What are some good first cars I can get for around £1000?

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RussX
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#1
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I want a car that has:
-5 doors
-is a manual
-cheap insurance and road tax
-that I can scrape without being upset about it
-cheap to repair if anything goes wrong.
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StriderHort
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You won't get everything on your list, a 'cheap' to repair car likely won't be £1000 but you can still shop smart with the brand.

If that was my budget i'd likely look Japanese, older Hondas & Toyotas. Fiestas and VW's are decent go to options also.

Past a point with old cheap cars i'm finding beyond a bit of sense and knowledge it's mostly luck in finding a good one. My first 08 Corsa from a trader was £1650 and a rotted heap that almost instantly needed £1000+ work. My 02 SLK cost me £1250 from a gumtree rando and despite infinity warnings not to buy an old cheap German car, with some minor self improvement/repair is running the sweetest of any car i've drove. But it came to me as a cheap 'faulty/sold as seen' case.
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Dunnig Kruger
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Audi A2 1.4 TDi 75 BHP.

It won't rust. It's Aluminium. And therefore won't need bodywork repairs unless you're in the sort of crash that would write-off any £1000 car.

Simple, reliable, long lasting VAG group diesel engine and gearbox. No DPF and no DMF.

Close to 60 mpg in the real world. Aircon is pretty much standard. Leather seats and cruise control are options (retrofittable).
Some of them have sunroofs (often stuck, but repairable).

Jelly mould looks aren't for everyone. These cars are for head over hearts type cheapo car enthusiasts.
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LTEcactus
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
Audi A2 1.4 TDi 75 BHP.

It won't rust. It's Aluminium. And therefore won't need bodywork repairs unless you're in the sort of crash that would write-off any £1000 car.

Simple, reliable, long lasting VAG group diesel engine and gearbox. No DPF and no DMF.

Close to 60 mpg in the real world. Aircon is pretty much standard. Leather seats and cruise control are options (retrofittable).
Some of them have sunroofs (often stuck, but repairable).

Jelly mould looks aren't for everyone. These cars are for head over hearts type cheapo car enthusiasts.
It's not the body work that is the issue with cars of that age, it's stuff like suspension components, exhausts, brake lines etc that will need replacing.
Plus an aluminium body isn't gonna do you much good, if the timing belt snaps, because it hasn't been changed for a while!
Insurance for diesels is actually quite high, because of the much greater amount of torque compared to a petrol.

I'd buy a granny spec Jazz, Civic etc, that's had not too many previous owners and full service history. Not the most fun but it's not gonna cost you £££s to fix.
At least get something with a years MOT on it!
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by LTEcactus)
It's not the body work that is the issue with cars of that age, it's stuff like suspension components, exhausts, brake lines etc that will need replacing.
Plus an aluminium body isn't gonna do you much good, if the timing belt snaps, because it hasn't been changed for a while!
Insurance for diesels is actually quite high, because of the much greater amount of torque compared to a petrol.

I'd buy a granny spec Jazz, Civic etc, that's had not too many previous owners and full service history. Not the most fun but it's not gonna cost you £££s to fix.
At least get something with a years MOT on it!
Buy one with service history. Change the timing belt at the recommended interval and you'll be fine.

There were 2 types of front lower wishbones used on the A2 TDi. A cast one and a pressed steel one. The pressed steel ones are prone to corrosion over 15 years - and most of them have been replaced by now. Apart from that there are no common issues with the suspension, exhaust and brake pipes on A2 TDi's. They are light cars, thanks to the aluminium construction with reduced stress on the suspension, drivetrain, tyres.

Insurance on A2 1.4 TDi 75 BHP's is slightly higher than 1.0 litre Citroen C1's, but still relatively affordable.
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alex282
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Something like a 2000s Toyota Corolla
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PTMalewski
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Fiat Panda Mk.II. Very simple, dirt cheap parts and reliable.

Don't buy diesel cars. A turbocharger failure would cost more than the car itself.
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
Fiat Panda Mk.II. Very simple, dirt cheap parts and reliable.

