Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 23 August
New, the Volkswagen Corrado was referred to as 'the people's Porsche', which means you don't pay over the odds today

At the last count Volkswagen had five SUVs in its ranks but, if you ignore its R and GTI models, no traditional sports cars. Rewind to 1989 and the company had no SUVs but two sports cars: the Scirocco and Corrado

Volkswagen Corrado, £6000: Today the Corrado, which was dropped in 1995, three years after the Scirocco, is the more sought-after, but either in good nick is worth having. 

The 2.9 VR6 is the most plentiful Corrado, and prices begin at £3000 for a high-miler. The potent 1.8 G60 is rare, partly because its supercharger had a tendency to self-destruct. The 1.8 16v and 2.0 16v versions were the bread and butter but again, few remain. That said, we found a 1990 1.8 16v with 82,000 miles and full service history for £6440. 

The remaining model is the 2.0 8v. Like most eight-valve engines of the time, its power was more immediate than the peakier 16-valve’s. To our delight we stumbled across a one-owner, 1996 2.0 8v with 54,000 miles and full service history (22 service stamps in the book) for £6000. 

Vw corrado 0

What to check? A faulty idle stabilisation control valve can cause erratic tickover (replacements are available). With the gearbox still cold, we’d feel for graunchy first and second gear selection. On the test drive, we’d expect some looseness from droplinks and suspension arms. 

More serious is the threat of rust. Front wings and sills corrode, although the seller claims the bodywork is in good condition. Fortunately, the headlights and foglights look clear – replacement units are rare and expensive. Finally, we’d check the dynamic spoiler rises and falls, and inside, that the round heating dials aren’t broken. 

Chrysler sebring convertible


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Chrysler Sebring Convertible, £3750: Perhaps not Chrysler’s finest hour, but today, with the sun blazing, this Sebring cabrio is tempting. It’s a genuine four-seater, too. The 2008/08-reg car has done 67,000 miles. There’s no mention of service history, but it looks pretty straight.

Vauxhall ampera

Vauxhall Ampera Electron, £10,690: Vauxhall’s trail-blazing plug-in hybrid could travel 33.4 miles on electric power. Using its 148bhp 1.4 engine and regen assistance, it returned 54.2mpg overall. This 2012-reg Electron version has done 78,000 miles. New, it cost £31k post-grant.

Lancia beta

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Lancia Beta S2, £4990: Here’s a rare thing: a rust-free Lancia – and what a pretty one it is. So many Betas have been scrapped that this 50k-mile 1983 example is gold dust. It’s a left-hooker but that just makes it more authentic and all the excuse you need to have that Riviera holiday. 

Daimler double six

Daimler Double Six, £5495: If Andrew Frankel’s V12 tribute got you thinking, why not try your luck with this? It’s a 1990/G with 78k miles, restored in ’07. It’s just had a gearbox and oil service, plugs and fuel pipes. It’s just been Waxoyled, so check there’s no rust underneath.

Auction watch 

Porsche 911 0

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Porsche 911 Carrera 4 (996): In case you’re wondering, yes, this 911 has had a new intermediate shaft bearing. The 996 of 1998-2004 has such a poor reputation – in particular pre-facelift cars such as this one – that without it, it would probably have been knocked down at least by the price of the bearing job, not to mention a rear main seal (which can also let go). The car showed 85,000 miles, was registered in 1999 and sold or £10,000. Its four previous owners seem to have taken care of it, if the 12 service stamps plus sundry later service receipts are anything to go by. 

Future classic

Abarth spider

Abarth 124 Spider, £17,995: Everyone raves about its sister car, the Mazda MX-5, but the chances are that the Abarth 124 Spider will be the one people pay a premium for in years to come. Its 168bhp 1.4 MultiAir turbo develops maximum power earlier than the 2.0-litre unit in the Mazda, so you don't have to wring its neck anything like as hard. There’s a sports exhaust, Brembo brakes, Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip diff, too, but it’s the car’s Italian associations and its exclusivity that will attract future enthusiasts. And the fact that it isn't an MX-5. 

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me my first EV for less than £7k.

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Nissan Leaf (24kWh), £6995

Land rover childs series 1 minature replica childs series 1 minature replica 340033722 3

Toylander Land Rover Series I, £4150

Max Adams: Oh, crikey Mark. You appear to have taken John’s words way too literally and gone for something only a five-year-old can drive. 

Mark Pearson: John said to find him “my first EV”, so what we have here is a wonderful homage to the Series 1 Land Rover, beautifully made and fully electric, brand new and ideal for a spot of (very) light off-roading. It’s got lights, a folding windscreen, even a tow hook for a small trailer. 

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MA: That’s not a proper car. My Leaf, on the other hand, was praised for being as much when it came out back in 2013. You can put five real people in it, and it has a decent-sized boot. Plus my 24kWh example has a range of about 100 miles, not 10 laps of the back garden. 

MP: Have you driven that generation of Leaf? You wouldn’t want to go 100 miles in it, believe me. You’d be happy to attend any fifth birthday party in my Landie, though, or be dropped off outside nursery or the local zoo. And what better way to acquire the necessary off-road skills a budding young farmer will need as he or she grows? 

MA: I really don’t think you’re taking this challenge seriously.

Verdict: On the basis that you never forget your first EV, I’ll take the Leaf. 

Read more

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Farewell to the V12: celebrating the endangered engine​

Used car buying guide: Porsche 911 (996)

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Carmad3 26 August 2019

Buy them before you do?

You can keep the lot. As for including a Lancia! There goes Autocars credibilty!

jer 23 August 2019

The corrado and Lancia

Beta for me, loved the Beta as a kid but even then everyone knew they would rust to nothing in no time. For electric cars the Ampera looks decent value although not sure about battery longevity.

Bob Cat Brian 23 August 2019


Shame Mark Pearson chose to belittle the EV question by nominating a (very nice) toy.

Could’ve been an interesting discussion about whether second hand early generations of EVs make sense.

EV fan though I am, I don’t think the sub £10k second hand market is viable for most yet, other than as a second car for local commuting and trips to the shops.