Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 24 January

Our round-up of Lotus-engineered rarities opens with the VX220. The Vauxhall shared key parts with the Elise and was built at the same factory, and it went on sale in 2000 supported by an appalling ad campaign that held back sales.

It was why, for many years, the car was a bargain. Not any more. Today you’ll pay almost as much for a VX as you will for an Elise, mainly because everyone now knows the little Vauxhall is just so darned good.

Prices open at around £10,000 for a Turbo but we were drawn to one costing £14,000. The private-sale, two-owner car was registered in 2003 and has done 45,000 miles. It looks tidy but there’s nothing about the service history and it has had a respray. Maybe one dealer’s 2003-reg, 86,000-mile example for £10,990 would be a better buy. At least it’s original and has some history.

The Turbo made 200bhp – ample for a car that weighed just 930kg. There was a 2.2, too, which produced a less impressive 145bhp, although this version of the VX was even lighter at 875kg. We found a pretty 2001 example with 38,000 miles for £11,995. The Turbo is the one people want but the 2.2 is still a lot of fun.

MP: Mine looks more impressive. It’s a luxury car, Max, whereas yours is a bit on the common side.

MA: Well, you’ll have plenty of chances to admire your BMW or sit back and make yourself comfortable in it while it’s conked out at the side of the road.

MP: Jealousy. Remember, only shallow people don’t judge by appearance.

MA: Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

Verdict: Diesel do nicely, and the Mini gets my vote.