For some of us living here within the bubble of budget motoring, the are important concerns like image, speed or a car’s given ability to make people think you have more money that you really do. For others though, all that matters is reliability and with it, the ability to cover more miles than the Space Shuttle.
With that in mind, we’ve had a think through some of the high-milers either we, or people we know, have had on over the years and come up with this, our list of five high-mileage heroes. No, this isn’t a definitive list, but these are the ones we’ve been go around the moon and back – from a mileage point of view – first hand. WE’RE A CREDIBLE SOURCE, YO!
The Volvo V70 – From £750
A photographer friend had one of these, and even if the engine fell out, it would have still been one of the most useful cars to ever hit the streets. But then again, would you expect anything less from a Volvo estate? Exactly.
When he bought it, it had a lot of miles on it. We can’t be sure how many, mind, because the dash binnacle had given up the ghost. As such, the driver was greeted with an inky black void rather than any useful information. This made knowing when to fill up tricky. But seeing as a new set of clocks would have been more than the value of the car, it was decided that he’d live without them.
Over the years this V70 performed faultlessly. We’ve driven it on occasion, and even though it had eclipsed the 200k marker, it was still smooth, quiet and generally lovely to drive. All our man had to do was keep it serviced, keep it fuelled and that was it. What a machine.
The BMW 5 Series (E39) – From £500
The E39, the fourth generation of BMW’s mid-size, upper management pleasing 5 Series is regarded by many to be one of the best cars ever built. Hell, even Jeremy Clarkson said so, though it’s up to you if you take that as a good or bad thing.
While we’ve only owned one, for about three days, the E39 is a car that we’ve seen lots of friends have. And from that, we get the impression that Mr Clarkson may well have been onto something. Keep an E39 serviced and in good health, and it will reward you by probably outliving you. Buy an estate and you could use it as your own hearse. Possibly.
E39s ticking over 300k are not rare. They just go on and on and on. But they’re not just soulless mile-munchers. The E39 is a joy to drive. It’s refined, it’s quiet and most of them are pretty damn quick, too. Plus, rear-wheel drive means sick skidz, which is wheel cool according to Kenneth Brick.
The VW Passat – From £1,000
Ah yes, the Passat. While the Volvo V70 has a certain Swedish charm and the E39 is a hoot to drive, the VW Passat is none of those things. It is a very, very dull car. If it were a person, it would be Mark from Peep Show. If it were a sandwich it would be cheese, with butter only. Paint? It would be the most magnolia of magnolias. But these dull attributes aren’t a bad thing.
If you want car that will demand nothing more of you than some fresh oil, some new tyres and other assorted service items in return for astounding economy and comfort, then look no further. And because of the whole Dieselgate debacle, oil-burning cars, specifically VWs, have never been cheaper. So buy one, make miles while the diesel pumps still shine, then throw it away.
The Peugeot 406 – From £300
Did someone order a minicab? Oh, what, really? There exists some Peugeot 406s that weren’t forced into the life of “where you going mate” and back seats full of vomit? Well that’s good news, because the 406 was and still is a belting car. The French have a way of making every big car it build feel like a wheeled mattress, and the 406 is no exception to this rule. It’s spacious, it’s comfy, buy a diesel and it’ll be economical, it’s just a damn fine machine.
And yes, a lot of them have gone the way of “what time are you on until?” but that’s a good thing. These drivers depend on their wheels to be reliable, to be comfy and to be durable. As such, a scan through the classifieds will soon yield plenty of 200,000 mile + 406 bounty. They’re old, but they’re still going strong. So strong, in fact, that What Car? recently bought one for £450, if you needed more convincing.
The MkIII Mondeo – From £200
We ADORE the MkIII Mondeo. It’s big, it’s comfy and in the right spec, it can be fast, too. We’d know, given that we used to have an ST TDCi model with nearly 200bhp. It was a rocket ship of smoke and turbo whistle, while still returning 50mpg. AND it had nearly 200,000 miles on the clock. But get this, we only sold it because it tanked an MOT in spectacular fashion. The guy we sold it to fixed it, and as such it lives on.
We also had a pool car, back in the days when we were staff on Retro Ford magazine, and that thing was an animal. It was subjected to the most basic of maintenance, it was driven by a gaggle of heavy-footed motoring journalists, it was thrashed around Bruntingthorpe many, many times, yet still, it didn’t die. And again, that had over 200,000 miles on the clock. What. A. Machine.