Currently reading: Auto-mobiles: Can you buy a car for the price of a smartphone?
It's either the latest handset or an entertaining car and a burner phone. We root out fun motors for less than an iPhone 11 Pro
News
4 mins read
7 December 2019

Steve Jobs is taunting me from the grave. I’ve thrown a lot of money his way over the years, starting with his Apple Mac computer through to a G4 Powerbook, MacBook Air and several iPads. And then there is, of course, his range of field telephones. I’ve had a few iPhones, starting with the first one. As with all Apple products, it’s a battle to get years of use out of them before they write themselves off by being out of date. My G4 Powerbook works perfectly well but can’t run the modern OS and therefore can’t support programs.

My iPhone 5 I’ve had for a long time but I fear it is near the end. Apple would no doubt like me to buy its new iPhone 11 Pro. It has three cameras, apparently, and lots and lots of pixels. And the battery might last beyond tea time. It costs £1049 but I can trade in my old phone and get a discount. Except I can’t because the iPhone 5 is so old tech that they won’t give me a penny for it.

Where am I going with this? Car companies have for years used the cost of a mobile phone as a sort of economic analogy to leasing cars. ‘You can have a new i10 for barely the price of your mobile phone.’ Renault used the same argument for leasing a Zoe’s battery.

This has got me thinking. What if I got the cheapest phone I could and then spent the money that I’ve saved on buying an iPhone 11 Pro on a car. I mean, I’ve always wanted to be a professional racing driver or fighter pilot but I’m not particularly interested in becoming a professional telephone caller.

Well, there you go, Mr Jobs: Argos has just sold me an Alba sim-free mobile for £12.95. It is, I believe, what is known as a burner. It makes telephone calls and can send texts. I don’t think it’ll allow me to become the next David Bailey or let me know how little my Aston Martin shares are worth.

Back to top

So with my new phone up and running, let’s go shopping with the £1036.05 that I have left. I know exactly where to start and what I’m looking for. Within seconds, we are on eBay and have tapped in ‘Fiat’. Guessed it? A 32,000-mile Seicento Sporting in yellow has grabbed the attention of 20 watchers but I can buy it now for £875. For even less money, although there’s no ‘buy it now’ price and the auction has five days to run, there’s a Sporting Michael Schumacher edition. I’d forgotten that there was such a thing but this red one looks nice at £820.

The Fiat Panda 100HP is a much better car and, sure enough, there’s one for £1000. It’s on a 58 plate and looks quite tidy in the photographs. Minis are excellent value: a photographer friend bought a convertible for £400 a few years ago and it’s still running. He has to keep his typhoid injections up to date because it’s a bit skanky inside but it runs well.

Back to top

There are loads of Cooper hatches within budget but I’ve always like the eccentric Clubman with its half-sized door of death that’s not on the pavement side in the UK. There are loads to choose from £1000 down and the bidding doesn’t look frantic.

Perhaps I’m being too sensible and should take a punt on this 2005 Cadillac CTS. The infotainment system has bust and it needs an ABS pump for its MOT but there’s a ‘buy it now’ price of £900. One other nutter has bid £495, which is below the reserve. Wonder how much the ABS pump costs?

Back to top

This is better but still in the slightly risky luxo-barge segment. A Rover 75 V6 manual on Autotrader for £950. MOT until next June as well. My pal Richard Bremner would be terribly impressed: he’s already got one. Ooh, even better, a Rover 800 coupé for £750 with a V6 and automatic gearbox. That’ll be a peaceful ride.

Any one of these old nails that we’ve found will give guaranteed amusement and provide much more of a talking point than a new mobile phone. They might even last longer, too.

Other appliances we could make savings on

Perhaps we get sucked into owning too many devices. We’ve got a Dualit toaster, for example. It looks beautifully retro and I’m sure guests are impressed by our good taste but it cost £150. Our kettle is a designer item, too, and cost nearly 100 quid. It can only boil water.

A TV is a good way to blow a lot of money. I don’t like them as pieces of furniture so we’ve got a small telly. It is a smart one but I don’t think it’s OLED and it cost less than the toaster. I know people who have huge-screen TVs with surround sound that cost more than a second-hand MX-5.

Where would your smart money go? Let us know by emailing autocar@haymarket.com

READ MORE

10 ways to bag a used car bargain

Used car buying guide: Fiat Coupe

James Ruppert: with small cars, choose substance over style

Join the debate

Comments
8
Add a comment…
Word 7 December 2019

iPhone buyers

To those who bought there phone out right or indeed using Hire Purchase.

 

How much of a discount did you get on your Apple product?? Which has one of the biggest profit margins of any consumer product

 

Or do you just expect thousands of pounds of discount when you buy a new or used car from a retailer who has one of the lowest profit margins 

 

just interested to know

si73 7 December 2019

Word wrote:

Word wrote:

To those who bought there phone out right or indeed using Hire Purchase.

 

How much of a discount did you get on your Apple product?? Which has one of the biggest profit margins of any consumer product

 

Or do you just expect thousands of pounds of discount when you buy a new or used car from a retailer who has one of the lowest profit margins 

 

just interested to know

That's a valid point, you don't expect or get a discount with many things you buy new from shops so why do we expect new cars to be discounted?
No I didn't get a discount on my new £150 android phone.

Word 7 December 2019

si73 wrote:

si73 wrote:
Word wrote:

To those who bought there phone out right or indeed using Hire Purchase.

 

How much of a discount did you get on your Apple product?? Which has one of the biggest profit margins of any consumer product

 

Or do you just expect thousands of pounds of discount when you buy a new or used car from a retailer who has one of the lowest profit margins 

 

just interested to know

That's a valid point, you don't expect or get a discount with many things you buy new from shops so why do we expect new cars to be discounted? No I didn't get a discount on my new £150 android phone.

 

id rather everyone aid retail price and that the dealers weren't trying to rip us off in other ways cos selling cars isn't a profitable exercise 

catnip 7 December 2019

This is an enjoyable, light

This is an enjoyable, light hearted article, I'm another one who buys my phone (and my car) outright.

It always amuses me the way motoring journalists criticise the original, modern Clubman for its door on the 'wrong' side: Bothering to park nearside to the pavement is an outdated concept for drivers of any vehicle, and you're always having to drive around parents as they get their kids out into the path of passing cars.

si73 7 December 2019

But the clubman would have

But the clubman would have been no worse off if they omitted the club door altogether.

This model of clubman looks so much better than the newer bloated example in my opinion.

Sundym 7 December 2019

Party pooper

Come on Peter , it does make for an interesting premise to an article and actually WE did buy my sons phone outright then SIM only contract . Worked out a lot cheaper .