Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I have to get myself a large estate for next year and I have never driven or owned any of the options so Im hoping someone may have done.

What I want is a large and by large I mean Volvo sized, estate which is also fairly economical ( hence the diesel idea ) which will also be durable and reliable as far as you can with old cars.

My shortlist is Vauxhall Carlton 2.3D, Audi 100 Avant, Volvo 740 TD, Peugeot 505 2.5D and the Ford Granada 2.5D.

Im not keen on turbo cars really as at the age Im looking at, its likely to be knackered, so id prefer one of the non-turbo options as a preference.

My budget is about a grand or so.

What id like to know, is any of these cars proper reliable and what are they like to own. Im NOT interested in performance whatsoever, so if its sluggish, not bothered ( I put that in because I know many people like punchy diesels and may assume I do, but not in this case )

I have already crossed the Merc estates off because they are not that economical, nor is the Peugeot 504. Also the Citroen CX doesnt appear because I owned one of them and it was a nightmare.

Id also be interested in any petrol options that can get near the diesel economy, but they must run on unleaded.

Old large diesel estate - Manatee
Had a Granada (Scorpio) 2.5 D. Quite liked it actually, but the VM engine was not exactly refined and I had 2 or three failures of the idler pulleys/tensioner on the serpentine belt. IIRC they are also prone to HGF - the heads (there are 4 separate ones) warp apparently, though mine never had this problem in about 80,000m.

It was a good load carrier - a full size single bed would go in the back with the tailgate shut. With self levelling suspension heavy loads didn't seem to make much difference either (but check the dampers on the back for leaks if self-levelling - I think they are expensive to replace. It did 34 mpg normally so not exceptionally economical, but a lot better than the petrols.
Old large diesel estate - local yokel
I wouldn't include the 505 - very ancient, parts impossible. Lots of quite tidy 405s though if you look carefully. Many are one/two owner, and the TD is both econical (45mpg), comfortable, pokey if needed, and with plenty of parts from 405/Xantia to draw on. Well understood by the motor trade because they are so common. Not as huge as the Volvo clearly, but not prone to rust.

Mine is on 171,000 and is excellent for its price of £600.
Old large diesel estate - Craig_1969
Mondeo TD? 50mpg cheap parts fairly recent ones for this money.
Old large diesel estate - Bromptonaut
.Apparently 505 is the standard taxi in Francophone Africa. High theft risk as there's a racket "lifting" them to be stripped for spares. Probably not such a risk here in Northants but one journo on the London Standard wrote an anguished pice after his second went.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
All the cars im thinking of are ancient so thats doesnt matter - my Mazda is 20 years old and I have no issues getting parts for that. What parts are impossible? I managed to get parts for a Talbot Avenger, specific to one model produced for only a year, straight off the shelf. Why is the 505 so badly affected?

The 405 is tiny and I had one with 180k on it and it was like an old slipper, sloppy and falling apart.

The space is vital unfortunatly.
Old large diesel estate - Vlad2
Don't discount the Mercs....OK they may only do about 36mpg, but they will outlast everything else on your list and to cap it all you can run them on Veg Oil at 0.40p per litre.
Old large diesel estate - honeybear
The Volvo TD (of which we have had two) one was ok and served us well the other was a pig and broke down repeatedly and cost us a fortune also did 0-60 in about 3 weeks I would avoid ,not too good on the mpg either.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I like the Mercs but fuel consumption IS important unfortunatly.

This is sounding harder than I was hoping!

Any comments on the Vauxhall?
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I just had an idea, what about a Mitsubishi Space Wagon TD? HJ seems to give them a good write up.
Old large diesel estate - barchettaman
Xantia TD?
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Not a chance. Stupidly complicated - way too many things to go wrong.
I want a car that is pre-ECU's really.
Old large diesel estate - Bromptonaut
The pre HDI (ie XUD) versions of the Xantia are mechanically injected so no engine ECU, though the immobiliser is no doubt electronic. Hydropneumatic suspension, while having a reputation for complexity, is pretty trouble free in non Activa iterations and after nigh on 50yrs in production is well understood by independant specialists.
Old large diesel estate - GregSwain
I just had an idea, what about a Mitsubishi Space Wagon
TD? HJ seems to give them a good write up.

Space Wagons aren't a bad car, but their load-carrying capability is far short of a Volvo 740. How about a Vauxhall Omega 2.5TD estate? There aren't many other cars around with such a huge load capacity. Frog-eye Ford Scorpio maybe?!

