What Can You Buy For £1500? You’ve Got What It Takes

So here we are, following on from MotorMartin’s £200, £500 and £1000 bargain buying guides, we arrive at the serious money. Enjoy.

£1500 can be classed as a lot of money depending on the situation that you find yourself in, especially if you’ve saved up to buy a car. Perhaps it’s your first car, maybe it’s a runaround or perhaps it’s a second car for a partner or to keep the main car in good order. Whatever the reason, there are a great many cars out there at this price point and you’ll need to keep your wits about you. We’ve all fallen into the shiny car trap, viewed a car in the rain or at dusk, we’ve all been seduced by shiny, straight bodywork and ignored the obvious signs of neglect that are clear for everyone else to see. And then there’s the reasonable classic, the car you’ve always dreamed of owning hidden deep down in the classifieds amongst the detritus a car that promises a that it will breeze through its upcoming MOT if only you can get hold of a few (rare) parts. Money pit anyone? But be careful, follow MotorMartin’s simple car buying rules and you could be driving away in an absolute bargain and one that’ll keep you motoring in comfort for many years to come.

What then is the ultimate £1500 car, what would be the biggest surprise? Even the briefest search highlights the diverse nature of what’s available, cars that once commanded high prices but have fallen rapidly down the order as tastes change. If reliability were no issue then the Mazda RX-8 1.3 4dr with it’s Wankel engine showing just 58,000 miles, mix that with a recent service and MOT and you surely have the ultimate bargain. However, take into account the £515 annual road tax bill and a claimed combined 26.2mpg and your bargain sports car suddenly starts to look a little more expensive. A reported high oil consumption and the complexity of the rotary engine will also start to eat into your budget, as will the cost of tyres, brake pads, disks, suspension components and a whole host of other consumables. Perhaps not then. The point though is clear, do your homework on what you want and as always, don’t buy the first one that you see. Good luck out there.

MotorMartin’s Top £1500 Bargains

SUV’s are the fashionable car of the moment and as such there are a great many out there on the second hand market but don’t be expecting anything with low mileage for this sort of money. That’s not to say that you can’t still bag yourself a bargain as these motors tend to be looked after and serviced on time due to the complexity of some AWD systems and as such can really make sense down at this price point. If you ignore the more fashionable vehicles, you’re not going to be driving off in a Range Rover Evoque no matter how long you look for and focus your search on reliability and build quality then you really can do no better than to look over at the Far East, as cars from Honda, Nissan and the like will probably last forever and be well specced to boot. My choice would be a second generation Honda CR-V 2.0 i-VTEC SE from around 2002, a car which was available with either a 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre Diesel engine, an automatic gearbox could be specified with the petrol version and all models were capable of providing four-wheel drive, although only when traction was lost. And the best bit? For £1500 you’re looking at an SUV with up to 115,000 miles under the bonnet, a decent selection of toys, an Electric Sunroof (Glass Tilt/Slide), Air-Conditioning, Climate Control, Alarm, Alloy Wheels (15in), Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD) and it’ll all work as this is a Honda. Special mention does need to be made for the venerable Nissan X-Trail though as they will go on forever and can be picked up for around our £1500 budget. It’s just that if it were my money, it would be the Honda every time.

Sports Cars are maybe not what you would expect to find down here in the world of the £1500 car but if you look hard enough and are happy to travel the length and breadth of this green and pleasant land of ours then bargains are out there to be found. What is it then that you should be considering when looking at the sportier end of the spectrum? Well for £1500 exactly the same rules apply that have already been discussed in parts 1-3 as you’re still looking for reliably serviced, well documented cars with pretty decent bodywork. There will still be bumps and scuffs but nothing too problematic and nothing that can’t be fixed if you’re willing to spend a little extra once the deal is done. My choice then, how about a Mercedes-Benz SLK 2.3 Kompressor 2dr from 1998 or 1999, higher mileage shouldn’t be a reason to walk on by as you’ll be looking at around 100,000+ but you should still be getting a full service history but perhaps the last few services not at an official Mercedes dealer. Budget a few extra pounds for the usual oil and filter changes, check the brakes and that excellent folding roof etc. and you should be good to go. Think about it for a minute, an SLK on your drive for £1500, not only is it possible with a little hard work but with a late 90s Mercedes the paint will be inches thick, the quality is there for all to see and your purchase will be looking superb after a couple of hours elbow grease. Possibly the bargain of the century with a little careful searching. Second choice has got to be a MINI 1.6 Cooper Convertible 2dr Petrol Manual from 04/05 and with near enough 100,000 miles on the clock. But don’t panic, after all, with a full service history on what is mostly a BMW anyway, this is a car that should provide you with many more miles yet and still look current and up to date.

Hatchbacks are often thought of as being all things to all men/women, cars that can do anything and everything whilst not really excelling at any aspect of their daily lives. Mundane, dull, boring even, are some of the criticisms that can be levelled at the humble hatchback, 4th generation Astra, I’m looking at you in particular here, but there really is no need to sink your money into something so dull as there are plenty of hatchbacks out there that can stir the soul and excite. For me, I’d want something a little exciting to go with the do anything capabilities and a little bit of style as well. For these reasons the Citroën C3 1.4, around 10 years old but only 50-70,000 miles old, nearly a full MOT and service history would be sitting on the driveway. These are great little cars after all, offering a peppy engine, half decent suspension and a decent (for ten years old) interior, you may even get an upgraded stereo as these were popular cars back in the day with the more youthful generation. Of course, as with all of our bargain buys, keep a little aside for the consumerables, Haynes Manual and possibly a very thorough clean inside and out and what your inevitably left with will provide you with old school handling, exciting good looks and a car that exudes Gallic charm whilst still providing you with a practical boot and reasonable space in the back. And if you can’t get hold of a C3? Go Germanic with the Volkswagen Polo, a thoroughly decent performer for peanuts. A 1.4, the edition is not important, with 70,000-80,000 miles, 6 months MOT and some service history will be a more than adequate substitute and will keep going forever, it just doesn’t look as good as the Citroën in my eyes.

Do your homework, go looking with an open mind and enjoy the search. With £1500 burning a hole in your pocket it makes sense to decide what you really need the car for, what will its role and position be? Is it to be used every day or just occasionally? Don’t be afraid to change your mind. You might go looking for ‘X’ and end up coming home with ‘Y’ and isn’t that part of the fun?

Where will you go? 

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