Best old car to buy

Think driving an old car means big repair bills and unreliability? Think again, as the eight models below are both affordable and desirable

James Wilson
Aug 19, 2021

If you're on a tight budget and think all you can afford is an older car, fear not. You may worry that you'll have to put up with a lot of compromises, but older cars can offer great value while still including desirable kit and being easy to live with. Older cars can save motorists many thousands of pounds as they cost less to buy and finance compared to new and nearly new versions. It's worth doing a little homework when looking for an old car, but if you know what to look for there are bargains to be found.

One of the downsides of opting for an old car is that it might look dated. Happily, some cars which have been around for a while are timeless - they might have been on sale before some of the competition but still look fresh as a daisy. The Fiat 500 is one such car.

Another way to avoid driving an older car that looks dated is to choose a car sold shortly after that version came out, while that version of car is still available new. This means that brand new models, which look similar to your older one should still be available from showrooms for some time to come.

Saying that, one thing to bear in mind if you want an older car that feels up to date, is that nothing ages a car quite as badly as poor in-car tech. It is like using a flip phone on the tube - passengers will notice, which could be a problem if that kind of thing bothers you. Upmarket models from the likes of Audi, BMW and Jaguar tend to come with more cutting edge kit than mainstream alternatives when they are new. So, if you go for one of these older cars which were well ahead of the technology curve when they left the factory, you should get a car that feels newer for longer.

Looks and technology are important but at the end of the day, most of us choose a car to help with certain tasks. Taking the kids to school. Getting to work. Looking good in front of friends. Okay, some of these tasks are perhaps less important than others, but just because you're looking at older cars they still need to perform all sorts of tasks without fuss. Fortunately, the old car market is packed with everything from plush coupes, modern electric cars and practical family SUVs - so there should be something for everyone.

Below we have rounded up eight of the best old cars to buy. They are a varied group - there is a two-seater sports car, a seven-seater family car and a cheap and cheerful small runabout - but all of them are far more affordable than new or nearly new equivalents.

All of the cars below are at least five years old, as this is typically the stage at which most car manufacturers' warranties have run out and most cars will have chalked up a good number of miles. While these cars may be getting old, they still have many years of life left in them and one of them could even have several years' of manufacturer warranty cover left.

Best old car to buy

1. Fiat 500

Used deals from £4,500
Monthly finance from £0*

Drive into any town centre in the UK and you’ll see your fair share of Fiat 500s. These little Italian cars are cute, popular and make excellent urban runabouts. The Fiat 500 has been on sale for well over 10 years now so there are plenty of models to choose from that will suit a range of budgets - there are even 500C versions that come with a retractable fabric roof for the convertible driving experience.

Even though Fiat has tweaked and updated its 500 over the years, the basic recipe has stayed the same. This means that even if you get an old one, it will look very much like far newer versions. The interior is simple but stylish and models in ‘Lounge’ trim that come with a white steering wheel and dashboard look particularly fashionable, the range of engines centre around small petrol engines that keep running costs down and there are trims to suit most budgets. If you are shopping on a shoestring, more basic Pop models are a great option.


2. Kia Sportage

Used deals from £7,194
Monthly finance from £220*

Some people are turned away from the savings that can be made by buying or financing an older car due to worries of big maintenance bills. Well, cars have never been so reliable and Kia is so confident in the quality of its cars that it offers a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty (so provided you don't exceed 100,000 miles, you have seven years of cover) across its entire range. This means that even if you go for an affordable five- or even six-year-old model, there is no need to worry about major things going wrong, as you should be covered.

For families or those with lots of gear to lug around, the Sportage SUV is the ideal Kia. The large boot is a big part of this, as it measures in at 491 litres, which compares well against rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai. Other practical features include plenty of space for three adults in the rear seats, which can recline too, helping those in the back to get comfy and an easy-to-use media system.


3. Mazda MX-5

Used deals from £9,791
Monthly finance from £0*

Fancy an affordable but exciting-to-drive convertible? Look no further than the Mazda MX-5. it offers great handling, and nips around corners with real agility. It also has a punchy engine, which thanks to the car's light weight helps it to pick up speed easily. And it looks the part with its sharp lines. The Mazda MX-5 has offered this simple sports car format for decades. So much so that it is the most popular sports car of all time. If you enjoy driving and want a machine that involves you in the driving process, it's a great choice.

Looking for an older MX-5 will mean either an end-of-the-line third-generation car or early fourth-generation model like the one in the image above. The main differences between the two are styling and technology. Which one you prefer the look of will be down to personal preference but new models have a much sharper appearance compared to the more curved styling of the older version.