I seem to remember some Japanese models - Toyota Camry, or Mitsubishi Sigma? Doubt either would be available in a diesel though.
Old large diesel estate - GregSwain
Just had a look on Autotrader - Vauxhall Omegas start at £1000 for a 10-year-old diesel estate in fair condition. Quite a few with automatic gearboxes too, which is surprising for a 10y/o diesel.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I was thinking of the Space Wagon because although it doesnt have the load length, it does have height.

As I said before, I dont want a modern car at all, I like them simple and that means trying to get an older car. I dont mind them and the late 80's SW is japanese which is a big bonus in my book with old cars, its more a case of whether there are many left.

I dont want anything newer than 1990ish.
Old large diesel estate - DavidHM
Stu... how many miles are you doing? Pre-1990 diesels are rare (how many of those will either have done mega miles and been written off, or alternatively just been taxied/plumbers' vans/neglected generally?)

The Mercedes is a high theft risk - Mapmaker (where's he been lately?) had two W123s stolen in quick succession from London, just like the 505. If it were me I'd probably go for a Passat estate, maybe with the 1.6 turbo diesel engine. (I know, I know...) I did look at getting one instead of my 306 but for some reason it was phenomenally expensive to insure.

Something like this: tinyurl.com/fh5b7
Old large diesel estate - local yokel
What do you want to load in this great length? How about a trailer instead?
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Its an invalid scooter that my nan usues to get around when we take her out. Its one of the 8mph ones so quite large. In addition to this, I would need space also for the luggage of 4 people for a holiday. The seat folds on the scooter so height isnt really much of an issue, but pure space is.

As for pre-1990 diesels, yes I know they are rare nowadays, but over the last few months, ive seen them crop up often enough to make them options. I could find about 10 old space wagons after a quick search, so they still exist although these were the petrol models.

As for security - I live in an exceptionally safe place to live - you can actually leave your car unlocked where I live, so Im not expecting issues with theft and my insurance is always cheap, whatever the grouping.

I hadnt thought of the Passat - whats the load space like? Can they take weight?
Old large diesel estate - adverse camber
I cant help thinking that you really want a van type thing.

the sort of thing that transco / aa use 5 or 6 seats and a huge load area and can take the weight. Economy can be in the 40's
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Given that my budget is £1000 I dont think ill be getting one of them.
I already have a van, but Im keeping it for 25 years hopefully and so Im trying to use it for business essential mileage only to take the strain off it.
I already run a separate car for my personal use and im proposing to change this for a large estate to cover all my needs as at the moment, I have to take my van on holidays which I can assure you is not fun or very comfortable compared to just about any car.

The Passat and the Space Wagon are the contenders at the moment.
Old large diesel estate - cheddar
Mapmaker (where's he
been lately?) >>

I was recently thinking that though he has been around just lately.
Old large diesel estate - cheddar
W124 300TD or 250TD 6 cyl and 5cyl non-turbo diesel estates, the former is leisurely, the latter dog slow though they are solid and reliable.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I have looked up the figures for the 250 TD and I must say, they are very impressive ( 48.7 mpg at 56mph )- I had been looking at the older TE but perhaps the newer shape ones are worth a look. can I get a good 250 for £1000?
Old large diesel estate - Martin1981
If your budget is £1000 I'd recommend one of the later Peugeot 405 diesel estates. You should be able to pick up a 1996 one of these (turbo or non-turbo) in decent condition with all the toys and with sensible mileage around the 100-120k mark for less than £1000. They are good workhorses, brilliant load luggers, give 45 mpg and are good for 200k plus if well looked after. I'd go for the TD version if I were you as the 70bhp normally aspirated diesel is rather slow to accellerate but ok once it gets going, as opposed to the 92bhp TD which produces petrol rivalling performance when provoked. The TD is hardly any thirstier than the non-turbo either.
Old large diesel estate - Martin1981
If the 405 doesn't rock your boat, I've just thought of the Citroen XM estate, but they are quite hard to get hold of. I believe the diesel versions are equipped with a 2.1 and 2.5 litre TD and I think there's also a normally aspirated 2.5D. Worth looking out for if you can find a decent early to mid 1990s example.

Old large diesel estate - nick
I'd take very large steps in the opposite direction from an XM. They take poor build quality and unreliablility to a new height. A pity because I really like them, the CX too.
Old large diesel estate - bignick
I'd take very large steps in the opposite direction from an
XM. They take poor build quality and unreliablility to a new
height. A pity because I really like them, the CX too.

