What’s hot right now? You really can’t look any further than 80’s hot hatches, heck even 70’s hot hatches when they were first born although hen’s teeth spring to mind when those are considered,
Why hot hatches? Well there are a number of reasons, firstly they haven’t leapt in prices generally and are still available as a (relatively) cheap basis entry into classic car ownership.
Secondly with the economy teetering and nerves in the markets there is an expectation that ‘small change’ will be dumped into these safe havens fairly quickly so now is the time to buy before the market rises…
But forget money and the fact that you will never lose on a well bought hot hatch why would you want one?
Firstly we will all have probably drooled over them as kids as the first car we wanted when we passed our tests, some of us might even have been lucky enough to have owned one whether in or past it’s prime and want to relive those days or maybe now the time is right and the financial position is in place to finally chase the dream.
Secondly they are a whole lot of fun, each with it’s own idiosyncrasy, light, nimble, not over endowed with power but enough to make them fly like their lesser versions could only dream of
Thirdly they are pretty simple machines and as an entry into classic car ownership they provide a sensible entry point for the novice.
And finally, they look absolutely brilliant, the only drawback? Having to get used to being the centre of attention wherever you go.
Also it is worth noting that there were a lot of different hot hatches built by a lot of manufactures and so there is a lot of choice out there.
There are also a few surprises the Golf Mk 1 is comprehensively beaten in all areas by the Mk 2 but it is the Mk 1 which attracts the biggest money in the market, deservedly so in many ways as it is truly iconic and an investment that will never disappointment but the Mark 2 provides a far greater bang for your buck. Our advice? follow your hunch when it comes to choosing your hot hatch.
Or how about the Peugeot 205, many people’s ultimate hot hatch and a car that we think is criminally undervalued right now.
We’re also suckers for the Talbot era hot hatches… we all know about Lotus Sunbeam’s but Samba Rallye’s are a special car too.
So if there are so many options and each is such an automotive icon what are the drawbacks?
Firstly finding one, a lot of manufacturers made hot hatches however not all did so in great volume, for every VW approach there was a Talbot one too, so choice is wide, availability less so. For instance our Samba Rallye is one of just 14 left in the UK now…. that’s Ferrari levels of rarity for less than £10k!!!
Secondly finding one that hasn’t been modified beyond all reasonable levels of recovery. These cars have been cheap for a long time and for every after market sticker that can be peeled off there is also plenty of after market mechanicals that have simply pushed the car too far.
Having said that you shouldn’t be scared by non-original cars when they are either well done to a known specification such as Peugeot’s to MI-16 spec or where they can be reverted to stock…
Overall then hot hatches make a whole lot of sense to both the heart, head and wallet.
In normal buying terms we are told the old cliches of History, originality and low miles and yes of course if one which meets those criteria is available and within budget then that is the route to go but with these types of car specifically you can widen your search remit to take a ‘what to avoid’ view rather than a ‘must have’ one.
Avoid cars fundamentally undermined by mods, and err that’s it.
Parts are again (relatively) plentiful and (relatively) cheap, VW in particular have such a huge following that after market specialists catering for classics are everywhere, but don’t be afraid to pursue the lesser lights…. car clubs are like bees to honey for hot hatches and the networks they produce mean sources are always available.
And finally if you’re not totally convinced by the fun, price, simplicity and iconic nature of these legendary cars then don’t forget they’re tough as old boots too making a classic daily driver not totally out of the question.
For us 2016 is the year hot hatches really take off, our advice? Buy in now before they capture the Porsche bug….