You will probably have been shocked to learn recently that British motorists spend an average of £695 every year looking after their cars.
For supercar owners, that might just be a tyre. For many Bangernomicists, that’s pretty much the maximum cost of their next motor, and if they were presented with a bill that large at any point in its life, it would be game over. What is much more of a worry is that this is 12% more than the global average. I say ‘worry’ because it suggests to me that we remain rip-off Britain when it comes to the cost of parts and servicing.
The challenge has to be going out and buying a sub-£700 motor that is interesting and won’t cost the same again within the next 12 months. As I often point out, buying used, especially cheap used, has a lot of luck involved, but as you continually prove on these pages, it is perfectly possible.
I shouldn’t be looking at a Mazda RX-8 priced at £1000. It is a 2004 example and has had four owners. I’m not sure whether the owner is bailing on the grounds that something big is about to go wrong or that the oil and petrol consumption is rather disappointing. For those reasons, I would probably ask for £305 off the price to bring this genuinely interesting motor within budget. If it breaks down, you would probably just throw it away and kiss goodbye to that £695.
If I didn’t want to throw away my Japanese coupé, possibly ever, a 1996 Honda Prelude 2.3 4WS would be perfect. They’re very old school now, although four-wheel steering is a helpful technology that never caught on, and if you kerbed it, maybe it might cost £695 to sort out. Otherwise, the Prelude is a 20-year-old car that has another double decade left in it.
There seems to be a classic Japanese coupé theme developing here as I delve for interesting used cars that won’t cost the national average to run. Obviously, the Toyota Celica then pops into view, and it seems you can get the soap-barshaped ones from the 1990s and the later razor-edge examples for not much money at all. I liked the look of an old (1993) 2.0 GT that had a full MOT and an owner who had chalked up 10 years with it. That is the sort of used car everyone should buy.
At this level, apart from 2004 Celicas, there’s a blizzard of Hyundai Coupes and my new favourite edge-styled Ford in the shape of the magnificent Cougar. So rather than spend a fortune on some money pit each year, buy one of these cheap coupés, which probably won’t let you down.