Feelin’ Grand – £1,000 Modern Classics

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By Chris Pollitt

A grand, or thousand pounds seems, on paper, to be a lot of money. Certainly, if someone slipped it into your bank account, you wouldn’t complain. However, when you go to try and spend it, it doesn’t go as far as you might hope. It might get you and the family a weekend away, it might get you a new fancy telly with a bit of change, or a new laptop. Or, that horrible thing could happen where it sits in the bank and slowly ebbs away, only to have suddenly vanished without trace a couple of weeks later. How does one safeguard against this? Well, you could buy a car. 

We’re spoiled here in the UK. Being a little right-hand drive island, we have cars that are only any use to people who live here. In Europe, someone from France could happily buy a car from Belgium or Germany. Here though, the market doesn’t have that flex. Add in the seemingly unending torrent of new cars and it makes for a used market that is constantly having prices pushed down. As such, there is no better country in which to live if you want a bargain car. But does that extend to cool, fun, interesting cars that could be considered as modern classics? Well yes, it does. That’s why we have come up with this list of five cars that you can buy for under a grand. Sure, they might need some fettling, but that’s part of the fun, right?

Rover 75

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Don’t scoff, the Rover 75 is a bona fide modern classic. It was a real high point for Rover; a car that celebrated great design and good mechanicals (spare us the head gasket jokes). It was a huge success for Rover, but sadly it wasn’t enough to pull the company out of the mess poor management had left it in. The Rover 75 is still, over twenty years on, a wonderful looking car. It drives well, and with a V6 upfront is a seriously luxurious and powerful cruiser. Plus, this is one of the last cars to originate from the now-defunct but once great British brand. The 25 was just an evolved 200, the 45 a 400. They were old cars in new suits. The 75 however was a complete, ground-up, new car and one that showed what Rover could do when it really tried. Yet, despite how good it was, you can pick up mint examples for well under a grand.

Peugeot 206 GTI

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Sure, you’ll have to endure countless people (who have never owned one) telling you the 205 GTi was better, but ignore them. The 206 GTi is still a hoot to drive, and while it might not be quite as sharp or crisp as the 205, it is more modern and as such, safer. Plus, aftermarket tuners have all manner of suspension and brake upgrades available to make it better. The 180 model is of course the one to have, but at a grand, they might be a bit tired. A normal GTi should not be overlooked. It’s a light, nippy, cheeky little car that will never fail to put a smile on your face. Frankly, the legacy left by the 205 has served to drive prices of the 206 down, as people overlook it. But more fool them, it’s a little gem.

Saab 9-5

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Maybe you need something that can haul the whole family? If so, you need look no further than the Saab 9-5. The handsome Swede is a brilliant machine that will swallow you, your family and all your stuff with ease. Especially if you get an estate version as pictured. The Saab 9-5 just has something about it. It’s a solid machine that, if looked after properly, will do hundreds of thousands of miles. Furthermore, the 9-5 can more than happily satisfy your performance needs – 250bhp is very real thanks to the HOT versions, though if that’s a bit much, there are versions with less grunt. The Saab 9-5 (or any late Saab for that matter) is one of those cars that’s just effortlessly cool. Saab was a brand that lived on the edge, and that did things its own way. That’s something that should be celebrated, not forgotten in the wake of the company’s demise.

Jaguar S Type

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It doesn’t matter who you are, the appeal of owning a Jaaaaag is always going to be present. It’s a brand that we all want a slice of, and rightly so. British luxury and refinement at its best. We did consider the X Type, and also the XJ. The former is more Ford though, while the latter is going to be nothing but a world of pain for under a grand. An S Type, however, is the sweet spot. A car that so keenly served to encapsulate Jaguar styling of old, it has a distinct retro feel. Plus, it’s a big car, and a Jaguar should be big. You can get a V6, or you can get a diesel (though they can be a bit… leaky, so best avoided) and you can easily get one laden with leather, climate, cruise and all manner of other executive toys for well under a grand. Plus, you get to tell people you drive a Jaaaaag. Lovely.

Audi A2

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Car & Classic contributor, Mark Smyth, just bought one of these for three hundred quid, and that is insane for a car that is destined to be a classic in the future. It was a bold departure for Audi, and as such, it kind of missed the mark when it landed in dealerships in the year 2000. It was designed to be functional, but also light and fiercely economical. And it was, with the little 1.4 petrol or diesel engines delivering upwards of 50mpg. It was a well thought outlook to the future, and we love it. It’s quirky, it’s different but at its core it’s still an Audi. Made from aluminium, it will never rust, and if serviced and maintained well, they will go on forever. If you want a quirky, fun, different means of everyday transport for not a lot of cash, you can’t do much better than an A2. The best bit, however, is that while they’re cheap now, prices are on the up. Buy for a grand, sell for more later. Win.

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