Revealed: Britain’s favourite specialist used cars

Chevrolet Camaro

If the mainstream motoring media is to be believed, everybody is buying crossovers and SUVs. But while many people might be falling for the ‘charms’ of these jacked-up hatchbacks, some of us dream of driving something a little different. Which is where the CarGurus Desirability Score comes in. By analysing the ratio of unique user searches to inventory listed on the CarGurus website, each car is given a score. Here, we reveal the most in-demand used vehicles, with the selection limited to cars listed on the site with fewer than 100 on sale since July 2018.

10. Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit

Commenting on the data, the editor of CarGurus, Chris Knapman, said: “Whilst the majority of our consumers are just searching for a great deal on their next car, the CarGurus Desirability Score also acts as the automotive equivalent of window shopping – it highlights the vehicles customers are most interested in or wish they owned, even if they aren’t always the most practical of choices.”

With a Desirability Score of 1,070, the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit just creeps into the top 10. Launched in 1980, the Silver Spirit was a reworking of the outgoing Silver Shadow, and it offers tremendous value for money – if you can live with the ongoing maintenance bills. There are 12 for sale on CarGurus, with prices ranging from £8,995 to £23,960.

9. Ferrari 360 Modena

Ferrari 360 Modena

The classified listings on the CarGurus website include a note about whether the car is fairly priced. For example, a 2001 Ferrari 360 Modena at £99,995 is listed as ‘overpriced’, while another 2001 car priced at £77,500 is considered to be a ‘fair deal’. The 360 Modena gets a Desirability Score of 1,120.

We wonder what the CarGurus experts would have made of this 1999 Ferrari 360 Modena. It sold for €66,125 (£58,500) at a recent RM Sotheby’s auction in Essen, which strikes us as a ‘fair deal’ for a car with just 10,000km on the clock.

8. BMW 8 Series

BMW 8 Series

We suspect the arrival of the new BMW 8 Series has led to heightened interest in the original E31 model. The 8 Series finishes just ahead of the 360 Modena with a score of 1,125, and we found 34 for sale on CarGurus, including 20 new models.

The E31 8 Series was unveiled at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, with initial interest so high, some people were prepared to spend twice the list price to avoid the six-month waiting list. BMW managed to shift just over 30,000 units before pulling the plug in 1999.

7. Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

The second of two Ferraris to make the list, the 612 Scaglietti was named in honour of Sergio Scaglietti, the legendary stylist and coachbuilder responsible for some of Ferrari’s most iconic cars of the 50s and 60. It finishes seventh, with a Desirability Score of 1,295.

There are just three listed for sale on the CarGurus website, but you’ll have to dig deep to grab a slice of this avant-garde 2+2 grand tourer. The ‘cheapest’ is £74,995, while the most expensive will set you back £95,000.

6. Infiniti Q60

Infiniti Q60

Hands up if you’d forgotten about the Infiniti Q60. Hardly surprising, and it won’t be long before the brand disappears from Western Europe for good, leading to the sad closure of the Infiniti plant in Sunderland. If the Audi A5 is too obvious, the tech-laden Q60 could be worth a look.

Not that you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Infiniti Q60 wasn’t on sale long enough for there to be a huge range to choose from – and it was never a big seller – so you’re limited to a pair of 2.0-litre models and a single 3.0-litre version on CarGurus. At £21,000 to £26,000, they look like good value, but watch the depreciation.

5. Vauxhall VXR8

Vauxhall VXR8

Amazingly, there are more Vauxhall VXR8s for sale on CarGurus than there are Q60s, which says something about Infiniti’s inability to penetrate the UK market – and maybe a little about our love for crazy V8 monsters from Oz.

The VXR8 finishes fifth, with a Desirability Score of 1,875, and there are five to pick from on the CarGurus website. A 2009 model with 109,000 miles on the clock looks awfully tempting at £12,989, while even a relatively low mileage car with 45,720 miles on the clock comes in at less than £19,000. Strewth, mate.

4. Piaggio Porter

Piaggio Porter

If the Piaggio Porter looks familiar, it’s because it’s based on the seventh-generation Daihatsu Hijet. The microvan market isn’t particularly huge in the UK, but the Porter is popular enough to feature here.

The Piaggio Porter is available to buy new, with the UK importer offering fixed deck, tipper and panel van versions. You can even order an electric Porter. There are three Piaggio Porters for sale on CarGurus, with prices ranging from £2,000 to £4,000.

