Ask PetrolBlog: Antony wants a car for £600

To be fair to Antony Ingram, he probably doesn’t need PetrolBlog’s help with finding a new car. But when he asked us to draw up a list of cars he could buy with a £600 budget, we couldn’t help but dive into the classifieds. Any excuse, eh?

The thing is, although £600 doesn’t seem like a lot, with a little searching there are some genuine pearls out there. Sure, you may need a little patience and your image may suffer a little, but as PetrolBlog knows, running a motor under the rules of Bangernomics is a heck of a lot of fun.

So, in no particular order, here are PetrolBlog’s top ten cars for £600. 

Honda Accord

Honda Accord 2.0i ES

The Honda Accord has to be a contender for the world’s best car to run on a budget. Its reputation for reliability is the stuff of legend and Antony’s budget should enable him to take his pick from the fifth or sixth generation cars.

Why it’s good: likely to have been looked after by a loving owner; surprisingly good to drive; ageing well; reliability

Why it’s not: parts and servicing can be expensive; sadly Antony’s budget won’t stretch to a Type-R…

MK1 Renault Clio

MK1 Renault Clio

PetrolBlog reckons the MK1 Renault Clio is becoming quite desirable. In fact, prices for the original ‘Nicole’ Clio can be higher than the ‘way off PetrolBlog’s radar’ MK2 Clio.

Why it’s good: Antony need only spend half his budget to get a low mileage, one-lady-owner Clio

Why it’s not: not the last word in quality and not particularly inspiring to drive

Citroën ZX 1.9 diesel

Citroen ZX 1.9 Turbo D SX

Recommending a cheap mid-’90s French hatchback may be on a par with suggesting your best friend bets his house on a three-legged horse at the Grand National, but the ZX is different. It’s surprisingly robust, good to drive and supremely comfortable. Three door is ageing well, too.

Why it’s good: very cheap to buy; robust; non-turbo diesel very economical

Why it’s not: turbo diesel quicker, but less economical; many will have been abused

Honda Prelude

1997 Honda Prelude 2.2 VTi

At the time, the fifth generation Honda Prelude was criticised for being a little tame in the styling department. But over a decade since it disappeared it’s starting to become more desirable. The 2.2i VTi engine is a peach, with later cars having the benefit of four-wheel steering

Why it’s good: sharp styling; good to drive, proven dynamics

Why it’s not: many rough ones about; avoid cars with no service history

Hyundai Accent

1997 Hyundai Accent 1.5 MVi

For £600, Antony can take his pick from the very best first or second generation Hyundai Accents. And although that may seem like a recipe for boredom, the Accent makes a huge amount of sense. And look, the first generation came with yellow fog lights. What’s not to like?

Why it’s good: very, very cheap

Why it’s not: very, very dull

Renault Megane Coupé

Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 16v

Antony likes the Renault Mégane Shatchback, but hey, it’s a free country. But whilst PetrolBlog would never, ever recommend the purchase of a Shatchback, the stylish Coupé is ageing very well indeed.

Why it’s good: looks good; it’s not a Shatchback

Why it’s not: not exactly the last word in reliability; many will have been abused

Saab 9000

Saab 9000i

Speaking from experience here, the Saab 9000 is a cracking £600 car. In fact, Antony could probably walk away with enough change for a new set of tyres. The 9000 offers awesome build quality and a feeling of toughness absent from most new cars.

Why it’s good: cheap to buy; very well built; unfashionably cool; capable of high mileages

Why it’s not: parts and servicing expensive

Kia Shuma II

Kia Shuma

Good lord, bet you never thought you’d see the day a Kia Shuma appeared on PetrolBlog? But the fact is, with the possible exception of the the Accent, the Shuma II is likely to be one of the newest cars Antony can afford.

Why it’s good: OK, we’ll admit it, we’re struggling here…

Why it’s not: Antony will get more pleasure driving his dishwasher

Ford Puma

Ford Puma

Prices of the Ford Puma are laughably low. Which is good news, because Antony would be laughing all the way if he ended up with a Ford Puma. Sure, it’s likely to be a little tatty, but that won’t matter when he’s having a play on his favourite B-road.

Why it’s good: simply brilliant to drive; likely to be depreciation-free; the enthusiast’s choice

Why it’s not: rust will be an issue, 1.4-litre slow and best avoided

Proton Persona

Proton Persona 2.0 SDi

For some reason, PetrolBlog is developing an unhealthy fondness for 1990s Protons. Perhaps it’s the combination of a complete lack of image and ultra-reliable Mitsubishi underpinnings – making the Persona or smaller Compact the perfect £600 purchase.

Why it’s good: it’s a Mitsubishi underneath; cheap as chips

Why it’s not: Antony’s image will take a knock; sounds like a female product you’d buy in Boots.

So there you have it, a surprisingly sensible list of cars from PetrolBlog. We may need to have a lie down.

But the thing is, whilst it would be tempting to go out and buy a cheap classic, we don’t want to be responsible for Antony’s spiral into financial oblivion. And besides, if we know Antony like we think we do, we happen to think he’ll approve of our choices.

Famous last words? Let us know in the comments section or in PetrolBlog’s new fangled Members Section. Ooh.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

3 comments

  1. April 22, 2013
    Ant

    You’ve out-done yourself Major, those are some interesting choices for sure!

    I think I’d have to immediately drop the Kia, Proton and Hyundai as I’m not completely insane, and sadly the Puma would have to go as it would sadden me too much to buy the inevitable bucket of rust that a low budget would limit me to.

    I quite like the Megane. Wanted one since I was a child actually. If I found a really tidy one I’d be tempted, even if it was just the boggo 1.6. If it’s lasted this long, it has to be a good one, surely?…

    9000, Accord and Prelude are excellent shouts. Prelude in particular I’ve considered on multiple occasions – got within a day of buying one a few years back, pre-MX5 (it had been bought before I could view it). Clio is good too, though I actually prefer the early Mk2 ones – to me the curvy styling really embodies what the Clio is about.

    ZX is probably one of the most realistic on there, not least because I almost fell for the one I took on a banger rally to Spain a year or two back. Was just the bog-standard non-turbo diesel but I didn’t find it hideously slow. Aside from the fact that a front strut popped through the bonnet as my friends pulled into their garage at journey’s end, it also felt pretty much unburstable. Totally agree with the comfort assessment too. Hmmm…

    Reply
  2. April 28, 2013
    Mick Mulleary

    Some nice choices there…. I’d recommend a Ford Escort if that 600 quid is to buy an everyday workhorse. The humble late era Escort can be grabbed with air-con decent sound system and probably the SI badge for that amount of money easy.

    It’s not a car for pulling the ladies tho. Unless they’re dagenham birds…. a donner kebab and a tin of Kestrel and you’re quite literally in.

    Reply
  3. May 5, 2013
    Ant

    I’ve just realised that if I drop my budget by £100, it can also be used for the Petrolblog hillclimb…

    Reply

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