Have to agree sadly - a beautiful motor car with the usual Citroen excesses in terms of toys - lovely when all working (rarely) an expensive nightmare when not (usually)
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Ive already said that first I need a car bigger than 405 and also that ive had one before and I didnt like it at all. Ive also said that performance is irrelevant ( I dont often do more than 55mph anywhere ) and I dont want a car with 'toys' because they only go wrong with age.

I do get the impression there are alotta fans of Peugeot 405's here!

This is proving to be a very hard choice indeed. Nobody seems to like the 505, nobody has anything whatsoever to say about the Carlton or the Audi ( which suprised me as they sold enough of the Carltons ), the Volvo doesnt sound all that reliable and the MK2 Granada is most likely extinct.

Im starting to think petrol power may give me more choice as it brings in the Mazda 626 estate although im not sure how economical it is, im sure it is reliable.
There is still the Merc 250 though and I have really always wanted one since I started driving.

Can anyone tell me more about the 250 and what you can expect from them? Any weak spots?
Old large diesel estate - local yokel
If you are prepared to wait, how about a W123 estate? They came with a 240 diesel that will last forever, though most of these cars do seem to suffer from tinworm in the end. There might be the odd one that has been cherished by an old buffer.

Will second the Passat for space. Even the Mk1 was generous.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
The thing about the 240D is that the fuel consumption is barely better than the petrol and neither is good - about mid 30's. The 250 in the later models is about 10 mpg more economical and unfortunatly, as much as I adore the style of the early 80's Mercs, economy is very important.

On the subject of the Passat, one of my neighbours has a C-reg auto estate, absolutely mint condition - lovely looking car. I bet thats a rare surviour.
Old large diesel estate - GregSwain
Why are you so anti-ECUs? Given the number of cars that have them, they don't go wrong very often - it's other gadgets like electric windows/mirrors that often go wrong with age - gadgets which an old Merc might very well have. If I were you, I'd also think about getting a petrol, because there's so many large cars of that vintage which weren't available with a diesel, or had a cr*p diesel option which nobody bought.
Old large diesel estate - Micky
If you're buying at £1k then I doubt if you intend to cover a huge annual mileage, so do you really need a diseseil? Is it possible to lift the scooter into the average estate? Do the DHSS (or whatever they are called this week), offer assistance?

">Vauxhall Carlton 2.3D, Audi 100 Avant, Volvo 740 TD, Peugeot 505 2.5D and the Ford Granada 2.5D<" You could buy any one of these for £1k and be immediately presented with repair bills in excess of the purchase price, so beware.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I intend to cover 15k annually and i have ramps for the scooter.

Repair bills on older cars are par for the course, but i have plenty of help in checking cars out when I buy so no worries about buying a dog and my local mechanic is a saint with old bangers.
I havent owned a car worth more than £1000 for 5 years and of the 18 old cars ive owned in my 9 years of driving ( mostly two at a time ), Ive not had a car that had any major failure and ive got better at choosing them as I got older!

I dont like ECU's because of the cars ive owned, 3 have had them failed and its a real pain, esp if the car is rare which some of mine have been fairly so.
I think of it like this - things like power steering, ABS, electric windows etc, all generally fail when a car gets to a certain age, so since these things are not actually required to make a car go from A-B, but do cost a fair bit to repair, buy a car without them and avoid costly bills. I resent paying to repair things which I dont actually need.
My current car has no toys and electric assistance and so I dont have to worry about such things failing. It may well have an ECU lurking somewhere, im not sure, I hope not, but its japanese so cross fingers that it dont break if it has one.
All I have in my car is a CD player, thats as far as I go to having any creature comforts. Its an old-fashioned view perhaps, but I gained it through experience of failing electric windows, leaking PAS racks and complicated ABS faults that I have witnessed.
Old large diesel estate - blue_haddock
Well i personally think you should wake up and smell the coffee - I've just run an search on autotrader for the cars you've mentioned in the spec you want - there was 1 carlton (that was a TD), no Audi 100 Avants, a couple of 740 saloons, they don't even list the 505 and there were no diesel granada estates. Yes they sold a lot of these exec sized cars but most were saloons and even fewer were diesel so trying to find a diesel estate version in a low spec will be nigh on impossible.

Your budget is pretty small, the car would definately be at the banger end of the scale so regardless of whether it's got an ECU, PAS, electric windows etc your are looking potential large bills - remember generally the larger the car the pricier the parts.

Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
You dont look for those kinda cars on Autotrader!

The first place you check is Ebay which is a goldmine for the rare and unusual.

There is a 740 TD estate on Ebay, two 505 2.5's, this : cgi.ebay.co.uk/ford-granada-mk2-VERY-RARE-estate-c...m

This is just a sample of what I could find in 5 minutes in one place and this isnt including what comes up in the classifieds on a weekly basis, so the coffee smells ok from here.

