Bangers and flash: what car would Guy Fawkes drive?


Remember, remember, the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot. The question is, what car would Guy Fawkes drive? OK, so it’s a question nobody has ever asked, but that didn’t stop us going off in search of the answer.

Chevrolet Spark


It’s fair to say Guy Fawkes wouldn’t be seen dead in a Daewoo Matiz. But all that changed when it became the Chevrolet Spark. Fawkes could take one by the hand and lead it through the streets of London.

The tall, upright styling would ensure Fawkes could keep his hat on, while air conditioning would keep him cool in the face of some severe heat.

Volkswagen Golf Match


Remember, remember: the one thing Fawkes couldn’t afford to forget was a match. Which is why a Golf Match would serve as a reminder to carry a box of Swan Vestas.

Fawkes would be too busy plotting to worry about diesel emissions, so he’ll cruise across the Hammersmith Flyover in blissful ignorance.

Guy Otter


We admit this one is even more tenuous than the others, but we’re mildly amused by the fact a Guy Otter even existed. He could have chosen a Vixen, Wolf, Ant or Arab, but they lack the comedy factor.

There was also a Guy Invincible, but as history recalls, Mr Fawkes couldn’t claim invincibility. But he almost lost his head.

Renault Fuego Turbo


If Guy Fawkes had any taste, he’d almost certainly be driving a Renault Fuego Turbo. Given his links with Spain, he’d be aware that Fuego is Spanish for Fire.

Legend has it that Guy Fawkes was a huge fan of yellow fog lights and large TURBO decals. So he’d be delighted with the ‘French Capri’.

Lancia Y10 FIRE


If you tried to sell Guy Fawkes a Lancia with a Fully Integrated Robotised Engine, he’d immediately switch off and return to his copy of The Spectator. Or watching Loose Women.

But sell it to him as the Lancia Y10 FIRE and he’d be there in a flash. So to speak.

Light Car Company Rocket


The Rocket is always a favourite at firework displays, so the Light Car Company Rocket could be the perfect vehicle for Fawkes. The Rocket’s lightness and pace would help him make a quick getaway.

That said, he’d need to find someone to deliver the gunpowder, as boot space is strictly limited to, er… zero.

Chevy Blazer


It’s probably safe to assume the Blazer wasn’t named after a formal garment and is instead a slightly informal reference to an arsonist. And as the nation’s most famous firestarter, Fawkes would feel right at home.

What’s more, there’s enough room for a few of his fellow conspirators, as well as half a dozen barrels of gunpowder.

Pontiac Firebird


It’s hard to say which generation Firebird Fawkes would have preferred, but for its appearance in Smokey and the Bandit, the second generation car would get the nod.

Funny how things turn out. Had Fawkes got away with the Gunpowder Plot, Smokey and the Bandit could have been the name of a Guy Fawkes biopic.

Austin Westminster


A permanent reminder of his failure. Mr Fawkes could treat himself to an Austin Westminster and spend every Sunday morning waxing it and treating the chrome trim with Autosol.

While waxing he’d be forced to listen to the sound of Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs, because a lifetime of torture is a far better punishment than execution.

Holden Statesman


There’s a certain irony attached to Guy Fawkes driving a Holden Statesman. Because the firestarter was anything but a statesman. Or a Holden.

Had Guy Fawkes been successful in his plot, English history would have been shaped by a single act of terrorism.

Ford Pinto

Associated Press

Ah, the Ford Pinto. Guy Fawkes didn’t read his Observer’s Book of Automobiles, so he probably won’t get the significance of Ford’s much-maligned car.

That is until the precise moment someone careers into the back of him and he explodes into a ball of flames. A fitting and somehow apt way to end this feature.

The Garmin DriveSmart 50 and a potted history of the sat nav


In-car satellite navigation systems – often shortened to ‘sat nav’ – have come a long way in three decades. But their development stretches back to 1909, when an engineer named J.W.Jones invented the Jones Live-Map in-car navigation system.

As reported by The New Yorker, the Live-Map was connected to a car’s odometer and consisted of a glass-enclosed dial, on which you could place a disk representing a particular trip.

The disk had mileage numbers around the edge, along with driving directions printed on the face. As you made your way along the road, the disk would rotate, telling you where you needed to go. In truth, it wasn’t all that good, but it laid the foundations for future development.

OnStar: born in 1966?

That said, the pace of development was surprisingly slow. The motoring world had to wait until 1966 for the next chapter in the history of the sat nav, when General Motors engineers designed a system called DAIR, or Driver Aid, Information and Routing.

DAIR relied on punch cards to provide information for basic turn-by-turn directions. The driver could ‘record’ a route with turns being represented as different gaps in the card’s surface. GM proposed a series of radio relay stations and magnetic sensors buried in roads, communicating everything from directions to road conditions and accident reports.

In many ways, DAIR was an early, albeit primitive version of the modern OnStar system, found in new Vauxhall models.

“Picture yourself on a long, lonely segment of highway,” said the research material distributed to GM personnel only. “It’s a rainy night, and you’re trying to stretch your gasoline to the next service station.

