The seller of this charming Jeep Wrangler TJ is being cautiously optimistic with their price, but it could still be a good deal
John Evans
19 July 2019

We’ve had a soft spot for the Wrangler TJ of 1996- 2006 ever since we ran one here as a long-termer. It was the popular 4.0 Sahara with a removable hard-top. There’s a 2.5 petrol, too, but the 4.0-litre, although thirstier, is the engine to have. 

Jeep Wrangler TJ 4.0 Sahara, £6500: We found a 2001/51-reg 4.0 Sahara with 89,000 miles for £6500. It sounds like strong money for a private sale, but never underestimate the power of a handful of readies and a determined stare. 

It has a full service history, too, the last fettle being a major seeing-to less than 100 miles ago. Surprisingly, the seller hasn’t thought to put a year’s MOT on it. It expires this month. That’s fine: it’s the perfect excuse to chip the price further still. 

So we’re interested. Time to poke around. First, we’ll check the water pump isn’t leaking and that oil isn’t weeping from the engine’s rear main seal and crankcase vents. We’ll inspect the exhaust manifold for cracks and the radiator seams for splits and leaks. 

Our Verdict

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Turning to the transmission, we’ll check the synchros are sound (early ’boxes can have issues here). The TJ hasn’t the ground clearance of a Defender, so we’ll peer underneath, looking for dents on the fuel tank. The coil springs can sag and the ball joints on the ends of the Panhard rods wear. On the test drive, we’ll feel for the infamous death wobble caused by a poor front steering and suspension set-up. 

The TJ has a galvanised body, so things should be rust-free there. The chassis may show some light rusting, but the rear end of the frame and the rear axle can suffer badly. Generally, imports aren’t as well protected as official UK-bound cars.

Audi RS2, £39,950: RS2 prices have been rising fast, so we weren’t surprised by what this private seller is asking for his minter. The mileage is high – 162,000 – but it’s a much-fancied car with full specialist history, plus it has been displayed at Goodwood.

Kia Magentis GS 2.0, £1795: The old Magentis of 2006-09 was a competent family saloon that never let anyone down. We found a sweet 2009/09-reg car with 58,000 miles and full service history for £1795. If you want to get from A to B every day, this is what you need.

Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR, £10,999: Great looking and with a 276bhp turbo motor, the GTC VXR isn’t as sharp to drive as the best in class, but it’s quick and grippy on B-roads and a comfortable motorway cruiser. This 2012/62-reg car with 26,000 miles is a pound shy of £11,000. 

Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech Active, £16,995: The 3008 is credited with polishing Peugeot’s image, and used ones are holding their prices well. Still, this approved used 12,000-mile, 2017/67 1.2 PureTech Active looks good at £16,995. We also found an 11k-mile 2017/66 1.6 BlueHDi for £16,000.

Auction watch

BMW 316: Here’s a sweet E30, in this case the cooking 316 two-door. It was registered in 1989 and has done 105,000 miles but is none the worse for it. The car was owned by an Aston Martin engineer for much of its life and arrived in the ring in, it’s claimed, ‘superb’ condition.

The E30 will forever be associated with the getrich-quick yuppie generation, with their shoulder pads and brick-sized phones. Can’t imagine what they saw in it given that the little BMW is perfectly proportioned and as honest in concept and execution as they come. This one went for £3679.

Get it while you can

Volkswagen e-Up, price new - £20,150 (after plug-in grant), price now - £8990: Volkswagen’s new ID 3 electric hatchback, due next year, is likely to cost from around £26,000. If, however, you’re itching to get into an electric Vee-Dub ASAP but only have a few grand in the bank, what is there?

We turned up an e-Up, VW’s titchy electric city car, for £8990. The approved used motor, which until recently was priced at £9990, was registered in 2014. It’s done 45,000 miles, proving, to some extent, that it’s a credible daily driver. New, it had a three-year warranty, but the battery was covered for eight, which is reassuring. 

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a wild camping motor for £6000.

1989 Citroen 2CV, £4500

2000 Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado, £3995

Mark Pearson: Nothing has the simplistic majesty of a 2CV. It’s a rural masterpiece, unlike your hideously butch Toyota. 

Max Adams: I’ve gone with this lovely Land Cruiser simply because you can’t go camping without a compass, and this car has one built into the dashboard. 

MP: Whatever. My car has removable seats and long-travel suspension and it can traverse a ploughed field without breaking any eggs – an invaluable asset on a camping trip. 

MA: I think you’re going to get egg on your face, because that’s a perishable food item. You need tinned food for camping, and my car can carry an apocalypse-worth of food across any sort of terrain, because it’s got four-wheel drive and diff locks. 

MP: More to go wrong. You’ll never make it to the campsite. 

MA: Reliability is Toyota’s bread and butter. Mine will make it to any campsite in the world. Even that one on Everest. Probably. 

MP: I have a fold-back roof for sunny days and a flat-twin engine of immense charm – and charm is what camping is all about. That Toyota is no picnic! 

MA: It always rains when you go for a picnic, so what you need is a torquey 3.0-litre diesel engine to get you out of the mud. Nice ref to that old Toyota MPV, though.

Verdict: Wild not mild camping, Mark, and into the wild is exactly where the Colorado was built to go.

Read more

Used car buying guide: Jeep Wrangler​

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19 July 2019

What sort of actual range can you genuinely get from an e-up? As a city car it's quite an appealing prospect.

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