New wheels for a gigging musician? - NowWheels
Hi folks! I hope some of you knowledgeable folks can help with some advice on choosing and paying for a new car for a friend who is a gigging musician. Her requirements don't seem to be for the usual sort of girly car which most of my friends have

She is a solo artist whose work consists mostly of live performances, in venues which may be anywhere in the UK. The gigs tend to be clumped by time, but not geographically, so an appearance in Derby may be followed by one the next day in Shefield (easy), or by one in Exeter (long drive). So there can be a lot of miles racked up, mostly on motorways.

After previous old cars kept on expiring, she has been hiring cars for the last year, which works out quite expensive. So I'm trying to help her find a way of getting a car that will do the job without fuss and doesnt have to be paid for up front -- I'm sure its gotta be much cheaper than renting.

The main requirements for the car are a) reliability b) boot space and c) suitability for motorway use:

a) Breaking down on the road to a gig is A Very Bad Thing[TM], so her car needs to be very reliable and cheap to run -- which seems to point to a new car of a reliable sort (a time with a French car has left some lasting trauma, and wont be repeated)

b) The boot has to be able to fit a big guitar and lots of bags, and ordinary hatchbacks don't work -- a Ford Focus ends up with half the luggage on the back seat exposed to view, though a previous Ford Orion had an excellent boot. A hired Nissan Tino has a big enough boot, so she's been thinking of one of them, but I suspect that a saloon version repmobile with a big boot would do the job as well and might be cheaper (or is that daft??)

c) An experiment with a diesel car was unsuccessful because it didnt have enough voomf for the motorways (though posts here seem to suggest that some newer diesels are better) -- but beyond that it doesnt need to be a fast car, just something that can keep up with the traffic.

"Image" is completely unimportant, except that I think she'd rather be boiled in oil than be seen in something posh like a BMW or a car with fins and go-fast stripes or lots of gleamy bits.

All this seems to me to point to one of the sales rep type of cars you see lots of, and probably one of the ones which is considered uncool, so that it's a bit cheaper.

Then, if she finds a type of car that suits, how to finance it? Is leasing a viable option for a self-employed individual, or is it better to try to buy it on a finance deal? There seem to dozens of difft types of financing available, but it needs to be one which doesnt need a big deposit.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!


New wheels for a gigging musician? - Hugo {P}
High Claire

Welcome to the Backroom

You don't say how much money she has to spend, however since you talk about credit this will be affected by the repayments she can afford.

Firstly she should work this out. ie, can she afford say £200 per month? If so she could probably get new or nearly new of most medium sized saloon.

The next question is what can she afford to insure?

She has the option of course of getting an 8 year old car that's done 70K odd for about a grand. That would cost her very little in depreciation but repairs may be a little higher if she's unlucky, unless she goes for a full service history. These cars tend to cause far fewer problems later on in life.

Once she's decided on her finances then come back and dicuss.


"Forever indebted to experience of others"
New wheels for a gigging musician? - Thommo
Vauxhall Cavalier SRI (the liftback not the saloon version). About J/K reg in good condition £1,000 tops. A bit agricultural because its so basic mechanically but bullet proof reliability and very cheap to fix by your local garage/blacksmith if it does breakdown.

Goes like a scalded cat and when you fold down the rear seats has enough room for two double basses (I know I have done this).

My bestest car ever and I am sorry I ever got rid of it, plus go for the J and you do not even need a catalytic converter!
New wheels for a gigging musician? - DavidHM
As a saloon, I'd recommend a VW Bora TDi, slightly leggy, for about £6k, if that's what she wants to spend. Or as a banger, its ancestor, the Vento, which is a saloon Golf - it looks ugly but if the boot were a flat in Chelsea it would be worth £200k. With the TDi engine it should last 150k, do 50 mpg and keep up with traffic - just make sure it's a TDi and not the Umwelt TD or, worse, a non-turbo diesel.

New, I'd look at one of those - but that would be expensive, or a Citroën Xsara Picasso. A Berlingo is a cheaper alternative but will probably lose just as much in depreciation and will remind her more of a van when she isn't using all the space. A Picasso starts at £9252 for a petrol 1.6 LX and a diesel (recommended, especially over big miles) is an extra grand, and another £600 for a Desire with air con. Try

With no deposit, and a balloon payment of £3700 (easily achievable for a three year old Picasso) that would work out at £195 per month from for the 1.6
New wheels for a gigging musician? - BaseRSXmanual
My brother-in-law is a gigging musician. He plays mostly jazz and plays virtually all instruments. Mostly tenor sax and guitar though. He often has a lot of instruments with him and also sometime picks up other band members and takes them with their instruments to gigs as well. He has a 2003 Honda Odyssey mini-van. It is the perfect vehicle for this because it has comfortable seating for as many as 7 and lots of room for the instruments. He also got it with the GPS NAV because all musians have trouble finding their gigs from time to time. I don?t know if you guys have the Odyssey there but it is very nice for this type of use. It runs about $32,000 USD.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - smokie
One of the longest posts in the history of the Back Room was another musician with similar needs. He went for an Omega estate. Possibly a bit heavy on maintenance and running costs though.

See here for more info
New wheels for a gigging musician? - NowWheels
Hi David, thanks for the suggestions.

