James Ruppert: £8000 goes a long way on the used market

I understand that the used car biz, like almost every other marketplace at the moment, is performing rather poorly. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggests that it has declined by a whopping 48% in the second quarter of 2020, although I’m not sure they’re talking to the same people as me.

Superminis remained the most popular used buy, with 316,570 being used for shopping duties and accounting for 30.5% of the market, according to the SMMT. Interestingly, luxury saloons decreased the least.

I could tell you about the most popular paint colours, but in the real world, car buyers are wising up. They’re realising that leasing is actually a terribly expensive way to buy anything – and, anyway, newly damaged credit ratings don’t help. It was explained to me that £50k trophy cars that buyers don’t need isn’t the way forward. The new retail model for independent used car dealers on the front line is now £2000-£8000, and they’re doing rather well.

I always imagined that £2000 was a low starting point for us, but you can bag some fine sets of wheels for that, and it’s perfect for a starter car. Here you go: a 2009 Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 Life with 75k miles. It’s a dealer car with breakdown cover and a warranty, so that makes sense.

Then again, if you’re not a first-timer and plan on having some fun, £2000 will get you a 2007 Mini One Convertible with just over 70k miles, which is reasonable. It’s a private sale so worth a much closer look.

Finally, if you need space and reliability, a 2009 Mazda 6 2.0 TS for £2000 seems like excellent value for money, especially when its mileage is just under 60k. This is another private sale, and maybe we’re seeing a pattern emerging, as realistic motorists are moving on motors themselves at the moment.

Upping that budget to £8000 puts us in touch with lots of sensible options, but really I fell in love with a 2009 Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon 2.4 JTDM Ti Q-Tronic. The mileage was almost at six figures and, yet again, it was a private-owner sale, but one of those owners who cherish their Italians. You could even see the garage it lived in. A real beauty.