What you find with mid-80's cars is that the diesels on many models were low-spec anyway as the idea of a luxury diesel was not catching on then ( although that Granada that I linked from ebay does have PAS )

Parts prices and running costs are the main reason I am asking peple what kind of experiences they have had with the cars that have come up - so far I have an indication that the Volvo could be a nightmare but thats about all I have found out so far.

My current car cost me £100 with a few months MOT. I then spent £400 on it and now I have a car ready for a years motoring - I put it through its MOT in July and it sailed straight through without even an advisory. Its japanese, has 70k with a full service history and recent bills in the last year of £600 replacing just about everything that could need it which the previous owner paid for.
Ive had it gone through a full inspection and while the bodywork is a little tatty, the underside and mechanics are first rate which is the most important things with an old car.

So basically I have a jap hatch with a reputation for reliability, MOT'd and running perfectly, for £500 -
Big bills dont matter so much when you pay next to nothing for a car - infact, you consider them part of the purchase price - if your lucky and you buy the right car, you dont even get the big bills.
Old large diesel estate - Micky
If you can buy well, you have a competent mechanic and parts are available, then it must be the 505. But if you get it wrong then it's £££££s.

ECUs and EFi are easier to work on with the right equipment than carbs.

How can you drive a tintop in summer without aircon? I can recall the last non-aircon tintop car I drove in the summer (1992?) Awful experience, makes me shudder just thinking about it. But perhaps you aren't in the south east.

I still can't see how a scooter fits into the back of an estate, does the scooter fold?
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
See, I did think the 505 was one of the better ones mainly because it seems to have a reputation for durability, the kind which Peugeots used to have, but it doesnt seem to be well liked here.

Im not that keen on fuel injection as it always sems to go wrong with age whereas carbs can be stripped and cleaned, then set-up by a man with a book of settings.

I manage in summer without aircon as do millions of other people - im in the midlands and yes we have had some hot days here - 38c in the garden this summer - but with the right car which has good airflow, its bearable. Ive noticed that my white van doesnt get nearly as hot inside as my dads dark blue car, so maybe white cars have their place afterall! The glass area also makes a difference.

The scooter has ramps to get it up into the boot area and the scooter's seatback folds flat to reduce the height - it fits in the back of a MK3 Astra estate, just doesnt leave room for much else, hence the need for a bigger car than that. Its maybe 35 ins high, maybe a bit less.
Old large diesel estate - Micky
">because it seems to have a reputation for durability, the kind which Peugeots used to have<" The 504 was a robust thing, particularly in East Africa, IIRC.

The previous EFi day to day car I owned ran for 150 000+ miles with no attention to the EFi, cat, ECU, I've never run a carb car that did that. My vehicle-in-the-style-of-a-7 requires fettling of the Webers every few thousand miles. Ah, but that induction roar!

No aircon at 38'C = airflow at 38'C. I can recall two elderly Granadas with aircon running on R12 that could show 3' to 4'C on the dashboard vent. Bliss. Some risk of frostbite to the fingers on long runs though. But yes, it is one more thing to go wrong though, and then it's missed :-(

Is your nan eligible for this: tinyurl.com/nt4eh ?

">What's more, with the contract hire package you don't need to drive. You can nominate up to two drivers who may be friends or relatives,<"
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I think perhaps I should just watch for a car with known issues with fuel injection etc as its making the choice too narrow.

My nan has looked into the car issue and there is no help for me in this situation as she only uses the car once a week and the rest is for me - she is quite wealthy so she pays her way as far as the car goes anyway.

Its just a case of finding the car that has the right blend of space, reliability and running costs.
Old large diesel estate - Adam {P}
>>How can you drive a tintop in summer without aircon?<<

Open the windows and drive faster!
Old large diesel estate - Collos25
Don't discount the Mercs....OK they may only do about 36mpg, but they will outlast everything else on your list and to cap it all you can run them on Veg Oil at 0.40p per litre.

I very much doubt it as a percentage of vehicles produced DB is well down the list for vehicles over ten years old still running.
Old large diesel estate - barchettaman
Easy solution. 5 quid towrope, and attach Nan to the back of your van, tow her around. Sure she´d enjoy it too.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I suggested it to her, not sure she will take up the idea though! She did mention buying the tow rope and stringing me up with it though for being cheeky! :-)

Are old Mercs really reliable in the same way that japanese cars are? Ive never owned a Merc so I have nothing to compare against - do they have any weaknesses other than rust?

