Currently reading: James Ruppert: Another look at high-mileage heroes
Following on from last week's article, our man looks at even more cars that won't give up the ghost

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that mileage doesn’t matter, condition does. However, a very high mileage certainly does indicate that a vehicle will last, and the owner deserves a medal for due care and attention.

Last week, I went through the results of Lease Loco’s Freedom of Information request to find the most common models with more than 750,000 miles. That went down well, so here are some more. 

If we’re going to cover the resilient Vauxhall Zafira (20 examples have managed the big mileage), why not find a quick one with a possible expiry date in the shape of a VXR? This is a purposeful-looking people carrier, and there aren’t that many about, most of them sold by private owners. For £5995, you and six others can get into a 58,000-mile, three-owner VXR in blue from 2007. Otherwise, examples of the older, cleaner-styled Turbo can be found cheaper and with marginal mileages for us to build on. I saw a 2005 Turbo GSi with 66,000 miles for £3800. 

As mentioned last week, you can always rely on a Volkswagen Golf to rack up the miles. They’re so well suited to diesel power, so I bet most of the 19 750,000-mile club members are 1.9 TDIs. In that case, let’s get ourselves a 2008 130,000-mile Bluemotion Tech Final Edition. You will pay £2250 for this one-owner example, which seems like excellent value to me, and London ULEZ exclusion is a factor here. 

Rather impressively, the Golf coupé, better known as the Audi TT, has 16 examples with 750,000 or more on their digital odometers. There are some wonderfully cheap examples around; I was rather taken by a 2003 Quattro with 168,000 miles and 14 previous owners, all for £1500. It was a dealer car, presumably a part-exchange, so it has to be roadworthy and fairly sorted. 

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Lease Loco’s request also covered vehicles with 250,000 miles-plus. Sweeping aside a seven-nation army of vans, there are strong showings here from the Toyota Prius (3817), Volkswagen Passat (2456), Skoda Octavia (2109), Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1805) and Ford Mondeo (1402). 

What a lot of those cars have in common is popularity among taxi drivers. Clearly there’s only one old hybrid, and it wears Toyota badges. It’s not that roomy, but all the important bits keep on going, although eventually the drive battery is going to wear out. 

Therefore, a Passat or Octavia estate is a better quarter-million-mile option, I reckon. I would take a 2000 Octavia 1.8 Turbo petrol with 80,000 miles to build on over what remains of my life. It’s handsome, it’s practical and it will have a certain turn of laggy turbo speed. The perfect mile-muncher, then.

What we almost bought this week

Chevrolet C10: This California-born Chevrolet C10 pick-up truck has been to an American specialist for maintenance after notching up 88,000 miles. At £15,950, we probably wouldn’t have any spare pennies left over for Christmas, with our Boxing Day dinner money going towards the fuel costs for its 7.4-litre V8. 

Tales from Ruppert’s garage

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BMW 320, mileage 85,739: The Baby Shark has been living outdoors while I do things in the garage, and it hasn’t been too happy about that at all. Starting has always been something of a chore, but now it needs proper warming up, especially after the arrival of morning frost. The beginnings of rust at the edges means it needs to be inside at its time of life. Most embarrassingly, it never made it out of the drive with Mrs Bangernomics aboard; I had to coast and push it back into position before taking a more reliable German out. So I put the battery on charge, cleared the garage and now shield it from the weather. Winter setting for the carbs, then.

Bangerpedia: A to Z 

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C is for Chrysler Crossfire: The Crossfire looks a bit like a cut-price Batmobile but is in fact an out-of-date Mercedes-Benz CLK. It came with just the one engine, a 3.2-litre petrol V6, so it doesn’t hang about – and it can handle the power, being rather underrated in that respect. It’s best to buy from someone who has driven it to the shops rather than chipped it to Mars. Electrical issues and ECU failure can strike, but mostly there’s not much to worry about. Just £1995 will buy you a 2006 car with 74,000 miles and six previous owners.

Readers’ questions

Question: Your Used Buying Guide on the Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI was really useful, but now I’m struggling to find a car to buy. Have you any advice? Allam Deep, via email

Answer: Although the Mk2 Golf GTI is now a collectable, it’s not especially rare. Project cars are common on sites like eBay and Gumtree, while those with fewer issues appear often in the classifieds. For pristine cars, check auction sites such as Car and Classic. These will be considerably pricier, but you can be sure that they’ve been looked after by caring enthusiasts. The best Golf GTIs of this age can fetch up to £14,000, but prices may well have risen since our guide was written last year. JW

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Question: My wife and I want a classic American sports car. What can we get for £5000? Tim Lyons, Suffolk

Answer: Be cautious when looking for classics in this price range. There are cars available, but you should do some in-depth research on each one to check on condition and mechanical-related issues before splashing the cash. We found a 1965 Ford Mustang “in excellent condition” for £3899 and a 1965 Plymouth Fury II for £4451 with a nicely reupholstered interior. If you stretch your budget a bit, there’s a lot more available that would give you peace of mind. For instance, we found a 1980 Pontiac Firebird that had done fewer than 25,000 miles for £6600. JW

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LP in Brighton 30 November 2021

Maybe these cars simply have unreliable distance recorders. I would not be surprised if digital odometers sometimes have the odd hiccup and add on the occasional spurious digit!

Bob Cat Brian 30 November 2021
I find these numbers of >750k miles cars astonishing, 20 Zafiras I can just about understand as ex minicabs, but 16 Audi TTs with that mileage is bizarre.