure. The final flourish of the series, the Mulliner model presented here benefitted from the more powerful engine from the T, while maintaining the practicality of the longer wheelbase for rear legroom. The final two-door Bentley manufactured pre-Volkswagen (before the brilliant but ubiquitous Continental GT), this is one of the finest four-seater grand tourers Great Britain has ever produced. 

P.O.A, Bentley Continental R Mulliner, kidston.com

Ferrari F40, 1991

Choosing your favourite Ferrari is a bit like being asked what your favourite Michelangelo statue is – your first instinct is to go with beauty, but that's frankly impossible, so you look at the facts, platonic and objective in your stance. On paper, the F40 ticks all the boxes. It was the last model personally approved by Enzo Ferrari; it delivered power via the rear wheels and a howling twin-turbo V8; you went up the gears via a stick shift – tick, tick, tick. The thing is, it's impossible to talk about the F40 and not get primitive. You can't be platonic with it. This is a car that involves you the moment you take that first step into the carbon-clad shell. Hypercars may go faster these days but in terms of rawness, the F40 is hard to beat. 

P.O.A, Ferrari F40, sportsclassicslondon.com

Porsche 911 (993) Turbo, 1995 

The 993 has developed a cult-like following in recent times and for good reason: manufactured between 1993 and 1998, the 993 was the last generation of air-cooled 911s. Retaining some of the classic lines of its predecessor – the 964 – the 993 (penned by English designer Tony Hatter) ranks among the best driver’s cars ever made. The Turbo models are highly sought after, with prices rarely below the £120k mark. This car from Hexagon Classics is a particularly low-mileage example – surprising as many owners have been reported not being able to stop driving them.

£189,995, Porsche 911 (993) Turbo, hexagonclassics.com

Ferrari 365 GTC/4, 1972 

With superb looks that bear a striking resemblance to the legendary Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, we would rather pick the 365 GTC/4 over a Daytona as our daily driver. Nicer to own and drive than its more famous cousin, the GTC/4 is the quintessential grand tourer. With more cabin space due to its elongated chassis, it can accommodate four passengers and their luggage with ease. Impressively outfitted with ZF power steering, power brakes, a radio, and sumptuous Italian leather, the 365 GTC/4 was purpose-built to transport you from Paris to Monte Carlo in total comfort. Approximately 500 examples were produced, making it much rarer than both its predecessor and the Daytona itself. This one was owned by Jamiroquai frontman and motoring enthusiast, Jay Kay. 

£299,950, Ferrari 365 GTC/4, joemacari.com

Jaguar Series 1 E-Type Roadster, 1962 

Introduced in 3.8-litre form in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type caused a sensation when it appeared, with fabulous looks and 150mph top speed. John Bolster, writing in Autosport, said of the car: “If Les Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans has been responsible for the new E-Type Jaguar, then that Homeric contest on the Sartre circuits will have been abundantly justified. Here we have one of the quietest and most flexible cars on the market, capable of whispering along in top gear at 10mph or leaping into its 150mph stride on the brief depression of a pedal. A practical touring car this, with its wide doors and capacious luggage space, yet it has a sheer beauty of line which easily beats the Italians at their own particular game.” Enzo Ferrari seemed to agree, announcing it the most beautiful car ever made – high praise from il padrino

P.O.A, Jaguar Series 1 ‘Flat-Floor’ Roadster, bradfieldcars.com