Be ready for spring...
McLaren 720S Spider and 570S Spider (used)
McLaren’s landmark 720S is on borrowed time as Woking readies its hybrid successor. But time hasn’t dulled the turbo V8 hypercar’s wild majesty. Beautiful, versatile (you could drive one on the daily commute, and you’d certainly never be late…) and savagely quick, opting for the folding-hardtop Spider version addresses the 720S’s only real shortcoming – a lack of soul compared with Italian rivals. Pre-owned prices start from £190k. 720S coupes can be had for some £60k less, and second-hand 570S Spiders (less ballistic, less complex, more approachable) start at around £105k.
Caterham 170R (new)
Given all its cars look the same and the entire range is powered by just a couple of engines, the Caterham line-up is way more confusing than it should be. But you don’t need to understand the range. Just know that the relatively affordable (from £29k) 170R is one of the very best cars in it. The recipe is simple: modest (84bhp) power, not much grip, a sweetly balanced chassis and a limited-slip differential. The result is outrageously fun. A flat-out thrash in a 170R will leave you breathless and grinning like the Joker – and all without getting anywhere near three-figure speeds. (It’ll hit 105mph eventually. But it takes a while.)
Ferrari 296 GTB (new)
Ferrari’s third hybrid is modern miracle. The V12 LaFerrari was Maranello’s first hybrid, and we wish they’d left it as a pure V12. (The SP3 Daytona that followed was essentially a LeFerrari without the hybrid bits, suggesting some Ferrari engineers felt the same.) The hybrid V8 SF90 is awesomely quick but heavy and weirdly uninvolving. But Ferrari nailed it with the £242k 296 GTB. Violently fast but fun, agile and exploitable too, the fact that you can creep off your driveway on electric power alone is just the icing on the cake.
Porsche 911 Targa 4S (new)
Don’t get us wrong, £118,800 is an awful lot of money for a 911. And ignoring the less expensive and arguably more exciting Carrera T and Carrera GTS coupes won’t be easy. But there’s a timeless beauty to the Targa concept, and all will be forgiven when you’re punting down the road with the sun on your face, the Targa’s roof stowed and that flat-six engine wailing. All Targas are four-wheel drive. But this is Porsche four-wheel drive, so it’s fun and heavily rear-biased. It just means rain needn’t stop play.
BMW M240i Convertible (used)
With electrification looming, the small, rear-wheel-drive, six-cylinder BMW isn’t long for this world. The current 2-series is still new and available as a coupe only. So, go back a few years and check out a 2019 M240i convertible. £22k buys a cherished low-mileage example and all the raw ingredients for a good time are present and correct: an exhilarating straight-six, drifty rear-wheel drive and a roof that folds away at the merest hint of a rain-free summer’s day. Treat yourself.