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Top 10 used cars under £1,000!
If you’ve any interest in cars, then at some time or another you’ll undoubtedly have set yourself an imaginary budget and whiled away some time dreaming with Autotrader or Top Marques. Why dream though? With just £1,000 you could be driving anything from 7 Series BMWs, 80s and 90s hot hatches, a kitsch classic Ford or even a Porsche. Sure, mileages will be galactic and your choice certainly won’t be in the first flourish of youth, but at £1,000 you can run it for three or four months, then swap it for something equally as interesting… . Please note that links with each car to available used-cars give distances from central London with results – For your area, click on the links, then enter your postcode at the top of screen and click ‘Find It now’.
Audi Coupe (1989-1996)
Audi Coupe (1989-1996) from under £1,000
This stylish coupe remains a head-turner today. Based on the Audi 80’s underpinnings the Coupe, and its classy Cabriolet (sadly out of our reach here) relative are 90’s icons. Its humble bloodline meant it offered a wide range of engines – everything from 2.0-litre units to 2.2 and 2.3-litre five cylinder powerplants. S2 models are rare and coveted, so you’ll not get one for our budget, but a tidy 2.0E should provide reliable and stylish motoring, easily within our £1k limit. They’re fairly practical too, with a huge boot and useable (at a squeeze) rear seats. High mileages shouldn’t worry, just be sure to keep it serviced to ensure it continues to run sweetly. I know several people who have bought these and found them both reliable and enjoyable to own. Who needs a TT?
BMW 7-Series (1987-1994)
BMW 7-Series (1987-1994) from under £1,000
These big luxury sleds cost a minimum of £25,000 new back in the late ‘80s/early 90’s - the V12 models commanding in excess of £50k. You’ll struggle to find one of those flagships for our budget, but if you go for an early V6 730i or even one of the later V8 3.0-litre models (‘92 onwards) you’ll find plenty to choose from. What’s more, being a luxury machine it comes with lots of equipment, though for this money it might not all be working. All are automatics and offer decent performance and balanced handling. You might want to be judicious with the accelerator though, as otherwise you’ll pay a fair bit in fuel. Find a tidy one, pop on a non-dating number plate and your neighbours will think your wealthy granny has pegged it…
Mercedes 300T Estate
Mercedes 300T Estate from under £1,000
This might be a bit of a sensible barge compared to some of the other cars here, but search for a well looked after example and it’ll probably outlive you. A classic Mercedes shape, the 300T Estate is a fantastically robust machine, which can carry seven passengers in reasonable comfort. The load area is massive, while the 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine offers decent performance, too. However, if fuel consumption is your priority opt for the 250 diesel. Enjoyable to own purely due to the fact it’s such an honest and useful machine, they’re becoming quite sought after among those who appreciate inexpensive, yet quality motoring. Get a nice one, get someone to give it a through valet and you’ve a hugely classy and useful family car. With MSN Cars Editor Tom Evans now a new dad, something like this big-Benz could be just what he’s looking for.
Porsche 924 from under £1,000
Yes, it’s possible to get that oh-so-desirable badge on your car, so long as you’re realistic and don’t aim for a 911. 924s are easily available for under our budget, many of which have been maintained meticulously by fastidious owners. Others will be utter basketcases, so search out the good ones. For this money it’s likely you’ll be looking at plain old 2.0-litre cars, but get lucky and you might find a rapid turbo, or a sought after 2.5-litre S from an uninformed seller. However, if the slim-hipped 924 isn’t quite your thing its big brother, the 944 should appeal. More muscular looking, and with the same powerful 2.5-litre engine that the 924 S briefly offered, it’s a rapid and enjoyable drive. Admittedly, nice ones will be tricky to find at this money, but it’s not impossible if you’re persistent…
Saab 900 Turbo
Saab 900 Turbo from under £1,000
Architects and designers have been keeping Saab’s rapid 900 turbo to themselves for many years but it deserves a wider audience now. It’s always been a bit left-field, the choice for those wanting understated performance in a big, useful package. Available in three or five-door guise we’d have the former for its greater purity of line. Solid, dependable mechanicals and bodies mean they’ll cope with huge mileages, but look out for smokey exhausts or noisy turbos, as fixing them can be pricey. Owners tend to be fanatical about these machines though, so look for a comprehensive history with lots of receipts showing someone else has taken care of it through its long life. Find such a car and you’ll have a surprisingly rapid, very spacious, safe and dependable car - for not a lot of money.