Don't buy diesel cars. A turbocharger failure would cost more than the car itself.
Not if you get a replacement from a scrap yard. And especially not if you fit it yourself.

And it's relatively rare for turbos to fail (in cars not known for turbo failure).

Diesel engines, on average, last longer than petrols. Engine longevity is important in a £1000 car.
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maeger
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
Not if you get a replacement from a scrap yard. And especially not if you fit it yourself.

And it's relatively rare for turbos to fail (in cars not known for turbo failure).

Diesel engines, on average, last longer than petrols. Engine longevity is important in a £1000 car.
Of course, it's very easy to fix a turbo which has grenaded into the engine...
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by maeger)
Of course, it's very easy to fix a turbo which has grenaded into the engine...
How often does that happen compared to timing belts breaking or slipping? Or auxilliary belts breaking and wrapping around the crankshaft pulley and causing the timing belt to slip or break?

Or with £1000 steel cars, how often does it happen compared to the car needing welding repairs due to rust that would cost more than replacing the engine (with a used one)?

Turbo failures are relatively rare. Turbo failures where parts inside the turbo damage the engine are rare amongst turbo failures. I'm not saying it's never happened, but there are plenty of other far more likely things that will cause the end of life of a car.
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
Diesel engines, on average, last longer than petrols. Engine longevity is important in a £1000 car.
That was true 30 years ago.
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by PTMalewski)
That was true 30 years ago.
Still true today.

It's down to the basic chemical / tribological properties of diesel and petrol.

To put it in basic terms, diesel is an oil whilst petrol is a cleaning agent.
Think what effect each substance will have to the engine oil lubricating the cylinder walls within an engine.

OK for sure it will depend on what petrol engine we're comparing against what diesel engine. For example, in the £1000 car market, I'd buy a Renault diesel with some trepidation. And I'd buy a Volvo 5 cylinder petrol engine with no qualms.
But I'd be even more nervous about a Renault petrol engine in a £1000 car. And even more confident of Volvo D5 in a £1000 car.
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PTMalewski
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
How often does that happen compared to timing belts breaking or slipping? Or auxilliary belts breaking and wrapping around the crankshaft pulley and causing the timing belt to slip or break?

Or with £1000 steel cars, how often does it happen compared to the car needing welding repairs due to rust that would cost more than replacing the engine (with a used one)?
You realise that diesel engines also have timing belts, while many gasoline cars don't have any auxiliary belts, and that most diesel cars are also made of steel?

Also most cars don't require bodywork repairs even when they're around 15 years old, unless you wish them to last for another 15 years, instead of 5.

(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
To put it in basic terms, diesel is an oil whilst petrol is a cleaning agent.
Think what effect each substance will have to the engine oil lubricating the cylinder walls within an engine.
The condition of cylinder walls is one of the less problematic things about engine's lifespan.
Especially since modern diesel engines might require replacements of engine equipment and transmission parts which are as expensive as capital engine renovation, and which many gasoline engines don't even have, eg. a dual-mass flywheel.
Diesel injectors are also more prone to failure, they're more expensive, and gasoline injectors can outlive the engine itself, sometimes they only require a cheap cleaning treatment, not to mention the diesel injection system is more complicated as a whole, which plainly means even more parts that can fail and give us additional costs.

The most important factor that affects engines' durability, is how much power from litre of capacity it produces (the more power, the more physical stress goes on some critical components like the crankshaft bearings) , and how complex it is.
Generally the less power and less complexity means more durable and more reliable engine.
Today's diesel engines are very complex heavily turbo-boosted to provide big power outputs, while some gasoline engines are still simplistic and produce much less than 100HP from litre.
Gasoline engines that don't get much power from their capacity, but have quite modern construction overall, can do 150 to 300 thousand miles without renovation, if only maintained properly.

I would never buy a modern diesel car if I was on a very limited budget, simply because a single and not uncommon failure can easily cost as much as reparing a simplistic gasoline engine that's went through a whole series of the worst-possible-scenario failures.
Last edited by PTMalewski; 1 year ago
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Dunnig Kruger
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Mercedes at the £1000 mark are prone to rust. They went through a bad period.

