Various - Used car advice - Nickjp
So I’m looking for some advice on buying a used car. I have a very small budget but don’t want the standard boring hatchback. Having looked on auto trader it has come down to the 3 options below. Looking for anyone who can give me comments / advice / warnings about them. Thanks for any help i! advance :)
1. 1999 BMW 323i 2.5L Convertible 120,000 miles £1490
2. 2003 Honda Civic i-VTEC 1.7L Coupe 110,000 miles £1295
3. 2005 Alfa Romeo 156 JTD Veloce 1.9L Saloon 96,000 miles £950
Various - Used car advice - daveyjp

Once a car is over 10 years old the badge doesn't matter. Its all about evidence it has been looked after.

If one of those cars has had one owner and a wedge of receipts for preventative maintenance and largely clear MOT certificates chances are it is better value than one which has had 6 owners in the last 3 years, no service history and continual advisories. The one I look for is low tread on tyres. If tyres aren't being inspected before MOT time what else is being missed?

A convertible is always a risk.

Various - Used car advice - SLO76
Forget the Alfa and the BMW! Both will be total money pits which will be totally unaffordable to someone on such a tight budget. You need to reign in your ideas. You haven't the money to buy a high performance premium brand car.

The Honda is plausible if it has been looked after but I'd start looking at more mainstream cars where you stand a chance of finding a reliable cheap runabout.

The Mazda 3 is a good bet, they're practical, reliable, cheap to buy and fun to drive. The Ford Focus too as long as you avoid the diesels.

I'd advise a rethink before you waste money you don't have.

Various - Used car advice - RichardW

Every petrol head should have an Alfa - even if it is diesel in this case! None of them look bad on the MOT history, but the Alfa is a lot cheaper becuase it is a private sale - most trade cars at this end of the market have issues. Last MOT said Alfa might need rear tyres, so worth a look if viewing, and use to bargain. Hondas are said to go on for ever, but any car at this age can have a catastrophic failure (auto box for one!). You need to prepared for any of them to be a write off at any time, unless you can DIY repairs. Go and drive them and see which you like, but I would see the Alfa first.

Various - Used car advice - Nickjp
Thanks for your comments guys. All my cars to date have been practical and boring thus the list shown (although the civ isn't THAT exciting!) but perhaps I should continue down this road due to budget.. or think about upping the budget :| really just looking for something that doesn't bore the life out of me every time I see it but that also isn't going to cost me a fortune in repairs. Back to the drawing board i think. Thanks again.
Various - Used car advice - gordonbennet

I understand where you are coming from with boring, but there's cars which are boring to look at and cars which are boring to drive, one mans boring is another mans just right.

Looks don't bother me i like big lazy engines, there is nothing more frustrating to me than a car that needs to be thrashed or changing gears every few seconds to keep them going, and a car like some modern Diesels where below 2000rpm there's nothing, then at 2001rpm it comes alive are just horrible, and don't even mention these modern engines that stall if you look at them sideways.

If you want a Honda then search out a 2.0S type up to around 2005, these are as near bomp proof as you wil find, reasonably refined and economical but if you want to get up into VTEK revs they can really pick up their skirts, available in 3 or 5 door versions, the 5 door probably looks more boring in pure looks, my daughter still has her second of these she's covered around 100k miles in the 2 x 2004 S types she's had, never suffered a breakdown to date, and these cars have been thrashed above and way beyond and they just keep coming back for more, chain cam too so as long as its been serviced regularly should be all good.

Where you have to be careful in big engines in small cars is not to get into territory where the vehicle was too clever/electronic for its own good, or rather a nice vehicle to drive whilst in warranty (especially if someone else is picking up the tab) but wouldn't touch with a bargepole once out, simplest is always best, a cambelt change on a wrong choice might be 3/4 your purchase cost.

Various - Used car advice - SLO76
Good call on the Civic Type S 2.0 5dr. These were a bit of a well kept secret. 160bhp, plenty of go but not as hard as the Type R plus has rear doors for family duties. They're all over 12 yrs old now though and they're known for steering rack problems. Last well otherwise and you do occasionally find them with caring elderly owners who probably thought they were just buying a 5dr Civic.

The Mazda 3 comes in 2.0 Sport spec also. Not as quick as the Civic but nicer handling in my opinion. Both are good cheap but sporty options.
Various - Used car advice - badbusdriver

Agree with Richard that every petrol head should have an Alfa. But, also agree with the comments from SLO!. With an older diesel, even though the miles are not that high, it has the potential to be a huge money pit. Given how small your budget for buying the car is, im assuming your 'running costs' budget is equally small, so reliability is, or should be your top priority!.

I would suggest a '99 - '06 toyota celica, there are a few out there in your budget. As long as it has been serviced regular, reliability should be a given. Also, i would think a hyundai coupe worth a look, there are a range of engines available, including (something worth considering if you have a tight budget) a 1.6 petrol.

Various - Used car advice - Nickjp
Thanks again everyone. Appreciate your thoughts.
 

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