Just another point that I wanted to ask - someone mentioned to me that the Subaru L-series estate has a huge load area comporable to a Volvo - anyone tell me anything about them? Nobody has mentioned them, is this because there arent many around?
Apparently they did a 1.6 2wd version thats good for 45mpg if your gentle which is close to the diesels.
Old large diesel estate - madf
Read the UK Mercedes Benz forums.

Basically things go wrong as you would expect. And they are not CHEAP to fix. I drove a 3 litre estate. Big lumbering , slow and horrible in town.Not nice to park in multistorey parks imo. Not very economical. After that I did not bother any further. My bil has one.. suspension wears after 100k miles, odds and sods. He uses an independent and it is still not cheap (cheap as in Ford or Toyota).

Subaru 45mpg on a 1.6? Dunno . If you average 40mph I would think it's possible. Never seen any for sale. Hens teeth I suspect and SLOW...
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I do potter along the motorway at 55-60 mph and 40ish on main roads, so im one of those people who does manage to get the best out of my gallon of fuel - I used to get 55mpg average out of my Daewoo Matiz and that was more than the max the government figures suggested!

As you can imagine, speed isnt one of my priorities so not really bothered about that.
Old large diesel estate - Sprice
Came across this old diesel estate on ebay when having my regular gander at the motors!

Old large diesel estate - Sprice
Oops, just noticed you've already posted it! FWIW, I remember reading a while back that the 2.3D in the Carlton is bad.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Ive read that the 2.3 Carlton is slow, but not bad other than in that respect. I dont consider slow a bad thing anyway - when your driving an obviously slow car, you take less chances and just settle down and potter along!
Old large diesel estate - Number_Cruncher
>>2.3 Carlton

Stu, you may know that I'm generally pro Vauxhall. But don't go near one of these awful things! These use an engine derived from one used in the CF van during the 70's - it was rubbish then, and didn't improve when fitted to the Carlton.

Among one of the better changes between the CF spec and the Carlton spec was that the original valve adjustment which relied on a threaded valve stem end and a nut / locknut pair to move the tappet was done away with.

Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Whats actually wrong with the car with this engine - a van engine is just an engine afterall.
Old large diesel estate - Number_Cruncher
On paper, these look like they should be reliable engines, but, they weren't particularly robust in service. From a small population in use, we had a few in for major trouble and had to take them apart. Bore wear, cylinder heads cracking, overheating, poor oil consumption, poor starting. Compare this with the much larger population of chain cam driven petrol engines in some Carltons and all Senators at the time which we only very rarely (and usually only after abuse) saw the inside of.

Added to this, they would probably challenge your indifference to poor performance!! The skin on your rice pudding is entirely safe!!


Old large diesel estate - Micky
"> ... 40ish on main roads<"

The problem with pottering along at 40ish on NSL single carriageways is the constant pulling over into laybys to considerately allow faster vehicles through.

55-60mph with the lorries must be scary. And the ruts, don't forget the wheel ruts.
Old large diesel estate - M.M
Great thread. I've spent years "beating the system" running older/larger cars and helping others do the same... so know what a challenge you face. Here are some thoughts in no particular order...

The cars you mention at the start are pretty well all old generation diesels. They will be slow, unrefined and do 10mpg less than a mid 1990s 1.9TD. But I see you say that doesn't worry you.... apart from the economy though.

The only car I'd give the time of day from your initial list is the Volvo 740. They can be very expensive to repair as they get older but loads of parts and info available... loads still about too.

Turbos are actually very very reliable. If you buy a car with an OK turbo, drive it how you say you will and service regularly it will likely last as long as the engine.

No way will I make a major case for the Xantia if you have a downer on them but they are not complicated and could be an ideal choice if the loadspace was big enough. Probably the best you'll get in your price range for ride, refinement, driving pleasure and economy.

Power steering and elec windows are pretty reliable these days and not worth avoiding. ABS can be an issue you might want to avoid but usually all you will need is a front wheel sensor in a few years of ownership.

That Granada is interesting.... I've run and maintained a few of these in petrol form. Last one was that age and a one-owner with a low 100,000mls genuine. It had been fine until last year when all the suspension bushes went cracked/soggy and two front springs broke. That scrapped it. But if the EBay car was truly in exceptional order it could well suit what you've said you want from a car.

We've had L-series Subarus in the past and I remember them as a bit smaller than a Sierra of the time... but perhaps I'm wrong? Much might depend not just on the loadspace volume but the shape of it and things like wheelarch intrusion as to how it suits the buggy.

