The demand for cheap cars never goes away. Sometimes they are stop gaps between a replacement, but quite often it is a motorist spending all they afford.
I’ve been reading back over interviews I did more than 25 years ago with proper banger dealers, ones who sold sub-gorillas (under £1000) and had a lot between two housing estates for the £99 dross. What they told me then remains highly instructive and is in effect a blueprint for anyone who wants to buy and deal in 2021.
My biggest takeaway was: don’t buy cheap cars from auctions, ever. A fancy classic for a load of money, maybe a nearly new or end-of-lease company car with a history, but never, ever a banger. So where should we be going to source them?
Always buy on condition, never on price, and if you can’t afford anything decent then save up for a few more weeks. So with that in mind, let’s start expensive, at a proper car dealer. They will have obligations to make sure their cars are clean and roadworthy, and you have a comeback if there are issues, all of which is perfect. Pick a well-regarded model that is known to be reliable and cost-effective to fix, like a Toyota Yaris.
Ideally, it will have just a couple of owners and a full service history with a credible mileage that isn’t too intergalactic. Luckily, I found just that car: a 2006 1.0 T3 with 73,000 miles, up for £1400. Nicely presented, cheap to insure and run and itching to do a job. A three-door but otherwise the perfect runaround.
Those after something family-sized ought to try a Mazda 6, which seem to go on and on without giving much trouble. I stumbled on a partex trade sale 2011 2.2d Sport with 150,000 miles. There’s an element of risk there, but with an asking price of £1400 there’s also room for a bit of remedial work. That’s quite a lot of car for the money and, okay, it isn’t a 10 quid banger, but it is much better than that. You do have to spend a bit more to save yourself some grief.