We should open this by saying that we don’t really care what other people think, and you should be of the same mindset. Life is for living, not for making the adjacent neighbours happy. And why should you make them happy? They don’t care when their cat takes a dump in your roses. But we digress. The fact is, that while we shouldn’t care what other people think, we do. Not because we want to show off or anything like that, but because we want people to think we’re doing well in life, and not secretly crying into a pan of Super Noodles every night (tears really bring out the flavour in the chicken ones – don’t ask us how we know).
This is why Not £2 Grand exists. Pollitt, the man behind this site, was sick of of the common train of thought that states low money means crap car. That’s simply not the case. With a couple of grand, you can buy a nice, luxurious in some cases, fast in others, car of your dreams. We are spoiled with choice in the UK. The used car market is a tough fought place, and as such, prices are always tumbling. That means you can buy almost any kind of car you like. And a nice one at that, not a decrepit rust bucket that may burst into flames at any given point.
And leads us neatly onto this post. We were recently looking at a new house on a new housing estate. It was very nice. New lawns, new trees, new houses, the works. It was a bit above us to be honest, which is probably why we’re not going to be moving there. However, before we decided, we pondered on the implications of living there. Would the PCP and company 3 Series elite sneer at us an our Rover 800? Would they stage a coup if we bought our 1973 Oldsmobile back? or are there older cars that we could buy, that would still be a bargain, all while blending seamlessly into suburban life? We had a ponder, and it turns out there are myriad options for suburban bliss. Here are our five top picks.
1) The BMW E39 Five Series
The modern suburban housing development is going to be awash with BMWs, but not cool ones. No, it will be full of those god-awful, big grilled monstrosities that BMW has the affront to call ‘good design’. They’re not good design. The look like someone has glued Bane to the front of a car. Awful. So, remind your idiot neighbours of a time when BMW design was bang on the money. Buy an E39. It was and still is a great bit of design. unmistakable, but not shouty or showy. Instead, it was understated and cool. A car that now, nearly twenty-five years on, still cuts a dash and would still look right at home outside an ex-show house.
2) The W124 TE
Old Mercs are timeless. We have a W124 230E and while there is no mistaking it as an older car, it doesn’t matter. It carries an ‘old money’ vibe, not a ‘I walk around Aldi adding up as I go’ vibe. You could run over the neighbour’s cat in an old Merc and laugh it off with a low, guttural, chuckling apology. And the owner of ‘flat Tiddles’ would be fine. You’re a scamp in an old Merc, a rogue, a bit of a character. And old Mercs also carry with them a degree of mystery. You never know if the person driving it has fifty quid in the bank, or five million. That could be you. The neighbours would soon forget they have 48 months left on a PCP deal on a Golf, and instead they would wonder where you came from. You’d be a suburban enigma. All because you drive an old Mercedes.
3) The Alfa Rover 159
Everybody loves an Alfa Romeo, and so will your neighbours. But never mind them. YOU will love an Alfa Romeo, and that’s the main thing. Sure, Dave down the pub will tell you they break down and that they’re unreliable, but don’t listen to Dave. He’s an idiot and he drives a Renault Koleos. What does he know? Nothing, that’s what. An old Alfa Romeo is a good thing to buy because by now, years down down line from being new, all the problems will have been ironed out. The previous owners will have been the ones crying at the service desk of their local dealership. And their tears are your joy. Spend a couple of grand on a nice 159 and you’ll have a car that should be trouble free, that’s incredibly handsome and that will bring a delightful dose of style to the otherwise dull suburban surroundings.
4) The Jaguar S Type
Honestly, who doesn’t like the idea of owning a Jaguar? A passionate, bold, luxurious brand that is as British as they come, Jaguars are cars that everyone likes. They’re handsome, they’re often fast, they’re dripping in luxury. Yes, this is how to do bargain motoring. And for our money, we’d go down the road of an S Type. We like the X Type, but it’s just not quite cool enough for this list. The S Type is. It embodies the lines of its ’50 and ’60s forebears and it’s a riot to drive. It might not have been sculpted under direction of William Lyons himself, but it’s pretty damn close to something he would have come up with. Don’t do things by halves though. Get a V8 and have done with it. Suburban streets are a brilliant echo chamber for the burble of eight cylinders.
5) The MG ZT
Do you know what the suburban setting needs? More colours. They are awash with the beige render, the greens of freshly planted shrubs and trees and, well, that’s about it. It needs some bright blues, some yellows, some reds. It needs, then, some MG ZTs. You might be scoffing at this point and wondering why we haven’t included a Volvo in this list. Well, honestly, a Volvo would be a bit to predictable. The MG ZT is a bit of left field choice, which is why we like it. Plus, you could easily buy a minter for under under two grand. We love the ZT. It’s an angry looking thing, and in V6 guise it’s an absolute riot to drive. It’s also a car that is developing a bit of a following, and as such, parts and folk willing to work on them with enthusiasm are easy to find. Plus, it’s a cool old thing. It was and still is silly to think of a Rover 75 in bright colours with bucket seats, but it works. If you want to really set off the suburban vibe, buy an estate.