Imagine you need some transportation, but all you have in the bank is £500. You’ll have to buy something worthy but utterly dull, surely? Not necessarily. A trawl through the classifieds reveals that if you’re not worried about getting something in perfect condition, you can bag yourself an interesting and fun car for this tiny amount of money.
Sure, at the very bottom end of the market there’s always a chance that something goes wrong and you’re landed with a big bill, but the beauty of a car like this is if that happens somewhere down the line, you can simply cut your losses and sell it off as spares or repair.
Want to see some examples? Check out our picks below, then suggest your own in the comments!
If we were after a Peugeot hot hatch, the somewhat lacklustre 206 GTI wouldn’t exactly be high up on our wish list. However, this example is hugely tempting for just £500. Rear quarter dent and bonnet peeling aside, it looks great in ‘Firedance Orange’, and has a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-pot you can thrash the living daylights out of to extract the 137bhp on offer.
Like the Peugeot, the Mk3 Golf GTI was far from VW’s finest hour when it comes to hot hatches. But, when one of these 150bhp ‘Dubs is up for less than £500 - like this one - we’re more interested.
The humble Mondeo is - for the most part - a not particularly exciting car, but this ST24 version comes with a 168bhp 2.5-litre V6, fettled suspension and a subtle bodykit as standard.
Yes, it’s basically just a tarted up Rover 25, and yes, it’s only the 101bhp 1.4-litre version. But for a mere £525 - a snip over our budget - this MG ZR is a fine-looking hatch that’s fun to drive. Want to go a little further over the £500 mark? This V6-powered MG ZT is up for just £695.
The Fiat Stilo isn’t particularly well built, looks odd from a lot of angles and isn’t as good to drive as many of its rivals. And yet, slap a rock-bottom price on one, and they suddenly get tempting, particularly the Abarth version with its warbly 170bhp 2.4-litre five-pot.
If you can cope with the awkward looks of the five-door version, this one can be had for just £490. Alternatively, the pictured three-door example is going at £690, so could be had for not much more than our hypothetical budget with some haggling.
The bodywork and interior on this car look incredibly tatty and it’s done 168,000 miles, but a 173bhp Celica GT for £490? That’s a bargain. As a bonus, it also has 11 months MOT.
If you want a cut-price two-door, your could do a lot worse than this Hyundai Coupe. It’s finished in a distictive shade of custard yellow, has apparently done just 62,000 miles, and is being sold for just £390. Bargain!
When it comes to sub-£500 Mercs, you’ve little choice other than an early A-Class or a ratty old four-pot C-Class. Or, there is this E320 estate. As it’s a later E320 it sports a 224bhp 3.2-litre V6 (earlier versions had a straight-six), and best of all, it has seven seats. Want to ferry around lots of people in comfort? Here’s your sub-£500 car.
Owning one of these cars is well worth the inevitable ‘no, it’s a Ford Coug-err, not a Kug-aahh’ conversations with people who think you’ve just bought the similar-sounding Ford crossover. The angular Cougar is a pretty thing, and was available with a 2.5-litre V6 up front producing 168bhp. This example looks tidy and has only 103,000 miles on the clock.
Believe it or not, it is possible to get a six-cylinder BMW for under the £500. Want some evidence? Check out this 1997 E39 BMW 523i. The bodywork has a few knocks and the MOT runs out later this month (which is a bit of a worry), but this is a serious amount of car for the money.
UPDATE: the advert has since been removed, but here’s an alternative!
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Ford Puma. Ford’s pint-sized coupe might be lumbered with the naff interior of the Fiesta upon which it’s based, but these offer a serious amount of driving fun for very little money. This one costs just £494 despite having a reasonable 90,000 miles on the clock.