2006 BMW 330i – Lawrence Allan
Is the E90-generation BMW 3 Series deserving of future classic status? In the right spec, I would say so. Yes, there are likely to be many still on the road in years to come, but I’ll make a case for mine – a 330i with a manual gearbox in unassuming SE spec – being a rarity with collectable potential.
Of the 7750 3 Series on one classifieds website at the time of writing, 254 were a 330i. Eighteen of those were manual. Five of those were an SE. And none was burgundy (or Barrique Red, as BMW calls it). This was one of the last BMWs to feature the wonderful atmo straight six, which, when mated to a stick shift, provides the pure, mechanical driving experience associated with proper modern classics such as the E36 3 Series of the early 1990s. The engine note is just as evocative.
Yet the E90 has many advantages over its forebear. It’s quieter and more comfortable, and it can nudge 40mpg on a run. It’s also far safer and, with 258bhp on tap, fast enough to have fun in. A good one is affordable, too; I paid less than £3000 for mine.
1990 Volkswagen T3 Syncro – Ben Summerell-Youde
The water-cooled T3 Syncro is the last of the rear-engined Volkswagens and the one you really want. Unlike its far narrower ‘Splitscreen’ and ‘Bay Window’ predecessors, it’s wide enough for you to comfortably camp in, yet it still has only the footprint of a mid-noughties Audi A4.
The excellent (and bespoke) 4×4 system is hugely effective both on and off road, as demonstrated by this example’s ability to climb mountains and rescue stuck Land Rovers. Its deceptively modern innards, including independent suspension, fuel injection and a hardy aluminium 2.1-litre flat four engine developed and built only for this generation, make it easy to live with, too.