3. Nissan Elgrand

Nissan Elgrand

The cars occupying the top three berths couldn’t be more diverse. First up is the Nissan Elgrand, a popular Japanese import, which gets a Desirability Score of 1,993. It’s not hard to see why, because these MPVs are practical, flexible and well-equipped.

There are five for sale on the CarGurus website, each one powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine, with prices ranging from £3,690 to £5,995. Think about the Elgrand when you’re about to sign a PCP contract for a compromised compact crossover.

2. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

It would appear that people are visiting the CarGurus website hoping to fulfil their dreams of becoming a faded end-of-the-pier entertainer or establishing a wedding car business. The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow finishes second, with a Desirability Score of 2,131.

Why are these things so popular? Well, the Silver Shadow is a Roller for supermini money, and because they were sold in such huge numbers, there are plenty to choose from. There are eight for sale on the CarGurus website, with prices ranging from £10,995 to £75,960. Do a little homework and then live the dream.

1. Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

Finally, storming the charts with a Desirability Score of 2,471, it’s the Chevrolet Camaro. Who’d have thought the Camaro would be more desirable than the Piaggio Porter?

There are four for sale on the CarGurus website, including a 1998 Camaro available for £3,989 and a 2014 car for £31,990. An opportunity to live the American dream in the UK or to fulfil your ‘Bumblebee’ fantasies. Whatever takes your fancy.

Car theft payouts are the highest for seven years

car theft claims at seven year high

Insurance companies are paying out more for car thefts than they have for the past seven years, claims the trade body for the insurance industry, The Association of British Insurers.

The figures for theft claims for January to March of 2019 are the highest since 2012. And while the ABI hasn’t given exact numbers, it acknowledges the proliferation of keyless car theft has played a part. 

car theft claims at seven year high

Recent figures from specific sources have corroborated claims of a rise in keyless theft. Tracker reported that 92 percent of cars it recovered in Essex were stolen using keyless theft, and that 88 percent of cars it recovered in 2018 were taken this way.

New top-line SUVs are a popular target, including the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport and Mercedes GLE.

car theft claims at seven year high

New cars with keyless systems have been slammed for their poor security, with numerous manufacturers issuing software updates.

Of 11 brand new 2019 models tested by Euro NCAP, six were ranked at least ‘poor’, with the Suzuki Jimmy getting an ‘unacceptable’ rating.

The Porsche Macan was updated to a superior rating, following clarification around the specification of a motion sensor in its key fob.

Number of roadside breath tests to rise in June

Roadside breath tests to rise in June

The number of roadside breath tests is expected to rise in June, as the nation’s police forces begin their annual summer drink-drive crackdown.

Police breathalysed 36,041 drivers in England and Wales in June 2017 – a figure much higher than the monthly average of 23,840 across the rest of the year, excluding the Christmas period.

Indeed, the number of breath tests carried out in June is 50 percent higher than in any other month, apart from December.

An eye-opening 10 percent of motorists (3,275) tested positive in the June 2018 crackdown, with drivers in Merseyside the most likely to be stopped. A total of 3,010 motorists were breathalysed in this region, followed by Hampshire (2,532) and Thames Valley (2,265).

Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense Laboratories, said: “The police always focus on June as, statistically, it’s a drink-drive hotspot.

“With warmer weather, sporting events and barbeques, June is a month when motorists are more likely to unintentionally drink-drive the morning after socialising, posing a risk to themselves and other road users.”

The drink-drive limit

don't drink and drive

There are strict alcohol limits for drivers in England and Wales, with tougher limits in place in Scotland.

Level of alcoholEngland, Wales and Northern IrelandScotland
Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath3522
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood8050
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine10767

Drivers are warned that it’s impossible to say exactly how many drinks this equals, as the way alcohol affects you depends on a number of factors, including weight, age, sex, metabolism, stress levels and the type of alcohol consumed.

Anyone found guilty of drink-driving faces a heavy fine, a driving ban and imprisonment.

The actual penalty depends on the magistrates who hear the case and the severity of the offence. In addition to the repercussions mentioned above, drivers found guilty of drink-driving also face higher insurance premiums, difficulties finding a job, and trouble travelling to countries like the USA.

If in doubt, don’t drink. But if you do, get a cab. 

Fewer people caught driving without car insurance

Fewer drivers caught without insurance

There’s been a large drop in the number of motorists caught driving without insurance, according to figures released by RAC Insurance.

