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How to sell your car for the best price

01_Advertise_Car

Advertising your car for sale – it sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong.

Little mistakes can make a big difference and could affect the final price you agree with a buyer.

Worse still, it could mean the difference between shifting your car in record time or it being sat on your driveway for longer than expected.

With our guide to advertising your car for sale, you should sell your used car swiftly and with the minimum of fuss.

Prepare your car for sale

Before you get as far as listing the car for sale, you’ll need to prepare it for viewing. Those empty crisp packets in the footwell, dog hairs in the boot and sticky finger marks on the rear windows aren’t a good look.

Potential buyers will make snap decisions based on the car they see in the photographs, so spending half a day washing and waxing will pay dividends in the long run. At the very least, a visit to the local hand car wash will ensure your vehicle is fit to be seen.

Alternatively, bring in the experts. A mini valet is likely to cost upwards of £30 and will include a wash and wax, interior dust and vacuum, window clean and rubbish removal. That should be enough to attract potential buyers on the strength of your advertisement.

Washing the car

For seriously soiled motors, a full valet is a good move – especially for more expensive cars. Think of this as a deep clean, which is likely to include a polish, power-washed wheelarches, an interior shampoo, the door and boot shuts cleaned and the interior deodorised.  

Prices vary depending on the size of car, length of valet and additional services, such as engine steam cleaning. But £100 to £200 could be money well spent if you’re looking to achieve a top price for your motor.

Any chips, dents or damage you find should be rectified prior to sale, but only if it will affect the price you expect to achieve. There’s little point spending £250 on a car that’s worth just £500. Use your common sense.

Where to sell your car

Once upon a time, selling a car meant selecting from a small number of options, with the weekly Auto Trader magazine the most likely avenue. Other options included the small ads in the local newspaper, weekly car magazines and the Post Office noticeboard.

Times have changed and there are a number of different outlets to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:

Online

Simply advertising your car online and hoping for the best isn’t enough – you have to select the most appropriate channel. Consider the car and the audience it is likely to appeal to.

If it’s a performance car, PistonHeads might be the best option. For older vehicles, have a look at Car & Classic. It’s free to list your vehicle and many fans of retro and classic cars will happily spend an hour on the site, dreaming of filling their fantasy garage.

Searching for a car

What was once the printed hero of used car market is now one of the leading outlets of the digital age. Auto Trader claims a car is listed for sale every 60 seconds, with the site featuring a number of different search options and pre-defined fields.

Other outlets to consider include Gumtree, one-make car forums, social media and auction site eBay. 

Print

While selling online is quick and easy, printed media should not be ruled out. If you’re not in a hurry to sell or are looking to achieve the maximum price possible, advertising in a glossy car magazine could be for you.

You should also consider the weekly classic car newspapers, such as Classic Car Weekly and Classic Car Buyer. Remember, not everyone heads online to buy a car. Traditional methods still work.

Other options

Other options to consider are traditional auctions, part-exchanging at a local dealer or selling via a company such as We Buy Any Car. 

There are pros and cons associated with each option, so decide which one is best for you. Bear in mind that, in the majority of cases, you’re likely to achieve far less than the retail value of your car. The flip-side is a hassle-free sale.

How to photograph your car

Car photography

With your car fresh from its makeover, now’s the time to take some photographs. You don’t need to be a wannabe Annie Leibovitz behind the camera, but it’s essential to take a good range of shots to present your car in all its glory.

Think brochure shots rather than anything too arty. If possible, find a plain background and make sure you shoot in daylight, but avoid direct sunlight.

Today’s smartphones will be more than up to the task, but avoid using any of the phone’s fancy filters. Definitely a case of #nofilter here.

As for the selection of photos, we recommend the following:

  • Front three-quarter
  • Rear three-quarter
  • Side profile
  • Front face-on
  • Rear face-on
  • Dashboard – taken from behind the front seats
  • Dashboard – looking through from one of the rear doors
  • Front seats
  • Rear seats
  • Inside the boot
  • Engine bay
  • Close ups of all alloy wheels
  • Any damage
  • Roof up and roof down (convertible only!)
  • Any special features/modifications

Finally, make sure the photos are in focus. You’ll be amazed how many sellers forget this simple point.

