Create as many picket signs as you like and organize as many protests as you want, but the one certainty in life you can bank on is cars are getting easier to drive, whether petrolheads like it or not.

With manufacturers throwing in semi-automatic transmissions on cars that formally used a manual shift, and deciding to ‘go green’ with heavy battery packs, your average (sentimental) petrolhead could feel a little neglected.

Fortunately for him (or her), he (or she) has a friendly resource that’s ready and willing to help out. Yep, you guessed it — the classifieds.

The used car classifieds is sort of like being a kid in a petrol-themed candy shop. Albeit with less cavities.

As newer cars arrive with newer tech, newer looks, newer performance, but sometimes less enthusiast appeal, the internet classifieds are chock-full of current-century performance cars with manual transmissions if that’s what you like, hydraulic power steering if that’s what you prefer, performance that’s still good enough to put a smile on your face, and enough tech so it doesn’t seem like the Queen’s name still ends with ‘the first.’

Don’t agree? Well, allow me to conjure up an example.

There’s been a lot of talk of late about that Clio RS 200 Turbo. Matched against similar hot hatches, many believe that it pales in comparison to its rivals (and its predecessor) because of its standard Dual Clutch transmission.

Let’s say you’re one of those people. And unlike those who condemn the latest Renaultsport model to an untimely death, you’ve got £17,000 to shell out on a new hot hatch.. and an open mind.

And while you could check out some of its rivals such as the new Fiesta ST, Mini Cooper S or Peugeot 208 GTi, it may also do you some good to know that for £10,000 less you could find yourself behind the wheel of an ‘07 Clio 197. Safe to say that your decision just got ‘much’ harder.

Clio-RS-197-AutoTraderThis 2007 Renault Clio 2.0 16V Renaultsport 197 with 39,000 miles is currently on sale for just £6,395. (via Autotrader)

Now at this point you might be thinking all this talk of using the classifieds to get the car you want is taking a step backwards, but if you dislike the path that modern cars are headed, a small step back may provide the thrills you’ve been looking for at a price low enough to include a season of track days ‘plus’ a holiday with your better-half.

As enthusiasts we know there’s an innumerable number of fast, fun-loving performance cars just waiting to enhance our lives, but we sometimes forget they’re little more than a click away in the classifieds, offering the same thrills (and sometimes more) as the newest metal, often for less than half price.

Of course the other factor to consider are some of the stunning lease deals on offer. To give you an idea of what’s available, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts will supply you a Renaultsport 200 EDC for an initial payment of £1,047 and 47 payments of £321, while Car Leasing 4U is currently offering it for a £1,611 first payment followed by 47 payments of £268.

Both new and used are worth contemplating, but for the simplest of driving experiences, a 40,000 mile Clio 197 plus plenty of change leftover for the wife, family and a weekend’s track indulgence seems mighty tempting.