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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.