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Buying a working, legal, partially presentable car for under a ton?

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Hi fellow humanoids,

 

As I mention in the introduction thread, I write about cars for a 'living' (there appears to be a few of us on here too!). I recently came up with an idea for a feature series which might be difficult to actually realise. Asking around for leads did eventually end up with Autoshite winning me for the foreseeable.

 

What I'm after, if the title didn't give you enough of a clue, is a working, legal car for a maximum outlay of £99.99. I have been keeping an eye on the "cheapest of the cheap" and "eBay tat" threads, and there's been a few potentials, but nothing completely meeting the criteria yet.

 

Speaking of criteria, there are a few rules for me to adhere to here:

* The car must be currently road legal - that means it needs to have a current, valid MOT and no known faults that may render it unroadworthy

* Major faults and damage are a no-no - there absolutely will be an element of making the car healthier and more presentable. I have limited skills and, more importantly, budget. Replacing doors and glass is fine, but galloping tinworm and a gouged body shell are too much - as are major powertrain and drivetrain faults (replacing an engine is easy enough, but sourcing one is a ballache and ££££)

* The car must be a runner - I don't have a trailer and even if I did I don't have a car that can pull one; I must be able to show up with a tiny bundle of beer tokens and drive it away

* Roffles don't count - it's certainly possible to get a car worth £500 for a £5 ticket, but it's also possible to enter 30 of them and never win; I'm after a car worth every penny of £100, in its current condition. Besides, I'll be writing a feature series based on this, and "I fluked into a car in a game of chance" is not an entirely honest starting position.

 

 

In addition, I've got some "I'd quite like" conditions, but these very much fall under the purview of Beggars vs. Choosers (2004):

* Interestinger is betterer - I'm writing about this, and I can be interesting about any car, but I need people to read it. No Vauxhall Corsa/Astra/Vectra is interesting nor have they ever been interesting (see also: nearly every Golf ever), so the more left-field the better

* Shite > shit - This will be a series, as in I'll be doing it more than once. That means that anything I buy I will also sell. I will be endeavouring to fix anything that's broken and gussy up what needs to be gussied up (which will form part of the feature - I may even Barry a car, to make it more saleable to idiots Barries, if it's economically viable to do so, and funny) and then sell it to start again. If it has a list of faults as long as Brexit/notBrexit seems to be taking, the cost of unfucking it will be more than the eventual value, which is distinctly ungood.

* The closer to me, the better - Let's face it, I'm looking for a car that costs less than an off-peak return train ticket from Sheffield to London. The more I have to travel, the more expensive the car becomes and if I get there and it's an absolute moose with a rotting undercarriage, I'm going to be irritated. I have a privilege in that I can sometimes take brand new cars and it won't cost me a thing, but it's still time wasted. A three-hour drive for me is Glasgow up top and Coventry down south, and that works fine as a radius.

 

 

Thanks to things like scrappage schemes and the value of scrap metal, this whole thing will be somewhat difficult to achieve, and yes I'm after the Moon on a Stick, but I'll consider any leads - even if I close the tab again afterwards, it's a lead.

 

Of course there'll come a point when I'm done with it, but if you guys want to turn it into a "cars that are literally less valuable than if they were crushed" thread and continue to post up links to sub-ton but functioning cack, be my guest.

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If the length of MOT is not relevant to the exercise but more that is has one, there’s deffo a bit of wriggle room there. Is a rover 25 in your interesting definition? Quite a few floating about recently on e bay with weeks of test for 50-150

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What about £199.99? As others have said, scrap is on the up which sets the baseline of car values at this end of the market. £199.99 seems to be around the monthly payment most new car finance deals. Also about the cheapest used cars. You'll get more selection too.

 

However at the same time that could be a bit too easy of a challenge.

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It used to be possible, many years ago. I remember buying a 1985 518i off eBay in 2007 for £100, which was the limit for buying a car for the scaly rally. It was collected from derby BMW and did us proud. Nowadays, you’d be hard pushed, but it’s not impossible. Usually friends or family offer cheap cars, but anything that cheap on eBay scumtree or the like will either be fake, fucked, or not real. Good luck.

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If it’s aimed at the general reader (ie not we that consider that quite normal if you look) the notion of a £200 usable car is quite something; doubling your budget will fill out the field and give you more chance of ticking more of your boxes.