Likewise, all but the lowest specification newer models come with a touchscreen media system that is more modern than the touchscreen unit available with high-spec previous-generation MX-5s. Still, the older MX-5s are more affordable. It's a tough decision deciding between the two, so it's worth thinking about your budget and whether you prefer a sportier drive and slicker media system or saving a bit of money.


4. Audi A6

Used deals from £13,795
Monthly finance from £0*

Driving an Audi A6 is seen by many as a statement of doing well for yourself. Happily, those willing to opt for an older car can avoid the high list prices of a new Audi - so you might not need anywhere near as much wealth as you think. Looking at older models will mean you’ll be shopping for the previous generation of A6, which was on sale from 2011 to 2018.

This is no bad thing as some people actually prefer the less angular styling of the old model and its less tech-packed cabin is easier to use. Additionally, there are plenty of versions to choose from, including those with diesel and petrol engines plus sleek saloon and more practical estate body styles.

As the A6 is pitched as an upmarket car, its interior is very plush - even compared to some newer cars. When hunting around, post-2015 models are a good bet, as Audi refreshed the A6 in 2015 improving things such as the technology on offer and making certain engines more efficient. If keeping fuel bills down is a top priority then diesel ‘Ultra’ models should be top of your list as these offer impressively high fuel economy.


5. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Used deals from £8,870
Monthly finance from £0*

On paper, you might think that driving the older Citroen Grand C4 Picasso will leave you short-changed compared to the newer Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer. In reality, the only difference is the name. Therefore you get the same super-practical people carrier with seats for seven, frugal engines (especially if you go for the diesel ‘BlueHDi 100’ engine) and funky styling, all at a lower price. So, going for the older model rather than the similar newer version could be a wise move.

If you are concerned about driving a large seven-seater, the Citroen is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre. Although the cabin is long it is quite narrow, so slotting into parking spaces is easier than you might think. Plus, some versions come with a 360-degree camera that gives you a bird’s eye view of the area around the car, which helps no end when getting in and out of tight spots. An automatic Grand C4 Picasso would make driving even simpler as there is no need to worry about changing gear.


6. Peugeot 108

Used deals from £5,975
Monthly finance from £0*

You may not want or need a car that is super high-tech and going for something simpler could save you money and prove more reliable, too, with less to go wrong. Take a learner driver or someone looking for a cheap second car to nip around town in. If you fall into either of these categories, you would be well served by the Peugeot 108. Or perhaps the Citroen C1 or Toyota Aygo, as these are identical to the 108 apart from their exterior styling and some small tweaks to the interior. So if you don’t like the way 108 looks, you have two other options.

Even though the 108 is a small car - it is much more petite than something like a Ford Fiesta - it is still fairly practical. If you want maximum practicality, go for a model with rear doors for easier access, though you still only get four seats. The boot can handle up to 196 litres of luggage or 180 litres if there is a spare wheel - something that not all 108s have. Compared to a Volkswagen Up, with its 251-litre boot, the 108’s boot might seem quite small but then again the 108 is pretty compact and it's more affordable than the VW, too.


7. Mini Hatchback

Used deals from £7,500
Monthly finance from £280*

If you want a small fun car, then look no further than the Mini. We don’t just mean fun to drive, we mean fun to look at and fun to be in. The interior is a mixture of modern and retro - something that modern-day Minis are renowned for - with a large circular display complemented by circular door handles and a circular speedometer in front of the driver.

The exterior continues this trend with large circular headlights that give the Mini a more recognisable face than most cars. Mini has offered its hatchback in a huge range of colour combinations - so irrespective of whether you want to slip under the radar or shine brightly, there should be an option for you. Minis are sometimes perceived as impractical but with the option of a five-door model, which is similar in size to a Ford Fiesta, it can just about function as a family car, provided you don’t mind a boot roughly 30% smaller than a Volkswagen Golf.


8. Renault Zoe

Used deals from £20,495
Monthly finance from £0*

You may be thinking, ‘Isn’t the Renault Zoe fully electric and aren’t we all supposed to be worried that electric car batteries will need replacing when they get old and that a new one will cost an arm, a leg, two shoulders and a hip?’. Yes, the Zoe is fully electric but thanks to a rare option available on early versions, there is no reason to worry about batteries going wrong. Even if you go for an old Zoe.

You see, back when Renault launched the Zoe in 2013, you had to buy or finance a Zoe and separately lease the battery pack. The format of the lease agreement means that Renault would replace the battery pack free of charge if its capacity dropped below a certain percentage of what it was new (typically if it lost more than about 25% capacity).

While this removes the stress of having to pay a lump sum to replace a car’s battery - and gives you great peace of mind if you're looking at older cars - it does also mean you will have a monthly payment for the battery pack, so do bear that in mind when deciding what to spend on the car. The amount you need to pay is dependent on your annual mileage but is typically in the £80 to £120 per month range. Read more about charging times for the Renault Zoe here.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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