A Freedom of Information Request sent to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) revealed that 79,713 people were caught driving without insurance last year – a huge drop from the 118,698 found breaking the law in 2017.

Numbers had been falling since 2012, but there was a 22 percent increase in the number of motorists driving without insurance in 2016, followed by a smaller five percent rise the next year.

It’s illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least third-party insurance, and motorists are likely to receive a fine of £300 and six penalty points if they’re caught without valid cover. Police also have the power to seize and destroy a vehicle that’s being driven without insurance, while a driver could face an unlimited fine and disqualification if the case goes to court.

Worryingly, a total of 872 people under the age of 17 were caught without insurance in 2018 – hardly surprising given the fact that these ‘drivers’ aren’t even old enough to have lessons on a public road.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a 96-year-old motorist was found to be driving without insurance in 2018 – the oldest person caught for the offence since 2012.

‘Good news’ for motorists

car insurance claim form

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: “It can only be good news the number of people driving without insurance has dropped significantly in the last year and is now at its lowest in at least seven years. This should help to keep premiums down for every driver and we hope this continues in the years ahead.

“From 2012 to 2015 there was a steady downward trend in the number of ‘driving without insurance’ offences, but there was then an increase in 2016 followed by a six-year high in 2017 which appears to be directly linked to the increase in the price of insurance at that time.”

Drivers caught without car insurance (2012-2018)

2012108,616
2013108,486
2014102,417
201592,804
2016113,502
2017118,698
201879,713

 

Lotus will reveal its new electric hypercar in July

Lotus Type 130 teaser

Lotus has confirmed it will reveal its all-new electric car in July – which it describes as the ‘world’s first British all-electric hypercar’.

Currently carrying the project code ‘Type 130’, the new model will make its world debut in central London on 16 July, ahead of deliveries beginning in 2020.

Just 130 models will be built.

Lotus confirmed the new car at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. Since then, it says “several hundred” potential customers have expressed an interest.

Each one will be built at its Norfolk factory.

Lotus is describing the car as an all-new model – it’s first since the Evora more than a decade ago. A short teaser video reveals little (apart from a smart illuminated ‘LOTUS’ script) but is sure to raise interest further in the lightweight Lotus EV.

“Type 130 will be the most dynamically accomplished road car in the company’s history,” says the firm, “continuing a bloodline rich in firsts and technical game-changers in automotive and motorsport.”

Earlier this year, Lotus announced a deal with Williams Advanced Engineering to develop advanced propulsion systems. The new Type 130 may be the first beneficiary of this partnership. 

Gran Turismo Sport gets Goodwood Circuit

Drive the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit in Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport gets Goodwood CircuitPlayers of the Gran Turismo Sport PlayStation game can now race on the Goodwood Motor Circuit as part of a new update.

The latest in a series of free bonus content offerings for GT Sport also includes new events for the League competitions, along with extra photography locations.

However, it is likely to be the introduction of the historic Goodwood track which will get fans the most excited.

Gran Turismo Sport gets Goodwood CircuitFirst opened in 1948, the Motor Circuit forms part of the Goodwood Estate which is best known for hosting the annual Festival of Speed extravaganza.

Encircling the Goodwood Aerodrome, the 2.4-mile circuit delivers high average speeds, and is regarded as being a formidable test of driver and machine.

The Motor Circuit was the scene of the 1962 accident which left Sir Stirling Moss in a month-long coma, and ended his professional racing career.

Gran Turismo Sport gets Goodwood CircuitGoodwood would also claim the life of McLaren founder Bruce McLaren, who was killed during a crash whilst testing. McLaren’s M8D Can-Am racer left the track at speed when bodywork detached from the car, leading to a collision with a marshal post.

Competitive racing at the Goodwood track ceased in 1966, but returned with an emphasis on historic competitions in the late 1990s.

The track now plays host to the three-day Goodwood Revival event each September, along with the annual Goodwood Members’ Meeting.

Gran Turismo Sport gets Goodwood CircuitWhilst Goodwood may now prefer vintage racing, Gran Turismo Sport players will be able to choose whatever car they like to tackle the quick twists and turns of the circuit.

Recent car additions for the game have included the Porsche 962C racer, along with the brand-new Toyota Supra.

Polyphony Digital also notes that handling characteristics of cars in the game have been improved with this latest update, along with changes to how quickly players can shift gears.

