Currently reading: James Ruppert: Ideal buys if your old man's a van man
If you want practicality in the city, a van-shaped MPV, Ford B-Max, is perfect
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4 mins read
29 June 2021

Dad vans, anyone? They really are all the mobile box on wheels that you will ever need. That’s probably why the owner of a Skoda Yeti, whose car was hit by a careless driver while parked, is now looking for a van-shaped MPV to replace it.

He’s part of a family of four who like going camping, so they need lots of space and would prefer an automatic gearbox if possible. And as they live within London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, he wants a petrol.

His budget is relatively high, at up to £18,000, and he likes the idea of a Citroën Berlingo or Vauxhall Combo Life. But I’m sure I can come up with alternatives for a more modest outlay.

Click here to buy your next used car from Autocar

The Ford B-Max is a pretty decent mid-sized MPV. I came across a 2017 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium Navigator with 26,000 miles for £9495 at a main dealer. It had just one previous owner and seemed as good as new, but our reader wanted an automatic to cope with city living, so I switched my attention to a 2015 1.6 Titanium Powershift with 40,000 miles at just over £7000. It offered worse fuel consumption, but that’s the price you pay for having an auto.

Here’s a weird one: the Ssangyong Tivoli. It’s only weird because not enough of us think about this ultra-reliable little bus, which I consider to be pretty good to drive, in that no one actually cares how it performs.

It also comes in the correct flavour for our search, as the 1.6 e-XGi ELX auto. These little beauties are sensational value compared with cars from the mainstream brands, and there can also be some residual manufacturer warranty left. I found a 2018 example with just over 14,000 miles for £10,995. This is a top-spec job with a full dealer service history, plus four years’ worth of cover left.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is anathema to me, but some people like the idea, so let’s go there for a bit. A reasonably cool-looking 218i from 2017 with 40,000 miles and just the one owner isn’t half bad at £12,700 from an independent dealer. And while it’s style over real substance, a 2019 218 M Sport with just 17,000 miles might well appeal for £16,800.

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I really do like the unpretentious and utterly minibus dimensions and Postman Patness of the Renault Kangoo. A lot of them have been adapted for wheelchair users, but I did find a standard 2010 1.6 Expression auto with 54,000 miles for a shade under £6000.

There are clearly an awful lot of dad van options, from the purely practical to the expensively stylish. I’m really not sure which direction this decision will go.

Tales from Ruppert's garage

MRD Ride-On Mower, mileage - several hours: I’ve fitted my third battery of 2021, this time in my lawnmower. It’s an MTM cheapie I picked up a few years back to replace a proper 1970s Westwood that finally expired after 25 years of bodging. It’s colour-coded by accident to match my Land Rover’s Limestone livery. The Thor engine is Chinese and just as rough as a Briggs & Stratton one, but it has been okay. However, it has had fuelling issues. I cleaned out the inline filter, which was a sealed unit thing. The local tractor-fixer got me a new filter and battery, and it has since been back to normal, cutting grass. Ideally, you will never hear about it again. Unless it plays up…

Reader's ride

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Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird: Cheers to Chris, who has had cars featured here before but now has sent me this fascinating contraption. He says: “Reader’s Ride? I don’t think you’ve featured a bike before, but here goes. This is my 2003 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird, not long ago the holder of the World’s Fastest Bike sew-on patch. It enables me to join the horizon in 2.8sec and eventually hit 180mph, all while being about as easy to ride as a moped. Where else could you buy that kind of performance for only two grand? Bangernomics works for bikes, too.”

Readers' question

Question: My Porsche 718 Boxster makes a skipping or rubbing noise when I turn left at low speeds. Should I be worried? Alex Johnson, Leicester

Answer: This sounds like a classic case of the unnerving but relatively harmless Ackermann effect. It occurs when the car’s tyres are at a low temperature while it’s being driven at low speeds (especially on larger wheels) and takes place because the wheels are moving at different speeds. In the Boxster’s case, the front left tyre is moving quicker than the front right tyre, causing this skipping sensation. JW

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Question: I’m looking for a reliable 4x4 for running around my farm and into the village. What can I get for £5000? Simon Maxwell, via email

Answer: If you need to lug loads from field to field, how about a well-specced Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck for £4995? Alternatively, if you want something a bit smaller, there are plenty of decent Nissan X-Trails, Skoda Yetis, Suzuki Jimnys and Toyota RAV4s about for less than £5000. You can be sure that some of these will have been bashed about by fellow farmers, though, so make sure to thoroughly inspect any car for hidden damage before you buy it. JW

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Zapetero 2 July 2021

Best vans, cette Le citroen tourer business cLass./