Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 5 June
Older Lexus models are renowned for their reliability, but the LS400's 4.0-litre V8 delivers on fun as well

It’s showing 155,000 miles? Pah! The 4.0-litre V8 in this famously durable luxury car is just getting warmed up.

Lexus LS400, £3000: The LS400 was the car with which Lexus announced itself to the automotive world in 1989. A few years ago, there were quite a few examples knocking around on the cheap, but such is their sound reliability that buyers were snapping them up, running them, and keeping them. Now their numbers are dwindling.

We found one for £3000 that isn’t without its faults. This owner has had it since November 2014. At its last MOT, in May 2019, it sounded like the tyres needed replacing, and in the past year, they have been, along with fresh brake pads and discs. All other minor advisories (dodgy headlight, ropey numberplate) seem to have been straightened out, too, and the cambelt was changed at 133k miles.

There’s a small crack in the lower right-hand corner of the windscreen – no great drama – but the other problems are only cosmetic. It has a few gentle scrapes and marks on the bodywork to show for its 22 years on the road, but all could be dealt with easily. We’d still want to check it’s not serious surface corrosion, though.

In any case, it’s inside where the luxury really shows. A sea of beautiful beige leather and wood veneers awaits the plucky buyer, and an early infotainment system (with sat-nav!) that is almost certainly easier to use than anything you’ll find in a modern Lexus.

Electric seats, cruise control and an exquisitely wafty ride should make this a solid luxury cruiser. But we’d want to ensure it would glide through a fresh MOT before striking a deal.

98 Btbwd lexus ls400 classified ad

Mercedes-Benz S500 L AMG Line, £34,000: For a traditional slice of luxury car, try this S-Class. This long-wheelbase version is powered by a 4.7-litre 449bhp V8 and has sailed through its life thus far with no problems. It’s even being offered with three years’ nationwide servicing from a dealer.

96 Mercedes s class

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Bentley Turbo R, £15,000: This classic, hand-built 296bhp winged B has a “rare” colour, according to the listing, but is it actually a respray job? We’d want to see this shade in person – but there’s full service history available, which is a must for any Turbo R purchase.

95 Btbwd bentley turbo r

BMW 745Le, £54,000: This plug-in hybrid offers a modern take on the luxury car. It has done just 2500 miles but is tens of thousands of pounds below its new price. You’ll love or hate that grille, but the way it fuses performance with luxury and low emissions will win your adoration.

93 Btbwd bmw 745 le

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Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, £10,000: It comes with a fresh MOT, but with an old Roller, you can never tell when the next crippling repair bill will appear – even if this car’s history suggests no obvious horrors. For £10,000, even just sitting in that beautiful tan leather interior would be worth it.

94 Btbwd rolls royce silver spirit


Citroen 2CV6 Dolly: Who can fail to be charmed by a 2CV? A fine, rust-free example typically starts from the £5500 mark on the used market, so this 2CV6 Dolly, which passed through auction almost £1000 cheaper than that, caught our eye. It’s said to have had three owners since it was first bought in 1989 and has been in storage since 2014.

At its last MOT, in August 2019, its tyres were worse for wear – to be expected after sitting in a garage – but nothing in the advisories suggests it’s a rust bucket. If it is all in good shape, then this dashing 99,000-mile two-tone Dolly could have been well worth a punt.

92 Btbwd auction watch 2cv

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Ford Fiesta ST200, £12,500: The new three-cylinder Fiesta ST is among the very best junior hot hatches. But is it better than its predecessor? Some argue not. The old four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine was a firecracker; the handling was sublime; and while the ride was firm, it wasn’t too taxing to live with. It was one of the all-time great hot hatches.

The run-out ST200 gave a bit more poke, revised the suspension and fine-tuned the ST’s excellent formula. It was pricey at the time, but now £12,500 for a tidy one seems good value for a hot hatch legend that will be long sought after.

91 Btbwd future classic fiesta st200


The brief: Find me a fun car for £7000, please.

MARK PEARSON Phwoarr! Ruddy hell, a Honda S2000 for less than £7k – it’s just like the old days. Felix, I’ve got a wonderful 237bhp, 8300rpm, 2.0-litre VTEC engine here, a vivid screamer that can potter like a hatchback and then hammer like a racer at the switch of a cam profile. Zero to 60mph in 6.3sec. Have I mentioned the slick six-speed ’box and Torsen limited-slip diff yet, or the 50/50 weight distribution? What you got, old cock?

FELIX PAGE Crikey, you’ll make mincemeat out of everything else at the Friday night shopping centre meet-up. Meanwhile, I’ve gone for a two-seater with less of an image problem. Engineering legend Gordon Murray loves the Smart Roadster, and so do I. Light, nimble and cheap to run, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Plus, this is the Brabus version, so it has 101bhp. More than enough for a sub-800kg car, thank you.

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89 Btbwd smart brabus roadster

MP Hmmm, remind me again: what’s the gearbox like in that car? Oh, yes, I remember now! That’ll soon wipe the smile off your face. And luggage space? Did I mention my huge boot, and front/mid-engine layout? Oh, and the super-quick steering?

FP I’ve no need to worry about changing gear: I can just keep it pinned wherever I go. And boot space? Not a huge concern of mine when I’m out for a proper Sunday morning blat.

MP Sounds more like you’re heading for that Friday night shopping centre meet-up! Well, James knows best. He’s got a beard, after all. James?

JAMES RUPPERT'S VERDICT: I’ll take the adult-sized Honda.

90 Btbwd honda s2000


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MrJ 5 June 2020

Love that Lexus. Its design

Love that Lexus. Its design and demeanour is so much... calmer... than the wango-tango Lexi of today.

Otherwise, I'll take either the Smart or S2000, the latter being just about the last Honda with decent styling.

jason_recliner 5 June 2020

Those LS400s still Look Superb

That's the thing about Japanese styling.  It might be a bit surprising at first, even confrontational, but it usually still looks right 20 or 30 years later.  And that LS400 is pretty much perfect.

artill 5 June 2020

jason_recliner wrote:

jason_recliner wrote:

That's the thing about Japanese styling.  It might be a bit surprising at first, even confrontational, but it usually still looks right 20 or 30 years later.  And that LS400 is pretty much perfect.

Agreed, and i wouldnt mind betting it will still be going strong after the much newer BMW and Merc shown have gone to meet the crusher.