Richard Rawlings stolen Dodge Hellcat found

Dodge Hellcat stolen from TV star Richard Rawlings is found intact

Richard Rawlings stolen Dodge Hellcat foundRichard Rawlings, star of the Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud show, has many performance and muscle cars in his collection. However, that did not stop him from being upset when one was stolen last year.

The black Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat was taken in September 2018 from the Dallas area, with Rawlings asking social media to help find the car. This particular Hellcat was used by his then wife, and had sentimental items left inside the glovebox when stolen.

Incredibly, despite the 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat worth a substantial amount in parts alone, the car was found and recovered in one piece.

Rawlings took to social media again to announce the good news, showing off the fact that the Hellcat was finally back home.

According to the official Gas Monkey Garage website, the car had been spotted by an eagle-eyed member of the public in the Dallas area.

The local man made contact with Rawlings, who was delighted to be able to have the black muscle car safely returned to his possession.

Richard Rawlings stolen Dodge Hellcat foundAlthough the Gas Monkey owner may have upgraded his car collection to include the more powerful Challenger SRT Demon, getting the Hellcat back is still important to him.

FIlming commitments for Fast N’ Loud, now returning for a 15th series, meant Rawlings was unable to spend too long being sentimental. He did promise to “sort this all out with the insurance company” before jetting off for a week long vacation, though

The latest series of the popular TV show is expected to start airing to Discovery Channel viewers next month. Rawlings has already promised that the new episode will be even bigger and more dramatic than before.

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Super-bright car headlights may help you see the road, but are they also blinding oncoming drivers?

Light technology has evolved hugely over the past 20 to 30 years, and it’s fair to say the regulations have struggled to keep up.

To find out more, we visited the Lumileds factory in Germany for a crash-course in automotive lighting. It proved to be, ahem, an illuminating experience…

What makes headlights seem too bright?

Are modern car headlights too bright?

It’s well established that light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is generally more crisp and intense. The way they switch on is rapid and dramatic, given they don’t use filaments. Likewise, the cut-off is sharp and precise. So why might a regulated and homologated LED, or indeed a xenon light unit, dazzle us on the road? 

Dim and dimmer

Firstly, there’s auto-dimming technology: systems that drop the high-beam headlights when an oncoming car is detected. Our own experience is that many are a bit slow to respond. Likewise, some matrix light systems that split the gaze of the high beam aren’t as accurate as they should be.

Time to get used to it?

In the space of 30 years, we’ve gone from veritable candles in jam jars to virtual daylight. Some of us still make do with older cars with dull lights and, from that perspective, an LED-clad SUV barrelling round a corner can look dazzling. But a day will come when all cars on the road are furnished with this standard of lighting, or equivalent. We are in the middle of a period of acclimatisation.

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Vertically challenged

The height of an approaching vehicle will affect how much you are dazzled. Driving a Fiat 500, you might find a new Range Rover shines too bright in your rear-view mirror.

Rules are made to be broken?

While lights conform to present standards, more efficient LED technology may require a regulatory rethink. Given the UN Economic Commission for Europe is looking into how lighting regulations need to change, expect an update soon.

My visit to Germany also revealed that all lights are not born equal. I won’t name names, but some aesthetically pleasing full LED light units performed disappointingly on the rig – beaten by budget halogen bulbs. 

Reasons your lights could be illegal

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Any lights can be outside of legal operating parameters if not set up correctly, or if you aren’t using the right bulbs.

Lights are regulated very stringently, with beams only allowed to shine within specific areas in front of the car. This is to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. It’s also why you need stick-on adjusters for when you drive abroad, given European countries use the other side of the road.

Dodgy aftermarket bulbs

The aftermarket bulb market is rife with poor quality products. The Lumileds lab had an incredible rig filled with car headlights and of the 12 there, three were from the same make and model of car, albeit equipped with different halogen bulbs.

These were Philips upgraded items, OEM fitment bulbs and aftermarket ‘eBay specials’. The Philips bulbs filled the specified area cleanly and crisply, the OEM bulbs worked to the specified limits but were somewhat dimmer, and the aftermarket items were patchy at best. 

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Poorly adjusted

A similar issue can be caused if lights aren’t correctly adjusted. Your car will fail an MOT if its xenon lights don’t self-adjust, while halogen lights are only required to have manual adjusters.

Car lighting: a brief history

Are modern car headlights too bright?

Halogen bulbs

The halogen bulb has been illuminating the road ahead for the better part of seven decades. Although they’ve gone through several iterations, the same basic formula of a metal filament inside a pressurised glass container remains widely used today.

