Jump to content

What car for free* motoring?


motorpunk

Recommended Posts

I've been lucky enough to own a few cars which I have used as a daily driver, and which have also appreciated in value, cost me very little in maintenance, plus I got a decent mileage allowance on top which means the car was sort of free in the end. Modern cars are so disposable and many jump on the PCP route and that's expensive and wasteful... I want to go the other way and ask a question, thinking of 'make do and mend' (and hopefully start a friendly debate on the subject) - which car would you chose for free* motoring? The starting point could be something tax and MOT free that classifies for classic insurance, that is cheap to buy now but might appreciate, robust enough to use as a proper car (y'know, kids, motorways, winters etc), won't cost a fortune to buy now, can be spannered easily etc etc... I have some ideas but will sit on them as I'm looking for some inspiration for another 'free' car.

*Some smallprint; OK, so it's maybe not going to be completely free, but how close can we get on a car that should do 8k a year, start in the mornings, etc etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, motorpunk said:

I've been lucky enough to own a few cars which I have used as a daily driver, and which have also appreciated in value, cost me very little in maintenance, plus I got a decent mileage allowance on top which means the car was sort of free in the end. Modern cars are so disposable and many jump on the PCP route and that's expensive and wasteful... I want to go the other way and ask a question, thinking of 'make do and mend' (and hopefully start a friendly debate on the subject) - which car would you chose for free* motoring? The starting point could be something tax and MOT free that classifies for classic insurance, that is cheap to buy now but might appreciate, robust enough to use as a proper car (y'know, kids, motorways, winters etc), won't cost a fortune to buy now, can be spannered easily etc etc... I have some ideas but will sit on them as I'm looking for some inspiration for another 'free' car.

*Some smallprint; OK, so it's maybe not going to be completely free, but how close can we get on a car that should do 8k a year, start in the mornings, etc etc.

Would you get classic insurance for 8k a year?  Plus usually classic insurance needs a main car.

I suspect once you factor in reduced maintenance costs, something modern you have to pay tax on will be cheaper to run for those sorts of miles than something 40+ years old, and will leave you a lot less likely to be standing at the side of the road when you're meant to be at work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, PrinceRupert said:

Would you get classic insurance for 8k a year?  Plus usually classic insurance needs a main car.

I suspect once you factor in reduced maintenance costs, something modern you have to pay tax on will be cheaper to run for those sorts of miles than something 40+ years old, and will leave you a lot less likely to be standing at the side of the road when you're meant to be at work.

Yeah, fair point on insurance. So let's add 'cheap to insure' to the formula for free motoring. 

Considering your point on maintenance, what specific car would you suggest, then?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this is going to be a 'what ive got free motoring out of type thread' and in that vein, I have run several 'free' cars for a year or two with little or no expenditure other than my own time and some 'in stock' spare parts.

The most successful of which was a 1986 2CV which i was given in 2006 for nothing, welded a small amount (and i mean small) and it MOT'd and i drove for 3 years with only normal fuel/insurance/tax costs.

Ive done similar with a Maestro Van, a BX and others over the last 10-15 years.  What can you do that with now? Virtually nothing i would say, everything seems to have a perceived value and is rarely given to you free or able to be used and run for free. Getting a profit or covering costs is not the same as free motoring as you have to pay out in the first place. IMO anyway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My choice would be a 2.0 Cortina estate but they are getting quite expensive to buy and parts are getting more difficult to get hold of but they are my favourite. A more mainstream choice would be an S210 E320CDi, still available very cheap and also great to drive, update to a new satnav/ DAB radio off eBay and you have a car that does everything and more than my brand new company car in more style and nicer to drive being RWD. Another good  choice is a Volvo 740 or 940 estate. None of my three choices are exactly free but all give good reliable service and are likely to increase in value whilst being more interesting, useful and enjoyable to own without the high cost of new car ownership/ long term rental.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A 40-50 year old car would in daily use start to become a major annoyance if you were relying on it to commute. Nothings free, there’s a cost attached somewhere, probably a £2,000 Astra Petrol or a Fiesta is as close as you will get, cheap available parts, generally reliable. Should with care last you a few years.