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Yep, I'm very definitely right at the edge of reason here. I've seen maybe three cars I could have gone for since I started researching it, and that was November...

 

If the length of MOT is not relevant to the exercise but more that is has one, there’s deffo a bit of wriggle room there. Is a rover 25 in your interesting definition? Quite a few floating about recently on e bay with weeks of test for 50-150

Absolutely. I mean, they're not "interesting", but there is a story to tell with them. MOT length isn't a huge issue - obviously the more recent the better, because at least someone's looked at it recently, even if it's the most cursory look!

 

Yes it's entirely possible and even for free, the longest mot left on a car I've been given was 8 months,
oh and there's no such thing as buying a car taxed anymore anyway.

I forgot about that... it's been a while. I don't buy cars that often and when I do I never sell them! I'll sort that part out.

 

A free car would be almost ideal. Again, I'm sort of not-sold on it in the same way I'm not sold on Roffles, because I'm looking more at something anyone can (although a reach) do with £100 in pocket, but then a free car is a free car...

 

I'd up the price to £150 to have a decent chance.

You may of course find someone who will almost give you a car for the fame* involved.

Sadly I'm not quite famous enough for any reflected spotlight. I'm so unfamous that my wife even calls me the wrong name during sex.

 

It used to be possible, many years ago. I remember buying a 1985 518i off eBay in 2007 for £100, which was the limit for buying a car for the scaly rally. It was collected from derby BMW and did us proud. Nowadays, you’d be hard pushed, but it’s not impossible. Usually friends or family offer cheap cars, but anything that cheap on eBay scumtree or the like will either be fake, fucked, or not real. Good luck.

Yeah, a friend linked me to an advertised £100 car earlier. Guy actually wants £500 for it. Anus.

 

What about £199.99? As others have said, scrap is on the up which sets the baseline of car values at this end of the market. £199.99 seems to be around the monthly payment most new car finance deals. Also about the cheapest used cars. You'll get more selection too.

However at the same time that could be a bit too easy of a challenge.

Yeah, you're right on the mark there all round.

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I write about cars for a 'living' 

 

 I have limited skills and, more importantly, budget. 

 

This will be a series, as in I'll be doing it more than once. That means that anything I buy I will also sell.

 

I may even Barry a car, to make it more saleable to idiots Barries, if it's economically viable to do so, and funny) and then sell it to start again.

 

 

You are Mike Brewer AICMFP.

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Yeah, you're right on the mark there all round.

What I forgot to put in my post is that a car under £199.99 when written about could be using the idea of "Buying a working and usable average car for under the average months car payment on an average car", rather than "Buying a working and usable car for under a ton"

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I've had a free car before and it was most excellent, but it was the exception to the rule.

 

My current zx cost me £100 after buying it for £300 and scrapping my old car for £200, that's the easiest way of getting a £100 car.

 

Problem is scrap value. My zx on steel wheels is worth £130 driven to asm, so that's it's base value. Put alloy wheels on and give it a current style plate and that jumps to £200/£220 as a minimum, which is usually more than the car is worth anyway at that stage

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Gumtree seems good for the odd “distress sale” but you need to check often. If people want rid but don’t know the market things crop up sometimes stupidly undervalued. The key is to check regularly as when these come up they get pounced on and the ad can come and go inside an hour. Sift through a lot of crap and it’s possible. There was a £150 mk1 Megane Monaco convertible near me at the weekend, lady owner 2 years, roof worked, 3 months test, selling as going travelling the following week. It got pulled after 30 mins and 20 messages, i was first in the queue but was at work and couldn’t make it over in time.

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Perhaps optimistic, but I reckon it can be done with a bit of luck/goodwill... 

 

This Laguna RT Sport off Gumtree cost me £50 a coupla years ago (Nov 2015); it was still in daily use by its previous owner and had a few weeks' MOT on it. I think it looked fairly presentable.

 

post-17915-0-06036200-1555502780_thumb.jpg

 

post-17915-0-95605900-1555503639_thumb.jpg

 

If I'd fitted a replacement bolt-on n/s front wing (the un-rustproofed pattern replacement had rotted out), then it probably could have managed another MOT - although the clutch was starting to slip a bit. It had some not-very-well-repaired dents but was otherwise okay structurally.