Do your homework

Homework

You’re almost ready to write the ad, but before you do, it’s time to do some homework. Don’t worry, it’s nothing too strenuous, but could avoid wasted time in the long run.

Take a look at similar cars for sale, which will help you decide how much to ask. If it’s a classic car, check out the Practical Classics guide for a rough estimate of what you’re likely to achieve.

If the vehicle is stuck somewhere between classic status and something relatively modern, you might consider selling via eBay. The market will dictate the price, but list the car with a reserve if you’re worried about getting less than it’s worth

It’s also worth mentioning eBay has an advanced search function, allowing you to view the prices of recently sold vehicles.

Writing the ad: the essentials

How to advertise your car

This is it: your moment to shine – a chance to give your beloved motor the send-off it deserves. A sales pitch to beat all sales pitches. Just avoid heading into David Brent territory.

Be informative and descriptive, but don’t be afraid to ‘big up’ your motor. List the positives, point out the faults, but above all else be honest. It’s illegal to wrongly describe your car.

Crucially, the ad must tease people into picking up the phone to arrange a visit/test-drive. But you don’t have to give everything away.

You can read our guide to writing the perfect advert for a used car here

In general, be clear and avoid using jargon or meaningless phrases. ‘First to see will buy’ means nothing and text-speak is a no-no. When you’re done, put your words through a spell checker.

Once the ad is written, you’re all set. Be prepared for your phone to start ringing off the hook. Not that mobile phones can ring off the hook…

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How to write the best advert to sell a used car

How to write the perfect used car advert

Writing a used car advert might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong. You might have a perfect vehicle for sale, but if the advert isn’t up to scratch, you’re not maximising its potential.

At best, it might take longer for your car to sell. At worst, you could be missing out on hundreds of buyers who are keen to part with their cash.

You don’t have to be an ace salesperson or an award-winning writer to prepare a compelling used car advert. However, there are some simple things to remember. If nothing else, be honest – it’s illegal to wrongly describe a used car.

At the very least, the advert should encourage people to pick up the phone or send an email to arrange a visit and/or test-drive.

If it’s a popular car, you’ll be competing for attention alongside other cars of a similar specification and price, so don’t be afraid to give it the ‘big sell’.

What to include on a used car advert

Writing a used car advert

  • Make and model
    • For example: Ford Focus. Also include the trim level, e.g. Zetec, especially if it’s a special edition.
  • Year of registration
    • Include the letter or number, i.e. Y-reg or 2001. This could be important from a VED (road tax) perspective and also for buyers looking for facelift/refreshed models.
  • Engine size and type of fuel
    • For example: 2.0-litre TDCi diesel or 1.2-litre PureTech petrol.
  • Equipment
    • Create a list of the options and accessories fitted to the car. Concentrate on the big ticket items, such as air conditioning, leather seats, infotainment system, LED headlights, heated seats, etc.
  • Mileage
    • Be honest about the mileage, because it can be looked up online. Some buyers will be actively looking for low-mileage vehicles.
  • Owners
    • List how many owners the car has had, including yourself.
  • Warranty
    • State whether the car is still covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. If not, list any details of an aftermarket warranty, if applicable.
  • MOT
    • List the date when the MOT expires. If it’s due within a couple of months, it makes sense to get it tested prior to selling the car, as this will maximise the price you achieve. Alternatively, say you’ll provide a fresh MOT upon sale.
  • Service history
    • Buyers will pay more for service history, so make sure you include this in the ad. Be aware that full service history means that the car has been maintained to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule – if it hasn’t, it’s only part service history. A stamped service book complemented by receipts is always preferable.
  • The price
    • The price is essential, but don’t worry about adding ‘ono’ (or nearest offer) because buyers will be keen to negotiate anyway. Listing the car as ‘no offers’ could deter some buyers. Similarly, using ‘POA’ (price on application) is a no-no, as this irritates many buyers. Do your homework and find a price that’s suitable.
  • Contact details
    • Add your mobile number and email address, along with any times that are best to call or to avoid. Be prepared to answer any questions. One thing that’s often overlooked is that people will be more inclined to buy the car if the seller is polite and courteous. Be nice!

