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The Cheap End Of The Market

The Cheap End Of The Market

It has been written, at least once, that man cannot live by a small collection of treasured boxed sets alone; sometimes you have to watch some old tripe on TV. So it is with cars. Life has its highs and lows. Sometimes you can afford some decent wheels and sometimes you have to scratch around at the bargain basement end of the car market for something that moves.

If you find yourself in that position, what can you buy for under £750 that won’t insult your intelligence or destroy your credibility, like, for ever? Immediately you will be saying: “Yeah, yeah, Citroen Saxo, Peugeot 205, blah, blah…”, but you will be wrong. There are, in fact, cars out there that are decent drivers yet can still be found for at or below that magic number.

Remember, galvanising has been around for a while now so rust isn’t the killer it once was so a reasonably well cared for used car could still do you a favour. Rust was once the scourge of older cars as any former Alfa Romeo owner will tell you between sobs; which brings us neatly and conveniently onto the first offering, the Alfa 156.

Alfa’s have a bit of a reputation for breaking down. This might be a little bit true to be frank, but that shouldn’t put you off. Life is all about positive thinking. The 156 is a good looking car and there are a fair few out there. A found example is a 2001 blue 1.7L Lusso model with MOT, 73,000 miles and full leather for just £650. If it does you for a year at that money it is still a bargain.

They (just exactly who are they?) say that the Japanese were responsible for bringing cars to our shores that had an accessory called reliability and so it has proved. So if you’d like to go back to the ‘90s for something that looks a bit sporty then why not try the Mazda MX3 2+2 coupé ? This is a car that was generally under-rated by the public but loved by its owners. At the time of writing there was a lovely clean 1998(R) model with the slightly under-powered 1.6L motor for £695. There’s a V6 (pictured) as well but watch out for foreign imports being sold as British registered cars.

For a big family, the cash-strapped buyer could do worse than the SEAT Alhambra. The found example is a ‘99(T) in good condition and with a year’s MOT – which means it has just been checked over to pass current regulations – for a penny-pinching £650.

Let’s be clear. Older cars will be less fuel efficient and some will have hidden problems but that doesn’t make them all bad. Many owners care for their cars in later life. Shopping around will eventually turn up a motor  that has a long or new test certificate and a nice clean body – including the underside. Do the usual tests. You want a clean start and no peculiar noises or vibrations at the kerb or out on the road. Take one or more knowledgeable friends if you’re unsure and hang onto that cash until the right car comes along. Lack of funds need not mean lack of wheels.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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