“Sure enough, the engine begins to stutter. You coast to the shoulder and stop. Your wife, who suggested a stop at the last town, gives you the special look she saves for such occasions. It’s a bad situation at best.”

GM promised motorists that DAIR could avoid such situations, but while the company’s ambitions must be applauded, it never really stood a chance. Just imagine how much investment would have been required to provide the necessary infrastructure.

The Electro Gyrocator


It was left to the Japanese to accelerate the growth in development. The brilliantly named Electro Gyrocator was launched as an optional extra in the Honda Accord in 1981, and is widely accepted to be the world’s first commercially available in-car navigation system.

Nine years later, the tech-laden Mazda Eunos Cosmo became the first car to be fitted with a built-in GPS-based navigation system, with Toyota another early pioneer of navigation systems.

The availability of GPS (global positioning by satellite) was the real turning point for in-car navigation. The technology was developed by the United States in the 1950s, with President Reagan making it available for civilian use in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, from a spare bedroom in Surrey, NextBase created the AutoRoute journey planner: a complete digital road map of Britain. For the first time, motorists had an alternative to the humble road atlas.

In the early days, in-car sat navs were the preserve of flagship motors, such as the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Renault Safrane, which featured Carminat in 1995: a European CD-based system featuring a colour interface and 2D map not too dissimilar to the systems of today.

The birth of intelligent sat nav

Today’s systems are far more advanced. The Rolls-Royce Wraith, for example, uses GPS to select the right gear for an approaching corner. Meanwhile, Audi’s adaptive cruise control works with the navigation to select the appropriate pace for corners, junctions and speed limits.

After the turn of the millennium, the in-car navigation system came into its own. No longer the preserve of luxobarges, the availability of sat nav filtered down to humble superminis and city cars. There was a cost, of course, but there was also a choice.

The likes of Garmin, TomTom and Navigon flooded the market with aftermarket devices, the majority of which were considerably cheaper than the OEM systems. A manufacturer might have offered a system for a four-figure sum, while an aftermarket sat nav could cost a couple of hundred pounds.

For years, experts warned against splashing the cash on an expensive OEM system, arguing that it would be obsolete in a few years and you’ve never be able to recoup the cost when it came to resale.

Today, the lines are a little more blurred. Many motorists buy a car via a PCP deal, meaning the issue of obsolescence is no longer an issue. Equally, the growth of smartphone connectivity has meant that motorists already have the maps and apps required before they buy a new car.

Garmin DriveSmart 50: short review


Does this mean the end of the aftermarket sat nav system? Garmin doesn’t think so, which is why we were sent a DriveSmart 50 to review.

Truth be told, it’s been a while since we used an aftermarket sat nav. The majority of test cars are loaded up with gadgets, while we tend to rely on traditional maps when driving our own cars (for the true retro experience).

Garmin unveiled its latest range of sat nav systems at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016, with the DriveSmart sitting just above the entry-level Garmin Drive.

The DriveSmart is aimed squarely at the smartphone generation, featuring customisable smart notifications that allow drivers to display calls, text messages and app notifications on the navigation screen.

Press the appropriate button on the screen and the Garmin lady will read your text, email or social update to you and anybody else travelling in the car. It’s a little like Apple CarPlay in this respect, although there’s no option to voice a reply to a text.

Other advantages of the DriveSmart over the basic Drive are the availability of a voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and real-time access to traffic and weather reports via a Smartphone Link app.

The 50 in DriveSmart 50 refers to the size of the screen – in this case five inches. If size matters and you fancy something a little larger, the DriveSmart is also available with six-inch (60) and seven-inch screen (70).

Garmin DriveSmart 50: what’s in the box?


In the box you’ll find the obligatory suction mount, 12v socket to mini USB charging cable, USB to mini USB charging cable and a few leaflets. There’s no manual, so you’ll have to find this online.

Be warned: although the DriveSmart 50 will operate straight from the box, you’ll need to download Garmin Express via the internet to take advantage of its features, not to mention the most current software. There’s no clear instruction to tell you this, just a diagram hinting that this might be the case.

Using a 60mb broadband connection and an iMac, it look less than an hour to install the required software and update the maps, but it’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re intending to use the sat nav before a long trip or a holiday. Update it first!

There’s a bewildering array of options to scroll through, including the vehicle icon to show on the map, driving map view, map detail, layers and audible driving alerts. But once you’ve established your ideal settings, you’re unlikely to feel the need to change them again.

Garmin DriveSmart 50: audible driving alerts


The audible driving alerts are a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it’s good to be alerted to schools, animal crossing points, speed limits and bends, but it can also be incredibly annoying.

After three ‘bongs’ alerting you to various bends ahead, you will be reaching for the off button. Fortunately you can pick and choose the alerts you want. Our guess is that the majority of drivers will remove them all.

They’re not exactly consistent, either. On the rural roads of Dartmoor, we were warned about animal crossing points a number of times, but not once did it alert us about a school. Some consistency is required.