As far as Mercedes go I'm very attracted to them at this age. Treat them as any other car (in the fact that they will not romp on to 500,000mls without the bonnet being lifted) with all the usual checks and certainly one would give you the greatest ownership pleasure at the price. But again this will be a heavy old generation diesel with nearer 35mpg than 45mpg. Look at this one... the condition from the images looks amazing.


You are asking a lot to want space, reliability and low running costs from a £1K vehicle travelling 15K/yr... and then wanting to keep to a generation of cars that have pretty well had their day. Going to be really interesting to see what you get. Good luck with the search.

Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Many thanks, what a great answer!

I do know that the mpg will suffer somewhat due to me choosing older diesels, but I think that the extra fuel cost will be offset buy having a simpler, therefore cheaper to repair car - this has been my experience with buying cars, that when they get old, its always the complicated bits that fail.

See, I dont mind replacing tires, clutches, belts, leads, brakes and the like because you can need to replace these on any car and most likely they will have been changed at some point on a car that is 20 years old. Its just the kind of parts that both fail once in a cars lifetime and therefore are expensive to fix IF you can find the parts. If you buy a lovely car but it needs a PAS rack that you cant find or costs 400 quid, then its not worth getting the car.

So what goes wrong on the 740 TD then? i put that on because I used to own a 460 1.8 and it was the nicest car ive ever owned, better even than my Jag.

The reason I avoid electric windows is that when I worked in a service department, it was quite common for the older cars to have issues with them and it was never a quick or easy fix.

Im a serial bonnet lifter - any sound or smell that isnt as it should be and im under there trying to find it or down my local garage getting my mechanic to. Im a hypochondriac when it comes to running a car, but so far, ive only had one in 18 old cars break down which I think is pretty good.

It is an interesting search for me and I have many 1980's Whatcar mags to help me with figures and the like. I taking my time to weigh up all the options as new ones keep popping up and I still have a hankering after something japanese although this does mean sticking to petrol as they tended to make far more reliable cars in the 80's that anyone else, my 200 quid Mazda is a testement to that fact.
Old large diesel estate - M.M
I tend to discount the problem with elec windows etc myself because I do not have to pay labour costs and often they can be repaired with cheap used parts (unlike engine/running gear parts where I never fit used). But yes I will admit they are an extra issue.... like when an elec sunroof goes "crunch" and stops seized 3" open! In fact to support your theory not mine the most reliable car I look after, and the one with no issues at 10yrs old, is a base model Xantia TD my cousin bought new in 1996. It has manual windows, no ABS, no air-con, no central locking, no sunroof, just a cassette stereo and easy to touch in non-met red paint. The TD engine, transmission, suspension and body will go round another 10yrs easy if he wanted.... and he drives like you!

The worse luck folks I know have had with the Volvo TD estates is buying ones with high miles thinking they will go forever but soon finding maintenance has been skimped and they are clapped out. Most expensive was a guy that bought one in the summer, ignored a bit of excess smoke, but as soon as winter came it just would not start. Eventually found engine shot, new starter needed and a diesel pump while they were at it. Car cost £2500 and repairs just a few months later £1500... having said that this was 11yrs ago and it is still his daily runner for business (farm/rural based job) with only modest faults since then. It's now over 20yrs old.

There are about 6 of these old models in our small village alone. Most have almost no rust and quite reasonable interiors. A couple in light metallic paint (silver & green) are near mint... look quite good in their own sort of way. They are quite stately to drive and the ride is joggly if pushed on our bumpy fen roads. Cruised at 50mph they feel solid and safe.

If you look at any I would say make sure engine is an instant starter with minimal smoke and no bad oil leaks. Check all the electrics work (you are probably going to find elec windows on all of them), make sure the interior isn't ragged (the trim plastic is quite brittle in places and breaks easily), consider that shock absorbers may be tired (rear in particular) and also that rear springs may be sagging from heavy loads. Don'y buy one with ugly rust because there are better about.

There are loads of specialist Volvo breakers that will have a yard full of these... also the Eurocarparts type people for good value new bits.

If you try and hurry one of these about the fuel consumption will drop to petrol type figures but drifted about could be amazingly good on diesel. What does What Car say for the Urban, 56mph and 75mph on one?

Being a serial bonnet lifter is the only way to run a car like this and avoid disaster!

I respect the whole Japanese car thing but am no big fan. I've had to give folks real price shocks with dealer only parts on older cars.


Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Fuel consumption figures for the 740 TD are 31.0/48.7/34.0

The best figures I can find for any car of suitable size are: 48.6/75.0/51.1
These are for a Montego TD estate - not sure if you can ever acheive this kind of figures, but amazing anyway.
I had thought of one of them but for the fact that they are now almost all farmyard wagons on their last legs. When I worked at a Rover dealer, I didnt meet an owner of one of these who didnt covet them - only the diesels though.
Old large diesel estate - 659FBE
Having been involved in the Montego diesel engine fuel system development, I can vouch for the outstanding specific fuel consumption and the almost everlasting cambelt. It's a great shame that at the time, all this engine development effort was wasted by putting a good engine into a poor vehicle. Smoke and roughness were always issues with this engine - but it was a brilliant cold starter. I never bothered to connect the glowplugs when this engine was on a test bed, even in the Winter.

It would have been really useful in a Swedish Volvo estate.

Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
I read many comtempory road tests for the montego estate and it was, in the first few years of its life, rated above all other estates by some margin.... I do wonder if its association with the Rover name has tarnished what was in its day, a reasonable car.
Old large diesel estate - GregSwain
The challenge now would be to find a Montego that isn't made entirely of rust. We had a petrol estate (one of the later ones with EFi engine) and it was excellent until the HG blew and we got rid, but it was VERY rusty by the end.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
This is true - as with just about any car, theres always a nice one hanging around somewhere!
Old large diesel estate - 659FBE
Swedish Volvos were galvanised, Rovers never were.

Old large diesel estate - madf
I had a 5 year old Montego estate. Struts, balljoints clapped out. Underneath has zero rust protection: seams were rusty then.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Just out of interest, did you have it from new? Did you rust proof it? Did you polish it every few weeks?
Old large diesel estate - madf
No secondhand
Yes: it was rusty then
Polish a car more than every year? I may like cars and wash them weekly but polishing them more than once a year is something I leave to fanatics who have lots of spare time and not enough interests:-))
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
If it was rusty when you bought it, then it wasnt looked after, so you bought wrong car if you didnt want a rusty one.
I once owned a Talbot Avenger - 25 years old at the time I had it ( couple of years ago ) yet because it had been looked after all its life, it had only superficial corrosion where it had been chipped over the years - yet these cars rust on the same level as Lancias of the same period, but mine was intact and never welded.

My point is, that any car can be preserved IF you look after it. If you buy a secondhand car, dont buy a rusty one and look after it is all you have to do.

I polish my cars once a month because I like to keep them well protected and shiny, but its a matter of choice, not everyone cares that much. Whenever ive had a car that is well-known to rust, ive done it every couple of weeks to make totally sure that water never actually meets the paintwork, thus rust never starts.
Old large diesel estate - bignick
Swedish Volvos were galvanised, Rovers never were.

Not sure if it is relevant but as far as I know the 740 estates were all built in Belgium - the 760's are swedish and have a slightly different front end.

Old large diesel estate - Edward
My Uncle ran a series of 504 / 505 families (7 seaters) through the 80s and 90s passing them on the various family members. The last was an 89F 2.2 petrol which was stolen form the East End of London last year with over 200000 on the clock.
Old large diesel estate - Mapmaker
Hello, DavidHM

Yes, I did have two W123 Mercs pinched within a month or so of each other. Superb car to drive, even with lots of miles on the clock. I saw in the Standard a week or two back that a gang in the East End had been busted that stole a phenomenal number of these cars; they had them broken up within something like 6 hours and had made themselves a seven-figure cash pile. You could get a W124 for that sort of money, but they're also prone to theft, apparently. I can't find the article, but here's two on the 505s tinyurl.com/ocf6m tinyurl.com/ojoue

So I bought an Audi 100 - new shape. (2.3 petrol). Cheap as chips, and another superb car. The diesels seem to cost rather more than the petrols, but even they seem to creep in sub-£1,000 now.

My father used to run - again a petrol - Carlton which never caused any trouble in the 40k miles it did in a decade... until the chassis rusted despite being garaged.
Old large diesel estate - Greg R
"Polish a car more than every year? I may like cars and wash them weekly but polishing them more than once a year is something I leave to fanatics who have lots of spare time and not enough interests:-))

I suppose this can be done in parts. One weekend the front, next weekend something else. There is this polisher from motorbike magazines that attached to a drill, and makes it a lot quicker. Can be cleaned as well.

But yes, I think it is more for the unemployed without anything better to do. But it can be done when bored, and there is nothing else to do during the day. Billy no mates comes to mind...joking.
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Polishing a car takes about half an hour for a normal sized car - given the benefits I think its worth it.

Given car valeting is my trade, I cant very well drive around in a dirty car. My cars are immaculate and always are, even the old ones. But then, I like things to be clean, my house being the same as my cars.

