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Fancy a used Toyota FJ Cruiser for under £28,000? These are the top bargain buys we've spotted for sale

If you can’t wait for the new Defender, then buy one of these.

It may look like it should be being driven by uber-cool Californian surfers, but the FJ Cruiser is an homage to the old FJ40 that could be seen in service all over the world between 1960 and 1984 and helped to forge Toyota’s reputation for rugged reliability.

The FJ40 was (and continues to be) highly thought of within the company, so it was a given that Toyota would use it when recreating its Jeep rival – aiming to offer an alternative to the Jeep Wrangler, which dominated the market for cool-looking recreational off-roaders. The FJ Cruiser went on sale in the US in 2006, before making its way to Japan and Australia.

Behind the distinctive look hides a practical SUV. The lack of a central pillar along the side is a novel idea but the rear-hinged back doors aren’t great in tight car parks. Mind you, the sheer size of the thing would have you wincing every time you tried squeezing it under the height barrier in your local multi-storey. One reason for the height is that this is still a proper off-roader with diff locks, 244mm of ground clearance and low- range gears, plus it has a truck-based separate chassis for ruggedness.

Find a used FJ Cruiser on PistonHeads

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This one, found on PistonHeads, was built in 2011 and comes from Australia. It’s fitted with an LPG system to curb the horrendous fuel costs of the 4.0-litre V6 engine. Although the FJ Cruiser wasn’t sold here, it does share components with other Toyota off-roaders that were, so it’ll only be bits of trim and body panels that might be tricky to source. For £27,995, there’s no cooler Toyota 4x4 available to buy right now.

Nissan S-Cargo £2000:

The looks of a snail and the pace of one too: this diminutive Nissan van makes for a great inner-city delivery vehicle thanks to its tiny size and easy-to-operate three-speed auto. What’s more, the languid performance gives people time to read your signwriting on the side.

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Suzuki Kizashi £8995:

Although it doesn’t cost 50 cents, the rapper of very nearly the same name did own one. It was an oddball choice when new because you could only have it with a thirsty 2.4-litre engine, but it is blessed with a good chassis and nice steering if you’re daring enough to be different.

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Honda Prelude £3750:

You’ll find that this humble Honda is rarer than some Italian exotics, particularly because it has the quirky four-wheel steer option that makes this coupeà nimbler than something half as long. This one is a tidy example that hasn’t been messed around with and still retains its original bill of sale.

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Mitsubishi Galant £3995:

Wow, it’s an angular Mitsubishi Galant with plush brown velour and it features Auto Cruise – a quaint name for an early cruise control system. You might find the price to be a bit steep, but where else are you going to find a 1980s Galant in this fine a condition?

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Auction watch: 

Daimler six 4.0-litre:

Based on the Jaguar XJ40, the Daimler Six is basically the same car under the skin: it just has a plusher interior, natty wooden picnic tables in the back and fluted chromework on the grille and bootlid.

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The XJ40-series had a turbulent upbringing under British Leyland but, by the time this 1994 car was built, Ford owned Jaguar and build quality and reliability had improved. The 4.0-litre six is reliable if looked after, so mechanically this should have been a good buy for £2000, including auction premium. Generally, watch for rust and ensure the leather is in top condition.

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Get it while you can: 

Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav Price new £24,395. Price now £17,000

Mazda has just given its perennially popular MX-5 sports car a minor facelift. Cosmetically, it really is one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ones, which is good news for those of us who buy used since you can purchase an old one without anyone really noticing it’s an old one. We liked this tidy 2016 2.0-litre example in high-spec Sport Nav guise with only 10,000 miles for £17,000. New, it would be more like £23k if you haggled, so that’s a useful saving.

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Clash of the classifieds: 

Brief: Find me a cute pre-1980 classic car for under £11k. Why £11k? Because we’re turning the fun up to 11...

Triumph Vitesse £9995:

Finished in teal with a white hood and matching side stripe, it doesn’t get any cuter than this Vitesse, which must have brought joy to everyone who’s ridden in it over the years – not least the driver, thanks to its rather gutsy six-cylinder engine. That’s the fun part taken care of, too, then. This Vitesse has had a body-off restoration just a few years ago and been owned by the same circle of friends for the past 45 years. Its mileage of 103,000 is low too. And unarguably, it’s more car for your £10,000 than Mark’s delightful, but rather basic, Mehari. Alex Robbins 

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Citroën Mehari £10,000:

At heart a plastic-bodied Dyane 6, the Mehari is both wonderfully open and deeply practical, and on a stifling summer’s evening, with the blood bubbling in the veins, can you think of anything more fun than piloting this cute little buggy down a winding country lane on your way to your favourite watering hole? It has all the charm of the air-cooled, twin- cylinder Citroëns, complete with the long-travel suspension. A rare and delectable treat. MARK PEARSON

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Verdict: Oh, damn, this is close. I do admire the diminutive Citroën Mehari, but that two-tone Triumph Vitesse is much cuter. Alex wins. MAX ADAM

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