Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 26 July
Could anybody turn down this raunchy Italian performance wagon bearing all the hallmarks of a sheltered upbringing?

The 159 Sportwagon is still a thing of beauty, although it’s made rather humdrum by some worthy diesel engines. 

Alfa Romeo 159 1.75 TBi TI Sportwagon, £10,995: On the petrol front, there’s a try-hard 2.2 (its timing chain tensioner can be an issue, so take care) and a quick but thirsty 3.2 V6 four-wheel-drive model. However, the engine we burn a candle for, and the one Alfa specialists rate, is the rare 1.75 TBi. 

It made its debut towards the end of 2009 and its turbocharged motor produces 197bhp but, more impressive still, 236lb ft from just 1400rpm. That torque is no flash in the pan, either. It plays out all the way to 5500rpm and is just a nudge away in any gear. Meanwhile, the engine remains smooth and sporty even at the redline. 

Alfa 159 0

We found a 2009/59-reg with just 44,000 miles. It looks to be in excellent condition and has full Alfa service history, supported by eight stamps in the service book. That’s quite something given the model’s service interval was 21,000 miles. 

Recent parts include new discs and pads, a new cambelt and new spark plugs. Most 159s are down around the £3500 to £6000 mark, so its price looks strong but then it is a rare and cherished motor, so we’ll forgive it. What’s more, it’s in range-topping TI spec: heated leather sports seats, sports suspension, 19in wheels and Brembo calipers. 

Given its cherished past, it’s unlikely to have any noisy upper gears, or heavy and uneven front tyre wear. We doubt, too, that it has any front subframe or floorpan corrosion. The rear windows can seize through lack of use but, again, we’d be surprised if this car’s so much as squeak.

Triumph tr7

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Triumph TR7, £3450: This TR7 is a 1982 car with 104,000 miles. The seller says there are some small patches of rust but claims it’s “solid underneath and on top”. A pity it’s not the TR8 we saw that had just been sold. Shoehorning a Rover V8 into a TR7 is a popular ‘mock-ification’. 

Lexus ls400

Lexus LS 400, £6990: If you like your service stamps, you’ll love this. The 1998 S-reg limo has 21 main dealer stamps in the book. It has only done 91,000 miles but its owner for the past 15 years, a doctor, kept it in rude health with an annual check-up at his local Lexus practice.

Nissan pulsar

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Nissan Pulsar, £5295: Nissan’s unsung family hatch is a fine thing with a lot going for it, not least having a surprising amount of space in the back. It’s smooth and refined and, as this 2014-reg 1.2 DiG-T N-Tec with 87,000 miles and full service history demonstrates, a bargain. 

Alpina d3 0

Alpina D3, £5450: This 2007/57-reg D3 with 73,000 miles is tempting. To the BMW 320d Sport donor model, Alpina has fitted a larger turbo and intercooler, bigger injectors and reworked ECU for 197bhp and 302lb ft, plus Alpina-tuned suspension and Alpina bodykit.

Auction watch

Ford Mondeo ST220 estate: Few would have fancied your chances if the former custodians of this Ford Mondeo had decided your time was up. The ST220 may since have been ‘de-coppered’ but that’s still a 3.0-litre V6 producing 223bhp and 210lb ft. 

Ford mondeo

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This 2005-reg model has the later Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, compared with the earlier car’s five-speed unit. Sixth was quite long but the other ratios were made shorter than before for a sportier drive. Standard equipment included 18in alloy wheels, a bodykit and heated Recaro leather seats. This being the estate, self-levelling suspension was also part of the deal. Not a bad auction buy for £1554, then. 

Future classic

Renault Wind, £2950: Wind by name, wind by nature. On the air intake fitted to the 1.6 VVTi is a rubber flap that, when removed, lets the engine blow a little more freely… Not that this 1.2 TCe lacks puff. In fact, it’s torquier right where you need it.

Renault wind

The Wind sits on the Twingo chassis and turns in to corners keenly with lots of grip. All this and the folding roof does its thing in 12sec. Our example is a 2011/11-reg 1.2 TCe GT Line with 70,000 miles. Buy it and have the last laugh. 

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me an awesome car for £500


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2004 Ford Streetka 1.6 Luxury, £395


1996 Alfa Romeo 2.0 GTV, £500 

Max Adams Blimey, I’d have thought you could only get high-mileage crocks for £500 but my car has only 36k miles showing. Plus it has leather seats and an MOT. What have you found? 

Mark Pearson Oh, you’ve found a Ford. How interesting. I’ve got an Alfa Romeo. A beautiful and immaculate Italian thoroughbred, a GTV with super-quick steering and looks to die for… 

MA Skilfully avoided talking about the details, Mark. Hmm, more than three times the mileage and eight years older than mine. You can’t honestly believe yours is the better choice, can you? 

MP Alfas are awesome and that’s what Mr Evans specified. You’ll have fun just looking at it. Savour the badge. 

MA Ford is American. Americans love the word awesome. Ergo, I win. Does your last point refer to the poor reliability record of older Alfas? 

MP I suppose you could use your Ka as a skip. Can’t be much fun to drive. My Alfa’s got a Twin Spark engine… 

MA Well, the 1.6-litre Ford engine has been used in countless British sports cars and in Formula Ford racers, so I’m sure my Streetka will be a riot. 

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MP My Alfa looks a million dollars but costs considerably less. That’s game over in my book.

Verdict One awesome Alfa for the judge, please. 

Read more

Used car buying guide: Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon​

James Ruppert: why it's time to buy a Ford Mondeo​

Renault Wind 2010-2012 review​

Join the debate

Add a comment…
jason_recliner 26 July 2019

Amazing Value

A Street Ka for 400 pounds? A GTV for 500? Where do I sign?
Takeitslowly 26 July 2019

jason_recliner wrote:

jason_recliner wrote:

A Street Ka for 400 pounds? A GTV for 500? Where do I sign?


A question that never gets answered as the seller/garage is never identified.

si73 26 July 2019

Love the TR7 and in that

Love the TR7 and in that green, the wind is an interesting little car, the likes of which will probably never be seen again as all that gets made now is SUVs.

Takeitslowly 26 July 2019

si73 wrote:

si73 wrote:

Love the TR7 and in that green, the wind is an interesting little car, the likes of which will probably never be seen again as all that gets made now is SUVs.


That must come as something of a surprise to the workforces that build estate cars, coupes, saloons...