Selling a used car: also consider

The list above details the basic elements of a used car advert, but consider noting any known faults or any significant damage to the bodywork. Most used car buyers will expect a few stone chips or scratches, so don’t go overboard.

This is also an opportunity to elevate your car above the thousands of other vehicles available online. If it has a full set of nearly-new premium tyres, say so, being sure to include the brand name. Mention if it’s had a recent service, including expensive jobs such as the gearbox, clutch or cambelt.

Avoid waffle. Auto Trader recommends between 50 and 75 words for an online ad, but you can adjust this accordingly. If it’s a rare, classic or exotic car, the buyer will be keen to discover more about it.

That’s a GR8 motor, M8

You should also avoid abbreviations and cliches. While some of the common abbreviations, such as ‘AC’ (air conditioning) and ‘FSH’ (full service history) are well known, others might give the impression that you’re a trader.

Cliches are another thing to avoid. ‘Future classic’, ‘tastefully modified’ and ‘first to see will buy’ are pointless and irrelevant. Oh, and avoid BLOCK CAPITALS, as it looks like you’re shouting at the buyer.

When you’re finished, stick the words through a spell checker, strip away any evidence of text-speak and ask a friend or family member to check the advert.

This advice assumes that you’ve taken a decent selection of photographs and selected the right channel for your used car advert.

For more information, visit our guide to advertising your car for sale. Good luck.

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2020 Bentley Flying Spur

The cheap alternatives to the ‘world’s best luxury sedan’

2020 Bentley Flying Spur

‘Deliveries of world’s best luxury sedan underway.’ Bentley isn’t backward in coming forward as it announces the first customer deliveries of the all-new Flying Spur.

There are two things to pick out from this. First, ‘sedan’ isn’t a word we tend to use to describe four-door saloons. They’re saloons, plain and simple.

Second, that’s quite a claim. Self-proclaiming something to be the ‘world’s best‘ at anything is a little too high street for our tastes. ‘World’s best cup of coffee’, ‘world’s best kebab’ or ‘world’s best fish and chips’ – all fine, if a little hard to substantiate. But ‘world’s best sedan’ – has anybody consulted Rolls-Royce?

‘The all-new Bentley Flying Spur is the ultimate luxury Grand Touring sedan, offering the perfect fusion of performance-orientated agility and exclusive four-door, limousine-style comfort,’ says Bentley.

Notice the use of ‘ultimate luxury’ – Bentley is determined to ram home the ‘world’s best‘ angle. Still, you might expect the ultimate luxury for £168,300.

But what if you haven’t got the equivalent of a mortgage to spend on a luxury saloon? What if you haven’t even got 10 percent of the cash you’d need for an entry-level Flying Spur? 

We can’t offer the perfect fusion of anything, but here’s a selection of four-door saloons that are available for less than £1,683. That’s 1 percent of the value of a Flying Spur. And you won’t even have to visit a Bentley dealer or apply any self-tanning lotion.

Toyota Camry V6

Toyota Camry V6

The Toyota Camry is one of the world’s most successful saloons. It’s particularly popular in America, where the combination of a smooth engine, ice-cold air conditioning, large cupholders and near-faultless reliability make it the choice of a nation. Or at least those who don’t drive a pick-up. Or an SUV. Or an Accord.

Over here, old versions of the Toyota Camry were more of an acquired taste. Company car drivers like to go around corners and avoid daily visits to the petrol station, which meant the Camry failed to feature on many fleet lists. The only thing faster than the depreciation was the Camry V6’s fuel needle.

