Having a very desirable car collection doesn’t always mean you need to spend a fortune. While Rs 30-35 lakh, today, may get you an entry-level premium car, like a Skoda Superb, you can, instead, have a very usable collection of cars for every occasion.
To start with, you can get yourself a nice example of a cute and compact first-generation Maruti 800 or Suzuki SS80 runabout for under Rs 1 lakh. You can find cars for less but you may end up spending the same or more money on restoring them. What better Indian heritage car can you have than one that literally put India on wheels?
The next car can be an all-time classic peoples’ car, like a classic VW Beetle. Classic Beetles are universally loved and appreciated, and running cars that do not need too much work start at around Rs 8 lakh. Spare parts are easily available worldwide and the air-cooled engine’s mechanicals are simple too. Beetles in bright colours or in flower power paint schemes always get a second look. Even your better half will love it.
If you like German luxury cars, the Mercedes-Benz W123 sedan, at Rs 4 to 6 lakh, won’t disappoint you. Estate versions, or the S123, are rare and not easy to come by. The W123 series was considered a very reliable workhorse during its time. Get one before prices start soaring.
No car collection is complete without a convertible or a sportscar; a quintessential sportscar like the Mazda Miata MX-5 still sells for Rs 10 to 12 lakh. It may sound a bit expensive, but the Miata is a fun-to-drive sportscar with Japanese reliability. When you sum it up, asking prices do not seem so unreasonable.
Like a sportscar, an ideal five-car garage would be incomplete without an off-roader. There is a dearth of classic 4x4s in India and old-school classic Willys Jeeps are in great demand with collectors, which gives them high asking prices. Instead, you can buy an extremely capable and reliable one, like an early 2000s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado or Mitsubishi Pajero SFX (as sold in India), for about Rs 6 to 8 lakh, which you can still use everyday.
Of course, you can be adventurous and get other exciting cars – like the BMW E30 sedan (if you are lucky to find one) instead of the Mercedes W123, or Maruti Gypsy instead of a SS80. Some may even prefer the hardy Fiat 1100 over a Beetle, which could save you at least a few lakhs. You could use that saved money to buy yourself a first-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK over a Miata MX-5.
If you have change to spare, get a classic Vespa or Lambretta. Prices start from just Rs 60,000.
It would be worth noting that major restoration work or paperwork that isn’t up to date, can be expensive, and can drive you insane, and this is not to be trifled with. That said, try and go about with sympathetic restoration and ensure you have adequate good parking. Lastly, having a collection can be great but be prepared to get some grease on your hands too!