Car Choice: Be wise with your money in these difficult times


Sanjeev Subramaniam has a very quick question on behalf of a close friend. His mate has an MG ZR160, but the running costs have become unsustainable because it regularly goes wrong. It doesn't help that Sanjeev's friend has recently been made redundant. With a £1,200 budget to play with – until re-employment comes to the rescue – just how should Sanjeev's friend spend that money wisely?

A car for the head

Sanjeev's friend needs to spend the least amount of money on the most amount of reliable car. Ideally he needs to spend under £1,000, leaving several hundred pounds to spend on tyres, an exhaust, or other components he may need to replace over the coming months. He does not need a sporty car, just a reliable one – and if you want reliability then you have to buy Japanese. The most numerous, dull, but worthy vehicle ever produced is the Toyota Corolla. If Sanjeev's friend wants a model that will get him by over the coming months then a 1994/1995 1.3 model would be perfect. Here is a three-door hatchback, which is economical to run – returning more than 40mpg – and that only needs minimal servicing. The vehicle will have around 100,000 miles on the clock, be pretty much rust free, have a full MOT, and cost about £400. I know, because I found half a dozen of them in the classifieds.

A car for the heart

A stylish cheap car that you could fall in love with? Well, it would be easy enough to buy an old Jaguar, but the potential running costs on one of those would be prohibitive. In that case then, we can look back to the mid-1990s again and come up with the Mazda 323, below. First of all, Mazdas have a fabulous reputation for reliability, and the 323 in particular has been very good indeed. But even better – it looks interesting. Whereas the Toyota Corolla is completely missable, a 323 stands out as a very stylish package. It resembles a fastback coupé despite having four doors and a rear hatch. Early versions even had pop-up headlamps, just like supercars. Certainly it is a sporty car to drive, which after the MG would mean a fun factor of sorts. There are 1.3 and 1.5 petrol engines and I would recommend the smaller one, which would be slightly cheaper to insure, although the fuel consumption is similar at around 38mpg. For £500 you can find a 1994 version, in immaculate condition, with those pop-up headlamps.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin