bargains

Farewell Peugeot 306 – you will be missed!

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WITH THE rain beating down on a 65mph motorway cruise the Peugeot chooses a prime moment for packing up its windscreen wipers. With only a few miles to go on my last journey with it, it decides to throw one final spanner in the works.

I limp the 306 through to the finishing post – the garage where I’m trading up for a bigger, more refined car. Clearly the Peugeot is peeved it’s being given up, but while it’s a firm goodbye it’s hardly good riddance.

Two years ago I picked it up for one of the in-laws as a prime piece of stopgap motoring until their much newer car arrived, and liked it so much I took on the reins myself a couple of months afterwards. My bargain basement 306 was rubbish in so many ways, but as an overall package it was absolutely brilliant.

As the months went on the rather agricultural clatter from the non-turbocharged 1.9 XUD diesel engine was joined by a persistent high-pitched whistle. The clutch was heavier than a night out with Lindsay Lohan, the central locking had a mind of its own, and towards the end of my ownership the offside rear window developed a nasty habit of opening of its own accord. It was also noisy, not especially quick and had no street cred whatsoever.

But it was still a Peugeot 306 – which meant it handled brilliantly. The bottom-of-the-range diesel might have been a long way off a Rallye or a GTI-6, but pit it against a country road and there were definite whiffs of hot hatch from the steering and suspension.

I loved its diesel-ness too. It never failed to deliver anything south of 50mpg, which meant after a few months the savings at the pumps effectively paid the car off. It even made up for its many failings by being a workhorse I could rely on, with a single breakdown over two years of motoring. Not bad for less than the price of a return train ticket to London.

But after 18 years and 175,000 miles of plodding on it was – and only just, I might add – starting to show signs of whatever motoring’s equivalent of senile dementia is. So rather than putting it through even more runs up and down the nation’s motorway network, I’ve allowed to take automotive retirement and let something more suited to motorway life take the strain.

It’s bigger, smoother but still a fine example of bangernomics at work. It’s also Japanese and a bit boring. Stay tuned to find out what I’ve bought…

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The Hyundai Coupe is Korea’s first classic car

P1040529IMAGINE being able to buy a Ford Capri 2.8 Injection for just £350.

That’s exactly what an old friend of mine did 15 years ago – and I bet he wishes he’d never sold it on. Fast forward to 2016 and this fast Ford easily commands another zero on the price he paid. Another two zeros, if it’s a really low mileage minter and recent auction prices are anything to go by.

Yet that £350 price – what you might pay for a weekend away on the continent or a half-decent garden shed, don’t forget – is where the Hyundai Coupe all too often resides these days. At the time of writing there’s a chap up the road from me flogging his for that sort of money, and it’s tricky not to get tempted.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a second suggesting a slightly shagged Hyundai is going to get the same sort of cult following that’s driven Capri prices up to the point where they cost the same as a new 3-Series sometime in the early 2030s. But I do reckon it’s one of the two-door contenders to watch out for, because I can’t think of a stronger claim for the case of being Korea’s first card carrying classic.

Think about what else Korea was offering us snobbish Brits when the first-generation Coupe landed here in 1996. The Kia Pride, for instance, or the Daewoo Espero. Miserable motors with all the charisma of an industrial park in Derby, and while they were cheap and reliable they did absolutely nothing to stir the soul. Even the outgoing Scoupe didn’t exactly give the likes of Fiat’s Coupé and the Vauxhall Tigra sleepless nights.

Yet out of nowhere there was this swoopy two-door with snazzy alloy wheels and Coke bottle curves tempting us onto Hyundai’s forecourts. There was even a rally version, and Hyundai capitalised on its two-doors appearances in the Formula 2 class of the World Rally Championship with its F2 and F2 Evolution models in the late 1990s.

And yes, I know Hyundai might have dropped the ball a bit at the turn of the millennium with one of the most cack-handed facelifts ever devised, but it picked it right up again when it brought out a second-generation model which managed to shrink everything that was right about the Ferrari 456GT.

Neither model had anything like the Capri’s cult following – in which case I’ll point you in the direction of Ford’s Puma, which is equally bargain basement right now – but it’s hard to deny the Hyundai Coupe was a great car.

You might laugh now, but I honestly reckon this is as cheap as Korea’s first genuine classic is ever going to get.

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