10 used cars for £15k we’ve found this week | Top Gear
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Monday 27th March
Top Gear Advice

10 used cars for £15k we’ve found this week

With great gobs of money comes a great excuse to buy something classic... or completely left-field

BMW 840Ci
  1. Range Rover Evoque

    Range Rover Evoque

    ‘Ah,’ you must be thinking, ‘here comes Top Gear with this week’s recommendation and rationale for picking something with all the reliability of a horoscope.’

    And... yes. We rather have done that. Well spotted. But by picking the Evoque, you are getting a much newer vehicle for your £15,000 – which means it’s further away from the very definite shelf life Range Rovers seem to have before they become money pits. It’ll also be safer and use less fuel and wait a bloody minute that sounds like practical advice again. How does that keep happening?

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

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  2. Volkswagen Phaeton

    Volkswagen Phaeton

    At first glance, this doesn’t seem like the cleverest idea. Nor does it seem it at second, third or indeed fourth glances. Not even changing it up from a glance to a look, a gaze, an eyeball or a stare seems to make much of a difference. Facing facts for a second – this might not be a clever idea at all.

    As not-clever ideas go, then, is this at least sexy enough to make up for it? Erm, no. It’s a big Volkswagen saloon, which makes you look like you’re a private hire for the airport run. But should you bear the slings, arrows and what basically amounts to ballistae of running and repair costs, you’ll be just about the comfiest and lowest-key driver on the road. And possibly the happiest.

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

  3. Abarth 595

    Abarth 595

    But enough of the wafty barges for a moment. Let’s get down to something that’d fit in your kitchen, with an engine the size of the cereal box on the counter. And, in the case of the Abarth 595, with just as much crackle and pop. But hopefully not any snap.

    Although we will admit that the suspension is generally set one click shy of bone-snapping, the Abarth is the happy, energetic little scamp that won’t rest until your day is better than before you started driving.

    Hey, a fastish Fiat 500 is pretty sensible, isn’t it?

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  4. Jaguar XE

    Jaguar XE

    Small executive saloons. Remember when they felt like the biggest thing in the entire motoring world? Pepperidge Fa... er, we remember.

    But it’s not through any real fault of their own that small executive saloons have rather receded from the foreground – and particularly not the Jaguar XE. It’s home to possibly the best mix of a good ride and great handling in its entire class, and it’s a gorgeous thing, inside and out. And we’re not the sort around here to pass up a good ride from a gorgeous thing, however cramped it might be the back.

    Surely this counts as nearly sensible, right?

  5. Dodge Ram van

    Dodge Ram van

    No, we haven’t taken a hit to the head. Why do you ask?

    OK, so a gigantic, lumbering American van powered by a V8 that displaces 5.9 litres and only manages 250bhp might not seem like the best way to spend £15,000. Or even £1,500.

    But this isn’t a decision you make based on speed, or handling, or indeed tasteful interior appointments. You buy a Ram van because it’s basically a covered truck, and as such will haul just about anything you feel like, up to and including a small house.

    Also, if it matters to you, the one we found apparently has the 5.7-litre Hemi engine, which means more like 350bhp. Still lugging around a gigantic van, it must be said.

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

  6. Maserati 4200 Coupe

    Maserati 4200 Coupe

    We’ll put this very plainly: you can have a Ferrari-derived engine, in a Maserati grand tourer, for £15,000. If that doesn’t stir at least something in you, we might have to try a little harder. What if we said it was developed in tandem with Ferrari? Or that it’s dry-sumped like the one in the F430? Or that it’s the same basic engine as the GranTurismo, one of the best-sounding engines of all time? Look, we’re working pretty hard here; just give us some sort of sign that you’re interested.

    Oh, the automatic gearbox thing? Look, we can fix that. The one we’ve found this week is automatic, but a manual 4200 GT with 30,000 miles and sold a few months ago for £15,200 over at Collecting Cars. It’s a rare fish to find that way, but still basically within budget. Good hunting, people.

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

  7. BMW 840Ci

    BMW 840Ci

    You can’t (or rather, shouldn’t) buy the V12-powered 850Ci for this money, but you’re really only looking at a 14bhp deficit against the 5.0-litre V12, or a 40bhp shortfall against the 5.4-litre V12 in the later 850Ci. And in either case, the real-world difference between the heavier 300-odd horsepower 850Ci and lighter, 280-odd horsepower 840Ci is pretty slim.

    And besides, none of the regular E31 8 Series are exactly performance cars by today’s measure, given there’s hot hatch levels of power motivating GT cars that nudge the two-tonne mark. But the original 8 Series isn’t about that today – it’s a long-legged, spacious and comfortable cruiser with peak BMW styling... including pop-up headlights.

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

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  8. Mercedes W123

    Mercedes W123

    A reliable classic car that’s still within earshot of affordability? Yep, that’ll be absolutely impossible.

    Well, that’s at least how it feels these days – were it not for the next three cars. Starting with the Mercedes W123.

    OK, let’s be plain about a few couple of things. W123s are truly old cars now, and despite the Merc’s legendary longevity and immense popularity, certain parts have finite shelf lives. And in some cases, replacement parts are getting harder to find. There’s also the small matter that £15,000 is within earshot of affordability in the way that standing a mile away from Glastonbury is within earshot.

    Solve those few little niggles* and you’ll still wind up the proud owner of an everyday classic, as impossible as that phrase might seem these days.

    *The size of each niggle may vary

    Come on, this one is at least on nodding terms with sensible

  9. Peugeot 205 GTI

    Peugeot 205 GTI

    The trouble with an obviously good choice for a classic car is that just about everything that could be said about it already has – in contemporary new-car reviews, retrospective reviews, the Retro section of just about any publication worth its salt and a place on just about every top ten list on the internet. Even ones for ‘Best Sopranos episodes’. OK, that last part might be something of a fabrication.

    So rather than extolling its virtues for the umpteenth and a half time, we’ll instead remind you that small French hatchbacks that are fast approaching 40 years old are not the last word in crash safety and that, in general, road car brakes have come quite a way in the intervening years. Still, if you can get one, you absolutely should.

    Honestly, it’s not that unsensible

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  10. 1960s Mini Cooper

    1960s Mini Cooper

    What were we just saying about obvious good choices, or indeed what crash safety and brake technology meant back when TV had four channels and that was your lot? Well, things don’t get a lot better on either front if you head back to when TV only had three.

    Yes, it’s the original Mini Cooper, perhaps the most famous progenitor of the whole ‘Small, Light and Practical Car that Also Manages to be Uproarious Fun’ thing that’s had... y’know, some popularity since.

    Speaking of originality, our £15,000 budget doesn’t really get you in the door for unfettered, unmolested examples. But honestly, we’re happy enough to leave that sort of thing to soulless speculators; cars are made to be driven, and a special few are made to be enjoyed.

    What, were you going to be sensible or something?

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