A supercar for a snip (pounds 19,000)

Most of us have not got the cash to match our driving dreams. Supercars are indulgent, impractical and above all expensive. Even a millionaire might think twice at stumping up the pounds 635,000 plus VAT required to put a brand new McLaren F1 on the road. However, by rummaging around the used car market, thinking laterally and buying wisely it is still possible to join the supercar club for less than pounds 20,000.

To qualify as a supercar, a vehicle must be hand built and have a name to conjure with, so romantic monickers with a sporting pedigree such as Ferrari, Lotus, Maserati and Porsche all help. Styling will be sleek and sexy, which means a low body profile combined with an attention-grabbing profile. The engine is likely to be where the luggage and rear passengers are usually kept, so you won't have much room for the shopping. And, of course, the performance (that you will never be able to use) on the right side of 150mph.

If we feel nervous buying a modest used hatchback, then we should be utterly terrified of the prospect of a supercar. Not only is there plenty that can go wrong, it will also go wrong in the most expensive way possible. Open the bonnet and stare in awe at the V12 quad camshaft heart of the monster, could you tell if it was firing on only 11 cylinders? That Rosso Red paintwork may look gorgeous, but are there any indications that underneath lurks some equally red rot?

Either buy from a respected specialist in the marque, or use one to check the supercar over. It takes years of experience to spot a secondhand supercar that won't bite back in terms of repairs or dangerous mechanical disintegration.

Research your marque: buy the expensive coffee table books, join the owners club and become a supercar bore. Then you will know roughly what you are looking at, and what you should find is three things: history, history, and history. If there isn't plenty of evidence that previous owners have lavished a fortune on the thing and have the bills, service records and receipts to prove it, don't bother. The real secret to paying so little for the privilege of owning a supercar, is to choose the right model.

No one thinks they could afford a Ferrari, but there are two Ferraris, in particular, which commit the supercar sin of being vaguely practical. Both the 308 GT4 and its successor, the Modial, have a 2+2 configuration that does not please the purists. To everyone else these cars just look like slightly longer Ferraris. And there are plenty around, too. Pullicino Classics in Wandsworth, London, has a large selection of exotics. When I visited, a blue 1979 308 was retailing for pounds 18,995. Further afield at Edmond Harris in Oxfordshire was a pair of Mondials - an early 1982 "8" model at pounds 15,000 and a later 1985 QV for pounds 18,950.

When it came to seeking out equally charismatic Italian machinery I did not have to stray from Pullicino's premises. Among their Maseratis was a temptingly cheap 1978 Kyalami at pounds 8,950. Looking more the supercar part was a 1960 Maserati 3,500 GT for pounds 19,000 and a pair of Lamborghinis - a left hand drive Urraco P250 for pounds 17,000 and a flashy Eighties Jalpa for pounds 2,000 more.

But there is no reason to shop exclusively for Italian cars. Britain builds supercars, too. The Lotus Esprit Turbo is cheap enough when new and almost a giveaway when used. A reputation for poor build quality and a dated design has not helped values, but canny buyers get one of the best handling and fastest supercars ever. At Barry Ely's small east London premises there were two immaculate examples, a 1989 Turbo in white with red leather selling for pounds l6,495 and another finished in red that was two years older and pounds 2,000 cheaper.

France's only supercar is the Alpine V6 Turbo and everything about it is right, except the parent company's name, Renault. What supercar snobs are missing is 150mph performance, the classic rear engine layout, and the distinctive looks that keep everyone guessing as to what exotic model it is. Eurotec Classic cars, in Wareham, Dorset, had a 1989 model for just pounds 10,950. Purchased new it would have cost close to the pounds 30,000.

By contrast, everything about a Porsche is right, from the heraldic bonnet badge to the purposeful styling and supreme build quality. It is the 911 which turns all the heads, and many models from the mid Eighties can be bought for less than pounds 20,000, although the top-of-the-range Turbo is a borderline case at our hypothetical budget. However, why choose the obvious when Porsche's forgotten supercar, in the shape of the 928, is so very cheap. Its conventional V8 water cooled engine, radically (for Porsche) mounted at the front of the car, did not convince many buyers. Yet it is a stunningly competent car and even main dealers such as Dick Lovett in Swindon price the cars realistically. A 1988 Sport was going for pounds 16,500 and a 1990 S4 was priced at a smidgen over pounds 20,000 (pounds 61,000 new). It is fast, reliable and utterly intoxicating.

Best of all though, a 928 is a supercar that you can use every day. The trouble is: would you be able to afford the running costs?

Dick Lovett 01793 615888

Pullicino Classics 0181 877 0157

Edmond Harris 01993 778423

Barry Ely Sports Cars 0181 558 3221

Eurotec Classic Cars 01929 400711

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links