The open road in front of you. A burbling V8 — or even a growling V12 — at your disposal. The thoroughbred high style Grand Tourer of your choice is now available at what is — relatively — a low price. These are motor vehicles designed to convey their occupants in supreme comfort over long distances in great luxury. Grand, indeed. The joy, though, of owning an Aston, Maserati or droptop AMG Mercedes is that these are cars that will make everything from a transcontinental journey to a b-road blast for a country pub lunch into an event. All for the price of a new mid-market SUV. Now honestly, which of these three grand tourers for £30k would you rather have?
Aston Martin DB7 Vantage | Price: £29,995 | Year: 1999 | Engine: 5,935 cc V12, 420 bhp
First, imagine that V12, the first to be fitted to an Aston Martin. Then, get out your chequebook. The DB7 was the beginning of Aston Martin's renaissance, and the first to benefit from the genius of designer Ian Callum. His purposeful styling, referencing the past while firmly of the future, created an Aston that looked — and still looks — ready to pounce. This immaculate Islay Blue example has covered just 36,000 miles and — crucially for any Aston Martin — has a full main dealer service history. The unmarked two-tone leather interior speaks of its era, while walnut veneers add a touch of heritage. You'll want to open the bonnet to admire that V12, a form-follows-function sculpture in its own right, propelling the 22 year old Aston to 60 mph in a still swift 4.9 seconds. The definitive grand tourer? Decide when you reach your hotel in Monaco.
Maserati GranTurismo S | Price: £32.495 | Year: 1983 | Engine: 4,691 cc V8, 440 bhp
You'll need a little light bargaining to get this delicious Maserati on your drive for less than our target price, but it'll be worth it. Finished in subtle Nero Carbonio Metallic — or metallic black to the rest of us — this is a grand tourer that doesn't need to shout about its arrival, though the Ferrari-derived V8 might do that for you anyway. The interior in Maserati's Sabbia — "sand" in Italian, but you knew that — leather speaks of handmade Italian luxury. The centrally mounted analogue clock is very much a Maserati calling card.
However long your journey, you won't want to leave those cosseting front chairs. That glorious V8 is mounted as far back as possible for better weight distribution and thus fine handling. There's only a few hundred of these on the road so you're unlikely to be upstaged by another - and this GranTurismo S has only covered 25,000 miles, carefully looked after by marque experts. Like a bespoke Armani suit, this is one for the true connoisseurs.
Mercedes SL55 AMG | Price: £28,995 | Year: 2002 | Engine: 5,439 cc supercharged V8, 493 bhp
Looking for some fresh air on your Grand Tour? Look no further. This SL55 AMG adds handmade supercharged V8 power to the elegance of Stuttgart's high end convertible. The exterior finish is in classy Tanzanite Blue Metallic, unmarked as you'd expect from a droptop that's lived a pampered life. The AMG has always been in the ownership of the same family and has a reassuringly fat history file, documenting specialist and main dealer care over its 34,050 miles. In short: this bullet-proof Merc is barely run-in. The interior is characteristically efficient in the Mercedes manner, finished in equally efficient two-tone grey leather. The eye-catching AMG Turbine alloy wheels are unmarked. The V8 will propel you to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and you can expect to cruise at well over 100 mph with no fuss at all on the autobahn for your five-star weekend in Berlin. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. Above all, it's a Mercedes so build quality is of the very finest - and that includes the folding metal roof, complete with panoramic glass. Roof up, it's a grand coupe. Open to the elements, the AMG provides laugh-a-minute wind-in-the-air thrills. A great investment? Quite possibly.