What can you buy for £1,000? A half-decent mountain bike, perhaps, or a fancy high-spec iPad Pro. Or an actual car that would, 10 years ago, have cost at least 10 times that price. Yes, just £1,000 can pick you up a sensible, reliable motor that isn’t an unroadworthy shed. We’ve searched the Auto Trader classifieds to find a selection of used cars you can pick up for less than £1,000.
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To make the search a little more realistic, we’ve set a few ground rules. Firstly, the maximum mileage we’re interested in is 100,000, and we’re only looking at cars 10-years-old or younger. Yes, that makes our search a little more tricky…
We’ll start with one of the most undesirable cars currently listed on Auto Trader – but bear with us. The Ford Fusion was basically a jacked-up Fiesta, almost crossovery in design and expected to appeal to a youthful, lifestyle market. In reality, it was loved by the retired – who appreciated its low running costs and easy access. As such, they’re cheap (no one under the age of 70 really wants a Fusion) and have tended to have led easy lives.
We’ve found this example from 2008 with 94,000 miles on the clock. The pictures suggest it’s in good condition – a few stains in the boot and marks on the bumper aside – while the service history sounds promising. An MOT history search online suggests it sailed through its last test.
Citroen Xsara Picasso
If it’s good enough for Ronnie Pickering… OK, the original Citroen Xsara Picasso isn’t the most appealing car, but its popularity when new means there a plenty of examples to search through on Auto Trader. It’s great for families, with all models coming with fold-down tables and three individual seats in the rear.
This Picasso we’ve found has covered just 75,000 miles and looks to be in excellent condition.
The Indian-made G-Wiz was marketed for its green credentials when it was launched in 2001, but many bought it for its London congestion charge exemption and free street parking. The downsides include a 45mph top speed, and don’t even think about crashing one. Still, if you live in London, at £999, it could be a very affordable way of getting around the city.
The second-generation Fiat Panda is a likeable and practical supermini – perfect as a first car or those who want a runaround with plenty of luggage space. We love the blue interior of this example.
A Chevrolet Matiz will never set pulses racing – but it’ll be incredibly cheap to run and, with five doors, it’s ideal for first drivers. More doors, more mates. This Matiz we’ve found being sold by a trader in Derby has an MOT until April and has a satisfyingly low 59,000 miles on the clock.
Incredibly, you can buy a sporty Mazda RX-8 for £1,000, and it falls within our strict age and mileage criteria. However, you’d be paying more than half the car’s worth every year for road tax, which stands at £515. We’ve recently reviewed one for our Retro Road Test – you’ll want to ask about its oil consumption and make sure it starts OK from cold. Potentially, it could be the most fun you’ll have for a grand. Or it could be a nightmare.
Vauxhall Astra convertible
With winter well on its way, now could be a good time to buy a convertible. Seriously, they’re cheap, and a shortage of buyers gives plenty of haggling scope. While an old Astra convertible won’t be the most satisfying car for keen drivers, it will at least have room for all the family.
Check the hood is in good condition and operates correctly – it could cost serious money if it’s problematic. Oh, and ask about the category C write-off marker… with a car of this value, it could have been written off by relatively minor damage, but you’ll want evidence that it’s been repaired properly.
A Mondeo is always going to be a sensible car for those on a budget. You can get a lot of physical Ford for your money with the Mondeo, as many people searching within this price range favour the low running costs of a Fiesta or Focus. Avoid the problematic diesels – this 2007 1.8 LX looks great for the money.
The Mitsubishi Lancer is the lesser-known saloon car on which the hot Evo is based. While an Evo is way out of reach, this 1.6-litre Lancer could be a reliable car for sub-£1,000. Check for signs of a hard life – it might have been ragged by a boy racer who couldn’t afford the real deal.
More yellow! And sliding doors! When the Peugeot 1007 was launched in 2004, it seemed properly futuristic. When the old Top Gear trio got their mums to test it alongside the Honda Jazz and Renault Modus, they complained that the electric doors took too long to close and made access to the rear seats difficult. But still, we definitely would.
This 10-year-old model we found on Auto Trader has covered a sensible 83,000 miles and comes with a brand new MOT. Check the doors work properly – French electrics have a reputation for good reason.