BMW (E30) 3 Series Touring
BMW (E30) 3 Series Touring from under £1,000
The E30 BMW 3 Series is one of those cars that seems to look better and better as the years pass. An iconic shape, forget any thoughts of getting a M3 version (they’re well beyond the reach of our budget), and concentrate on the super-stylish, more practical and affordable estate model. It may not be hugely capacious, and the boot opening is somewhat hindered by the rear lights, but being an estate it’s far, far less likely to have been ‘Gary-ed’ than its saloon and two-door relatives. As such E30 estates are much loved and tend to stay with owners forever, so expect them to have been properly looked after with well-documented histories. Avoid the underpowered 316 models – aim for 318 and above – and look out for cars that first owners specified well. As an everyday driver, you could do a lot worse.
Range Rover from under £1,000
Sure, few of us need a four-wheel-drive, but then you sit in a Range Rover and you can see their appeal. The original, and some may still say the best, Range Rover is available for under our £1,000 budget. At this money it’s likely that they’ll be far from perfect (pristine ones commanding pretty serious money), but it should be reliable, solid transport that’ll get you absolutely anywhere. Many of the panels are aluminium, which should mean there’s little rot, those panels that aren’t (specifically, the bonnet and tailgate) are rather prone to the tin-worm. Check the box-section chassis for corrosion, too. If they’re in good nick, it’s likely that it’s been properly looked after. Rugged mechanicals are mated to thirsty V8 engines, though get lucky and you might find some converted diesels out there. Who’d have thought a grand could distance you so well from the hoi polloi?
Peugeot 205 GTI
Peugeot 205 GTI from under £1,000
I’ll admit here I’m not unbiased as I’ve got one of these myself, but it’s so much fun to drive you really should try one. Your £1,000 will buy you a very nice example of the pocket rocket that you grew up wanting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mine’s a 1991, 1.6-litre model and it’s been super reliable over the past five years. It’s fantastic to drive and pretty useful, too. Either the 115bhp 1.6, or the 130bhp 1.9 excites, with communicative steering and faithful responses, the 205’s reputation for wild snap-off oversteer being somewhat overstated. If you’re after some summer fun there’s always the CTi convertible version, but we’d have the hatchback every time. Don’t take my word for it though, every time my parents visit my mum pinches the keys, simply because it’s so much fun to drive.
Ford Capri from under £1,000
Okay, so it’s not everybody’s idea of a classic, but if you ever wanted one as a kid then they’ve never been cheaper. £1,000 will buy you a pretty solid car, less than that and you’re looking at a runner that needs a bit of work. None are likely to be the powerful 2.8-litre V6 versions at this money, instead it’s more likely they’ll be the bread-and-butter, 1.6 and 2.0-litre models. They’re no firecrackers, but the rear-drive chassis makes them a fairly enjoyable drive, and looking down that long bonnet with its power bulge is bound to make you grin. I pass a ropey old one being driven in the other direction every night on the way home from the office and it makes me smile every time. If it’s the same for the driver, consider your £1,000 spent on a Capri as the best solution for melancholy, around.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Volkswagen Golf GTI from under £1,000
Like the 205 GTi and Capri, the Golf GTi is one of those cars you probably grew up wanting, but were either too young to drive, or couldn’t afford. Not anymore though, as you’ll get a good mkII GTI for under £1,000, or even a well-used mk III example. We’d opt for the former, the as it’s acclaimed alongside its predecessor as one of the finest handling, and sweetest GTis ever made. The 1.8-litre engine came with either 8 or 16-valve heads, the 16-valve the more prized, but the 8 valve cars really are no less fun. There are plenty around so you can afford to be a bit picky, so try to find one that’s not been modified and with the smarter looking three-door body. They cope with high mileages well, and they’re inexpensive to repair, making the Golf GTi not only an enjoyable way to blow a grand, but a pretty sensible one, too.
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