On the plus side, the voice control system is very good. Even with Ken Bruce chattering away in the background, the Garmin was able to recognise our commands and reacted accordingly. Again, you’ll need to spend a few minutes to set things up, but the reward is a reliable and intuitive system.

Garmin DriveSmart 50: maps and guidance


As you’d expect from Garmin, the maps and route guidance are very good. It’s easy to get carried away with the array of apps and smartphone integration, but the primary role of the DriveSmart 50 is to get you from A to B with the least amount of hassle.

Inputting a town or postcode is easy, not least because it features predictive text, while the voice control allows you to make changes on the move. A neat touch, and something you don’t often find on OEM systems, is its ability to provide street names as part of the instructions.

In other words, while the OEM system we tested alongside the Garmin simply told us to turn right, the DriveSmart instructed us to ‘turn right onto Rose Cottages’. Makes things a bit easier, especially in a built-up area.

It’s not perfect. On a few occasions, the estimated time of arrival was a little pessimistic, saying we’d arrive at our destination a full 10 minutes later than the actual ETA. Not a problem on a four-hour journey, but not great when the journey only took 25 minutes.

It also warned us about traffic delays that simply weren’t there. In fairness to Garmin, this problem tends to affect other systems, but it might result in a few needless diversions.

The screen itself is clear, if a little prone to reflections, while the maps are easy to use. Zooming and panning is simple thanks to ‘pinch and zoom’, although this can lead to a few smeary marks on the screen.

Garmin DriveSmart 50: clutter


In fact, an aftermarket sat nav probably isn’t the best choice if you’re not a fan of clutter or mess. With the Garmin attached to the windscreen, you’ll need to find a safe home for the trailing charging cable, while the suction mount will leave a circular mark on the glass when removed.

Being picky, we’d also like some kind of pouch or sleeve to keep the sat nav safe when not in use. We’re forever being told to remove sat navs from our cars when parked up, so some kind of protection would be handy.

Other gripes – which aren’t isolated to the DriveSmart 50 – include the fact that, unlike OEM systems, the volume of the stereo isn’t lowered when commands are being read out. Furthermore, the commands sound a little ‘tinny’ compared to the OEM sat navs which have the advantage of using the car’s speakers.

Garmin DriveSmart: conclusion

But with prices starting from under £150, it’s hard to argue with the Garmin DriveSmart 50. Our system is the more expensive 50LMT-D, which features lifetime map and traffic updates, along with UK, Ireland and Western Europe maps, and costs £189.99.

The OCD in us would prefer the simplicity and uncluttered convenience of an OEM navigation system, but when even the Media Nav Evolution on a Dacia Sandero costs £300, it’s easy to see the appeal of an aftermarket system.

Besides, the DriveSmart is as smart as the name suggests, with an ability to look at previous journeys to inform you if there are any expected delays on your daily commute. Features such as this will encourage you to continue using the system, rather than leaving it in the glovebox.

Equally, the free traffic and map updates for life will keep the DriveSmart current, long after after sat nav units have been condemned to that drawer containing all the other gadgets you’ll never use again.

One final point: for us, the jury is out on the whole notifications thing. While we can see the attraction of having texts, emails and social updates read out on the move, isn’t it just another distraction for drivers?

What’s more, without the ability to voice command a reply, isn’t there a temptation for drivers to pick up their smartphones and respond in real-time? At least with Apple CarPlay you can reply to a text message without touching your phone.

Thanks to Halfords for the loan of the Garmin DriveSmart.

BBCThe New YorkerGeneral Motors

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Amazon has announced this morning that it’s taking The Grand Tour to Scotland – and invited fans to apply for tickets to its tent on the banks of Loch Ness.

It comes after Clarkson, Hammond and May filmed an episode in Whitby last month – returning to the county where the infamous Top Gear ‘fracas’ took place.

“We can’t wait to bring The Grand Tour tent back to the UK,” said VP of Amazon Video Europe, Jay Marine. “The guys had a great time filming in Whitby last month and we’re excited to bring the tent to Scotland. Demand for tickets to all recordings has been phenomenal with applications coming in from around the globe, so get in quick for an opportunity to join Jeremy, James and Richard at this monster location.”

The Grand Tour will be available to watch on Amazon Prime from 18th November, with new episodes being released every week for 12 weeks.

The ex-Top Gear trio have been travelling around the world with their pop-up studio – visiting exotic locations including Johannesburg, California, Whitby and Rotterdam.

Lapland, Stuttgart and Nashville will also be visited by the big tent.

Fans can apply for tickets until midnight on Friday 4th November and successful applicants will be contacted over the next few weeks.

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Jeremy Clarkson’s The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour is going to Scotland

Amazon has announced this morning that it’s taking The Grand Tour to Scotland – and invited fans to apply for tickets to its tent on the banks of Loch Ness.

It comes after Clarkson, Hammond and May filmed an episode in Whitby last month – returning to the county where the infamous Top Gear ‘fracas’ took place.

“We can’t wait to bring The Grand Tour tent back to the UK,” said VP of Amazon Video Europe, Jay Marine. “The guys had a great time filming in Whitby last month and we’re excited to bring the tent to Scotland. Demand for tickets to all recordings has been phenomenal with applications coming in from around the globe, so get in quick for an opportunity to join Jeremy, James and Richard at this monster location.”

