Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 25 January
A sub-£25,000, doctor-owned Rolls-Royce? Surely that's worth a check-up...

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, £24,990: We’re always suckers for a used Rolls, so this 60,000-mile 1994 Silver Spirit that started life as a Rolls company vehicle before being sold to a ‘renowned doctor’ (Kildare? Finlay? Who?) caught our eye.

It has a full service history but something must have gone pop because last year the good doctor had to write out a prescription for £14,000 in repairs, followed by another for £8300 this year – reminders, if any were needed, that old Rolls never die, they just get ever more expensive. 

It’s being sold by a specialist prestige dealer but they have no others to try which, considering how much Spirits vary from car to car, isn’t ideal. The price is stiff, too: clearly, the doctor knew how to hand out the medicine as well as take it. 

It’s tempting all the same, but as with all Spirits, a full medical is required before we can give it a clean bill of health. Starting with the engine, we’d listen for noisy tappets, look for leaks around the head gaskets, scrutinise the holes on the side of the cylinder for water or oil, and check the oil pressure once the engine was fully up to temperature. 

We’d also make sure the ride is composed rather than mushy (this is why you need to try others Spirits) and that there are no suspension warning lights blinking away. 

Next we’d check for corrosion on the wheel arches, behind the bumpers, around the windscreen and at the base of the rear screen. Then we’d inspect the battery under the driver’s seat for leaks. 

Any damaged interior trim would make us question the condition of those parts of the car we cannot see.

Peugeot 205 Rallye, £17,995: Not even a GTi and still close to 20 big ones, but that’s because this is the ultra-desirable Rallye: a stripped-out left-hooker that borrowed some of the GTi’s mechanicals but had a smaller, carb-fed engine. This one weighs just 700kg. Don’t sneeze…

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Skoda Rapid Spaceback
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback offers a little more interior room than conventional hatchbacks

The hatchback treatment makes Skoda’s budget Rapid that bit more palatable. Roomy, usable, well-priced and quite refined

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Jeep Cherokee 4.0 Ltd, £995: The Cherokee landed in the mid-1990s with a grunty 4.0 straight six, four-wheel drive, a high-floored/lowroofed cabin and ready-for-anything styling. This one overheats, so some work is required, but it’s rust-free and starts first time (before boiling over).

Ford Capri, £4995: Mr Cropley’s proposal for a Capri for the 21st century prompted lustful thoughts about the original. This 8000-mile 1984 1.6 LS has been garaged for most of its life and is a cut above your usual project Capri.

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Jensen S-V8, £29,995: Advertised as a 4.7 GT, this is actually an S-V8 with a 4.6-litre Ford Mustang lump. Only 20 or so were built, with prospective buyers put off by early cars’ fit and finish, not to mention styling. Perhaps we’ll hold out for an Interceptor from Cropredy Bridge…

Auction watch

Volkswagen Golf GTI: Proving the ‘classic’ market has fallen off its trolley is this 1990 Volkswagen Golf GTI that made £15,840. Okay, it’s done only 24,000 miles and is in showroom condition, but it’s strong money when so many decent Mk2s are out there for less. How about £3695 for a 1989 eight-valve five-door with leather interior and a new clutch? It’s done 153,000 miles and has had a respray. And there’s the rub: the value in the £16k Mk2 lies in its rarity and condition. Lock it in a heated garage and it’s only going one way.

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Get it while you can

Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.0 TSI 110 SE, price new - £15,865, price now - £15,536: Spacious, comfortable, economical and fine to drive, Skoda’s Skoda Rapid and Rapid Spaceback deserved a warmer reception than they received. That they didn’t was due to an absence of sparkle in a class dripping with diamonds – a failing their replacement, the new Scala, aims to address when it arrives later this year. The Rapid hatch is no longer available but dealers still have a few Spacebacks in the clearance bin. Without breaking a sweat we chipped £2300 off the list price of our pick, a 110 SE Tech with Amundsen sat-nav and parking sensors.

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Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a decent, insurable first car for a 17-year-old, for £5000

Ford Fiesta, £3420: When it comes to an affordable first car, nothing does it better than a Ford Fiesta. Not only is it nice to drive but it will also appease any new driver with its good looks and standard AUX stereo connection. This Fiesta is adorned with alloy wheels for a bit of McDonald’s car park cred and parking sensors to assist newbie parallel parkers. It’ll keep parents happy, too, since it has a five-star safety rating to protect their precious offspring. But best of all, it’s £1580 under budget, which will go a long way to covering the first year’s insurance. Max Adams

Volkswagen Up, £4845: I like a Fiesta as much as the next person, but what’s the killer cost for young drivers? Insurance, of course. What you need is a car that has all the verve of the Ford but an insurance group a few categories lower. Time to bring on this immaculate 2014 Up, which sits in insurance group 2. It’ll cost buttons to run and give any 17-year-old anxious to develop their finer driving skills the time of their life. This one’s even got a stripe, for heaven’s sake, so it’s practically a Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni! Remember, young people, the only way is Up. Mark Pearson 

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pauld101 28 January 2019

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit battery under the seat?

Good luck with that - it's in the boot....

sipod 25 January 2019

29 years old

that mk II GTi still looks great today, lovely design big bumper version. Same price as a second hand mk VII gti, but with no depreciation- 16k doesn’t sound too bad after all!

as for the Cherokee - I’ve always liked these, albeit in dark blue. There’s just something about them....

275not599 25 January 2019

That Spirit is nothing to get

That Spirit is nothing to get particularly excited about.  I regularly window shop at Ghost Motors, a specialist in Kent.  They usually have a range of these and the equivalent Bentleys.