Investment cars for less than £10,000 – used car buying guide

Honda S2000

Honda S2000

Appreciating assets needn’t be the preserve of the super-rich. Jimi Beckwith brings the investment car budget down a peg or two

Investing in a future classic is usually an expensive experience, but spotting what’s likely to bring you value in the future means you can get in quickly, and cheaply. Here are our recommendations.

1 – Honda S2000 (1999-2009)

Cars such as the Honda S2000 are few and far between. Its formidable combination of looking, feeling and, most important, actually being fast meant the S2000 garnered its fair share of fans throughout its 10-year production run.

Honda’s ‘will they, won’t they?’ approach to replacing it means the used market for S2000s is currently on fire. Prospective buyers will need to get in quick to grab a decent one, as prices are already on the rise.

Avoid souped-up S2000s no matter what, as unmolested examples are where the real value lies. Early models can be found for between £7000 and £9000, but aim for the higher figure and go for 
a car with service history.

2 – Smart Roadster Coupé (2003-2007)

Unlike the Honda S2000, Smart’s dinky Roadster faced a lukewarm public reception. But time has been kind to the charming Roadster Coupé, and values are starting to climb. Early water leak issues crippled the Smart, so ensure these have been resolved to avoid a £4500 replacement CPU. Taking a gamble on a Roadster Coupé without 
a full history is likely to end in tears.

Models fitted with the paddle-shift transmission are naturally more sought after than the lacklustre automatic ’box, while there’s around a £2000 premium on racier Brabus examples. Aim for a £4500 Coupé with the glass hatch rather than its slightly gawky (and less sought after) Roadster-only sister.

3 – Saab 900 (1978-1993)

The car industry is a lesser place without Saab, and enthusiasts still celebrate the Swedish manufacturer while lamenting its demise. One legacy is the 900, whose shape marks it out as one of the more distinctive cars of a decidedly boxy era.

Saab’s steadfast collection of fans means the few 900s left are often well cared for, although low-mileage examples are rare and expensive. Turbo models are hard on gearboxes (particularly autos) but are more sought after than their non-turbo stablemates. Convertibles carry a premium, as do turbocharged 900s, but these are the ones to go for if you can, at £3k-£5k.

4 – Jaguar XK (1996-2006)

Ever since the demise of the E-Type, Jaguar has been desperate to recapture the magic of its iconic hero car, with varying results. The XK was one such example of this, but it wasn’t deemed to have succeeded in rekindling the E-Type’s spark. Nevertheless, the XK is another car to which the passage of time has been surprisingly kind, and it stands only to appreciate as time goes on.

The XK’s daily drive appeal means low-priced, high-mileage examples are numerous and tempting, but don’t be fooled. Reliability issues and the likelihood of it gaining value mean that investing in a cared-for, low-mileage example for £8k-£9k is advisable and meticulous research is essential.

5 – Toyota MR2 (1984-1989)

The 1980s are back, which means it’s once again hip to be square. The Mk1 Toyota MR2 is a near-forgotten 31-year-old hero that’s bound to appreciate as demand grows and the dwindling supply shrinks. As a Toyota, reliability comes as standard, even on a car of this age, although owners report warped brake discs on older models. Rust is also an increasingly common issue.

A keen eye is essential when shopping for a Mk1 MR2. There are currently only around 4000 remaining in the UK, so the few unmolested examples that arrive on the used market seldom stay there for long. Aim to spend between £3k and £4k.

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