If it’s car allowance you are getting I’d check the rules, I’d doubt they’ll weather you taking £300 a month and turning up in a 10 year old car. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Triumph Acclaim has been my my most efficient purchase, despite buying a rotter.

With that in mind I'd say something boring, Japanese and 1990s. Corolla, Accord, Charisma, etc. Although you'd probably have to shell out a decent amount for something that's not already crusty these days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, motorpunk said:

I've been lucky enough to own a few cars which I have used as a daily driver, and which have also appreciated in value, cost me very little in maintenance, plus I got a decent mileage allowance on top which means the car was sort of free in the end. Modern cars are so disposable and many jump on the PCP route and that's expensive and wasteful... I want to go the other way and ask a question, thinking of 'make do and mend' (and hopefully start a friendly debate on the subject) - which car would you chose for free* motoring? The starting point could be something tax and MOT free that classifies for classic insurance, that is cheap to buy now but might appreciate, robust enough to use as a proper car (y'know, kids, motorways, winters etc), won't cost a fortune to buy now, can be spannered easily etc etc... I have some ideas but will sit on them as I'm looking for some inspiration for another 'free' car.

*Some smallprint; OK, so it's maybe not going to be completely free, but how close can we get on a car that should do 8k a year, start in the mornings, etc etc.

One of these….

4240E698-3096-4DC1-A40D-0EA2D4FCFCEB.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, Stinkwheel said:

Getting a profit or covering costs is not the same as free motoring as you have to pay out in the first place. IMO anyway

Good point. I could have described it better. I mean the cost of motoring, not the motor (car) itself particularly, but only on the basis that the car doesn't depreciate and isn't mega costly to buy in the first place. 

Merc S210 - Noted, good choice. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, sierraman said:

If it’s car allowance you are getting I’d check the rules, I’d doubt they’ll weather you taking £300 a month and turning up in a 10 year old car. 

It's a hypothetic question in the title, really. Ex employer stated 3 year old car but I used a fucked old Galaxy because I was broke and my boss daren't say anything and took pity on me. New job probably has rules, too, but I'm not good at reading rules and have been using my old Lotus. ;) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, motorpunk said:

Yeah, fair point on insurance. So let's add 'cheap to insure' to the formula for free motoring. 

Considering your point on maintenance, what specific car would you suggest, then?

I guess it's the obvious candidates, something cheap simple and bulletproof, a K13 Micra or the like.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, motorpunk said:

It's a hypothetic question in the title, really. Ex employer stated 3 year old car but I used a fucked old Galaxy because I was broke and my boss daren't say anything and took pity on me. New job probably has rules, too, but I'm not good at reading rules and have been using my old Lotus. ;) 

Some companies really do take the piss in this respect, a mate of mine gets £200 a month and it’s got to be less than 3 years old and a premium model. Basically they want you to fund them looking good and you to take the responsibility of running the fucker. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, HMC said:

Buy well and sell well and its basically free (or even a net gain)

Or at the beater level- buy for as little as possible, try to spend no money on it other than fuel and then weigh it in.

Give us some good examples of specific cars that would work well in this scenario, if you like 👍🏼

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rover 200/400 series (R8) - I'm a big advocate of these. I have a shabby 216 and it's a great utility car - takes whatever grotty tasks I throw at it in its stride, and it only cost £350 a couple of years ago. Admittedly I have a modern as well, but the 216 is so nice to drive I could easily see myself using it daily if circumstances forced me to - very comfortable and easy to use.

Mostly simple enough to work on yourself, qualifies for classic insurance, can still be bought for dirt cheap but there is a growing enthusiast base so potential for appreciation later. A K-series 214 will have cheaper tax, the Honda D-series 216 is a decent all rounder, T-series 220 is smooth but desirable (and therefore more expensive), and the XUD 218 is slow but very economical on fuel.

Downsides are quite costly tax on anything other than a 214 - but if you keep it maintained, the reputed OMGHGF won't be as much of an issue as it's made out to be. Also not MOT exempt yet.