The Grand Tour will be available to watch on Amazon Prime from 18th November, with new episodes being released every week for 12 weeks.

The ex-Top Gear trio have been travelling around the world with their pop-up studio – visiting exotic locations including Johannesburg, California, Whitby and Rotterdam.

Lapland, Stuttgart and Nashville will also be visited by the big tent.

Fans can apply for tickets until midnight on Friday 4th November and successful applicants will be contacted over the next few weeks.

Petrol filling station

Fuel price rises fastest since early 2013

Petrol filling stationFuel prices rose at their fastest rate in 42 months last month, reports RAC Fuel Watch, and pump prices are now the highest since summer 2015.

Brexit fears and the weakening of the pound saw petrol prices rising 4.39p a litre in a single month. Diesel price growth was even higher, rising 5.17p in October 2016.

The average price of unleaded is now 116.7p and the average diesel price is 118.6p – July 2015 was the last time they were so high.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “October 2016 was an historic month for UK pump prices but – sadly for motorists – for all the wrong reasons.

“The effects of the weak pound have really been felt on the wholesale market, and this, combined with an oil price at nearly double its lowest level in 2016, has put significant upward pressure on wholesale fuel prices.

“Retailers have had no choice but to reflect these dramatic increases in the prices they charge at the pumps.”

It’s a long way from how things were at the start of the year. In early 2016, petrol was around 102p and diesel was 101p.

But this does not mean November will continue the steep upward trend, adds Williams. The price of oil has fallen recently and this has already been reflected in wholesale prices.

Despite this, he warned Chancellor Philip Hammond to leave fuel duty alone in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

“If the Chancellor has been considering tinkering with fuel duty in this month’s Autumn Statement, the sheer volatility of prices we are currently seeing should, we hope, be enough to make him reconsider.”

Insanely cheap used luxury cars to buy NOW

Insanely cheap luxury cars for less than £1,500

Insanely cheap used luxury cars to buy NOW

If you’re after all of the flash but are not prepared to splash all of the cash, we might have the answer. Armed with a virtual wad of 1500 notes, we went shopping on Auto Trader to assemble a list of luxury motors you can buy for less than a deposit on a new supermini. At this end of the market, you can’t expect perfection, and a petrol engine is probably safer than diesel, but you might be surprised to discover what’s available. Read on as we guide you through 25 luxobarges you can buy today.

Audi A8: £1,445

In more ways than one, the Audi A8 was a ground-breaking car. Following a decade of development, the innovative Audi Space Frame aluminium construction finally made its debut, while this was the car that propelled Audi into the premium big league. Launched in 1994, this was by far Audi’s most luxurious model to date.

We’d prefer the 4.2-litre V8 to the 3.7-litre V8 offered here, but at this budget beggars can’t be choosers. At some point it looks like it might have been treated to an LPG conversion, but there’s no mention of this in the ad. The MOT history makes for good reading, although some money was spent on the suspension in August.

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Volvo S80: £1,495

To borrow a phrase from a certain brand of chocolate, with this slice of Swedish luxobarge we’re really spoiling you. It’s a 2000 Volvo S80 with the more powerful 170hp 2.4-litre engine with an amazing 55,000 miles on the clock. We checked the MOT history, which appears to back this up.

Be quick: two even more delightful S80s sold in the time it took us to prepare this feature. Because everybody loves a bargain barge, right?

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BMW 7 Series: £1,395

BMW 7 Series: £1,395

There’s a whiff of James Bond about the E38 BMW 7 Series, as a 750iL made a memorable appearance in Tomorrow Never Dies. We can’t promise a 7 Series will never die, but there’s something rather appealing about this 728i.

We’re attracted by the fact that it has had just one previous owner and the full service history, not to mention a list of gadgets that would shame Q. You’ll adore the ride quality and the way it handles, but do your homework before parting with the best part of £1,400.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class: £1,295

The best car in the world for less than £1,300 – where do we sign? OK, so a 15-year-old S-Class might be showing its age, but at the turn of the millennium this represented the height of luxury and sophistication. Like the 7 Series, the W220 S-Class isn’t without its problems, so you should buy with your eyes open.

A 5.0-litre V8 S500 won’t be cheap to run, but we like the fact that the current owner has owned the car since 2009 and there’s a mere 111,000 miles on the clock. Judging by the photos, this may have been used for wedding duties.

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Alfa Romeo 166: £995

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? We’re not going to pretend that buying an Alfa Romeo 166 won’t be without risks, but it’s blessed with one of the best interiors of all-time. Besides, at £995, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, don’t answer that.

With a 2.0-litre engine, you’ll have to forgo the brilliance of a V6 engine, but at least it should be cheaper to run. We’re not fans of the black alloys, but the one-former-keeper factor certainly appeals. They don’t make ’em like they used to, etc, etc.