Audi A2 TDi 1.4's had no DMF. Their injectors are not known problem areas. As a diesel it doesn't have the spark plug ignition system of petrol engines, which is a known issue on a few Renault engines (coil packs).
Audi A2's don't rust. They might corrode eventually. By 2050 or 2100.

The most important factor for engine durability is how well it is engineered - assuming the servicing is done to manafacturers recommendations.
It's sort of nonsense equating power per litre to reliability. It might apply to exotics like BMW M3's and M5's, or Maseratis. It doesn't apply to BMW 330D's. Not that a BMW 330D would be affordable insurance wise for a student.

300,00 miles? That's nothing. How about half a million or more?

Check out the Car Throttle youtube video where they take apart a Skoda diesel engine that's done 430,000 miles.
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Emma:-)
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(Original post by RussX)
I want a car that has:
-5 doors
-is a manual
-cheap insurance and road tax
-that I can scrape without being upset about it
-cheap to repair if anything goes wrong.
Hyundai getz
kia picanto
Nissan micra
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Greywolf.
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
Audi A2 1.4 TDi 75 BHP.

It won't rust. It's Aluminium. And therefore won't need bodywork repairs unless you're in the sort of crash that would write-off any £1000 car.

Simple, reliable, long lasting VAG group diesel engine and gearbox. No DPF and no DMF.

Close to 60 mpg in the real world. Aircon is pretty much standard. Leather seats and cruise control are options (retrofittable).
Some of them have sunroofs (often stuck, but repairable).

Jelly mould looks aren't for everyone. These cars are for head over hearts type cheapo car enthusiasts.
I’ve heard this car is a very good deal for the price tag.
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Rabbit2
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People fixate upon insurance, fuel costs, and other things. To be realistic, the predominant costs in running a vehicle is the maintenance costs. The best investment you can make with a vehicle, is a set of tools, and acquiring the experience and working environment [garage, workshop, etc] to use them. If you can fabricate your own tools & jigs, are inventive to a degree, and willing to tinker, you can run a vehicle fairly inexpensively. I have a 1982 Vw Jetta Diesel. All the shop manuals say (of the Bosch Diesel Injection system) that "This thing is so ridiculously complex, and you are so unbelievably stupid, that we won't even try to tell you how it works. Take it to your Bosch dealer. Well the Bosch dealer [or a collection of them actually] want about $1400 USD for a 'rebuilt' injector pump [of questionable quality]. I picked up a few 'used' pumps on auction sites (undoubtedly in need of rebuilding) for about $150 to $200 each, a few 'rebuild' kits [for about $20 each, and experimented. "Rebuild it yourself" videos are available on uTube and on the web. In a couple of months of experimenting, i have become a reasonably competent pump rebuilder [at a whole lot LESS than $1400/pump]. Cheers.
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roo02
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(Original post by RussX)
I want a car that has:
-5 doors
-is a manual
-cheap insurance and road tax
-that I can scrape without being upset about it
-cheap to repair if anything goes wrong.
renault modus!
- cost me £600
- 5 doors
- is a manual
- rapid (for a first car)
- £20 road tax
- 60 mpg, even redlining it everywhere I never got it below 35
- Literally parked mine against walls and climbed out the sunroof at college (parking spaces were non-existent)
- J turn beast
- not very user friendly if you want to work on it yourself
- but they don't break, mine went four years without being serviced (I only owned it for one) and ran fine when I sold it

it's essentially a taller mk3 Clio, without the Clio demographic to weigh you down
Last edited by roo02; 3 months ago
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Aquatouch
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(Original post by RussX)
I want a car that has:
-5 doors
-is a manual
-cheap insurance and road tax
-that I can scrape without being upset about it
-cheap to repair if anything goes wrong.
Golf mk4 hatch. Sorted
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roo02
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(Original post by Aquatouch)
Golf mk4 hatch. Sorted
or this
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