Today, the combination of general apathy, crippling fuel economy and the anonymous styling means you can buy a really tidy Camry V6 for £1,000. Others cost even less… 

Buy a used Toyota Camry on Auto Trader

Lexus IS 200

Lexus IS 200

If the Lexus LS 400 is the ‘Japanese S-Class’, the IS 200 must be the ‘Japanese 3 Series’. It offers rear-wheel-drive dynamics, a smooth six-cylinder engine, a rather special cabin and some eye-catching dials designed to resemble a chronometer. The rear lights are also rather cool, although they spawned some aftermarket copy-cats of questionable taste.

It’s as nice to drive as a BMW 3 Series, while the build quality is more than a match for its contemporary German rivals. Only the Alan Partridge connection might deter some buyers.

Prices start from £500 for an MOT failure, but £1,000 should secure a serviceable example. A-ha!

Buy a used Lexus IS 200 on Auto Trader

Volvo S80

Volvo S80

If you’re someone who hates leaving the comfort of the living room, the Volvo S80 is the car for you. The seats are more nicer than anything you’d find in the DFS sale, while the carpets are sumptuous enough for you to consider driving barefoot. To criticise the S80 for being boring would be missing the point – this car was designed to waft.

Because you’re only paying pennies for your ultimate luxury saloon, we’d recommend the 4.4-litre V8, which is powerful enough to propel the Swedish lounge to 62mph in 6.5 seconds. At least you’ll be feeling relaxed and refreshed as you enter the petrol station for the umpteenth time this week.

Prices start from £1,000, although you won’t find any 3.2 or 4.4-litre models for one percent of the price of a Flying Spur.

Buy a used Volvo S80 on Auto Trader

Chevrolet Epica

Chevrolet Epica

There are fewer than 150 Chevrolet Epicas on the roads of Britain. That’s around a quarter of the number of Bentley Flying Spurs, so some degree of exclusivity is guaranteed. Stick that in your machine-polished pipe and smoke it.

You don’t need to tell anyone at the tanning salon that it’s little more than a rebadged Daewoo. Opt for the straight-six petrol engine unless you fancy touring the streets of Knutsford like a low-rent taxi. Get the LT spec, as this adds climate control, rear parking sensors, heated leather seats, auto wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a CD auto-changer, 17-inch rims and an electric driver’s seat to an already long list of standard equipment.

Prices start from £1,250. Why buy a Flying Spur when you drive something Epica?

Buy a used Chevrolet Epica on Auto Trader

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata V6

The Hyundai Sonata is in the news thanks to that Super Bowl ad starring John Krasinski. The new sedan looks kinda cool, but although it’s cheaper than a new Flying Spur, it doesn’t fit our Super Budget. Besides, it’s been a while since the Sonata was available in the UK.

Back at the turn of the millennium, you’d invariably find the Sonata in one of two places: in a garden centre car park or parked on a driveway outside a bungalow in a provincial seaside town. Although there are other engines available, the V6 is the one you want if you’re hoping to fuse some performance-orientated agility.

If you like the feeling of saggy leather and fake wood, the Sonata is more desirable than a new Bentley. Prices start from around £600, which is the cost of a Bentley travel bag. You pays yer money and takes yer choice.

Buy a used Hyundai Sonata on Auto Trader

Not convinced by our left-field and alternative saloons? Auto Trader is awash with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Audi saloons available for 1 percent of the price of a new Flying Spur. Take a look for yourself.

The cheapest and most expensive places to buy a used car

Cheapest and most expensive used cars

A new study has revealed some surprising regional variations in the price of a typical used car. Indeed, you could save thousands of pounds by travelling further afield.

There’s no north-south divide as such, but the research would suggest that heading north could bag you a good deal.

Three of the top five cheapest locations are in Scotland, namely Kilwinning, Kilmarnock and Prestwick. This would suggest Elvis Presley was searching for a great deal on a used car when he stopped by in 1960.

Gloucester and Wellingborough are the other two locations named as being great for cheap used cars.

Conversely, there’s a definite south-east bias when it comes to expensive used cars, with Chelmsford, Chatham and Acton named as places to avoid when hunting for deals.

Orgreave and Winsford are the other two locations named in the ATS Euromaster study.

