James Ruppert: Don’t chicken out on a second-hand coupe

Coupés seem to be regarded as pointless these days – a zombie niche, because apparently everyone wants SUVs or coupé-like versions of them. Meanwhile, in the wonderful world of used cars, coupés are great value and offer all the seats and sportiness you could ever need – and most likely lower running costs. So let’s go shopping for a cheap coupé and avoid the obvious choices.

I think it may be the last chance to buy some beautiful classics like the Peugeot 406 Coupé. This is surely one of the most handsome cars ever, and a 2001 SE with 128,000 miles plus a recent cambelt, fresh clutch and service could be mine or yours for just £700. It’s with a private seller who has sorted out all of its outstanding issues, which is handy.

Let’s stick with private sellers of seemingly undesirable coupés who need to make some space on their driveways. The Hyundai Coupé was far better than it was ever given credit for, and the Series 3 was almost purposeful and pretty. There are V6s, but the standard 2.0-litre is the reliably economical choice. A 2008 74,000-mile example wearing black alloys is certainly tempting. Again, the owner has spent a fair whack on suspension parts, tyres and a lambda sensor, so £2000 isn’t too bad at all.

When it comes to the truly uncool, let’s add rare into the mix. Ooh, look, a Toyota Paseo. I never expected to see one of those ever again. It’s incredibly dull yet a grandfather of today’s fantastic GT86. Well, really it’s a 1.5-litre Corolla with a groovier body on top, which in this case is from way back in 1997 and comes with 127,000 miles for just £995. It seems very solid and hasn’t been mucked about with, despite being on its fifth owner. It will never be worth less. The Paseo is a sleeper classic, but don’t quote me on that just yet.

Also deeply unfashionable is the Chrysler Crossfire, which gets all sorts of misplaced grief. I found a 2004 example with the 3.2-litre engine and just 62,000 miles being offered by a private seller. I think it looks great. Who cares if it isn’t a Mercedes-Benz SLK? At least it looks different, rather than conventional. It isn’t much to pay, £2500, but the small print indicates that a minor wing weld is required for the MOT.

For the same money, there’s another Toyota in the wings, and indeed one with a wing: a 1997 MR2 T-Bar with 141,000 miles that the private seller has owned since 2004. A fantastically detailed and heartfelt description in the classified ad always makes a difference for me, so I think I would take this car instead.

Coupés will never completely go away and neither should they. Just make sure you find the right seller.

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Answer: It’s especially frustrating to be held responsible for a prang you weren’t even present for, but unless you can prove the garage failed to tighten the handbrake cable, you will struggle to pass the buck. If the damage wasn’t too bad to either car, consider stumping up the repair cost outright rather than lose any no-claims bonus you might have. And in future, leave your car in gear when parking. FP