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Five cars that will break your wallet…

Buy these cars by all means, but do so at your peril…

We’re not daft, you know. We’re well aware that buying a cheap car comes with some perils. Which is why you’ll see some of the cars we have listed here deeper within the site, probably we words of glowing recommendation. And we stand by those words. We only generally feature cars we’d actually own, notwithstanding the Chrysler Crossfire.

That said, some cars have issues and if you buy wrong, or buy the cheapest one you can find, you’re almost certainly in for a world of pain. Buying cheap is about buying smart. Buy ones of these five motors without research and you could be in for a world of pain. Consider yourselves warned.

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The Mazda RX8…

We adore the RX8, make no mistake. That brilliant suicide door solution, the incredible chassis, the sporty, coupe look of thing. It’s just a masterpiece. And from the dealership, box fresh, it wasn’t what you’d call unreliable. And that’s despite the fact it came with an extra bottle oil despite the odometer reading delivery mileage.

But you see, that little bottle of oil is something of a clue as to why the poor RX8 has ended up on this list. The Mazda RX8 required a level of care that the normal motorist simply wasn’t prepared to offer. Back when your dad still had hair, people maintained their cars. Now, not so much. So the act of regularly checking oil was lost on most RX8 owners. As such, that 9,000rpm rotary engine suffered, and with it, the RX8 developed a reputation for costly engine rebuilds and general mechanical failure. And that’s a shame. Buy one with full history and look after it and it’ll never let you down.

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The W220 Mercedes-Benz S Class…

This is another car we’ve waxed lyrical about, but why wouldn’t we? With an S Class you’re getting dictator levels of motoring for a bargain price. Plump for a 500SE and you’ll be getting a car that once cost someone upwards of sixty or seventy grand. Talk about the bargain of the century.

As ever though, there’s a potential catch. Expensive cars may find themselves in the automotive reduced section like some ham at ASDA, but while ham can be enjoyed cheaply, an expensive car cannot. They still cost a lot to run, and that’s where people get caught out, so instead of digging deep, they bodge and scarper. That, or the car will give up of its own volition. In the case of the W220, that means failing sir suspension, which can write them off with ease. They rust for fun, ruining the look, and the electrical systems are more fragile than a Faberge Egg. As ever, buy one with history and you should be okay, but buy the cheapest one out there and your wallet will hate you.

Ah yes, the P38 Range Rover. That wheeled bastion of gangsters and drug dealing cretins called Sidney. But despite those unfortunate connections, it’s still a good car. You can clime every mountain and ford every stream with one of these bad boys. Or you can sit in your lounge, looking at the space where your TV was now that you’ve chopped it in at Cash Converters to fund yet another vehicular repair.

Yes, the P38 is great. But it wasn’t without its problems, and those problems were not what you’d call insignificant. There was an issue with water leaking into the ECU, this kills the P38. Air suspension failed for fun. The 4.6 V8 engine had a reputation for developing porous bore liners, which again, kills the P38. The alloys wheels would corrode and in the process weld themselves to the hubs. The axles are famed for leaking, as are the transfer cases. Oh, and the dealers are famous for being less than helpful. But other than that, the P38 is brilliant. Um, NEXT…

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The E60 5 Series…

Something of a bitter pill to swallow, this. You see, the car in the picture above, yeah, that’s our 530i SE. And we only paid a grand for it, which should mean we’ve paid for long and painful membership to the ‘it doesn’t work anymore’ club. Time will tell, we guess. Until then, we’ll enjoy the car. After all, the E60 is a wonderful thing. The drive is fantastic, the fit and finish is top notch and while controversial in those early days, the looks have really aged well.

It’s a good job it looks good, because we may yet end up spending a lot of time looking at it rather than driving at it. From what we know, the iDrive systems can be temperamental, the tyre pressure monitoring systems are crap (ours ALWAYS thinks it has a puncture), the centre prop bearings fail (our has), the airbag control modulators fail (ours has), the Dunlop run-flat tyres are ridiculously noise on the road (ours are) and then there’s a list of recalls. But other than that, we’ve bought a sensible car. Maybe.

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The Jaguar XJ (350)…

Look at it, what a handsome machine. Full of leather and with a god-given ability to waft along, it should be all the car you could ever need. And as per the theme of this post, if you buy one swimming in service history, it will be. But as the X350 XJ has only just dipped into our £2,000 paddling pool, that’s doubtful. Instead, you’ll end up with a wreck that’s been serviced by Dave from the local boozer for £20, and that’s if it’s been serviced at all. Seriously, just buy an X300 instead.

If you must buy a cheap X350, you’re going to want to look for corrosion cause by steel rivets rotting with the aluminium they’re meant to be securing. And yes, repairing that is as expensive as it sounds. There was also a common fault with the turbos failing on the 2.7 diesel versions. The rear wishbones can fail, which costs about a grand to fix. The electrics can and will regularly do whatever they like and there was a recall due to cars slipping into reverse without warning. But only from sixth gear. N`othing deadly about that, then.

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