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Chrysler Grand Voyager: £1,495

Chrysler Grand Voyager: £1,495

If you have some brave pills left over from the Alfa Romeo 166, you might be tempted by this all-American people carrier. While many MPVs of this vintage will be showing their age, the Chrysler Grand Voyager manages to retain some class and sophistication.

The ad claims this 2004 car has had one former keeper and has covered 134,000 miles. The MOT history suggests any earlier niggles might have been sorted, although you might want to check what it has been towing. A caravan, perhaps?

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Cadillac BLS: £1,500

The BLS was Cadillac’s entry-level luxobarge for Europe and was based on the Saab 9-3, which itself was based on the Vauxhall Vectra. But wait, before you skip to the next slide, hear us out.

While the 2.8-litre V6 engine would be more appealing, the 1.9-litre turbodiesel could deliver upwards of 45mpg. Meanwhile, the interior is classic American: with a supersize cupholder, plenty of toys and a sea of scratchy plastics. Note the Cadillac analogue clock. Kitsch-tastic.

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Lexus RX300: £1,695

We’ve pushed our self-imposed £1,500 limit a little to bring you this Lexus RX300. At its launch in 2001, the RX300 was ahead of the curve, offering five-seat SUV practicality with little off-road ability. A lifestyle urban cruiser, if you like.

Extend your budget to £2,500 and there’s a surprising number of RX300s available, many of which will have enjoyed a pampered existence. The specification will appeal, but the 16.0mpg urban fuel economy might not.

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Volvo 960: £1,500

Volvo 960: £1,500

According to Volvo, the 960 Estate “was the natural choice for discerning customers who wanted a car offering a unique combination of comfort, safety, ergonomics, space and versatility, a combination much appreciated by drivers and passengers interested in activities like golf, sailing or hunting.” Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

As a 1995 car, this 960 3.0-litre SE was built during the vehicle’s twilight years and with 206,000 miles on the clock it has certainly seen some life. But the interior is in good shape and the list of toys is impressive. Winter is coming – here are your winter wheels.

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Rover 75: £1,495

Production of the Rover 75 ceased in 2005, making this 2004 model one of the last off the line. It’s also a facelift model, complete with the more ‘European’ face, rather the ‘classic’ original.

The 2.5-litre V6 Connoisseur spec is desirable, while the gold paintwork just seems to suit the styling of the Rover 75. “It is not faultless, but represents, I believe a better than average appearance.” Not our words, Lynn, the words of the dealer selling this Rover.

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Hyundai XG30: £995

If you’re looking to stand out in the bowling green car park, look no further than the Hyundai XG30. This car is budget luxury, Korean style. You even get a pair of yellow fog lights.

The MOT history doesn’t make for enjoyable reading – unless you like tales of woe – but at least the most recent ticket is free of blemishes. Not convinced – the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine might tip the balance. The potential to waft is high with this one.

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Volvo XC70: £1,395

Volvo XC70: £1,395

Jacked-up premium off-road estate cars are the preserve of the well-to-do and country types who are able to resist the lure of a jellymould crossover or SUV. Or, in the case of this Volvo XC70, the police force.

There are a few battle scars, as you might expect, while the lack of leather seats might put some people off. On the plus side, the seats are electric and heated. Another Volvo ready for winter 2016/17.

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Lexus LS400: £1,000

If you’re going to buy a cheap luxobarge, do it right by opting for the classic Lexus LS400. Here is a car with a brilliant 4.0-litre V8 engine and a reputation for excellence that not even the German brands can rival. Sure, it won’t be cheap to run, but then you’re only paying £1,000 for the privilege of owning this slice of Japanese engineering.

It’s an honest description of the car, while the MOT history makes for encouraging reading. Take it for a test drive before we do.

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Honda Legend: £550

Sticking with a Japanese theme, how about this 2001 Honda Legend? Think of this as a Lexus LS400 on a budget. Alternatively, think of it as a plush Accord. Either way, you could strike it lucky with this motor.

With 185,643 miles on the clock and a less than polished MOT history, you shouldn’t approach this Legend with high expectations, but the seller has been honest in the description. The MOT at the end of November might hurt the wallet.

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Toyota Camry: £800

Toyota Camry: £800

Back in 1997, the Camry was Toyota’s flagship model, but it never sold in huge numbers in the UK. All of which means it’s a rare find on the used car market. These cars are well-equipped, smooth and surprisingly luxurious.

The Sport badge is a bit of a red herring, as these cars were designed for cruising the long straight roads of Australia and the US, but don’t let that put you off. This could be a good way to spend £800 on a cheap luxobarge.

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Saab 9-5: £1,500

Further proof that bargain barges are in big demand: a delightful Saab 9-5 we had lined up was sold before we could finish this feature. Be quick if you fancy a luxobarge for silly money.

Speaking of quick: this Saab 9-5 HOT Aero ought to do the trick. It looks in remarkably good condition, and with just 96,500 miles on the clock the engine has barely broken sweat. Brilliant cupholders and Saab’s ‘Night Panel’ simply add to the appeal.

