In parts 1 and 2 of this ongoing series I’ve previously looked at the surprising array of cars on offer for both £200 and £500 and noted something of the issues involved when buying at the less monied end of the spectrum, indeed, the range of vehicles on offer really should mean that there’s something for everyone, even in the bargain bucket. Yet it really does depend on your motives and expectations as for me, part of the fun is in the search, after all, for £200 and £500 you really can’t afford to set your heart on one particular model, not unless you’re exceptionally patient and willing to travel. The secret really is to keep watching and spread your search wide. Don’t limit yourself to the internet, although Auto Trader is certainly the best place to start, there’s always the free ads and real bargains can still be found on some newsagents and supermarket advertising boards which are always worth a look.
But there’s no time to stand still as we’re moving on up to within sight of some of the big boys, with a bag of sand in our pockets and joy in our hearts it’s time to realise that by opening up the budget to £1000 the array of vehicles available has expanded ten fold. No matter what the budget though, there really is no need to look at a Chrysler PT Cruiser, 2.4 Touring 2dr, even if it has completed only 61,000 miles and comes with 4 months road tax. Remember, no Chrysler PT, no matter what.
For part 3 I’m taking a slightly different approach and looking at types and style of car available for just £1000 rather than the individual models as there is considerably more choice now. It’s time to decide what you want. Is it to be a sports car, a two seater, cabriolet, coupé? Decisions, decisions but they need to be made. It’s a dangerous game after all to head on out without a plan of attack. The rules are always the same though, no matter what the amount of money to be spent. Do your research first on your chosen model and specifications, think about whether or not the car of choice will suit your needs, ask those all important questions (mentioned in part 1) before you set off and think about how far you’ll need to travel to view as an extra £70 spent on petrol is money that may be better spent on brake pads, oil and air filters, spark plugs, coil packs and the obligatory Haynes manual. Where then shall we start?
MotorMartin’s top £1000 bargains
The Coupé is a rather glorious creation, define as a closed two-door car body style with a permanently attached fixed roof that is shorter than a sedan or saloon of the same model and often has seating for two persons or with a tight-spaced rear seat. To summarise, long bonnet, short rear, good looking. Let’s start with the Ford Cougar, still a stunning car, coveted on introduction way back in 1998 and a bargain today, choose a 2.5L V6 with the optional X pack with 90,000+ miles, some service history a MOT and you’re away for £950 or how about a Compact Coupé as Peugeot are want of saying, as for a shade under a grand you can indulge in wind in the hair motoring with a Peugeot 206cc 1.6, surprised? At this money you’re looking at around 100,000 miles on the clock but Peugeot’s build quality had really come on in leaps and bounds by the time the 206 had replaced the 205 and the electric roof of the 206cc just brings that extra special something to the party. And for the more sporting take on the Coupé there’s the one and only Toyota Celica. There’s a quite incredible array of Celica to choose from but my choice would be to get as late as possible and look for a 1.8 VVT-i on an 03/04 plate and the obligatory 5 months MOT, with Japanese build quality, a relatively high mileage shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as it’s been serviced regularly. All three would be brilliant fun for not much more than a week away somewhere nice.
The Family Car for £1000 is a practical thing but one which needs very careful planning. With as many choices as there are out there in small adds land you really do need to decide exactly what you want from your family car. What size do you actually need, is it for 4 or 5 people, do you regularly use the motorway, is it for the school run, shopping trips and so on and so forth. Once you’ve worked out your parameters it’s time for the search. Stick with the more popular models though, no point going for a long dead model just because it’s cheap, after all, it’s still a £1000 car and it will need spare parts to be readily available as well as the regular service items. For me, I’d be looking at the standard big hitters of the Ford Mondeo, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra due to the availability of spare parts, knowledge and cars. There are so many out there for £950+ that for the first time in our odyssey you can take your time and find the right car, see one you don’t like, you can know a ford to walk away and go see another. Stick to your guns and you really will nab a bargain. Don’t bother with the Ford Ghia Editions or Vauxhall Turbo’s as it’s all most likely to go wrong at some point or another. Get the longest MOT possible and a recent service or look for ex company cars as they’ll have completed mostly motor way mileage and been regularly serviced. Personally it would be a 100,000 mile 2.0 TDCi as it’ll go on forever and still be good fun to drive.
City Car So the question is, can you get a genuine little City Car for that princely grand that you’ve saved, determined to bag a bargain that’s going to offer efficiency, power, handling and the ability to park in those spaces that the larger amongst us just can’t fit. Where then to start? Forget any ideas that you may have about finding that bargain Italian beauty in which to wow those around you and convince them of your stylish choice as even a battered FIAT 500 or 126 is already way out of reach but don’t dismiss all FIATs out of hand as the oft forgotten FIAT Seicento 1.1 with 45,000 miles on the clock is in plentiful supply. OK, you’ll need to know a friendly mechanic, or be handy at twirling the spanners yourself but come on, Italian style, and certain amount of cool. I’ll have some of that for sure. But what about something slightly bigger but still comfortable and nippy in town, something that you’ll be able to take further afield as the mood takes? A favourite of mine has got to be the evergreen Citroën Saxo and not one that’s been owned by an unsympathetic youth. There are plenty about out there coming in under our self imposed £1000 limit. My pick of the bunch has got to be a 1.6, 70,000 miles, 6 months MOT and full service history and for that you’ll be getting a well looked after car that will have plenty of life left under the bonnet that’s also immense fun to drive with excellent handling, perfect for town work. And finally, the Ford Ka which, for a bag of sand, you can certainly pick up a good one. A quick search reveals my personal pick, a 1.3 Luxury Limited Edition showing 50,000 miles on the clock, Full Service History with stamps in the book and one owner from new, even the bodywork looks great.
£1000 can increase your choice greatly from the £500 of Part 2, Five Get Over Excited, and gives you the most important element of choice. You’re now able to spend a little more time finding the model and make of car that you actually want, rather than what is available and that makes a big difference. Personally I’d be looking at a Citroën Saxo for that excellent mix of size and efficiency. It’ll be cheap to buy, cheap to insure, cheap to fix and cheap to run. Can’t say fairer than that.
Where will you go?