Our Auto Trader search for a sub-£1,000 car with low miles and less than 10-years-old is chucking up a number of budget cars from South Korean manufacturers. One that’s caught our eye is this: a 2007 Chevrolet Lacetti. We like it for two reasons: Top Gear used one as a reasonably priced car, so at least you’ve got something to brag about down the pub; and it’s so bland no one else will even consider it.
The CityRover was a desperate attempt to launch a supermini with zero budget whatsoever, and it’s nothing more than a rebadged Indian-market Tata Indica. Hopefully you’re learning by now, however, if you’re looking at sub-£1,000, it pays to consider motors that everyone else will overlook. It’s awful in most areas but, with just 39,000 miles on the clock, we bet this example has had the archetypal one elderly owner from new.
Talking of undesirable motors, there are a number of these about for less than a grand. While the Malaysian-built Savvy would never have won any group tests alongside the Fiesta or Corsa when it was new, its affordable price tag tempted many into Proton dealers. Their popularity with older clientele mean most have been looked after and covered few miles, such as this tidy 2007 example we found on Auto Trader.
MG Rover went bust in 2005, so most of its cars are too old for our 10-year limit. But a few hung around unregistered – like, presumably, this one. One of the last MG ZS models off the line, there’s a huge enthusiast appeal for this. Even if you’re not an MG Rover apologist, it could potentially be a lot of fun for the money.
The 1.8-litre K-Series engine is known to be problematic, so check the oil for signs of coolant mixture, and we’d be curious about what it’s been lugging with the tow bar – it’s not a natural tow vehicle.
It’s time to be sensible again. Vauxhall Corsas aren’t exciting, but as the second most popular new car in the UK there are plenty around in the classifieds. Powered by the 1.4-litre engine, this example has avoided the first-time-driver tax (new drivers push prices up of lower-powered models), and looks good for the money. Careful though, the twin-exhaust suggests it could have been owned by a boy racer…
We were hesitant to include the Ford Ka, as first-generation models are almost entirely rotten by now. It’s a shame, because it was a good car when it was new. There are loads available within our budget – look hard, and you might find a solid one. Cling onto it and it could even turn into an investment when all the rest have disappeared.
This 2008 example looks like it could be a good ‘un… there’s no clear rust in the picture (it’s usually the sills and around the petrol cap that go), and an MOT history search shows nothing to worry about.
Ford Sport Ka
If you want the ultimate Ka, there are a number of Sport Kas available for less than £1,000. Again, like the regular Ka, they love to rust – so give the sills a good prod and don’t dismiss any bubbling as ‘light surface rust’. We love the red and black seats in this example, but it’s definitely starting to rust in the usual spot around the petrol filler cap.
The Mazda 6 still looks like a relatively modern car, so it’s surprising to see it creeping within our £1,000 budget. An interesting alternative to a Mondeo, the 6 should prove to be reliable – but do look out for rust. We’d want to take a closer look at this example we’ve found on Auto Trader, however it could potentially be a bargain family car. It’s an estate, too, which is a bonus if you’re looking for practicality.
We rate the original Skoda Fabia highly, and a bargain-basement example could make for an excellent runaround for someone. It shares a platform with the Volkswagen Polo, but lacks its desirable badge – perfect for those of us looking for value for money. This example looks fairly tidy – although we’d be asking the seller to stick a fresh MOT on it.
We’ve already looked at an Astra convertible, but if you’re not bothered about soaking up the rays this winter, a sensible hatchback might be more your bag. If you’re happy to buy privately, you’re money will go further – and this automatic from 2006 looks like a steal.
If we’re including the Astra, it’d be rude not to consider a Ford Focus as well. It’s remarkable that you can now pick up a second-generation example within our budget, although do expect it to be a little tired at this price. We’ve found a 1.6-litre LX estate showing 93,000 miles at a trader for £990.
The ‘K12’ shape Micra is arguably the best Micra ever made – although the firm will be hoping to repeat its success with the latest model, revealed at the recent Paris Motor Show. Find a good one and it’ll be a faithful supermini. This 1.2-litre Initia could be a sound buy.
A 10-year-old Citroen C4 has potential to be more problematic than a Focus of a similar age, but it’s a billion times more interesting. With full services history and a three-month warranty, this example could be promising.
We’ll end with a bit of a wild-card. You’ll struggle to find a Polo within our exact requirements for less than £1,000 – blame VW’s brand image for that – but we’ve found this example with 107,000 miles on the clock for less than our budget. It looks a steal… although the short MOT is a little off-putting. Go in with your eyes open and it could be a bargain.