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MARKET TRENDS: SALES REP SALOONS OF THE ’80S

MARKET TRENDS: SALES REP SALOONS OF THE ’80S

Posted by Matt Bell on 2nd July 2020

Sales rep saloons of the 1980s were once disposable tools – are they now collector’s items? We take a look at the changing prices of three examples.

Austin/Rover Montego (1984-1995)

Indirect successor to the Morris Ital, Austin’s Montego claimed to be driver-orientated and sharp, sporting more modern lines and the new S-Series engine. The 1.6HL at £7330 was priced competitively with its Cavalier and Sierra rivals, but poor reviews and infamous BL quality harmed values: Montegos lost a third of their value in a year and Motor slated their long-termer’s appalling reliability.

Buyers plumped for rivals and despite improvements, the Montego became something of a joke. A nine-year-old Montego would struggle for £1000 by the year 2000 and most were rep-abused examples. Rust was taking hold by the late 1990s and time wasn’t kind. Numbers plummeted throughout the 21st century, but their poor reputation saw values fell further to sub-£500. Banger racers and rust mean that today, supposedly less than 200 remain.

A growing BL/Austin Rover scene ensures the survivors are enthusiast-owned examples and this cult following has provoked appreciation. A tidy HL can command £1500-£2000, but a plush Vanden Plas might require £500-£700 more. Sporty MG variants are rarer and change hands for £3000-£4000, the Turbo an elusive £6000-£7000 item. With most 1970s BL cars appreciating, the 1980s cars may follow the same trend, so Montego prices could climb further.

Sales rep saloons

Renault 21 (1986-1995)

The 21 looked like a baby version of Renault’s 25 executive saloon and arguably was. Decent equipment levels, class-leading ride quality and sharp looks helped the 21 sell two million units and win numerous awards in saloon and Savanna estate guises. Well-rounded and well-liked the 21 might have been, but at £7800, it was pricier than every rival bar the Montego.

Like most fleet cars, 21s were used and abused, but their popularity meant they held value better than the Montego meaning that even by the year 2000, you’d still pay £2000 for a saloon and up to £3000 for a 2-litre estate. 1980s rep cars were merely old cars by the 21st century and the 21 was no exception. High-mileage examples were under £500 and most were neglected to the point of being scrapped. Like many 1980s cars, some nostalgia has blossomed for the 21, but enthusiasts, like surviving cars, are few.

Find one of the less than 100 left and you’ll need £1500-£2500 for most models, but earlier cars are slightly pricier. The rapid Turbo and its 4×4 sibling the Quadra can command £8000-£10,000, which seems pricey until you consider Sierra Cosworth prices. With a niche following, 21 prices likely won’t climb further, but you shouldn’t lose anything.

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 (1988-1995)

The Ford v Vauxhall battle was heated in the battle of sales rep saloons and with the Sierra a more modern proposition than the Mk2 Cavalier, Vauxhall fought back with the Mk3. The new car looked more modern and was more refined and pleasant inside. A wide range of trim levels and engines helped the Mk3 Cavalier outsell the Sierra in 1990, partly down to its £8730 pricetag, within £10 of the dated Ford and Austin offerings.

Like the Mk3 Astra, however, the Cavalier arguably outstayed its welcome. By the late 1990s, the Vectra looked far more modern and pushed Cavalier values down to £1600-£2000. Like the Montego and 21, Mk3 Cavaliers endured most of the 21st century as cheap bangers, being run into the ground and scrapped.

Even today, most survivors are sub-£1000 runarounds, with even immaculate, low mileage examples barely touching £2000. Like the Renault and Austin, the exception to the rule is the hot variant: the Cavalier 4×4 Turbo is a Sapphire Cosworth rival that commands £8000 upwards.

Interestingly, late Cavaliers are easier to find than early Vectras, so the canny investor might look towards the unloved successor. As for the Cavalier, we’d advise against buying for huge profit.