I was asked to comment the other day on some sort of statistical survey, which proved that owners of expensive cars (inevitably blingy off-roaders) were more likely to make an insurance claim than someone in a cheap motor, specifically a Smart.
Now, the Smart Fortwo is small, but it isn’t especially cheap when new. Anyway, the point was that drivers of swish, expensive cars career into things and the downtrodden poor don’t. Maybe the stats were put together by Class War.
I’ve found that owning a car you don’t mind getting damaged is a tremendously liberating experience and means you worry less about leaving it in a dodgy car park. So let’s find some low-rent cars for the truly modern lifestyle.
The secret is having a car that either makes you look very hard or that you don’t give a stuff about. Well, nothing says ‘fear me’ more than a tatty Land Rover Defender. You don’t want artisan Aga installer spec but one that’s caked in farmyard mud. Defender 90s are particularly bouncy and manoeuvrable - like an off-road Smart, in fact. Proper working ones are just over £3000 for an early to mid-1990s example.
Then there’s the pub landlord look, useful when the car is left on its own. That’s a Jaguar XJ6, then. I have been corresponding with a gentleman who really wanted one, and I had to steer him away from X-Types and S-Types to the motor he clearly loved. Provided there is nothing wrong with it, a 1997 XJ 3.2 is just under a grand and something you can run until it really does break.
Taxis - the proper purpose-built ones - are as tough as nuts. I was amused to find one of those plastic Metrocabs the other day with 300,000-plus miles on the clock (and probably on the meter with a ‘£’ in front). That was under £1000, and it had a noisy Ford Transit diesel engine and bags of room inside. It would be perfect for bashing around town. Things would literally bounce off it.
I like glassfibre cars, and in the old days a Reliant Robin owner was quite often a resting Hell’s Angel. Although you could buy a 1990s Robin for £950, not only is that far too much money but Robins also don’t have that air of menace any more, just ridicule.
And finally, it has to be a Smartie. I don’t want a Fortwo, even if they’re good at avoiding dings. No, the Roadster is just exceptional fun. They may not get much cheaper than they are right now. They start at around £1500, but you can still buy them all day for £2000.
You could go mad and get a run-out Finale from 2007, and that will be anything up to £6995. Worth every penny, and statistically you won’t ever crash it.