Five Classics Fit For The Family

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By Chris Pollitt

There’s a common misconception that classic cars are something that can only really be enjoyed by the owner. And that seems strange to us. Especially now, in a time where it’s more important than ever to usher in a new generation of classic car enthusiasts in the form of our children. Because let’s face it, their automotive future looks to be electrified. As such, it’s our duty, as classic car lovers, to pass on the torch for a passion for all things internally combusted. 

More than that though, by including the whole family in our classic passions, we build memories. We have adventures with our nearest and dearest. By making the classic car a family thing, we create a shared bond over something. And when faced with a world that’s moving ever more online, such memories are important. Even if the partner and the kids have no interest in cars, they’ll still develop a fondness for your classic car. You all will. And in doing so, you yourself will find untold amounts of passion for your old jalopy. Handy when the next thing needs to be fixed or replaced, as is the case with old cars. 

The classic car world projects itself as E Types or other glorious, but highly impractical roadsters or sports cars. But that’s not actually true. There are myriad classics out there with enough space for a family of four. And if you choose wisely, these classics won’t sacrifice too much in the way of driver enjoyment over practicality. In fact, some family-friendly classics are better, more fun and more captivating than the stereotypical ‘sporty’ classics. Cars like the five we have listed below, for example…

1) Ford Cortina 

The Ford Cortina is a car that was designed with the family in mind. High days, holidays or just going out to get the shopping, the Cortina could do it all. Built to replace the aging Consul, the Mk1 Cortina was introduced in 1962 and was a success from the off. It had better suspension than the Consul Classic, better brakes, better handling, better engines and it looked brilliant, too. Plus, it was versatile due to being available as a sporty two-door, as a sensible four-door or as a load-lugging estate. It was all things to all men. 

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What sells the Cortina as a family-friendly classic for today isn’t just the design, it’s also the potential. If you want a cool, fast, fun classic but still want to be able to take the partner and the kids for a drive, the Cortina can do that for you. This is, remember, the car that Lotus and Jim Clark made legendary. This is the car that has a huge aftermarket full of parts, modifications and ideas. This is a car that can be whatever you want it to be. 

2) Citroën DS

Maybe the thought of a Cortina, especially a slightly lairy one, doesn’t float your boat. Maybe you want a car that actually feels like it’s floating. What you need, then, is a Citroën DS. This space-age machine took the automotive world by storm in the 1950s, as nobody had ever seen anything like it. And then you have the suspension, a clever if complicated hydropneumatic system that gave the DS a ride that can make modern luxury cars blush. 

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The DS was meant to be a car for the people, but soon it shifted into being a luxury product. As the years rolled on, the DS became more and more plush. If you buy one today, your family will thank you. They’ll want to use your new DS at every given opportunity. And they will positively encourage you to go to shows and events that are far away, just so they can have some time in it. And you’ll love doing that, and with a huge network of specialists out there, you needn’t buy one with concern. 

3) Land Rover 

The best memories are those made from adventure. Whether you’re 26 or 66, you will have memories of the adventures you had in your youth. You’ll remember them with vivid clarity, and they’ll warm your soul as you recount them. So why not buy a Land Rover and create some memories for your own kids? A rugged, uncompromising machine, your children’s memory banks will become awash with the smells, the sounds and the raw, tactile nature of the Land Rover. They’ll remember fondly the time you went driving where there were no roads. They’ll remember rescuing the neighbour’s Mondeo from the snow. They’ll remember the Land Rover as a part of the family. 

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The Land Rover of old, say a Series 2 or 3, might not be the last word in refinement, but so what? Get one that’s mechanically up together and that’s all you need. It’ll be a dependable, tough addition to the family fleet. Again, as with the cars above, there is a vast aftermarket out there, so if you want to make it more comfortable, you can. If you want to jack it up for better off-road abilities, you can. If you just want to keep it in original trim… you can. With an old Land Rover, the world is your oyster. 

4) Mercedes-Benz W123

The Mercedes-Benz W123 is a firm favourite here at Car & Classic. It’s a handsome machine that was built at the height of Mercedes-Benz’s peak for quality. Available with a range of engines, from the humble four-cylinder through to large-capacity straight-six units, it could be whatever you wanted it to be. You could have it in saloon guise, in coupe form or as a hugely practical seven-seat estate. Versatility was most definitely the name of the game for this model. 

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They make a perfect family classic because they are reliable, they are incredibly comfortable, but above all else, they’re safe. And when the cargo is as precious as your children and partner, safety is important. Furthermore, the W123 is the kind of classic you really could use every day. Sure, it might not be as frugal or as fast as its modern counterparts, but if looked after it’s just as reliable. Plus, it’s far, far cooler. And who doesn’t like to look cool? 

5) Bentley R Type

Maybe you’ve decided that you want your family to live the classic car life in the kind of way that Pop Larkin would approve? And while we would love to suggest you buy a yellow 1926 Rolls Royce, the reality of such a car is that you’ll forever be maintaining it, and your family will hate you every time it rains. So instead, how about a Bentley R Type? This big, leather and wood laden machine was the epitome of luxury in its day, and it still cuts a dash now. Plus, it has a roof, so the family will stay dry.

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Classic Bentleys can often be a bit of a minefield, thanks in no small part to the vast number of bodies with which they were built. The R Type changed all that though, as it was made available with a Bentley Body direct from the factory. Powered by a 4.3 litre straight six with some 130bhp, it had plenty of pace too. It’s also a car that, despite the name, isn’t eye-wateringly expensive. £30,000 will put you behind the wheel of one.

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