Xenon bulbs

Xenon lighting is a bit fancier. If you wondered why some more upmarket cars started using deep-blue lights around the mid-1990s, that was when xenon was proliferating. The colour temperature is much higher because of the heat and energy used within the bulb. Xenon lights are much heavier and more expensive, given the need for ballasts and self-levelling. As a result, they’re now going out of fashion.

Are modern car headlights too bright?

LEDs

LEDs are the latest car lighting tech. They are much more efficient than halogen or xenon, produce crisper light and can be more precisely controlled with software. LED lighting in cars first appeared in the mid 2000s, when Audi introduced it on the R8 supercar.

Audi pushed the game on again in 2009 with the R8 V10 – the first car with full LED lighting. LEDs can be much brighter, certainly than halogens. Modern ‘matrix’ LED lights can be programmed to dim light where it’s not needed – e.g. to avoid dazzling an oncoming car.

Expired: time is up for car park ticket machines

Parking revolution spells end for the car park ticket machine

Britain is on the brink of a ‘parking revolution’, as the government announces plans to introduce new technology to car parking.

It could spell the end for the humble car park ticket machine, with motorists using apps to identify and locate vacant parking spaces. And once they’re there, drivers will pay for parking via their smartphone.

It’s all part of new national parking data standards created by the Alliance for Parking Data Standard (APDS) and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT). When in place, the standardised data could transform the way we park as the Oyster card transformed travel in London, the government says.

If the smartphone app can be integrated into the car’s infotainment system – via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, perhaps – motorists could be facing a stress-free parking experience.

The government says it could free up crucial space, ease congested cities and provide a much-needed boost for British high streets.

‘Brink of a revolution’

Parking ticket machine in Bristol

Michael Ellis, future of mobility minister, said: “We are on the brink of a revolution for the future of transport, with ground-breaking technologies creating huge opportunities for cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys.

“We now need to ensure the infrastructure surrounding these technologies is in place and can accommodate these innovations. The new parking data standards will bring government, private organisations and technologies together to ensure a smoother parking experience for drivers.”

Chair of the British Parking Association and APDS, Nigel Williams, added: “The new standards will enable the next generation of apps and connected cars to find a parking space, park and pay – with little or no intervention from the driver.

“The involvement of the British Parking Association in APDS has ensured that the UK is at the forefront of innovation to improve the customer experience of parking.”

Car park ticket machine on the Isle of Wight

The government will fund research and development projects in Manchester, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and across a consortium of South Essex to the tune of £1 million, with seven further projects being commissioned.

With a standardised language, local authorities and private parking companies will find it easier to exchange data, resulting in a better experience for motorists. Add-on services could include the availability of electric car charging points.

However, the RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes urged caution. “There is little detail about what data standardisation means in practice. Indeed, to the driver looking for a place to park their vehicle, it might sound rather obscure.

“However, if the end product results in drivers finding a parking spot more easily, then this is a welcome step.

“In the short term, what is important to drivers is the ability to park and pay with ease. Councils and operators should be providing drivers with multiple payment options, including card options, so they don’t have to fumble around for change, or risk overpaying because they don’t have the right money.”

Lyes stresses that while days of the parking ticket machine may be numbered, local councils shouldn’t forget what’s important today as they fixate on the future. 

Google Maps now shows speed camera locations

Speed cameras on Google Maps

Google Maps has taken a major step in its quest to catch up with Waze, adding visual speed camera locations to its navigation app.

Also new is a speed limit indicator for the road you are driving. A warning for when you exceed that limit, à la Waze, doesn’t appear to feature, though.

Live accident locations will also be displayed on the app, allowing you to plan changes to your route and also, presumably, automatically updating the one previously suggested. You can also contribute reports of crashes, mobile speed cameras and congestion, as you can with Waze.

The Google Maps app already featured an audio warning for speed cameras, but the visual alerts are new.

Speed cameras on Google Maps

Many modern car navigation systems, along with the Waze app, have built-in speed camera recognition, as well as speed limit displays. So Google Maps is playing catch-up to a degree.

Whether its reduced reliance on user-contributed content will work in its favour remains to be seen. Waze scored its own win earlier this year when it gained Apple CarPlay integration, along with Google Maps.

The Google Maps updates have been testing in the United States over the course of this year. The update should go live on UK devices, both iPhone or Android, over the coming days.