BMW 7 Series (2002-2009)
Price new: from £52,750 (in today’s money: £78,749) Price now: from £2500
Depreciation has always haunted BMW 7 Series models, but none more so than Chris Bangle’s most Marmite iteration: the E65 of 2002.
Time has taken the edge off these barges’ idiosyncratic looks, but they still won’t be to everyone’s taste. Still, you can’t fault the amount of car on offer.
The 730d has a few reliability woes, so we would aim for a tidy 730i and enjoy that creamy straight six.
Alfa Romeo 166 (1999-2005)
Price new: from £23,376 (in today’s money: £37,175) Price now: from £1500
You might be surprised by just how rare the Alfa 166 is becoming. And given how much its predecessor, the 164, goes for, it’s becoming deserving of a long, hard look.
Choose a super-creamy, pre-facelift 24-valve V6 model, revel in that gorgeous interior and enjoy. Okay, so it isn’t quite as sexy as the 156 – or the 164, for that matter – but it’s still a looker.
Busted Xenon headlights are expensive to replace. On a four-pot variant, check that the timing belt has been done recently.
Audi A8 (1994-2003)
Price new: from £35,530 (in today’s money: £62,681) Price now: from £2000
Another future classic in the making, the original A8 does smooth, suave sophistication like few other luxury cars.
A firm ride is its only real downside; inside, the A8 is built like a tank, while its aluminium bodywork makes it relatively light and, therefore, reasonably efficient for such a big old car.
Dents and scratches are common, so check the bodywork carefully.
Citroën C6 (2005-2012)
Price new: from £29,545 (in today’s money: £40,484) Price now: from £3000
The C6 can make a strong claim to the title of ‘last proper Citroën’. Interestingly, it aped the CX more than the DS, with its two-box fastback shape, convex rear screen and curved seats.
But it was the suspension that gave the C6 its fabulous ride. It is now at a very accessible price and, with classic status assured, values are bound to start rising again.
C6s are hard on their suspension components, which can be expensive to replace, so if you’re tempted, listen for clonking and knocking.
Lexus LS 400 (1990-2000)
Price new: £37,095 (in today’s money: £73,084) Price now: from £1000
It was the LS 400 that proved the Japanese could build a pukka luxury car. Its smoothness, quietness, technology and above, all, reliability would have knocked rivals into a cocked hat – if Lexus had had the image to match.
Prices are still in the bargain bin, but don’t expect that to be the case forever.
Rover 800 (1991-1998)
Price new: from £19,245 (in today’s money: £37,916) Price now: from £300
It would seem Alan Partridge knew a thing or two about picking a car, as the 800 remains one of the most rewarding luxury bargains to own, especially in Sterling form.
With smooth V6s, leather-lined interiors, plenty of toys and smart looks, there are few cheaper banger barges.
Mercedes S-Class (1999-2005)
Price new: from £43,640 (in today’s money: £69,402) Price now: from £1250
Once the best car in the world, the W220 is still arguably the best-looking of the S-Class bunch.
It’s relatively ubiquitous on the second-hand market, too, which has driven down prices. Electrical faults aren’t unknown, though, nor is rust on old Mercs of this era.
Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit (1980-1995)
Price new: £52,113 (in today’s money: £183,314) Price now: from £8000
It might not look as elegant as earlier Rollers, but the Silver Spirit still has plenty of presence on the road and the same sense of cultured breeding from within.
It also gives you that whopping great V8, which means it will need a drink every time you turn your back but will deliver effortless grunt whenever you please.
Then there’s that fabulous ride quality. Buy sensibly and this is a classy old Roller for under 10 grand – something that never loses its appeal.
Jaguar XJ (1997-2003)
Price new: from £34,475 (in today’s money: £57,580) Price now: from £1500
It’s cramped inside, thirsty and has the potential for big bills if the timing chain tensioners haven’t been replaced with steel items. But one look at the X308 XJ and all is forgiven.
A good XJ8 drives like a dream and, with the interior slathered in wood and leather, it’s a delightful place to spend time. For the ultimate in opulence, pick a Daimler V8.
Renault Vel Satis (2002-2007)
Price new: from £20,730 (in today’s money: £30,947) Price now: from £1000
It’s not a looker, but the Vel Satis’s interior offers some of the best in light, airy, Gallic-style luxury, while punchy engines mean it’s reasonably good to drive too.
Of course, with those looks, prices have been beaten to within an inch of their lives, which means a good Vel Satis can now be had for peanuts.
Go for one of the V6 engines for the ultimate in effortless bargery.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll find the idea of a bargain-basement luxury barge endlessly enthralling.
It isn’t hard to see why. They’re cars that were once available to the select few but are now within the grasp of mere mortals like us. They are sometimes little more than a few years old, often still equipped with the latest technology and, crucially, usually available for a fraction of their original price.
So what if they cost a bit more than your usual hatchback to run? The fact they are near the bottom of their depreciation curve and about to bounce back again should more than make up for that.
Flick through our gallery above for top luxury picks that'll let you live the champagne lifestyle – even if you only have beer money to spend.