What always makes me laugh are the girls who spend an hour making themselves look nice, then go and sit in a filthy car and get out of it with bits of god knows what stuck to their back - my sister used to be one of these, but ive converted her!

Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Ive been reading the whole thread trying to collate the info I have so far....

Peugeot 505 - not especially liked and cant see any info on reliability but parts may be a problem ( presumably panels etc ).

Ford Granada - Not many around

Volvo - seems to be capable of mileage but with good and possibly expensive maintainance along with it.

Mercedes - Much like the Volvo - capable but expensive if it goes wrong which isnt unknown. People seem to have a soft spot for these cars.

Carlton - Engines not very good, but economical cars in general

Montego - very economical but tendancy to rust more so than other cars

I havent mentioned the Renault 21 Savannah because I have a 2.0 saloon years back and it was nice to drive and very comfy but reliability was a lottery.

Im thinking that if I can find a petrol estate that can do say 45mpg when going gentle and also runs on unleaded, then it may be a better option. I know the Toyota Camry estate does the consumption but maybe short on space, the same goes for the Nissan Bluebird estate although the Mazda 626 estate is quite large - anyone had one of these?

Old large diesel estate - madf
A Citroen ZX estate diesel is cheap but a bit small?
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Yes, it is. Certain Sierra sized cars have suitable load space but the majority are Granada sized so the ZX is just physically too small. I need something with a load length in excess of 6ft with seats down as a bare minimum.
Old large diesel estate - Mapmaker
The Savanna is a great idea if it's big enough. I ran one between roughly 150k and 180k over two years and only spent money on some new plugs, an oil change and a new brake pipe. What killed it was an MOT failure sheet the length of my arm - nothing major, but too many minor items.

All these cars can do you well; they can also be expensive money pits. It's all down to lady luck!
Old large diesel estate - GregSwain
All these cars can do you well; they can also be expensive money pits. It's all down to lady luck!

Exactly. If you buy a 16 year-old car, it's already running on borrowed time. Large cars like the Volvo 740 might've been owned by a wealthy country gent when they were new, but they will've been thrashed as a family workhorse in their old age. I haven't seen a Montego for about 6 months, and the last one I saw was so rusty it'll be in a breakers yard by now. Pug505s and old Mercs will most likely get stolen, and will be en route to Africa before you've even reported it!

Have you considered an old VW passat? There's not many of them about, but it's another to add to the list. There are plenty of petrol Sierras on ebay, but they're just about all knackered. There's even a Datsun 180B (Bluebird) estate on ebay, with a full MOT! (item 140034231572)

Basically, given the lack of old diesels that haven't a) gone rusty, b) been a taxi, or c) been stolen for use in Africa as a taxi, I'd go for a petrol. My money would probably go on a late (1993) Vauxhall Carlton 2.0 petrol (yes, it has an ECU, but they're very good engines, good for 300k if looked after).
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
The way I have always looked at old cars is this - buy one with a solid body, serviced engine and that has a reputation for being reliable and you cant go far wrong - yes, bits like brakes, bushes, springs, exhausts and the like do fail, but ive had these fail on cars less than ten years old which cost 3 times more to buy than an 80's car but have just as many things going wrong with them.

I had a petrol Sierra Estate, but they rust like a **** at the rear end although the Pinto engines are good units compared to the flawed DOHC ones.

What buying any old car comes down to, is finding that rare beast that hasnt had 10 owners and has had money spent on it in the right areas. It sounds impossible but I can assure you its not.
I have the best part of a year to look for the right car which is why I have a good opportunity as many people buy a dog of a car because they NEED one right now. Im not in that position, hence i have far more optimism than you!
Old large diesel estate - stunorthants
Which is better out of the Merc estates, the 240D, 200 or 230? Do they drive much different?

Ive worked out taht even on 15k a year, the fuel cost between a reall economocal car and an average one like teh Mercs is only 4-500 quid and choosing the wrong car could cost well in excess of that.
Insurance and reliability are more important I think. An idea of parts costs on the Mercs would be appreciated as I know many have said they are expensive, but what is expensive in real terms?
Old large diesel estate - madf
"Which is better out of the Merc estates, the 240D, 200 or 230?" (I drove all 3 at some time in past.

Given the choice I'd go for a 230: the 240d and 200 are likely to be very very slow..

Parts costs? dunno..sorry.
Old large diesel estate - Ed V
I'd go for an Omega or one of the Vauxhall's - an old Vectra if it's large enough, or the new Vectra if you want to pay more.

Ask Honest John

Value my car