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Ford Scorpio: £1,500

It has a face only a mother could love, but we have a huge amount of respect for the Ford Scorpio. It stems from a period in time when Ford could deliver luxury cars without the need for a fancy trim level and a concierge service.

This particular car looks to be in good shape, is loaded with some nice toys, and has a mere 54,000 miles on the clock. That said, it might be worth checking the MOT history, as it appeared to have 58,826 miles on clock in April 2015. A typo, perhaps?

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Skoda Superb: £1,495

Skoda Superb: £1,495

The Skoda Superb was essentially a stretched Volkswagen Passat and was the choice of taxi operators up and down the land. They are capable of achieving mega-miles, as demonstrated by this 2006 model with 164,000 miles on the clock.

It’s powered by the later 2.0-litre TDI engine and is blessed with the comfort and joy of the full-fat Elegance trim. Is a diesel engine too much of a risk at 164,000 miles? Approach with care.

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Nissan Maxima: £850

What, no leather interior or creamy 3.0-litre V6 engine? Hey, what do you expect for £850? Besides, the National Trust sticker on the windscreen is a sure sign that the current owner is a trustworthy person. Probably.

The advert includes a detailed description of the service history and the MOT history certainly stacks up. Squint hard and it could pass as a Lexus LS400. Squint harder. Harder still…

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Saab 9000 CD: £350

We’ve long said that the Saab 9000 is one of the best used luxobarges you can buy. Saab took a no-expense-spared approach to its development, which is why they’re capable of covering mega-miles. Just £350 for all this class – amazing.

“This car is due to appear on an ITV car programme in October hosted by Paddy McGuinness,” claims the seller. That’ll be Drive of my Life, then…

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Jaguar S-Type: £1,495

Jaguar S-Type: £1,495

There’s something Inspector Morse-like about this Jaguar S-Type, probably thanks to the burgundy (Carnival Red) paint. Before you head off for a swift pint with Lewis, hear us out, because this could be a peach of a car.

For a start it comes with the desirable 3.0-litre V6 engine which has covered a mere 60,000 miles. The S-Type is based on a Ford platform shared with Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird, and while it’s not the last word in reliability and quality, its styling is ageing rather nicely. Like a nice bottle of red wine, Lewis.

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Range Rover P38A: £1,200

Buying a Range Rover at this end of the market is fraught with danger, and you’ll be limited to the P38A – arguably the least desirable of this thoroughly British luxury SUV. This particular example is a Japanese import, so you’ll want to explore its history.

The seller points to a problem with the transfer box, which might be a reason to walk away. Alternatively, as the ad states, this could be a good winter project for somebody handy with spanners.

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Daimler 4.0: £1,495

Release your inner Arthur Daley with this 1990 Daimler 4.0, which is essentially an even plusher version of the Jaguar XJ.

The seller claims it drives like new and has no known faults. Is it class or crass? You decide…

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Jaguar XJ: £1,495

Jaguar XJ: £1,495

For the same price you can get this later Jaguar XJ 4.0 Sovereign. Amazingly, the seller claims this 1995 car has had just own owner from new, while covering a mere 100,000 miles.

There appears to be a few battle scars on the exterior and it looks like the offside front wing and driver’s door might have seen some new paint, but we’re totally won over by the interior.

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Peugeot 607: £499

We conclude with a curveball. A very French curveball. Sure, the Peugeot 607 doesn’t have the best reputation, but who can argue with a 62,000-mile luxobarge with lots of toys for under £500?

Better still, the MOT history is almost completely free of advisories, which could point to a careful previous owner. Just make sure everything works.

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Revealed: the UK’s most expensive car number plates

Revealed: the UK’s most expensive car number plates

Revealed: the UK’s most expensive car number plates

A Dubai property developer has splashed out £7.3 million on a prestigious number plate to adorn his Rolls-Royce. Balwinder Sahani invested 33 million dirhams for the Dubai number plate ‘D5’ – adding it to his collection alongside ‘O9’, which he paid 25 million dirhams for last year.

While these values are far above those ever paid for number plates in the UK, Brit millionaires aren’t shy about splashing the cash on cherished numbers either…

10: 1 O – £170,000

The tenth most expensive number plate thought to have ever been sold in the UK was ‘1 O’. Perhaps bought for its similarity to the number 10, 1 O was sold for £170,000 in 2009.

9: K1 NGS – £231,000

Generally, the longer the plate the less it’s worth, but that doesn’t appear to apply to ‘K1 NGS’. An Arab Sultan is said to have paid £231,000 for the plate in 1993 – imagine what it could fetch at auction more than 20 years later.

8: 1 RH – £247,000

When number plates are sold at auction, it’s anyone’s guess what the final hammer price could be. When millionaire Rob Harverson entered a bidding war against businessman Richard Harris for ‘1 RH’, no one expected it to sell for more than 30 times its £8,000 guide price.

7: 51 NGH – £254,000

7: 51 NGH - £254,000

When ‘51 NGH’ was auctioned in 2006, it broke the record for the most expensive number plate ever sold at a DVLA auction. Its buyer paid more than a quarter of a million for the plate, which has a likeness to the popular Sikh surname, Singh.