You could save thousands

Cazoo 'Amazon' for used cars

Looking for some evidence? The research shows that a BMW 3 Series with 35,000 miles on the clock costs an average of £15,995 in Kirkcaldy. Meanwhile, the same car in Newton-le-Willows could cost £21,600.

Similarly, a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport with 38,000 miles on the clock might cost £19,495 in Kirkcaldy, but £22,500 in Chelmsford.

It goes without saying that the more commonplace the car, the greater the chance of finding a good deal. Vendors will be forced into offering discounts if the same car can be secured elsewhere for a lower price. Either that or they’ll have to put up with the car remaining on sale for a longer period of time.

As the UK’s most popular new car, there’s a ready supply of used Ford Fiestas on the market. Finding the right colour, spec and condition should be easy – just be prepared to travel.

The ATS Euromaster research found that Greater London has the greatest number of Fiestas listed at any one time. On average, there will be 200 Fiestas for sale in the area, with Poplar seeing the largest concentration.

The most expensive area for a Fiesta is Billericay in Essex. Alternatively, 30 miles up the road is the town of Layer de la Haye – the cheapest place for a Fiesta.

Click here to see more results from the ATS Euromaster study.

‘Amazon for cars’: Cazoo delivers used cars to your door

Cazoo 'Amazon' for used cars

A startup used car marketplace called Cazoo created by the man who created LoveFilm and Zoopla is now operating in the UK.

The entire process of buying from Cazoo is online, with home delivery offered. The difference is that Cazoo actually owns all the cars it stocks.

Each motor is prepared and readied for sale at its 55-acre facility in the Midlands.

Every car is MOTed, comes with service history and goes through a 150-point check as it comes into stock.

Cazoo says it wants to ‘Amazon’ the used car market.

Buying sight unseen – how will it work?

Cazoo 'Amazon' for used cars

Buying a car without inspecting it in person is usually seen as risky.

Cazoo wants to remedy this by offering comprehensive advertisements and competitive prices.

Each ad has high-quality 360-degree images, with the car’s full specification and history included. The prices are fixed and the adverts are transparent, in an attempt to keep everything upfront.

If you buy, your new purchase should arrive within three days.

Cazoo then gives a seven-day money-back guarantee, to ‘replace the seven-minute test drive around the block’.

If it’s not working for you, they’ll collect the car for free, ‘no questions asked’.

Cazoo 'Amazon' for used cars

“Used cars are one of the last remaining consumer markets yet to benefit from any digital transformation,” said Alex Chesterman, founder and CEO of Cazoo.

“Cazoo makes used car buying simple and convenient, like buying any other product online today.

“We take away the need to travel, to haggle, to spend countless hours at a dealership and to risk any buyer’s remorse.”

The venture is one of the UK’s best-funded startup businesses ever.

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Auto Trader introduces ‘fair’ and ‘high’ price flags on ads

Auto Trader user upgrade

Auto Trader is upgrading the way its listings look. The car sales website is adding new features to help buyers feel more confident as they search the classifieds for their next car.

The changes will roll out across all platforms from early December.

In Auto Trader’s 2019 Car Buyers Report, it was revealed that 86 percent of buyers are concerned they can’t trust car dealers. Likewise, 88 percent worry they aren’t getting a good deal, while 85 percent are question the accuracy of the information about a car.

These are three key changes Auto Trader will make.

Consumer reviews

Reviews from customers of car retailers are being brought forward, to reinforce buyers’ trust in vendors.

Auto Trader wants to put its consumer reviews to better use, to corroborate other rewards and recommendations car sellers may have.

Price flags

Auto Trader upgrades

Auto Trader will be adding to its ‘low’, ‘great’ and ‘good’ price indicators, with ‘fair’ and ‘high’. It’s believed that buyers’ hesitance around pricing is a key barrier to doing the deal. With more comprehensive ‘flags’, Auto Trader hopes to put buyers at ease, and help them be sure they’re paying what they should.

The company claims that its valuations are ‘the most accurate reflection of the live retail market’. They include analysis of more than 1.9 million vehicles each day. Valuations are afforded depending on age, mileage and specification.

