Pick up a classic car for a grand or less? ‘You must be joking’, we hear you cry.
But no, it is possible. OK, so you aren’t going to be driving away in a Jaguar E-Type or a Ferrari F40 for your, let’s face it, fairly small sum, but you can find a nice retro motor. For this cash it’s about more modern classics, alongside projects and the quirkier cars that are around.
We’ve picked a few that you should be able to drive away for £1,000 or less.
But, as always, before you buy make sure you check the history, get a full MOT and have an expert assess your potential purchase to avoid your bargain classic turning into an expensive money pit.
Sporting that classic Volvo look of the 1980s and 1990s, the 700 and 900 series are still hugely recognisable.
The 700 came along in 1982 and was billed as a luxury car – which means that even by modern standards they are well-specced, not to mention as safe as houses, being Swedish. They’re well-built and reliable and there are a fair few still going strong today. A bit of a cult choice, granted, but nonetheless desirable in an odd sort of a way.
The 700 was gradually replaced by the 900 as the 1990s dawned, with more rounded lines and improvements on the inside. It lasted until 1998, although the equally legendary 850 (think British Touring Car Championship 1990s heyday), had already been around for five years by then.
Whichever takes your fancy, a bullet-proof Volvo can be yours for less than £1,000.
The Toyota Celica, in name, has been around since 1970, but for bargain hunters you’re looking at the 1990s. That’s no bad thing, as the Celica was at the height of its fame in the World Rally Championship at that time, so you know exactly which version we’re talking about. Turbo power came along in the late 1980s, too, so there are some lively ones around.
Well-priced models will come from the fifth generation, produced from late 1989 until late 1993, when the sixth generation, also well-priced for the classic bargain hunter, was brought in.
If sporty looks and Japanese build quality appeal, a 20 or 25-year-old Celica isn’t a bad purchase at all.
Looks-wise this is the instantly-recognisable Mercedes of the 1980s – they were once a hugely common sight on our roads. And, thanks to German build quality, there’s many that are still going strong – and they can be picked up for less than you might think. The 300E, launched in 1984, was the first to be officially referred to as an E-Class, a name associated to this day with luxury, speed and style.
There was a myriad of iterations, as is the way with Mercedes, including saloon and estate versions, petrol and diesel. There was even a long wheelbase version for that limousine feel.
All in all, timeless quality and style for not a lot of cash today.
The Mazda MX5 might be your best chance of proper sporty fun for not a lot of cash. Sure, at this budget you might be looking at a car that needs a bit of work, but there are first-generation MX5s out there for under a grand. First released in 1989, the MX5 quickly gained a reputation for being cheap, light and fun to drive - something that remains to this day.
It harks back to those proper little sports cars of the 1960s, lightweight, simple and great to drive. And, with it now hurtling towards 30 years old, there can't be a better time to get your hands on one.
BMW 3 Series
A legend that dates from the 1970s to this very day, the BMW 3 Series has been around for what seems like forever. And versions from 20-odd years ago represent a decent chance of getting your hands on a lot of car for not a lot of money. Quite a few cars of this ilk from the early and mid-1990s - think Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer as two examples - are rapidly heading for classic territory and are increasingly sought-after.
The 3 Series of 1991-1998 was available in both four and six-cylinder form and saloon, coupe, estate and cabriolet versions were sold. A prolific award-winner in its day, you can find them for a song if you get going quickly.