23 Jan 2013

Cheap cars - How much car can you buy for a grand?

How much car can you buy for £1,000?  We seek out the best bargains on eBay with a healthy dose of fun - and suggest how expensive they might be to run

The used car market is on it's knees.  Whilst new car sales are rising - 2012 sales were the highest since 2007 - the used car market is still stagnant.  As such there are some bargains to be had, particularly at the bottom - in the dirt cheap used car market.

We asked Twitter - how much car can you find for £1,000?  Some of the cars for sale at or around the £1,000 mark are staggering value.  Here's a selection of what we found.  We've rated each car with a Fear Factor - not for how scary it is to drive but how much it'll cost to keep on the road once purchased.

Thanks to @ChrisFalk623 @harding27 @kellywharris @james_wright200 @benbasten @LeahRebeccahUK @AlfistiGT @andyharris1964 @Davetouring for helping find the cars.

1987 Jaguar XJS V12 5.3

This Jag should by rights be an appreciating classic with a price to match, but the market doesn't quite appreciate it's riches yet.  The XJS chassis survived into the XK and DB7.  This particular car has just finished it's auction on eBay and sold for exactly £1,000, which is criminally low.  OK, the engine needed attention - the owner thinks it requires new plugs and coil - but it came with 11 months MOT and a full service history.  White shouldn't suit an old XJS, but with the TWR bodykit it does somehow.

Fear Factor - 10/10.  That V12 needs work and with it's old English electrics this will need cash to keep it going.

This MG estate is crazy value.  £1,000 for a 10 year old respected, refined motor.  The ZT, or Rover 75, is one of the used car markets best buys.  Parts are plentiful and many petrolheads (and motoring journalists) run them because they are reliable and comfortable, and handle well.  This one is on Autotrader for £990 and comes with all the extras one would expect - and it's only done 85,000 miles. 

Fear Factor - 2/10.  Not quite Japanese reliability but very good for an English car and amazing for Rover.

1999 Jaguar S-Type V6 SE

Another Jag and another crazy price.  When it first arrived the S-Type was the wrong car at the wrong time.  It was retro when it should have been forward looking, and it was based on a Ford Lincoln.  Cars that aren't well received when they are new tend to plummet in value.  Such is the case with S-Types.  But what this means is that you can now buy a modern-ish Jag for peanuts.  The chassis is good, the engine is great and this particular car has 12 months MoT and a full service history.  S-Types will never reach iconic status but they do have their charm and may one day be cherished.  But, for now, they are a bargain.

Fear Factor - 3/10.  The 2.5 is a Ford unit so won't cost a fortune to run.

1986 D Reg Porsche 924 S

Porsche 924s are at their price nadir.  If you want one buy one now.  This example is in the perfect colour - guards red.  It's covered 112,000 miles and the dealer reckons it's a 'nice example'.  From the photos it looks to be in good condition.  The quoted price is £1,250 but if you offered £1,000 cash you'd get it.  924s do come with a warning though.  Despite seemingly simple mechanics they can be expensive to maintain and keep going.

Fear Factor - 6/10.  It's a Porsche so nothing will be cheap.

1987 Peugeot 309 GTi

The 309 GTi is the Alistair McRae to the 205 GTi's Colin McRae.  Almost as capable of mixing it at the top level of competition but without some of the flair and killer instinct.  In short the 309 GTi is, and always was, an underrated bargain and, as such, prices are much lower.  It's also a million times better than a 206 GTi.  This example is a bit tatty and needs some work but it's posted at £795 and the seller includes some of the parts needed to bring it up to half decent condition.

 Fear Factor - 5/10.  Fairly straightforward mechanics but needs some work.

Believe it or not this is an early Chris Bangle design.  Fear not - for once he didn't make a pigs ear of it.  In fact the Fiat Coupe is a well regarded drivers car.  It's powerful and handles quite well.  But it is a Fiat so membership of a breakdown organisation is a must.  This car has covered a stellar 112,000 miles  and has a service history.  But it is a bit scruffy, with a dented right rear quarter panel and damage to the bonnet when it flew up at speed (remember, it's a Fiat).  If you are in love with Italian cars and want a slice of exotica for a small fistful of dollars then the Fiat Coupe should be on your list.

Fear Factor - 8/10.  It is an old Fiat.

