The damage

Michael Booth discovers the cost of reviving an old British banger

For some people the idea of buying a cheap second-hand car tends to rank alongside sharing a prison cell with Freddy Kruger and a blackboard as an experience to avoid. But eight million used cars were sold in the UK last year, and for pounds 1,000 you should be able to acquire something that will get you from A to B (or, at the very least, from "A") perfectly adequately. If you can stomach last decade's model, a spot of rust and a flatulent exhaust then the benefits include cheaper insurance and spares, worry- free parking and the environmental high ground (building a new car requires far more polluting energy than running a clapped-out one). Expect it to break down and you won't be disappointed and, above all, park it round the corner so nobody knows it's yours. (Prices are for the quantities needed for an average, British-built saloon.)

The make-over Fill holes in body work with David's P40 glass fibre, pounds 6.99; cover scratches and dents with P38, pounds 7.99; sand with wet-and-dry paper, pounds 1.99; spray with primer, pounds 5.99; paint, pounds 6.99; and finish with T-Cut, pounds 6.49 (T-Cut also restores paintwork). For stone chips, use a touch-in brush, pounds 2.99. Underneath the car, remove rust with wire brush, and coat with Hammerite Rust Primer, pounds 5.19 and Underbody Seal, pounds 2.99. Use Armor All, pounds 3.69, to refresh interior vinyl, wheels and rubber trim.

Intensive engine care Wynn's Stop Smoke, pounds 3.99, seals worn engine parts; Wynn's Engine Stop Leak, pounds 4.99, stops oil leaks; a tin of Gun Gum, pounds 5.99, will seal a holed exhaust (be warned: none of these lasts too long).

Starting Holts Cold Start, pounds 2.99, is the car equivalent of an espresso in the morning; also replace points, pounds 4; distributor cap, pounds 10; spark plugs, pounds 20; and battery, pounds 25, as a precaution.

Running Use higher-grade 15w/50 oil for engines which have done more than 70,000 miles, pounds 8.99 for five litres; wiper blades pounds 15.

Just in case Haynes Manual, pounds 12.99; footpump, pounds 8.99; trolley jack, pounds 24.99; jump leads, pounds 6.99; petrol can, pounds 3; Green Flag breakdown cover, pounds 38; fire extinguisher, pounds 11.99.

Total: pounds 259.20

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