346111279_3562856493998497_7819921788438295803_n.thumb.jpg.a0727394df15eae669b05656a5bb97f3.jpg

 

So to sum up - very cheap to buy, but also very capable daily drivers. Just watch out for the tax man.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, sierraman said:

Some companies really do take the piss in this respect, a mate of mine gets £200 a month and it’s got to be less than 3 years old and a premium model. Basically they want you to fund them looking good and you to take the responsibility of running the fucker. 

I'd be interested to know how they define what's premium and what's not!

 

I remember my uncle telling me the rules on his (around 2010). Car had to be under seven years old. He had a 2002 Grand Cherokee at the time so he bought a dateless plate for it and they were happy with that. It was mostly to stop people getting absolutely shitty old bangers for £50 (as you could then) and keeping the rest - his Grand Cherokee was still a nice car.

I think now they have a max CO2/km figure and I think it has to be Euro 6 too

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, horriblemercedes said:

I'd be interested to know how they define what's premium and what's not!

 

I remember my uncle telling me the rules on his (around 2010). Car had to be under seven years old. He had a 2002 Grand Cherokee at the time so he bought a dateless plate for it and they were happy with that. It was mostly to stop people getting absolutely shitty old bangers for £50 (as you could then) and keeping the rest - his Grand Cherokee was still a nice car.

I think now they have a max CO2/km figure and I think it has to be Euro 6 too

 

It had to be a certain emissions level etc as well. Personally it’d be the initiative to find another employer if they wanted to dictate your life to that level. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, sierraman said:

It had to be a certain emissions level etc as well. Personally it’d be the initiative to find another employer if they wanted to dictate your life to that level. 

Something we very much agree on.  I still use my 27-year-old S210 for work, even running it on Veg on business trips and claim mileage the same as anyone else.  Given that I've helped the company out several times in the past by being able to carry all manner of steelwork in the back, saving transport costs, they don't complain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the original question... An S210 E320CDi would be a very good choice here.  Not only are they a very useable car that "just works", but a genuine 45-50mpg is on the cards, with 200hp available for swift progress.

They're generally appreciating at the moment too,  Not as much as the earlier E300, as the OM606 in it is in demand, but they are still going up rather than down.  £1500 for a driveable one at the moment, which is up from £500 a few years back.  Tidy low-miles cars are £3k+

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My ex had a car allowance, I bought her a tired but reliable Xsara HDi that was paid off in 2 months by the allowance and then we just kept the difference. I think it was nearly £300 a month that she got, or the option of a lease car. Luckily they didn't ask what you ran if you took the cash payment.

My current employer is small enough that we don't have a policy dictating what car you can use for business travel. My predecessor opted for a company car, but I prefer to run my own car and claim mileage at the 45p a mile rate. I was rinsing it in the Insight, but even in the LS430 my costs are easily covered. I know that part of the reimbursement is to cover wear and tear, but if you maintain the cars yourself it doesn't work out at many pennies per mile.

It would do my head in if I had to get a modern car for work, as it would be something completely unappealing to me taking up a slot in the fleet.

Back on topic

The two cars that cost me nothing to run bar fuel and insurance where a £200 Avensis and the £600 Xsara mentioned previously. I also had a 1.9TD Xsara for £350 or thereabouts and that gave me about a year or so of decent running, but I think I sold it for a loss (those were the days!!).

As others have mentioned, the S210 or W210 in 320CDi are great cars for the money. I'm running an S210 320CDI  my daily currently as my mrs has nicked the LS430 off of me. I can confirm that my one is rough as arseholes but will do 45mpg sat at 80 on the motorway no bother, and they take off like a rocket ship. There's something childishly amusing about a bashed up car that you can fill with shite for a tip run but still see off most other cars at the traffic light GP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Rust Collector said:

There's something childishly amusing about a bashed up car that you can fill with shite for a tip run but still see off most other cars at the traffic light GP.

Indeed.  I may be 20hp down on your CDi, but it's still a laugh, especially if you're doing so while stinking of chips.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...