Idol fancy: Autocar writers’ dream second-hand cars

If you can say one good thing for lockdowns, it’s that all those extra hours sitting at home give you time to think. And, as Autocar writers are prone to do, we’ve mostly been using that time to think about cars.

In particular, we’ve been thinking about used cars. With all that extra time, we’ve found ourselves trawling used car websites and dreaming about what we might buy when this is finally all over. So for Autocar’s annual Used Car Hero award, we’ve decided to pick our ultimate lockdown dream car.

Each team member has nominated the car they’ve spent the most time dreaming of buying for the past few months. Now the real fun begins: we’ve got to argue among ourselves and pick a winner. There will probably be a vote. You’ll find out which car won as part of this year’s Autocar Awards in June. If you have an ultimate dream car suggestion, email

BMW Mini R50-R53 – Mark Tisshaw

For this, I turn to the eBay search history. Not only my most searched-for car but also the only one with a saved search alert is the first-generation BMW Mini from 2001. The sweet spot in the range would be the R50 Cooper, one of the early launch Y-reg cars the holy grail. Still, the extra driver appeal of the R53 Cooper S that followed a year later interests me more than rarity or collectability. Considered enormous at launch compared with the 1959 Issigonis original, the first BMW Mini actually looks tiny now, given the growth of subsequent generations. It’s hard to believe the car is 20 years old when it still looks so modern – and frankly so good. What’s stopping me? Perhaps the thrill of the chase. Or the memory of a costly ECU failure that once hit a friend’s Mini. Although all of this posturing is really only delaying what I hope is inevitable.

Volkswagen Golf Mk7 – James Ruppert

The longer my motoring life goes on, the more convinced I am that the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 is quite possibly one of the best iterations of the legendary family hatch. The Golf set the standard way back in 1974 when the competition was negligible. Right now it remains the very best of a sometimes compromised bunch.



Maserati Granturismo – Richard Bremner

They’re drifting, and I don’t mean sideways. Although that is an option if you buy. I mean drifting towards affordability: the price of an early Maserati Granturismo, the one with the smaller 4.2-litre V8, is now dropping below £20k for those closing on 100,000 miles and a 14th birthday. And that is a lot of very beautiful car for the money. Beautiful, tuneful and fast, the sonorous V8 flies past 62mph in 4.8sec on to its ultimate velocity of 180mph – although this big car is more grand tourer than back-roads blitzer.

You will enjoy all this in an elegant, sumptuous cockpit that can comfortably accommodate four – this being the only truly practical feature of the Granturismo as a used car. A deep thirst, loan-worthy servicing bills and double-take insurance premiums require a fairly hefty financial commitment, but this is a great way to enjoy an exotic pedigree Italian coupé for a temptingly low initial outlay. Enjoy this kind of car while you can.