Mileage and spec indicators

Auto Trader user upgrade

To help buyers find the specific cars, extra feature indicators are also being added. This means mileage and deal-critical optional extras can be highlighted in a listing.

Content relating to the car, including the description and spec, is being moved up the page, in order to help buyers find what is being offered more efficiently.

‘Nearly new’ is the most popular age of car to buy

Nearly new most popular used cars

A new survey reveals that 74 percent of cars purchased are second-hand. Of the 15,000 people questioned in the AA-Populus poll, 25 percent had bought pre-owned over five years old, while 26 percent said they’d opted for a brand new car. However, it’s the ‘nearly-new’ category that came out top.

In total, 29 percent said they’d bought a nearly-new car, which is defined as being less than three years old.

Nearly new most popular used cars

The rise in popularity of car finance, particularly PCP deals, has led to a massive influx of nearly-new stock on the used market. The average age of pre-owned cars is going down, with the average price going up. It means that more car buyers could potentially find what they’d look for in a brand new car on the pre-owned lot.

“The growing popularity of car finance is changing the shape of the car market as a whole,” said James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

Nearly new most popular used cars

“It has provided a steady flow of ‘nearly new’ vehicles into the used car market. This surge in supply has improved the value and range available to used car buyers – and allowed them to snap up low-mileage, well-maintained vehicles at prices that would have been unthinkable until recently. 

“As a result, motorists now have more choice than ever – both among the huge range of cars available on the second-hand market, but also the various financing schemes open to them.”

Who is buying new cars?

Nearly new most popular used cars

More than 5,000 of respondents to the poll said they’d never bought a new car: 34 percent overall, or 32 percent of men and 37 percent of women. 

Predictably, brand new cars were least popular with young people: 64 percent said they’d not yet bought new. Just six percent said they bought new last time, and seven percent had bought nearly-new.

Scottish and Northern Irish drivers have a strong taste for ‘new car smell’, with 30 percent from these areas saying they bought new last time. New cars are less popular in the East Midlands, with just 23 percent of respondents having recently purchased one.

Big lux, little bucks: luxury cars for £5,000

Used luxury cars for less

Champagne tastes but lemonade money? Have no fear, your cash stretches further than you think, giving you access to any number of luxury and premium badges. All of the cars we’re about to unveil can be parked on your gravel driveway for less than the price of a new Dacia.

Alfa Romeo 166

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: because it’s the antithesis of a German luxobarge and it has an interior to die for. In full-fat 3.0-litre guise, it has the power to match its catwalk model styling, even if the facelift model is arguably less pretty than the original. It’s the ultimate motoring hipster statement.

Why you don’t: Alfa Romeo doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, and although the 166 is more dependable than others, it could prove costly should the worst happen. Still, at least the days of catastrophic depreciation are behind it, although few people bought one in the first place.

Audi A8

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the A8 still looks fresh today and Audi’s image is as strong as ever. The build quality is class-leading and the interior will remain rock solid even with six-figures on the clock. You can also pretend to be Jason Statham or a star of Ronin as you make your way to the in-laws on Boxing Day.

Why you don’t: because it’s an Audi, so it won’t offer the smooth comfort and joy of an S-Class. Petrol versions won’t be cheap to run, especially the W12, so don’t blow all of that £5k budget on the initial purchase.

BMW 7 Series

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the £5k budget will allow you to choose from the very best from some of the earlier 7 Series generations. From Bond to Bangle, the polar opposites of the 7er spectrum.

Why you don’t: the fourth-generation E65 7 Series remains an acquired taste and you’ll need to spend many hours learning the iDrive system. Still, reading a BMW manual is likely to be more entertaining than watching the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special.

Cadillac CTS

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the CTS looks good, has a series selection of toys and offers the benefit of rear-wheel-drive. Plus, it’s a Cadillac, which will deliver some much-needed kudos points when top-trumping with the army of office 3 Series drivers.

Why you don’t: you shouldn’t expect European levels of fit and finish or much in the way of fuel economy. Running a 2.8-litre or 3.6-litre Caddy will put you on first name terms with the cashier at the local petrol station.

