The classic car market moves with the times – each new generation has its own generation of classics.
Just by digging a little deeper into the sometimes-shunned lower end of the classified ads, you can find some very special cars that are right on the cusp of classic status - capitalising on the very snobbery against them in order to uncover a hidden gem and make a tidy profit in the process.
Here are our top 10 picks to keep your eyes peeled for.
10. Citroen XM
OK, so they may have had a reputation for unreliability when new and they may look like they’ve been styled from folded cardboard, but I guarantee the Citroen XM is a surefire emerging classic.
As the last of the gothic Citroens and the penultimate big Citroen - prior to the company’s C6 swansong - it will follow the DS and the CX into the hearts and minds of the classic community, where Citroens have a dedicated following.
The ground-breaking ‘Hydractive’ suspension gives a superb ride quality too, and the range-topping 3-litre V6 engine provides impressive performance.
9. Vauxhall VX220
It might have been an Astra/Vectra engined Lotus Elise when stripped to the bare basics, but the Vauxhall VX220 made Vauxhall cool in an era when its image was in the doldrums.
Whether you’re looking at a 2.2 litre original or the 2.0 turbocharged VXR220, it has ample power for its weight and the model already has a loyal fan following.
Replaced on the continent by the Opel GT but never replaced in the UK, it is to date the last Vauxhall sports car.
8. MG ZT 190/Rover 75
Although relatively modern for an emerging classic, the MG ZT and its Rover 75 sibling are already fiercely prized, and the model for the enthusiastic driver is the ZT190.
Now is the time to buy and hang onto really early cars in bright colours – or likewise subdued Rovers with all the optional extras.
Why? Well, they look good, they drive well, they’re practical – and jointly they’re the last British mass-market saloon car.
7. Rover 220 Turbo Coupe
If the 75 is a little too twee, try the other emerging classic from Rover’s stable.
Not only is the Rover 200 Coupe pretty, but in 220 Turbo form it will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds and reach over 150mph in top gear.
That’s the sort of power that would worry an Escort Cosworth, even if the 220 Turbo’s Torsen differential can’t quite keep the front wheels in line well enough to rival Ford’s 4WD.
The market is still blissfully unaware of the 220 Turbo Coupe – but things can’t stay that way for long.
6. Saab 9000
Most old Saabs have become cult cars - the 9000 (exhibited beautifully, in Sab's original press image, on a beach with a woman happily gazing into the distance) will be no different.
It offers a large comfortable sports saloon and executive hatch, with seriously powerful turbocharged engines and a chassis that – while not perfect – was good by the standards of 1985.
Even today there isn’t much that will keep pace with a well-driven 9000 Aero, and certainly not while carrying quite so much luggage and quite so many people this comfortably.
The Saab 9000 is such a competent all-rounder, it cannot fail to be a classic – useful, charismatic, and addictive.
5. Volvo 850R
The times they were a changing in Sweden in the mid-1990s.
When Saab replaced its 9000 with the 9-5 it seemed the days of mad Saabs had gone.
Yes, there was a hot 9-5, but it was never as popular as its forebear. Fortunately, Volvo was waiting in the wings.
Its 850R was a breathed-on variant of the already-brisk 850 T-5, available in a number of lurid colours and with a bodykit that meant business.
850Rs have always been cult cars to a degree – and their popularity is increasing.
4. Lotus Elise
When the Lotus Elise was launched in 1996, it didn’t just tear up the rule book, it set fire to it and laughed in its face.
A fibreglass body sitting atop an extruded aluminium chassis, combined with a total lack of creature comforts kept the weight supermodel-slim, meaning its 1.8 litre Rover K-series engine could push the car from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
The rigid tub and low centre of gravity also meant that handling was razor sharp.
Just make sure you avoid the rain though - the Elise convertible roof is notoriously hard to erect quickly.
Series 1 Elises are already becoming collectable, especially the limited edition models.
3. Subaru Impreza Turbo
The 1990s were the era of road-going rally cars.
Step forward the Escort Cosworth, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and probably the most iconic of them all – Subaru’s Impreza.
Launched in 1993 and turbocharged in 1994, with Colin McRae behind the wheel it became the poster car for a whole generation of rally-mad teenagers.
For the last few years early Imprezas have been cheap, with many being driven hard and maintained on a tight budget.
As a consequence, those that survived tend to have been looked after.
If you like this era, now may be the time to buy - they are getting rarer and prices may soon start to rise.
2. Fiat Coupe
Think about it – when was the last time you saw a Fiat Coupe?
One of the coolest looking cars of the 1990s – and while it may have been based on the floorpan of the humble Tipo, the Tipo was one of the sharpest front wheel drive cars of the ‘90s.
In 20v and Turbo forms, the Coupe was a very fast car, and with space for rear seat passengers (as long as they’re small) it makes a viable everyday package.
Coupes are already being acknowledged as the classic they are – time is running out if you want to stay ahead of the trend.
1. Mazda MX5
It’s easy to overlook the MX-5, though its contribution to the world of motoring can’t be underestimated.
It single-handedly brought the classic two seat sports car back from the dead by reimagining the themes behind roadsters such as the MGB and Triumph Spitfire, and prompted the launch of competitors from MG, BMW, Toyota and Mercedes among others.
27 years on, the MX-5 is still being made; now in its 4th generation it is as good as ever.
First generation cars are already becoming collectable - original, low mileage, UK-spec cars tend to be most desirable.
This is the MGB of the modern generation - it has to be our top emerging classic.