Oakley Wheelwright is a serial sh-tbox buyer and the current owner of Miles, CT’s now-legendary 400,000+ mile Skoda Octavia
As a self-proclaimed serial car buyer, I spend more time than I care to admit perusing the classifieds. Most evenings I’ll be overcome with a burning desire some car or another. Generally, after a few hours of window shopping, I spot something else that takes my fancy and off I go down a new avenue of exploration. This routine then repeats until eventually, I succumb to temptation.
I can’t buy everything that catches my eye, of course, so here are some of my recent spots that didn’t result in a reduction of my current account balance. I’m endeavouring to convince some of you to take the plunge, thus protecting me from any more foolish purchases.
My first pick, and something I’d dearly love to own, is that staple of any fleet - the fast estate car. Let me introduce this Volvo V70R on eBay. If you happen to be a wardrobe salesman and want to offer express delivery, this is the car for you. When new in 2003; this ballistic machine would have set you back around £40,000, but now it’s yours for only £6,495.
Compared to the more common or garden variety of V70s, this may seem a lot. However, with nearly 300bhp, all-wheel drive, a sub-six-second 0-60mph time and 12 months MOT to boot, this V70 is something special. Not that many people would notice. Ostentatious this is not. The eagle-eyed passer-by may spot the gleaming Norcap blue paintwork and maybe the lower ride height. To the casual observer though, this is just another sensible Volvo. All the better for unsuspecting traffic light Grand Prix contenders.
This particular model is standard and looks to be in rude good health. There is even a picture showcasing it cruising at 140mph. Perhaps it would be best not to enquire as to where that picture was taken - somewhere in ‘Mexico’ probably.
Next up on my watch list is a bargain hot hatch. This offering is from Audi, a first-generation S3. Post-2000 era Audi models do little to excite me on the whole, but these early pocket rockets are suddenly looking very appealing. A svelte, purposeful and yet restrained exterior, beneath which is a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine kicking out 207bhp. What’s not to like?
I found this one on Car and Classic for just a smidge under 5k. Higher mileage than some, but still a spring chicken compared to good old Miles the Skoda, of course. A stamped up service book and seven months MOT remaining help to alleviate concerns. That said, these engines can go wrong in a spectacular fashion. Regular maintenance would be crucial with this one.
Assuming it doesn’t go bang, an S3 should make for a shrewd purchase. Exploitable, everyday performance wrapped up in a fast appreciating package.
With the roads as congested as they are, my mind often wanders into the realm of track days. A road-legal track-focused car might be just the ticket.
This Peugeot 306 GTI6 for £2,200 on eBay looks perfect. I’m a big fan of hot French hatchbacks, and the original plan for my Citroen Saxo had been to transform it into a track weapon but I couldn’t bring myself to strip such a well-preserved example. It’s a similar story with most other early noughties hatches - they’re either long gone or too well preserved for modifying. This 306, however, makes for an ideal starting point. The interior is already largely gone and thus, I’d have no qualms about welding a roll cage in and heading to the track.
Of course, if track days aren’t to your taste this could be restored to a more original state. Keep an eye for a cheap interior from any 306, even perhaps the plush leather ones if you fancy some luxury, and it’ll be halfway there.
Champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget sound appealing? Step this way to one of the cheapest ways to park a V8 on the drive. Yes, once the preserve of Prime Ministers, the X308 Jaguar XJ8 is now a prime sh-tbox.
This one would be a gamble. It’s seriously cheap at a mere £1,250, but with only a month MOT remaining, bills could quickly escalate. The MOT history tells a story of a well-used car, not pampered perhaps but a trustworthy machine, covering between 5k-10k miles a year on average.
I could certainly see myself commuting in this, swaddled in a blanket of leather and wood, with the V8 burbling away under the bonnet. I might need a ministerial salary for the fuel bill though.
The used car market seems just as buoyant as ever and with supply chain issues influencing the manufacturing of new vehicles, there’s no better time to delve into the classifieds. Whether you’re looking for a sensible people moving machine or a hardcore track monster, boot up your favourite site and get bidding! On a side note, please buy that GTI6 before I do.