Chrysler 300C

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: because you’ll look like you’re starring in your own rap video. It shares many of its components with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and can be equipped with a monster 5.7-litre Hemi V8.

Why you don’t: because you’ll look like you’re starring in your own rap video.

Citroen C6

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: it’s the last truly eccentric big Citroen and it depreciated like a stone, meaning you’ll struggle to find more bang for your French francs. It’s also a guaranteed future classic.

Why you don’t: beyond the fact that this budget is unlikely to stretch to a low-mileage example, we’re struggling to think of a reason why you shouldn’t buy a C6. There are the obvious connotations that come with French cars, but if you’re seriously considering a C6, you’ll be pretending they don’t exist.

Daimler XJ

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: it’s an XJ, but even more alternative. You’ll think you’re the coolest person at the dinner party, but for some reason, no one will be sat next to you to hear your story about how Daimler and Jaguar are one and the same. It’s also your ticket to V12-powered luxury at this price point.

Why you don’t: you’ll quickly lose friends and, potentially, money. The former, because of how (un)interesting you’ll be explaining you’re a Daimler owner. The latter, because it’s a Jaguar. The usual financial caveats apply.

Ford Scorpio

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: because you won’t get a Ford Mondeo Vignale for £5k. The frog-faced Scorpio comes with those staples of 1990s luxury: acres of wood and leather. 

Why you don’t: because you’ll have to look at it when walking up to it. As above, frog-face isn’t a looker.

Honda Legend

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the Honda Legend does more than a passable impression of a German luxobarge and is loaded with standard kit and a solid safety rating. As a bonus, it’s unlikely to go wrong.

Why you don’t: your friends will think you’ve arrived in a bloated Honda Accord. Meanwhile, the image is a bit ‘tea out of a Thermos flask in a National Trust car park’, and it has a drinking habit to rival any Bentley.

Jaguar XF

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the styling is ageing well, especially when you consider that it replaced the S-Type, which looked dated even while it was on sale. All engines are good, but the 3.0-litre petrol is a cracker.

Why you want it: the styling is ageing well, especially when you consider that it replaced the S-Type, which looked dated even while it was on sale. All engines are good, but the 3.0-litre petrol is a cracker. Also, flippy vents!

Jaguar XJ

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: this is a luxury car in a very British sense, offering grace, space and pace in abundance. Also, you’ll be able to bore people about your Jag.

Why you don’t: the styling is more hip op than hip hop. Looking after it, mechanically, electronically and in terms of the body, could prove a tall order, too.

Lexus GS 450h

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: tt’s like a luxury Toyota Prius, albeit one with a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid powertrain and a cabin as well-appointed and comfortable as any German rival. As it’s a hybrid, it also feels very current.

Why you don’t: the cabin isn’t quite as sumptuous as some of its rivals, while the styling is bordering on anonymous. But we’re nitpicking – this is a fine choice if you’re looking for luxury on a budget.

Lexus LS 430

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the ‘Japanese S-Class’ is refined and likely to be the most reliable luxury car you can buy for £5,000.

Why you don’t: it has a whiff of the golf club about it and lacks the authenticity of a German or British luxury car.

Lincoln Towncar

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: if you want your life to be one big prom night, or you want to be a prom night driver, you’ll never be short of work. Plus, what other luxury vehicle comes with a full crystal drinks set?

Why you don’t: the cabins of these limos are rinse-down for a reason…

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: every new generation of S-Class represents the pinnacle of engineering and technology at the time of its release, so you’ll get a glimpse into how the other half lived when it was new.

Why you don’t: depreciation was a problem for its previous owners, but running costs will remain an issue for you to deal with. Also, venture anywhere near London and you’ll be fighting off flag-downs, thinking you’re a posh taxi.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: it’s arguably Merc’s best-looking modern four-door, has a better interior than an S-Class of a similar vintage, and has more V8 than any current non-V12 AMG.