After previous bad experiences, she's very reluctant to consider anything secondhand -- and I know she'd run a mile from the thought of something like the J/K reg car which Thommo suggested.

I've seen some of those Citroen Picassos around and they look quite similar to the Nissan Tino she's using at the moment ... but she's had bad experiences with past Citroens, so would be reluctant to try again. I thought from reading the BackRoom that the newer French car were still problematic, especially with the electric bits (new car seem to be full of electrics) -- or have the French improved?

It seems to me that a car that's mildly problematic isnt necessarily too much of a disaster if you're at home with the dealer nearby and you can get a couteousy car -- but a breakdown en route to a gig in the middle of nowhere means lots of hassle and probably a lost gig, with heavy loss of income and damage to reputation.

Is the VW Bora more reliable than other similar cars of the same size? I thought VWs were getting quite expensive these days.

Thanks again for your help
New wheels for a gigging musician? - NowWheels
Hi Hugo

Thanks for the welcome. Are you serious that £200 a month would be enough to consider that sort of car? That's a lot less than hire cars are costing her at the moment, so I think it would be well manageable.

I don't think insurance is a problem, because she's in her 50s, got maximum no claims bonus, and has never had any sort of sizeable claim on a policy. She's kept her own insurance anyway while hiring cars, so that wouldnt be an issue unless she got a fancy car (which she doesnt want anyway).

So what sort of cars are worh looking at?

Thanks again for your help!


New wheels for a gigging musician? - bazza
Newish Nissan Primera fits the bill perfectly. Great bargain, don't go wrong, big boot etc. One of the later old shapes would be my choice.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - SjB {P}
Please tell me I'm not the only one who read the title as "New wheels for a giggLing musician", until I opened the link! ;-)

Must be a tired brain after a wonderful day out in the Cotswolds on the Hornet! One of those easy flowing days when everything goes right, and you know why bikes beat cars hands down (soon forgotten when the winter arrives!)
New wheels for a gigging musician? - nick
If you want reliability, then buy japanese. End of story.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - DavidHM
£200 a month or thereabouts is enough to spend on a three year deal. 's deals on Primeras are worth looking at if she doesn't want to go second hand and reliability is important. I think they're £9800, which should be £205 per month if she decides to go for A late, old shape, second hand car would be cheaper still.

If not, she could finance it over longer - the disadvantage of smartermotoring is that next time round, she'll probably only have £1k or so deposit at the end of three years once she's paid the balloon amount, although that varies from car to car.

Personally I wouldn't be put off a Picasso by the reliability; okay, they're not perfect as a Japanese car might be, but they're cheap enough that it's not the be all and end all. A Corolla T2, probably the best Japanese mini MPV, is about £2k more than the equivalent Picasso and not much of that premium will still be there when she comes to sell. While people talk about French cars as unreliable, they don't usually fall apart - it's only ever a small percentage that do. An Almera Tino starts at £11,290 from for a 2.2 diesel S. (I assume that, as a self employed musician, she would be eligible for Makro prices).

I personally wouldn't buy a new Bora; that was more of a one answer suggestion for an inoffensive car with a big boot, a reasonable amount of space and good economy that would cater to a lot of budgets, rather than a definitive answer. For what it's worth, new Boras start at £12,134 from and if she's happy with a mini MPV I'd recommend she get one of those instead, for Japanese reliability and also the fact that MPVs tend to hold their value better than unloved saloons, even ones with a VW badge.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - Hugo {P}
Please tell me I'm not the only one who read the
title as "New wheels for a giggLing musician", until I opened
the link! ;-)
Must be a tired brain after a wonderful day out in
the Cotswolds on the Hornet! One of those easy flowing
days when everything goes right, and you know why bikes beat
cars hands down (soon forgotten when the winter arrives!)


No you're not actually!

I can't get the giggling musician out of my head either.

Oh well, Past my bedtime!


"Forever indebted to experience of others"
New wheels for a gigging musician? - andymc {P}
I read it as giggling too, but my excuse is that I am still suffering the consequences of having consumed a lot of sake in a Japanese restaurant last night ....

Back on topic, if the budget permits then another possibility might be the Skoda Octavia diesel estate. 130 PS will mean loads of poke for setting the pace on the motorway, plus massive boot, Skodas less likely to be nicked as well. Even the 100 PS version should be able to keep up with the flow. Skoda seems to do very well in satisfaction and reliability surveys and the Octavia estate, while no oil painting, does look better than the saloon IMHO. Better value than many competitors.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - J Bonington Jagworth
VW microbus. Has to be. Musicians' Union requirement.
New wheels for a gigging musician? - Dwight Van Driver
Funny you mention that JBJ as I was thinking along the lines of the Merc Sprinter's baby brother, the Vito is it? Bags of room and if anything like its bigger brother goes like stink.Plus room for a sleeping bag (or two).


New wheels for a gigging musician? - J Bonington Jagworth
"Plus room for a sleeping bag"

Makes a lot of sense, especially if you've been performing successfully (and thirstily) in a pub miles from home...
New wheels for a gigging musician? - No Do$h
The Vito does go like a Merc Sprinter and then some. A good friend has used one to tow a trailer complete with racing car, spare wheels/tyres, fuel, tools and a full service awning/marquee from Bournemouth to Knock Hill (that be norf of border, that be) and back and it went like stink. Returned good MPG as well.

No Dosh, aka

Value my car