Not £2 Grand is not about buying a banger, it’s not about being cheap, it’s not about budget motoring because you’re too afraid to dip your hand into your wallet. No, Not £2 Grand is here because like you, we don’t have a lot of money to spend on a car, but we don’t want to have to buy obviously crap cars because of that. We are here, dear reader, to help you capitalise on your money. For a mere two grand, you can be rolling in something that is nice, modern, safe and reliable. Cheap cars are not rubbish, at least not if you buy well.
HOWEVER, cheap cars can also be the motoring equivalent of the apple the witch offered Snow White. We are here to steer you away from these cars. Cars that will look amazing on your driveway, but that will fail so catastrophically they won’t go anywhere other than, well, your driveway. These cars will lull you in with their luxury, with their buttons, with their leather and with their speed. Like a junkie, you will yearn for more, and like a junkie, you will sell your own kidneys to keep these cars going. You need your fix, right?
NO, YOU DO NOT. Save yourself the pain, the eviction letters (because you bought a new air suspension pump instead of paying the rent) and the horror and buy something else from our pages of recommendations. Just don’t buy one of these five.
The Mazda RX8…
Gah, just look at it. It is so achingly pretty, the lines are perfect, the clever rear ‘suicide’ doors are ace, it’s low, it’s lean and it’s handsome. And once you get in, you’re cosseted by leather and a driving position that is nigh on perfect. Fire it up and the excitement builds. The engine revs to 9,000rpm, the six-speed ‘box is crisp and direct with a shifter that is the perfect distance from the steering wheel. You feel like a race driver. You power on through the revs and giggle like a loon as the RX8 grips through even the most demanding of bends. You get brave, press on and find yourself building confidence in the RX’s wonderful weight distribution, allowing you to slide the rear end out in the process. Driving bliss.
Then you find the car doesn’t like to start anymore. You find you’re down on power, but you check the forums and realise it’s a coil pack issue. Expensive at about £150 for decent kit, but you don’t care, you want the adrenaline rush of driving it again. But the coil packs don’t fix it, the damage is in fact terminal. The tips of the rotary Wankel engine have failed, you have no compression, you need a new engine. Game over.
The E65 BMW 7 Series
Do you want to look a bit gangster despite the fact you still live your mum and you work part-time at Tesco Express? What you need, then, is an old BMW. If there is one brand that loves a tumble from expensive to bargain basement, it’s this one. And the bigger they are, the harder they fall. A case in point being the E65 BMW 7 Series. It was a car so ugly we shielded our children’s eyes in 2002. However, the years have been kind to the E65 and now we’re sort of used to it. It’s no E38, granted. But it’s still a big, comfy, luxurious, fast machine that will make your broke ass feel like a captain of industry.
Or at least it will until it breaks, which it will. First, the iDrive system will fail and you’ll have no idea what is going on due to not being able to access any of the car’s menus. But that won’t matter soon, because the gearbox will crap itself and because it’s a ‘sealed for life’ unit, you won’t be able to get it fixed. If your gearbox keeps working, your E65 might spit you into the ditch if it’s a V8 car thanks to a common fault relating to a brake fluid leak., Buy a diesel then, yeah? Well, you could. But be warned, they eat their own inlet manifold swirl flaps, grenading the engine in the process.
The Alfa Romeo 166
Oh there is nothing worse than the mechanical betrayal of car you find achingly beautiful. In this respect, the Alfa Romeo 166 is the ultimate heart-breaker. It will lull you in with Italian style, right leather and a V6 engine you’ll want lick. You will fall in love with it so hard your wife will be considering packing your bags for it. You’ll giggle every time you plant the throttle of the V6 version. Your ears will yearn for the noise of that glorious V6 as it takes air and fuel and detonates them. The Alfa Romeo 166 will become a drug, and you won’t care.
Then, when it’s got you right where it wants you, it will destroy you. Like the female praying mantis eats its mate post mantis-sexy-time, so too will the 166 eat your bank account. First, you’ll put it in for an MOT and the tester will tell you its rotten, despite otherwise looking mint. If you own a V6, the tester will also tell you it needs new front tyres despite you fitting new ones six months ago. If you bought a 2.0 to be ‘safe’, you’re going to be anything but. The oil pump will fail, taking the engine’s big ends with it. if, of course, the timing gear doesn’t fail first and destroy the engine.
The L322 Range Rover
Range Rovers are timeless and a long as they’re not bright yellow, classless, too. You can buy a Range, and no matter its age, you’ll command a certain level of respect. And when you’re buying a car on a budget, it’s stuff like that which matters. You want people to like your motor, not be repulsed by its obvious cheapness. A Range Rover is a good way to achieve that. Plus, the Range is a champion off-road, it’s hugely practical, it’s comfortable and it’s more refined than the lounge of a high-end Gentleman’s Club.
The L322 generation of the Range Rover has, as we recently covered, has dipped its toe into our budgetary waters, but don’t be a fool and jump at one. Buy a well-sorted, looked after P38 by all means, but don’t buy a cheap L322. Much like a boat, you will only get two days of joy from it – the day you buy it, and the day you sell it. In between those days, the injectors will give up, the turbo (on the diesel models) will eat itself, the air suspension will fail, the the water pump will lock up and the electrics will probably freak out. None will be cheap to fix.
The W220 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Much like BMWs, big old Mercedes-Benz models love to tumble into the murky waters of bargain basement motoring, and the car that makes the biggest splash is, without a doubt, the W220 S Class. A flagship car for Mercedes-Benz, the S Class is one of those cars that people only wanted when it was brand new. Secondhand wouldn’t cut it, because the wealthy can’t be seen in anything used. And so it became the reserve of people like you and me. And we love it. Big, fast, comfortable and imposing, it’s a lot of car for not a lot of money. Until, that is, it goes wrong and takes your bank account with it.
Firstly, the W220 comes from a time when Mercedes-Benz used crap metal to build its cars, as such, it will rust. That is a certainty. Front wings, rear arches, door bottoms, boot lids, they all rot and they rot a LOT. Then the Airmatic suspension will fail, leaving the car stranded on its own belly. It might be a simple fix, however, you’ll spend your life saving trying to identify what small part needs fixing. Then, when you’ve done that, the electrics will give up. And then the crank position sensor will fail, meaning you can’t start the car. Just buy a W140 instead.