Car Choice: Swede dreams

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Trevor McKinney owns a 1989 Volvo 240 estate and wants to replace it with an identical, or similar, 200-series Volvo, possibly a six-cylinder model this time. He has a budget of around £1,400 to spend.

Trevor McKinney owns a 1989 Volvo 240 estate and wants to replace it with an identical, or similar, 200-series Volvo, possibly a six-cylinder model this time. He has a budget of around £1,400 to spend.

am glad that Trevor enjoyed his 240. This model is the archetypal suburban estate beloved of green welly owners and school-run mums. If he is considering a six-cylinder engine then economy can't be too important. Certainly Trevor could upgrade to a Volvo 740, which would be better-equipped and more sharply styled, although for £1,400 any cars within budget are going to have done around 120,000 miles.

Even better would be a 940, which was at the top of the old Volvo tree. I found a 1993 2.0-litre Wentworth special edition with full leather and air conditioning for just £725. It had done 120,000 miles, but it had been well maintained and looked as good as new. For that price he would still have another £700 left to spend on emergencies, say tyres, an exhaust or shock-absorbers if need be.

A car for the head

It is hard to ignore the Vauxhall Carlton estates built from 1986 to 1994.

Sometimes you just need a great big comfy barge of a car and there is nothing better than these. The Carlton was finely crafted on German production lines and the six-cylinder engines are great, while the cabin is spacious and the seats supportive. The boot is massive and the estate version would swallow a Shire horse. Yet all this costs peanuts.

The CDX and Diplomat specifications would feel like luxury after an old Volvo, and the later improved Omega model is also within reach. Without trying too hard we found a 1996 2.0 CD estate with an automatic gearbox, air conditioning and all the toys for £1,595. He should easily be able to knock the seller down to £1,400. There was also a slightly less well-equipped 2.0 GLS model, again automatic, for £1,200. It had new tyres and a recent MOT, and looked like a lot of estate for a little money.

A car for the heart

Think Subaru Legacy and your mind goes completely blank. Drive one though and you might just start to enjoy yourself. Those characterful engines, the grippy four-wheel-drive system, the supple chassis. Ever since the old L-series models, the ability to cross a ploughed field at speed had been Subaru's enduring USP. This also explained why more than half of all Legacy sales were estates. These cars will do an awful lot of miles without breaking down. The fuel consumption is average, but the four wheel drive means it won't get stuck and can lug just about anything. The estate is not massive but it is possible to squeeze a lot inside. In the small ads we found a 2.0 GL from 1993 with a patchy service history and a tow bar (so it must have led a tough life) for £850. It could take the punishment and it has more character than most, even an old 200-series Volvo.

CAR CHOICE: Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail James Ruppert at carchoice@independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and contact number, and details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested.

Search for used cars

Comments