Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 17 May

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI, £5490: There’s talk of Audi ditching the TT after 2022. If true, lovers of used sports cars will be wearing black as they mourn one of the market’s great heroes. 

We were reminded just what great things these classy coupés are at all ages when we chanced upon a 2007/07-reg Mk2 2.0 TFSI. Finished in silver, it has done 80,000 miles and has full service history, including a recent cambelt change. It still looks factory fresh, like so many TTs do when they haven’t been thrashed… 

Putting the glowing tributes to one side, what should a buyer be looking out for? Evidence of regular servicing is a must, and as there’s no substitute for fresh oil every 12 months, we’d favour a car that has had annual servicing over a biennial fettle. Note the cambelt requires changing every five years or 75,000 miles. 

Our find has a manual gearbox, but if it were an auto, we’d check the mechatronic unit and clutches aren’t on the blink. As for the brakes, fresh fluid every two years is a must. On the test drive, we’d be feeling for looseness and listening for clonks, suggesting the lower front bushes are failing. The steering rack can be vocal, too, when it’s on the way out. 

Any corrosion is likely to be repair-related. Staying with the body, check that the automatic spoiler works. If you’re looking at a roadster, ensure the motor that powers the flaps that conceal it when folded is working. 

As always, the interior is the biggest clue to responsible or indifferent ownership. Things you don’t want to find include trim rattles, non-functioning air-con and power windows, and sagging seats. 

Jensen Interceptor 7.2 Mk3, £59,995: They don’t name cars like they used to. The 1966-76 Interceptor lived up to its moniker, first with a 6.3 V8 and, later, a 7.2. Earlier cars were better built but the later example we found – a 1975-reg with 69,000 miles – has been restored by a Jensen specialist. 

Vauxhall Signum, £1495: The Signum (2003-08) is a blend of hatch, estate and exec saloon. It’s based on a stretched version of the Vectra and has two rear seats that can slide and recline. Most are diesels but we spotted a tidy 2006/56-reg 1.8 VVTi Elegance with 82,000 miles.

BMW i8, £39,991: One of the cheapest i8s in the land is, amazingly, a BMW approved used car. It’s a 2014/64-reg with 78,000 miles and comes with a 12-month warranty. Less than £40k seems a fair price for a head-turning motor that sips fuel yet does 0-62mph in 4.4sec. 

Volvo C30, £3975: The C30 is one of the best-looking hatches in recent years. Add top-spec T5 trim with its 227bhp five-pot turbo petrol motor and you’ve the makings of a stylish runabout with Ford Focus ST grunt. This one’s a 2007/07-reg T5 SE Lux with 73,000 miles.

Auction watch

Jaguar XJC 4.2: Someone knew their motors when they snapped up this rare XJC for £16,417. It’s a 1977 car in three-star condition so not mint but in good, everyday-usable nick, so they won’t be frightened of running it. 

True, the V12 or its Daimler Double-Six equivalent are where the action is but a good 4.2 is not to be sniffed at. The point is there are thousands of E-Types but only a handful of decent XJCs – and we all know what rarity does to a motor. Corrosion is the killer, and if it needs rear wings or brightwork, prepare to shell out big time. 

Get it while you can

Ford B-Max, price new – £19,395, price now – £14,495: ‘You’ll love me when I’m gone’ could be the words to a song about the B-Max. One of the smartest small cars in years failed to shift enough copies and is no longer on Ford’s price list. If you’re a young family looking for a new, truly convenient, flexible and cheap-to run motor, that’s a big shame. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of the zero-miles, 2018/68-reg B-Max 1.5 TDCi Titanium Navigator that we found. It costs £5000 less than new. That’s a lot of trips to the seaside.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Chaps, please find me a fully loaded diesel estate car for £10,000

Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI Avantgarde auto, £9799: Mercedes likes to claim that it makes the best cars in the world, and although this isn’t completely true, the E-Class estate is pretty much the perfect estate car, as this 2010 example shows. Not only does it vanquish all opposition in terms of overall luggage capacity, but it can also do wafting rather well thanks to a smooth yet powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that’s still capable of nearly 40mpg in the real world. If you want goodies, then feast your eyes on the heated and cooled front seats, upgraded Harman Kardon stereo, electric tailgate, sat-nav and even a night vision camera. Max Adams

BMW 520d Touring, £10,000: Okay, so you want a load-lugger capable of ferrying children and dogs around, and a car that dismisses a run to the tip with utter disdain, but anyone with blood coursing through their veins wants something that’s good to drive as well. You want, in short, the ultimate driving machine, and in matters of plush and capacious estate cars, that means the wonderful 5 Series Touring. This 2011 example’s the fast and frugal 520d, complete with M Sport trim for a bit of casual sportiness. Its mileage is low, its condition top class and its all-round ability unbeatable. Mark Pearson

Verdict: That E-Class is the answer to my prayers. Just one owner and full Mercedes history, too.