Brilliant bangers don’t have to come in packs of six, ready for the frying pan or barbeque: they can also be some of the best value motors money can buy.
Choosing a used car on a £1000 budget calls for patience, detective work and an ability to resist the lure of luxury names. You’ll also need to read between the lines and not be tempted by classic sales patter: “First to see will buy”; “One lady owner”; “Starts every time”.
A full service history, all accompanying paperwork, verified mileage – clocking can be common – are just your starting points. Check the length of the MOT, find out when the next service is due (and how much it’s likely to cost) and don’t be put off by cosmetic blemishes if the car is mechanically tip-top. After all, you’re buying it to get from A to B for the least amount of money, not cruise London’s Kings Road in head-turning style.
A final tip is to try to build a picture of how reliable the car is likely to be. A helpful tool is the Reliability Index, provided by Warranty Direct, a leading provider of mechanical insurance for cars. With all that in place, start hunting out any of these brilliant bangers…
£1000 used cars: Ford Ka is a brilliant banger and small city car
Spending £1000 on a car, only to find that a pair of front tyres costs £500 and a tank of petrol lasts round the block, is rather like buying a cheap house only to discover you need to replace the windows every year. That’s why cars like the pint-size Ford Ka (from 1996 to 2009) are so appealing: they’re not only cheap to buy but can be run on a shoestring. Parts and servicing prices are affordable, fuel consumption from the basic 1.3-litre engine is good and insurance is competitive. It’s also packed with character and surprisingly good fun to drive.
£1000 used cars: VW Bora is a brilliant banger that’s a VW Golf in disguise
Given its popularity, you’d think that a surplus of Volkswagen Golfs would mean it’s a bargain buy. Not one bit of it. The Golf remains popular no matter what its age. In fact, it’s the Bora saloon that’s the best value for money. Effectively a Golf in disguise, it’s a four-door saloon that drives like a Golf, costs as much to run as a Golf, but is that bit cheaper on the used car market. A wise buy is a petrol 2-litre model (petrol’s cheaper than diesel) which blends effortless performance with sensible fuel economy.
£1000 used cars: Ford Mondeo is a brilliant banger and comfy cruiser
The Ford Mondeo is the fish and chip supper of the car world. It isn’t much to look at, and doesn’t come with a posh name, but it’s cheap, satisfying and will have you coming back for more. Its spacious cabin makes for a practical family car, especially in the back, where legroom is positively palatial, and the boot is big too. Where the Mondeo really scores is as a long distance cruiser. You can pile on the miles in this motor and arrive at your destination ready to go, rather than being fit to drop.
£1000 used cars: Toyota Celica is a brilliant banger and fun coupe
A £1000 banger can still turn a few heads and put a smile on your face when you wind up the engine, especially if it’s the Toyota Celica. A much overlooked car, its 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine loves to be revved hard and the front-wheel drive chassis is nimble and responsive, dancing through twists and turns like a centre forward weaving through defenders on a football field. Search high and low and you should be able to find a Celica with under 100,000 miles and just a couple of owners from new.
£1000 used cars: Peugeot 206 CC is a brilliant banger and summer convertible
We won’t pretend that the Peugeot 206 CC isn’t a flimsy car that is prone to the occasional malfunction. But it offers fun in the sun and drop-top driving for four people. And if you can find a good example that’s led a cosseted life and had any problems repaired, then it should be fit for many more miles of topless touring. The 2-litre four-cylinder engine is a wise choice, as the car is surprisingly heavy. And you must make sure the electric folding hard roof works correctly and doesn’t leak like a sieve – take it to a jet wash to check. But with everything in order, this is a summer stunner for just £1000.
Read more: 10 tips for buying a great £1000 car