Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 16 August
Less than £3000 for a bona fide BMW performance icon? Just don't expect fuel costs to be as cheap

If you think today’s 8 Series is an eyeful, its forebear of 1990 to 1999 made an even bigger splash. We found a 1999-reg 840Ci Sport, the version with the later 4.4-litre V8 engine that arrived in 1995. 

BMW 840Ci, £2995: It has done 100,000 miles and costs just £2995. It must be whiffy at that money and there’s certainly no mention of service history. Still, it could be worth a punt… 

The 4.0-litre motor, the 4.4’s predecessor, suffered problems with its Nikasil bore liners. Most cars were repaired under warranty and the rest scrapped, so if you find one, it’s likely to be okay and they can be cheap. 

We spotted a 1994-reg 4.0-litre with 140,000 miles for £5600. It’s not as cheap as our £2995 4.4-litre find, but in 2006 it had a new engine at a cost of £11,000. It has since had a gearbox rebuild (£2500) and a diff rebuild (£1000). 

Bmw 8 series 0

If you want a V12 engine, then there’s the 850i and later 850Ci, and the more powerful 850CSi. We saw a 1993-reg 850Ci with 118,000 miles for £12,995. If you can find one, a good CSi can be as much as £60,000. 

But back to that cheap-as-chips 4.4-litre 840Ci. If we were serious, we’d like to know the timing chain tensioner had been replaced. Then we’d look for smoke on start-up and on the overrun, suggesting problems ranging from poor fuelling to worn piston rings.

Next, we’d want to be sure the temperature gauge was sitting properly and would be worried if the diff was noisy because parts are hard to source. Rust can break out on the jacking points and rear wheel arches, so we’d check these, too. 

Audi a3 3

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Audi A3 3.2 Sport quattro, £2150: “Don’t buy this A3 if you’re expecting an entertaining drive,” our 2003 review concluded. Not this particular example (a 2004-reg with 98,000 miles) but the model in general. That conclusion still stands but we’re willing to make allowances at this price. 

Seat ibiza sport coupe

Seat Ibiza Cupra 1.4 TSI 180 Bocanegra, £5985: The Bocanegra isn’t the sharpest hot hatch, but with 178bhp, it can rattle off 0-62mph in 7.2sec. It’s rare but we found this 2010-reg with 68,000 miles. It has a seven-speed DSG auto and Seat’s XDS system that mimics a limited-slip diff, both standard kit. 

Rover coupe

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Rover Coupé 1.8 VVC, £1795: Here’s a rare thing: a Tomcat free of rust. At least, that’s what the seller says. They also say it has a huge service history and recent work includes a new timing belt and water pump, and a rebuilt head. It’s a 1998 car that has done 102,000 miles.

Mercedes 300 ce

Mercedes-Benz 300 CE, £14,985: They don't make ’em like this any more… The CE is a wonderful-looking motor and built like a battleship, although front wings and undersides can rot. Fortunately, this one, a 1989- reg with 66,000 miles and full Merc service history, looks to be pristine.

Auction watch

Honda CR-X Coupé: Cars like this Mk2 CR-X (the model was produced from 1988 to 1991) make you wonder where Honda’s mojo has been hiding all these years. It was an exquisite thing that came in 1.5, 1.6 16v and 1.6 VTEC forms. This one, a 1990 1.6 16v with just 46,000 miles and described as being in very good condition, made £6216 at auction. 

Honda crx

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Meanwhile, if you’ve another £1500 to invest, there’s an unmolested and rust-free 1991-reg 1.6 VTEC with 100,000 miles, and a new cambelt and water pump, going for £7750 in the small ads. Good VTECs are rare, so it’s worth checking out. 

Future classic

Jaguar x type estate

Jaguar X-Type 3.0 V6 Sovereign AWD Auto Estate, £6949: It’s a brave person (or idiot) who proposes an X-Type as a future classic but one day, when all Jags are electrified, XJSs have crumbled to dust and all the E-Types are locked in strong rooms, Jaguar’s orphan motor may just have its day. Not all versions, obviously, but possibly ones like this 3.0 V6 Sovereign estate. The 230bhp V6 is good for 0-62mph in 7.3sec and Sovereign spec brings proper Jag kit, including leather, walnut veneer, powered seats and climate control. Our 2005 car has done 42,000 miles and has full Jaguar service history. 

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: I want a fun yet small automatic car for £6000 or less.


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2005 Mini Cooper S Mini Convertible, £4995


2007 Chrysler Crossfire 3.2 Roadster, £5950

Max Adams: Let’s face it: small, fun cars are a bit of a Mini speciality, and a convertible version only makes the experience more vivid. Show us what you’ve got, Mark. 

Mark Pearson: This beautiful and immaculate Chrysler Crossfire will blow your socks off, Max. It’s got a 3.2-litre V6 under its fruity bonnet – think 0-60mph in 6sec – and its sheer style will make passers-by swoon. It’s Fun with a capital F. 

MA: F for flabby more like. That’s just a mouldy old Mercedes SLK underneath. My perky little Cooper S will run rings around your car in the bends. Plus mine is supercharged. 

MP: In fact, the rear-wheel-drive Crossfire is a remarkably stiff old Hector and capable of over 1g in the bends: that’s fun. It’s Brit designed and built by Karmann. My one has a low mileage and full history and is ready to roll. Next to all that, I’m afraid your Mini is a boring bag of predictable old bones. 

MA: Err, I think you’re ignoring the fact that mine has done fewer miles than yours and also has a full service history. It has tonnes of options, too: heated seats, Harman Kardon stereo, sat-nav, fashionable driving lights on the grille and bonnet stripes. 

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MP: Yawn. Remind me again: is yours limited to 155mph? Ah, no, I thought not… 

MA: With 215bhp, I think you’ll need the assistance of gravity to reach that speed.

Verdict: Let’s see: a Mini or an old SLK knock-off… King’s Road here I come. 

Read more

Used car buying guide: BMW 8 Series (E31)

Past masters: BMW 8 Series review​

Used car buying guide: Chrysler Crossfire​

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405line 16 August 2019

Robert DiNiro's waiting...

His character had a nice 850i in the film "The Score", a cool and individualistic motor and quite an entertaining movie to boot.

si73 16 August 2019

Love the rover coupe and the

Love the rover coupe and the crx, shame coupes are a thing of the past.

Takeitslowly 16 August 2019

si73 wrote:

si73 wrote:

Love the rover coupe and the crx, shame coupes are a thing of the past.


With all known niches filled to overflowing (until they invent many new ones), you might think the makers would jump at the chance to fill an empty vessel. Come on Ford, Vauxhall/PSA, let's see you harness your component buying power and using your design studios to offer us what we are badly missing...a small, light, well light-ish, stylish, customisable, reads, spending lots on options, insurance friendly puma/tigra, but better these days.


Do your car guys read this august journal?. There are drawing boards waiting to be busy at.

LP in Brighton 17 August 2019

Well, there's the new Ford Puma...

Only joking! But we've had the Peugeot RCZ and Honda CRZ which no-one bought, and the Hyundai Veloster which is no longer imported. It seems that manufacturers have decided that we (in the UK at least) no longer want affordable coupes. Today's practical SUV has replaced yesterday's unloved coupe. We've probably only got ourselves to blame for its demise, for not buying enough of them.