The challenge went something like this: 1) Buy a car for £300 with tax and MOT; 2) Drive it to our chosen track (100 miles from Autocar HQ); 3) Race it for 90mins; 4) Scrap it.
The point was to see how cheaply you could have fun on track, and whether it was still entertaining even when buying cars at the fairly scummy end of the car market. The answer was a resounding yes.
Three Autocar staffers, myself included, took up the challenge. I ended up with a Mk3 VW Golf 1.8, and my competitors had managed to obtain a Mk1 Ford Focus 1.6 and, amazingly, a Saab 900 2.0. All were road legal and all had been bought for £300 exactly.
None were perfect. The Focus had a drastically slipping clutch, the Saab a dash full of warning lights that the seller had guaranteed were “just sensors” and you could see daylight through the rust in just about every panel on my Golf. And it rode on comically bad, lowered springs.