TVR Cerbera 4.2, 1998, 54k, £25,980
It's no coincidence that PistonHeads (we're celebrating 25 years of PH this weekend - you might have heard) emerged from the fledgling online morass when it did. The late 90s and early 2000s were not just a wild west period for the internet, they were also TVR’s glory years, producing a host of great-looking, supremely powerful, and temptingly affordable sports cars. Even searching only for cars from the 12 months of 1998 there’s a wealth of choice: take your pick from Griffiths, Chimaeras and Cerberas. We’ve plumped for one of the latter here, because the Cerbera was the real supercar slayer - its arrival in the mid-1990s sent shockwaves through the industry. It was so fast, so stylish, so much cheaper than anything with vaguely comparable performance. This one promises a wild ride even 25 years later, thanks to a recent engine rebuild and upgrade that’s yielded more than 420hp. There are Nitron coilovers and braided brakes lines to contain it all, too. And this Cerbera is dark green over cream, so you can look cool and classy at any speed.
Fiat Coupe Turbo, 1998, 71k, £7,995
The late 1990s was also a great time for the humble sports coupe, from Prelude to Probe and TT to GTV. Today, not so much. Fiat actually got in on the act early, launching its Chris Bangle-designed Coupe 30 years ago. And even in a busy market, its arrival in the UK a couple of years after didn’t go unnoticed: its distinctive style, unmistakeable five-cylinder soundtrack and decent handling saw to that. Even today, very little sounds like a Coupe 20V Turbo - and absolutely nothing looks like it. The original owner of this one was certainly keen to make an impact, pairing that famous bright blue with tan leather. Moreover, the ad states that thousands have been spent over the past couple of years bringing the Fiat back to its best, with a respray, retrim, top-end rebuild and new brakes among the work included. Given inflated values seem to be going nowhere, £7,995 doesn’t look bad at all.
Aston Martin Vantage V600, 1998, 47k, £299,950
Just the other day we were talking about another very famous Aston from 1998, the Project Vantage - the car that previewed so much of what was coming for the marque in the 21st century. At the same time, the old school was bowing out in rip-roaring fashion, with the V600 - the most powerful Aston Martin until the One-77 - launched 25 years ago. It took the venerable 5.3-litre V8 to new heights thanks to further work on the two superchargers, and meant 200mph was theoretically possible for the monstrous old Vantage. This one was originally a V550, and upgraded to the full 600 spec - including the stunning hollow wheels from the later Le Mans model - in 2002. With a recent spend on a brake and steering overhaul, plus previous concours wins to its name, this must be as good as Vantages get. Which will make it little short of awesome. What a way to spend £300k.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R, 1998, 103k, £29,995
If this time was a great period for British sports cars, it was also a memorable era for the roadgoing rally cars. The Subaru vs. Mitsubishi WRC war was mirrored on the road, as the latest Evo battled another Impreza for B-road supremacy. We’d have to wait until 1999 for the first UK Evos, but the grey import scene for both was up and running earlier. UK enthusiasts had heard of the best models being kept for Japan, and wanted a piece of the action - soon the maddest two-door STIs and RS Evos were here, making supercar owners look even sillier. This one is a more recent import, but is exactly the kind of car that blew the socks off everything in ’98. A WRX STI Type R Coupe, a 280hp exotic compared to the plain old Impreza Turbo saloon. It’s kind of Subaru opened our eyes to the Japanese Domestic Market - and we never looked back…
Ferrari 550 Maranello, 1998, 42k, £89,990
Despite its modest appearance, the 550 Maranello was hugely significant for Ferrari. After more than 20 years of mid-engined, 12-cylinder flagships, this marked the return of the classic GT: 12 cylinders at the front, power to the rear, manual in the middle, just like a Daytona. This new era proved more than successful, too, continuing all the way to the recently departed 812 Superfast. It helped, of course, that things kicked off so brilliantly well, the 550 lauded back in the day for its glorious handling and mighty performance. Once upon a time, as so often happens with the front-engined Ferraris, the Maranello was languishing at less than £40k; now its importance in the story of 12-cylinder Ferrari road cars is being recognised, with values reflecting that. This one is believed to be one of just five UK cars in Blu Pozzi over Bordeaux; which is a surprise, actually, because it’s a stunning colour combination.
Mercedes SL500, 1998, 97k, £16,950
As so many German classics continue to be priced out of reach for most folk, so the R129 SL continues to look like a lot of Benz brilliance for not much money. See this one for proof: an SL500 (meaning power from the famed M119 V8), a smidge under 100,000 miles, 20 years of main dealer history, a recent cosmetic freshen-up - look at those wheels! - and an asking price of £16,950. For a car that still looks as good as the ‘129 (launched in 1989, don’t forget), a Mercedes from one of the brand’s most loved eras, and a V8 convertible to boot, that seems agreeable. A good R129 will cost more than it used to, sure, but look what people want for classic 911s and M cars. For cruising around in style and comfort (and with more than 300hp), there remains nothing quite like this era of Mercedes SL.
1 / 6