Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 19 June
Summer is here which means only one thing - it's time to buy an Alfa Romeo Spider

We rain-cursed Brits, ironic bunch that we are, love convertibles. But with the summer seemingly here to stay (now I’ve done it), it’s time for a drop-top dive into the classifieds.

You can keep your Mazda MX-5s and Porsche Boxsters – this is a pick of left-field options, starting with the lesser-spotted Alfa Romeo Spider V6.

While the 2.0 Twin Spark versions are much more common, the V6 feels significantly more special, thanks to its powerful, raspy exhaust note.

The front-driven Spider is a fun steer, too, but it’s a pretty stunning specimen even as an ornament; that Pininfarina-penned two-seat wedge just has an effortless glamour to it.

This particular 3.0-litre 24-valve V6 is an early example of a variant that was around for only three years before being replaced in a facelift by a 3.2-litre V6. That later engine was even more exceptional, but you’re more likely to see Donald Trump in the crowd at a Greenpeace rally than find one of those in the classifieds. Better to hunt for the slightly more accessible 220bhp 3.0-litre to enjoy.

9 Alfa romeo spider v6 static front

This car appears well cared-for by an Alfista who has kept it in a garage for the past 12 months. It was cared for before that, too, with the crucial 60,000-mile timing belt change done and a full service history in the file.

Cross your fingers, but it appears that this generation of Spider hasn’t been dogged by reliability issues, either. Still, and even though it has a galvanised body, it would be wise of you to hunt for rust before buying.

This isn’t a no-brainer bargain, but it gives off a definite whiff of future classic. So if you do fork out for it, you should be able to enjoy its V6 and not worry about losing your investment.

8 Ford streetka static front

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Ford StreetKa, £700: The very cheapest way to get open-air kicks. Sure, it has a few exterior marks and quite a tired interior, but it has done just 53,000 miles since 2001 and has a 12-month MOT. That bulbous silhouette may not be to everyone’s taste, but what a steal.

7 Morgan 4 4 static front

Morgan 4/4, £29,000: Removing this car’s soft top gives a sense of adventure, because it may require several hours and help from others. But after that, you can enjoy the timeless pleasure only a Morgan provides, thanks to a rorty Ford Sigma engine and a snappy Mazda gearbox.

6 Abarth 124 spider static front

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Abarth 124 Spider, £13,850: Another Italian arachnid, and while it made a short and reportedly loss-making appearance, there’s lots to like about this turbocharged Mazda MX-5 cousin. Not least the fact that it costs little more than the Fiat version but is significantly more inspiring.

5 Ford mustang convertible static front

Ford Mustang Convertible, £24,000: Put the roof down and prepare for a mighty sonic onslaught from Ford’s thumping 5.0-litre V8. Just cover your eyes when paying for petrol. This tasteful example has a beige interior, heated and cooled leather seats, plus sensors and a camera for parking.

Auction watch

4 Citroen cx 25 gti turbo static front

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Citroen CX 25 GTi Turbo: The CX GTi Turbo is so fiercely rare that it’s surprising to see one at all, let alone one sold for a reasonable £6254. Its immaculate condition in the pictures seems backed up by plenty of paperwork and a trouble-free recent MOT. And what a car to cruise around in, with its angular snout and part-covered rear wheels creating a sublime profile. The interior looks particularly peachy, with its single-spoke wheel a striking centrepiece. The 2.5-litre intercooled turbo engine makes 166bhp and, after just 93k miles, should still have plenty left to offer.

Future classic

3 Ford focus rs static front

Ford Focus, £21,500: Alas, the Mk3 Ford Focus RS won’t have a successor, and so ends a chapter of cherished automotive history from a little corner of Essex. Nobody does a hot hatch like the Blue Oval. This precise thinking, you can bet, will make ST and RS versions of the Focus become ever-hotter property as the years go by and countless other rivals are culled in the name of CO2 emissions legislation. At £21,500, this Focus RS is at the bottom end of the Mk3 price range, which, as a measure of fast Ford popularity, is where prices for the Mk2 Focus RS top out.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a car for £1000 in which I can occasionally take some friends.

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2 Honda accord static front

Honda Accord 1.8 i-VTEC Sport, £750

1 Mitsubishi grandis static front

Mitsubishi Grandis 2.4 Elegance, £895

Mark Pearson: We all know that condition is king at this price level, and my ultra-reliable 2003 Honda Accord has both a below-average mileage for the year and a full service history. It will easily transport James’s four friends as well. Above all, though, my black car also comes with all the trimmings of the magnificent Type R version, with white dials, five-spoke alloys and a discreet rear wing. Lovely VTEC engine, too. What have you got, Felix?

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Felix Page: Sorry about my colleague’s manners, James. I know you’re a popular guy, so I’ve sourced this 2004 seven-seat Mitsubishi Grandis: one of the last cool MPVs. It’s well-equipped, packs a frisky but frugal 2.4-litre petrol engine and is exempt from London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone charge, so you can take your mates on a sightseeing tour around the capital. Best of all? It’s rarer than Mark’s station taxi, so you’re bound to make even more friends out of curious passers-by.

MP: No one will want to travel with you in an MPV, though. My saloon will woo the pants off these passers-by – although I wouldn’t want any strangers in my car right now, to be honest.

FP: Another win for the Grandis, then, with its socially distanced rear seats.

MP: Socially distanced looks, more like.

FP: If anything’s antisocial, it’s the boy-racer styling of your faux Type R. Come on then, James, what’s the Ruppert rabble going to ride around in?

Verdict: An Accord is the only way for me and my cohort to travel.


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Just Saying 19 June 2020

Fuel card.

I'd definitely Plumb for the Mustang if I'd still had a fuel card!
si73 19 June 2020

Left field convertibles? how

Left field convertibles? how about a soft top first generation Volvo C70. A lovely warbly five pot up front with a comfy well appointed interior, more GT than sports car, obviously, and, as you don't see many about anymore, pretty exclusive.