 

post-17915-0-88901900-1555502798_thumb.jpg

 

The interior was horrendous, though (it had spent seven years as a work hack for a landscape gardener). The seller was an old fella who lived round the corner, so I was quick to pounce before anyone else could nab it. He knew he could get more for it at the metal recycler, but felt there were some good spares on it. He'd sold the original registration plate for what he'd paid for the car, so wasn't fussed on making megabucks.

 

I stripped the (new) headlights, indicators, front clip and various bits of trim off to repair my own damaged base-spec Phase 1 Laguna (biffed by a careless driver), then eventually passed the remains on to another shiter a year or so later in exchange for a decent bottle of Rioja.

 

post-17915-0-10267600-1555503474_thumb.jpg

 

I'd hoped to have the towbar off it too, but it turned out it'd been hit at some point and was quite badly bent.

 

post-17915-0-07771900-1555502843_thumb.jpg

 

Apparently, the 2.0 litre engine was destined for a Renault 11 project... it still started and ran fine. Though Laguna 1s are one of those cars that were still quite plentiful even two years ago, and have suddenly seemed to disappear from the roads.

 

 

On the flipside, this nail also cost me £50 back in 2000 and it was certainly not working, legal or even partially presentable.

 

post-17915-0-81367100-1555503533_thumb.jpg

 

post-17915-0-58490100-1555503541_thumb.jpg

 

(I just needed the glass out of it after my Datsun was vandalised)

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It's not an impossible task, but certainly fairly difficult !

 

Back in 2015, I bought a Polo 6N for £100 on ebay. It was sort-of-driving and had a longish MoT, but required a fair bit of work (and £50 worth of parts) before it could be safely pressed into daily use.

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2001-2008 was great for dirt cheap cars as the price of scrap was so low. As a student in Leeds in around 2002 it was common to find cars simply dumped because they were basically worthless as scrap. That ultimately is the baseline to which all values are tethered.

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My personal best was 2008- 1988 Volvo 240glt estate, few months test, 2 tyres were borderline, the heater blower was borked, and it was signwritten. £100 off e bay. Scrap was on its arse though.

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2001-2008 was great for dirt cheap cars as the price of scrap was so low. As a student in Leeds in around 2002 it was common to find cars simply dumped because they were basically worthless as scrap. That ultimately is the baseline to which all values are tethered.

Yeah, I remember that episode of old-new TG with the £1 Volvo!

 

 

Car needing new locks... in Liverpool... Say it ain't so! Good spot though.

 

 

Just stick around them youl get used to it.

Oh, I've done my time as a member of a highly notorious car forum... :D Brewer is genuinely a turboquim though.

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Apologies at work so only read the first post. If this is mentioned in one of the responses, apologies.

 

Best option I can give is join a load of the one make forums. (Rover 200/Rover 75/Volvo/Saab etc etc)

 

Occasionally you will get lucky and someone joins/posts about a car that they just want rid of.

Bonus is that you can also look back through the owners postings and find a bit of history re the car.

 

If you are very lucky it could just be a free car, and then you can donate to charity if you so choose.

 

Once of the main problems you might have is that scrap cars at the moment are fetching more than £100, so you might have to adjust the price range to be scrap value.

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The car tax cannot be included these days so it's really just about having a current mot as insurance and tax is the buyers responsibility.

My 5dr 1.2 8v Punto is now into my second year as my runaround and I paid £150 for it with bad oil leaks from both gearbox driveshaft seals and the sump and 2 weeks mot on it. Mot and oil leaks cured for about £120 to get it back on the road.

But since then I have spent so much more repairing the mechanical side of this car.

 

A basic visual roadworthiness examination of a car by you may not always pick up problems with the car and some people when selling/driving their cars are just ignorant of the bald tyres, grinding brakes and lack of fluids and just state car is old or well loved.

Probably totally excessive but I would love to see some pre purchase inspections done on some £100 cars

I personally love to read about people's trials and tribulations here on the beige and look forward to how seeing how you get on.

Adding edit as this took me over 40 mins to post because kids/Easter.

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I’ve had loads of working cars for the magic ton - Citroen BX, Volvo 440, Camry, Alfa 164, Volvo 940, 2 x Audi Coupes...

 

All back in the day 2004-2009(ish) sweet spot when scrap was worthless and people would dump stuff rather than pay a yard to take it away. These days it’ll be a tough ask.

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I'd re-title the thread to set out you are actively seeking a car under £100. Someone may have something on here they want to clear out. When you sell at the end if you don't need the money back offering the sale price (if any) to charity may sweeten the initial deal.

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