6: VIP 1 – £285,000

Not one to shy away from publicity, Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich shelled out £285,000 for ‘VIP 1’ in 2006. It had previously been used on the official Popemobile during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland.

5: M 1 – £331,000

In 2006, loaded businessman Mike McComb from Cheshire treated his six-year-old son to the number plate ‘M 1’. Ten years later, he may now soon be getting ready to use it on his own car. Will he get a BMW M1 for his 17th birthday?

4: 1 D – £352,000

Nope, this plate hasn’t been bought by a rich One Direction superfan – nor by any of the band members themselves. Lebanese property developer Nabil Bishara bought it as a birthday present for his wife in 2009. It could be a solid investment if it takes the fancy of petrolhead Harry Styles.

3: S 1 – £404,000

3: S 1 - £404,000

When this plate smashed its £200,000 auction estimate in 2008, reports suggested the buyer was going place it on his red Skoda. Predictably, it’s now registered on a Range Rover.

2: F 1 – £440,000

You might expect ‘F 1’ to be at home on a McLaren F1, but it is in fact currently used on a Bugatti Veyron. Bought by Afzal Kahn in 2008, the businessman says he has since been offered an incredible £6 million for the plate.

1: 25 O – £518,000

As the classic car market booms, the Ferrari 250 regularly smashes estimates and breaks records at auctions around the world. It’s no surprise, then, that the plate ‘25 O’ is the most expensive number plate ever to be sold. It was snapped up in 2014 by Ferrari dealer John Collins, along with ‘250 L’.

BR15 TOL – £20,168

That’s the top 10 most expensive number plates out of the way – but what other gems have been sold in recent years? We’ll start with this, BR15 TOL, sold to a man from Bristol in 2015 for £20,168.

1 SUV – £46,000


A good number plate can be a brilliant promotional tool – one of that upmarket SUV specialist Saxton 4×4 has discovered with the purchase of ‘1 SUV’. The firm paid £46,000 for the prestigious plate earlier this year, and it currently sits on a Bentley Bentaya.

650 S – £40,250

Want the ultimate plate for your McLaren 650S? The DVLA flogged ‘650 S’ at auction in 2014 for £40,250. It currently sits on a Land Rover Freelander…

MCL 650S – £16,000

While MCL 650S, sold at the same auction, is currently held on retention. That means it’s not displayed on any vehicle. Maybe its owner is saving up for their dream McLaren, having splashed out £16,000 on the registration.

MO12 GAN – £8,892

When the plate MO12 GAN was auctioned in 2012, it was expected to be sold to a Morgan car enthusiast or even the company itself. In fact, it was bought by a Birmingham accountant to promote his company.

SU11 TAN – £14,300

SU11 TAN - £14,300

Are you a wealthy Sultan looking to make a statement? A DVLA auction at Mercedes-Benz World in September 2013 saw the hammer fall on ‘SU11 TAN’ at £14,300.

SMII THY – £37,016

James Corden’s Gavin and Stacey character Smithy was seemingly at an auction in Warwickshire in 2012, when ‘SM11 THY’ sold for more than £37,000 – a whopping £35,000 more than its reserve price.

SL63 AMG – £2,000+

Model-related registrations are always popular, but it’s rare to find one as perfect as this. The DVLA actually released SL63 AMG a year early to build up hype around one of its sales at Mercedes-Benz World. It had a reserve price of just £2,000.

AL11 SON – £19,000

If you’re called Allison, this could be the perfect plate for you. If you’re not, you should probably keep clicking. The plate sold for £19,000 at auction in 2011.

1 MUT – £12,195

1 MUT - £12,195

Dog fan? A businessman paid more than £12,000 for ‘1 MUT’ in 2009 and described it as ‘a bit of fun’. It’s currently used on a Porsche 911.

1 HRH – £113,815

A plate fit for a Queen – a private plate enthusiast paid nearly £115,000 for ‘1 HRH’ at a DVLA auction in 2009.

WEL 5H – £34,400

Welsh and proud? A Welsh businessman splashed out more than £34,000 for ‘WEL 5H’ at auction in 2008 – when other plates including ‘DRA 90N’ and ‘CY51 MRU’ went under the hammer.

WE57 HAM – £57,000

Football-related number plates always make strong money at auction – with ‘AR53 NAL’, ‘HU11 CTY’ and ‘V1 LLA’ all flogged in recent years. ‘WE57 HAM’ made £57,000 in October 2007.

EN61 AND – £15,600

Huge England fan? 66-year-old Brian Brodie ‘couldn’t resist’ treating himself to ‘EN61 AND’. Is it the ultimate English number plate?

Young drivers

Facebook BLOCKS car insurance profiling scheme

Young driversFacebook has barred a UK car insurer using data from young drivers’ accounts to set car insurance premiums and discounts.

Admiral had planned to get permission from young drivers aged 17-21 to view their Facebook profiles and analyse them for ‘low risk’ indicators.

Those whose Facebook posts and activity suggested they may be safe drivers would get a discount in the firstcarquote car insurance scheme, which went live in beta form today.

