buying

I admit it. I am a used car junkie

The internet is full of temptingly priced used cars

IT’S NOT often Tinie Tempah and I agree on something. It’s true that – like our rapper friend – I’ve been to Southampton but never to Scunthorpe (but I wonder if Tinie’s ever been to Southport). But other than that we move in very different circles. 

But Britain’s best known Lamborghini Huracán owner does, as it transpires from watching the telly the other night, have one weird passion in common. I’m wondering if he can be appointed honourary president of Classified Adsaholic Anonymous.

I’ve always been an addict, hooked on the idea that a lightly used Audi S8 for four grand or a laggy-looking Porsche Boxster for about the same is only a phone call away. Sometimes I’d act on my impulses, picking out obscure-looking deals I’d found on the internet or through scouring the classifieds pages in The Champion.

For a while I thought I’d kicked the habit, content that a daily fix of a £1000 Mazda MX-5, a Toyota Avensis that cost £900 and various classic cars that always seem to cost more money than you’d imagine would be more than enough.

But then I downloaded Tinie Tempah’s recommended legal high for used car junkies – the Auto Trader app – and I have to admit it’s on the verge of ruining my life. The giddy, childlike thrill of flicking through coarse pages chock-full of reasonably priced used cars, so cruelly robbed from us when the weekly magazine went out of print four years ago, is back.

But whereas the joy of used car classifieds used to come from spotting the obscure bargain buried within 20 pages of blurry pictures, FSHs and ONOs, nowadays it’s all about setting ridiculous search parameters and seeing what the internet comes back with. Want to know what the best four-door saloon for under £1500 is within a five-mile radius of Skelmersdale? Or Ormskirk’s best five-grand sports car? Bet you do now. 

It’s weirdly addictive, but it does have its plus side; the more you do it the more likely you are to end up with a corking used car bargain. You end up getting to know the prices, what the faults are with various models and which dodgy brand of alloy wheels owners end up fitting to them, and ultimately knowledge is power. It’s much harder to get ripped off by an unscrupulous seller when you’re a Classified Adsaholic who knows exactly what a 2003 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 Match with five doors, service history and 99,000 on the clock is worth.

So give it a go – you won’t regret it. If you end up buying something, blame Tinie Tempah.

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Don’t buy a new Focus – buy an S-Class instead!

you-can-have-all-this-for-less-than-the-price-of-a-new-ford-focus

I WAS wondering which Liverpool player was going to step out when the black S-Class pulled up alongside me. Or perhaps it was a leading light of the criminal word, dispatched to assassinate me for something unsavoury I’d written in The Champion years earlier.

But actually it was one of the freelance photographers I work with sometimes, and he was very pleased because this enormous luxury saloon with electric everything and an AMG sports pack really was his. Not only that, but it transpired the whole thing had set him back what an entry-level Ford Focus costs.

As cars go it really is phenomenal value. The equivalent diesel V6 model today will set you back the thick end of seventy grand, meaning this one has lost more than two thirds of its value in just eight years. It’s the sort of hefty depreciation that’ll make its original managing director owner wince, but look at it from a buyer’s perspective and it’s a no-brainer. For £16,000 you can’t buy the cheapest new car Mercedes-Benz makes, but you can buy a barely run-in S-Class with everything still working.

It’s not just misunderstood Mercedes models, either. For the same sort of money you can have a BMW 730D with a full service history and 39,000 miles on the clock – not bad, considering all it’ll get you new is a top of the range Polo. How about a Jaguar XJ with the 2.7-litre diesel V6? Again, could be yours for an Astra-sized outlay.

Yes, I know they’ll be more expensive to tax, insure and service than a family hatchback, but at least with them being the diesel versions you won’t be left weeping inconsolably every time you pull into a branch of Shell or BP. Nor are they the sort of automotive antiques I normally deal with – even at this sort of money they’re all fully working cars with plenty of life left in them, gadgets that sync up with your iPhone and seats that massage your buttocks on motorway slogs.

It’s worth bearing in mind next time you’re thinking of venturing out and buying a new car – for the same sort of money you can have a low mileage S-Class, a barely used BMW or a just run-in Jaguar. 

Suddenly the snob factor of having a 66-plate on your front bumper isn’t so impressive. Although you will get Champion journalists cowering everytime you drive past, thinking their number’s up.

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.

hyundai rally car