James Ruppert: Seek out slow-selling cars for a bargain

Just in case you wondered, after a difficult period during which used car dealers had a bit of a problem interacting with customers, things are now looking up. Dealers with the right sort of stock are moving lots of metal. That’s why they are car dealers, after all. But this means the rest of us really ought to be targeting the slower-moving stock that dealers want to clear out of the way as well as used cars from desperate private sellers.

Pint-sized hot hatches are not doing quite as well as they once did now there is some uncertainty in the air. I’m talking about cars like the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. Whatever you think about the Corsa, it is a bit of fairly raw fun. So I was interested to stumble across a 2008 1.6 Turbo VXR, not least because it was up for £2300, which seemed like a tempting price. The mileage was over 100k, but it had a recent service history that included the all-important cambelt change. It also had bright-red paintwork with all the bodykit in place and was HPI Check clear. What a way to have fun.

Of course, first-time drivers will need to get something far less hot but just as hatchy before they graduate to something like a VXR. Still, that’s no problem because there are some fascinating first-timer cars around. I rather like a Peugeot 206 1.4 Fever special edition from 2004. From experience, this won’t knock the insurance premium beyond real-world affordability. The mileage on the one I saw recently for £895 was below 90k. It had had a bunch of previous owners – well, five – but came with a full year’s worth of MOT. In theory, there shouldn’t be much to worry about for a while. Perfect.

Pity the private seller with a Peugeot 407 to shift, though. Especially as buyers are rather concerned about diesel power these days, even though a 1.6 HDi will do a very solid 50mpg-plus, provided it is in good nick. Well, a 2009 example with just under 100k miles seems worth thinking about at only £1000. I know everyone will be looking at BMWs of a similar vintage instead, but this is the sort of saloon that will do a very good turn for a family or small business with miles to cover.

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Question: My Peugeot 3008 went in for its first service on 20 May. It has been there ever since, awaiting a part from France, and I’ve received no updates. What’s my legal position? Jack Grove, via email

Answer: We expect the issue with getting the part is down to the pandemic, which forced factories to shut until very recently, creating backlogs. There’s no consumer legislation that applies in this situation, because it seems the dealer is doing its best in this unprecedented situation. For now, we would advise you to talk to the dealer about getting a more comparable courtesy car while yours is in quarantine. CE