“We already know that social media posts can tell us whether a person is a good or a bad credit risk and this is true for cars too,” said Admiral.

“At firstcarquote, we look at a driver’s personality by analysing some of their Facebook data and if we see indicators that you will be a careful driver, we will give you a discount of between 5 and 15% off the price you would get on”

But now Facebook has blocked the plans, citing the protection of privacy as the reason behind the decision.

“We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility,” a Facebook spokesman told the BBC.

“Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.”

The initiative by Admiral had previously been criticised by privacy campaigners, who praised Facebook’s decision to block the planned car insurance scheme.

Admiral now says of the firstcarquote initiative that “there’s a hitch: we still have to sort a few final details”.

The car insurer is not canning the scheme though, and appears hopeful the disagreement will be resolved. Indeed, it’s encouraging people to still connect via Facebook and explore the new firstcarquote site.

“In the meantime, you can login with Facebook and we will let you know the second we’re up and running.”

Volkswagen WRC champions

Volkswagen exits World Rally due to dieselgate

Volkswagen WRC championsVolkswagen has pulled the plug on its World Rally Championship programme due to the spiralling costs of the emissions scandal and the cost of developing new emissions-free tech.

But the firm is quitting as champions – announcing its withdrawal from the sport just days after clinching its fourth consecutive manufacturers’ world championship titles at the Wales Rally GB.

In total, since joining the sport in 2013, Volkswagen has won an amazing 12 world titles. Its drivers have competed in 51 rallies and won 42 of them, along with 621 special stage wins.

No other car has proven as successful in WRC than the Volkswagen Polo R. So its withdrawal is a major deal indeed.

Volkswagen board member Frank Welsch blames the fact the Volkswagen brand “is facing enormous challenges,” not least the continued fallout from the emissions scandal.

In response to it, Volkswagen is spending big to fast-track a new range of zero-emission electric cars. Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets conceded that “our vision is firmly ahead, because we are aware of the great challenges facing the entire company.

“We want our realignment to contribute to the success of the Volkswagen brand. From now on, the focus is on upcoming technologies in motorsport and our customer sports range.”

This scaled-down, significantly lower-cost refocus for Volkswagen Motorsport will see the brand compete in the growing TCR touring car series and, in the U.S., the Global Rallycross series. The firm will also develop a new lower-budget Polo R5 rallycar, that customers will be able to buy from 2018.

Volkswagen has guaranteed nobody from the 200-strong motorsport division will lose their job as a result of it pulling out of WRC.

The Volkswagen WRC withdrawal comes just days after Audi announced it is pulling out of the FIA World Endurance Championship, again in an effort to help Volkswagen Group cut costs. The latest development there is Volkswagen agreeing to a near-$15 billion settlement for U.S. customers affected by the emissions test cheating scandal.

Car park

2 in 3 drivers have suffered car park damage

Car parkTwo in 3 British motorists say they have come back to a damaged car after leaving their motor in a car park – and many have experienced damage multiple times.

But just 9% say the person who damaged their car owned up and left a note…

Such car park damage is usually minor, but not cheap to fix. For around four in 10 people the damage was golf ball-sized; for a fifth, it was tennis ball-sized. An unfortunate 8% say it was football-sized.

The most common place to suffer car park prangs is supermarket car parks. Almost half of respondents to a survey by RAC Insurance say they’ve had a car scratched or dented there.

Public car parks are next on the list, but way down: 16% of motorists say their car has been damaged there. Surprisingly, shopping centre car parks caused damage to only 11%.

Although the vast majority of people who damage someone else’s car don’t leave a note, this is no surprise to around four in 10 respondents. “They wouldn’t expect anyone to do the right thing and leave a note these days,” they say. Even so, just under half were disappointed the other person didn’t leave their details.

35% were downright angry.

Most people don’t claim on their insurance for such damage either, usually through fear of losing their no-claims bonus.


RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “It’s frightening to think that so many motorists suffer damage to their vehicles in car parks and that the people responsible hardly ever leave a note.

“We all use car parks every day so the chances of your car picking up a dent or scratch are pretty high, especially as vehicles have got wider over the years while parking spaces generally haven’t.”

So how can we avoid it? “Pay careful attention to where and how you park. Always try to leave a good gap either side so you limit the chances of someone accidentally opening their car door onto your vehicle’s bodywork or scratching it as they walk past.

“If you are worried the gap is too small, it might be best to take a couple of extra minutes and try to find a wider space.”

As for not claiming on insurance, he says it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons. “If damaged bodywork is left unrepaired, owners could lose out in the long run as the re-sale value of the vehicle will be negatively affected.”

Those with protected no-claims bonuses won’t have to worry, he added – and savvy motorists will also carefully choose the excess value they opt for when they take out insurance, so they’re not out of pocket in situations such as this.

Top tips to avoid car park damage

  • Park centrally within the white lines
  • Reverse into parking spaces
  • Choose spaces on the end of a row
  • Fold in door mirrors
  • Avoid parking near the trolley park in supermarkets
  • Park next to fancy motors – their owners may take more care…