The Puma is basically a Fiesta with a coupe bodyshell and a rorty 1.7 litre engine.  Prices for Pumas are on the floor so plenty are available and you can grab a bargain.  This one has no rust on the wheel arches, which is rare.  It's covered 112,000 miles and is up for auction with a buy it now price of £1095.  Reliable, reasonably stylish and a cracking car.

Fear Factor - 2/10.  It's basically a Fiesta underneath.

Mk1 Golf GTi's are a classic and prices reflect it's status.  The Mk3 will never be a classic but the Mk2 is starting to be seen as a classic.  You can buy one like this for under £1000.  This is an 8v but with the big bumper, and a rather silly eyebrow across the grille.  It's basically in good condition with some minor areas that require attention to make it mint.  And it has BBS alloys.  Buy a car like this, look after it and it's value will rise over the coming years.

Fear Factor - 3/10.  Easy to work on, parts cheap, lots of knowledge out there but it is 21 years old.

This 850 T5 is up on a classified ad for £595.  The car is in decent shape and runs well but has scruffy bodywork, although there is no mention of rust.  The T5 has a 2.3 litre turbocharged engine and, at the time, came with all the latest toys.  Being a Volvo it should be reliable if it's been looked after.  For £595 it's a massive bargain.  If you're budget is £1000 then you can buy this and spend a few pounds on getting a really good valet to get the bodywork shining.

Fear Factor - 5/10.  Swedish cars tend to be reliable but if the turbo or auto gearbox go it'll cost.

The 190 was built during Mercedes' era when the engineers ruled the roost.  It was built to last.  The 2 litre, 4 pot engine will do half a million miles and rest of the car will last longer.  We wouldn't normally recommend older cars in white (it shows the rust) but this is advertised as having no rust.  In fact its is described as immaculate and has a full dealer service history.  It's a classified ad and is posted at £895.  Bargain.  As a bonus it has alloys.  Many come with steel wheels and plastic hubcaps.

Fear Factor - 2/10.  It might be a Merc but it's built like a tank.

This 3 series comes form an era when BMW designers were conservative and gave us handsome cars.  This 323i is a perfect example of a £1000 car that's both modern and dirt cheap.  This one needs minor attention, but not much, has a great engine and the manual gearbox.  Auto boxes of this age might require significant work.  It's got 118,000 miles, a service history and a decent sound system.

Fear Factor - 4/10.  Solid, reliable, parts are plentiful, many cheap BMW specialists.

1998 Alfa Romeo Spider 2.0 Twin spark 16v

The Alfa Spider is a huge bargain for a car that can be bought for £995.  OK, so it's an Alfa and may randomly malfunction at any time but for a proper open top sportscar you'd be hard pressed to find the same 'passione' for under a grand.  This example has a full service history and only 77,000 miles on the clock.

Fear Factor - 9/10.  It's an Alfa.

If you want sporty and passionate but the idea of an Italian car doesn't float your boat then how about this 80s classic.  The coupe was a fantastic shape and with quattro is really a go anywhere sports car.  OK the 2.2 engine isn't exactly powerful but it is reliable and this example has been well looked after with a service history, and every single old MoT.  The interior looks better than in many 10 year old cars and the bodywork is in good condition.  This one is white with great alloys.  The best colour is red but that would push the price above £1000.

Fear Factor - 4/10.  Reliable and solid but 24 years old so some parts are bound to fail at some point.

This car shouldn't be so cheap.  The previous generation Civic has aged poorly but this shape still looks great.  It's reliable, has a fantastic engine and gearbox and shouldn't lose much or any more of it's value.    This one has done 131,000 miles and has a service history, although the dealer can't take decent photos.  Possibly the most sensible out of all our choices, with the exception of the MG ZT-T.

Fear Factor - 2/10.  It's a Honda, and not all that old, and therefore reliable.

Pre-General Motors Saabs are getting hard to find in decent condition, but they are the only Saab classics worth considering.  In 1989 GM bought Saab and basically ruined most most of their cars.  This 1991 900 is a survivor from the early era when GM hadn't quite sunk their claws in.  It's a non-turbo in a turbo body and comes with the correct turbo alloys.  The old turbo engine was replaced with a standard injection unit in 2004.  It's described as being in superb condition and with full history.  The car has 181,000 miles on the clock but the engine will easily do another 100,000.  The only downside is that the paintwork has faded quite severely.  A professional may be able to bring out some of the shine.

Fear Factor - 3/10.  It might be old but it's had work done and is built like a tank.