Why you don’t: it’s a Mercedes from 2005. You enter into this at your own risk…

Peugeot 607

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: can’t find the right Citroen C6? French waft wrapped in wood and leather is just a Peugeot search away. It’s the C6 alternative you never knew you desired.

Why you don’t: it does have a steering wheel not unlike what you’d find in a Peugeot 206. Not very luxurious.

Porsche Cayenne

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: you can afford to live the Porsche SUV dream – some cars are available for as little as £3,500. Good off-road, even better on it – this feels like a proper Porsche.

Why you don’t: cars without air suspension are best avoided and some specialists recommend shunning early cars altogether. Catastrophic engine failure isn’t uncommon and you’ll need to fork out the price of a family hatchback to secure a new motor.

Range Rover

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: a gilt-edged image comes with proper off-road capabilities to create the perfect luxury SUV on a budget. As acceptable in the office car park as it is on the Boxing Day hunt.

Why it’s not: reading through the list of things to watch out for will give the car you’re considering enough time to rust away.

Rover 75

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the 75 felt like a Rover in the truest sense – a fitting last hurrah for this once proud British brand.

Why you don’t: head gasket failure is common on the 1.8-litre petrol engine, so opt for the 2.0-litre diesel or 2.5-litre V6 petrol. Electrical problems could be an issue, too.

Saab 9-5

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: what it lacks in outright luxury, it more than makes up for in terms of exclusivity and eccentricity. A delightful cabin and a wealth of standard features will greet you if you take a punt on the last-of-the-line Saab 9-5.

Why you don’t want it: the ride quality isn’t a patch on the other cars featured here and you might struggle to find a fellow buyer who is willing to take on what’s essentially an extinct brand.

Skoda Superb

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: Superb by name, superb by nature. Skoda’s flagship model offers space in abundance, supreme levels of comfort and a generous level of standard spec. You’re also backed by one of the best dealer networks.

Why you don’t: to some, the Skoda badge remains a barrier, but it’s their loss. Don’t be surprised if folk start waving you down in the mistaken belief that you’re their minicab ride home from a boozy Christmas do.

Volkswagen Phaeton

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: it shares its platform with the Bentley Continental.

Why you don’t: it looks like an oversized Volkswagen Passat.

Volvo S80

Used luxury cars for less

Why you want it: the S80 offers a squishy ride, deep-pile carpets, a super-quiet ride and is very Swedish.

Why you don’t: it’s not as great to drive as a 5 Series and you’ll pass unnoticed in the majority of situations.

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Trading Standards investigating used car dealers over recall concerns

..Trading standards recall investigations

Used car dealers are coming under scrutiny by Trading Standards regarding outstanding manufacturer recalls, the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) reports.

The organisation represents businesses that deal with as many as 1.5 million used vehicles per year in various capacities. It’s warning that dealers should start taking extra care to carry out outstanding recall work.

Recall spotlight: staying on top of cars that need manufacturer attention

Why are they taking such a keen interest? Many cars are recalled for repairs post-debut and post-sale. This can be for issues of varying severity, from a glovebox that won’t stay shut, to brakes that don’t work. The troublesome job is rounding up all the cars that need attention…

Trading standards recall investigations

These are issues that product safety laws could determine are the responsibility of these dealers. Especially before moving cars on. Dealers could find themselves on thin ice in scenarios where they can opt to undertake an outstanding recall when a car is brought into stock, and don’t. 

“Trading Standards appear to be looking quite closely at used car sales where retailers have not notified customers that vehicles are the subject of outstanding manufacturer recalls,” said VRA board member Jonathan Butler, of specialist automotive solicitors, Geldards.

“This might be seen as a product safety issue under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 other than in certain exceptions. However, it is not a clear area and one where some dealers could, unless they are very careful, potentially find themselves encountering difficulties.”

Get the work done

Trading standards investigating dealers

The advice to dealers by the VRA? Get the work done. The minimal cost now is significantly more desirable than the potential ramifications of not doing so. 

“Bearing in mind the small additional cost involved, we would very much recommend this as an action by all used-car dealers. In our opinion, it should form part of best practice procedures that are undertaken before vehicles are advertised for sale.”

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.

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