Find a nice one and you’re onto a winner, but bear in mind that many M5shave had a hard life, so look for worn tyres, brakes, clutches and steering, along with crash damage. Insurance costs will be high, too, especially if you live in a loaded area.
Still, even a 16-year- old M5 is something of a mobile miracle — a car with towering performance allied to all the practicalities and most of the luxury of an executive saloon.
3 - Jaguar S-Type R (2002-2007)
From unpromising beginnings, the S-Type became the car that pioneered some brilliant late-model driver’s Jags. It appeared in 1999, styled in the old Jaguar way and half-cooked in the old British motor industry way. But it was soon revised when comparison tests decided it fell far behind BMW’s 5 Series.
The 400bhp (later 420bhp) 4.2-litre,auto-only supercharged V8 R model was in showrooms from late 2002. It helped rescue the car’s reputation because its performance — a governed 155mph and 0-60mph in 5.6sec — was matched by terrific, Mike Cross-developed handling.
Search carefully and you’ll find full- history cars for less than £5000. For a really quick Jag, that’s value.
4 - Mercedes-Benz CL600 (2003-2005)
These big Merc coupés come in various shapes and sizes, but the ones we prefer are the 1999-2006 C215 models, with a particular eye on the 493bhp twin-turbo V12-powered cars from 2003. To our eye this coupé looks even smarter than the much pricier model that followed.
That monster engine also made its way into the W220 S-Class saloon for a while, presenting you with a nice choice, because saloons and coupés are about equal in price, that being £5k-£10k, depending on mileage, condition and your bargaining power.
Savour the stats: 590lb ft, 0-60mph in 4.8sec and 155mph. And if you ever see more than 4000rpm on the tacho, you’re going too fast. Wafting hits new heights.
5 - Audi S4 Cabriolet (2004-2007)
There’s a confusion of Audi S4 cabrios on the market, but we reckon the best is the third-generation B6. It was built on a new platform from 2004 and powered by Audi’s ubiquitous 4.2-litre V8 engine, whose 339bhp flows through a standard quattro four-wheel drive system.
Audis are beautifully built, and these engines are hard to abuse, so if you can find an unmolested version you’ll have a car thattolerates mileages. Odo readings above 100,000 should hold no fears.
Service costs will look high against the purchase price, and you’ll be wise to get an insurance quote before buying. This car’s compact size and sheer grunt (0-60mph in 5.9sec and a top speed reined in at 155mph) mean that brakes and tyres take a hammering, too. But buy well and these cars are brilliant.
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