Ford Focus ST, 2014, 72k, £11,950
Nothing much beats a fast Ford when it comes to bang-for-buck value for money. At least until they become cult classics, that is. For the moment, and probably for a little while yet, the Ecoboost Focus ST remains one of the value options. No doubt prices will rise when the last Focus ST is made and the retrospective love-in begins (because that’s the fast Ford way) without a replacement in sight. For now, £12k buys a Blue Oval hot hatch that was nothing if not riotous fun, always up for a good time with its lusty turbo performance, rowdy soundtrack and cheeky handling balance. From a speed perspective, the 250hp 2.0-litre is easily tuneable, too, with 300hp requiring little more than intake, exhaust and ECU tweaks. Best think about some suspension and tyre upgrades at the same time, though, as the ST could be a wild ride even as standard. But a boring fast Ford just wouldn’t be right…
Lotus Elan S2 Turbo, 1995, 70k, £11,995
Bet you didn’t expect to see a Lotus here. But the turbocharged Elan was a properly potent little car 30 years ago, forced induction liberating 160hp from the old GM four-pot, and with very little weight to haul around and a sophisticated front-drive chassis, there wasn’t much faster down a road in the early 1990s. Even now, as discovered in our recent Hero story, speed is certainly part of the Elan’s considerable repertoire. It’ll never be loved as much as an Elise, of course, and the model's comparative shortcomings are well known - but there’s still plenty to recommend the M100, not least being able to get in a good one for £12,000. Limited Edition number 664 is one of just two in the colour scheme, has covered just 70k since 1995 with four owners and benefits from a recent service - nice.
Nissan 370Z, 86k, 2011, £10,990
With Nissan unable to bring the new Z to Europe, so it’s easy to gaze more affectionately upon its 350 and 370 predecessors. Especially as cars continue to become more complicated; those tired of modes and manipulation will find an awful lot to like about a pair of stylish sports coupes with a big atmospheric engine up front, a six-speed manual in the middle and power going exclusively to the rear. Sometimes the old ways really are the best. Here we have a 370Z Roadster, a welcome reminder that the drop-top Z, if not a huge seller back in the day, was certainly a handsome old beast. The advert is very, very light on detail, but the condition looks good for the age and mileage. There’s not going to be a time when PH isn’t interested in 300hp+, manual convertibles - maybe now’s the time to think about a Zed.
Jaguar XKR, 2007, 108k, £11,495
Nothing beats an old Jag when it comes to maximum horsepower for minimum outlay. What’s disastrous for showroom customers becomes an irresistible opportunity for used buyers as fast, expensive, luxurious, capable V8s plummet in value from executive echelons to almost bargain basement. Maybe it won’t last much longer as the days of ICE Jaguars come to an end but, for the moment, plenty of temptingly affordable Jaguar flagships remain out there. This XKR ties with the Audi below for the largest engine here, and boasts comfortably the most power at 420hp. Furthermore, despite its age and mileage, the old cat presents really nicely. Perhaps no longer the height of modernity, but seemingly well cared for. Paint, upholstery and wheels are all in tip-top condition, and there’s said to be ‘great’ service history as well. It’s a great big hunk of all-aluminium supercharged V8 Jaguar for £11,495.
Audi S5, 2009, 75k, £10,499
Believe it or not, Audi is where buyers currently need to look for the cheapest V8 manuals out there, with S4 cabrios from the early 2000s available for as little as £4k. Ideally, you’d have a saloon or wagon instead, but that’s a whole lot of V8 for not very much money. With a little more imaginary budget to hand, a newer, more stylish S5 is available, still with the venerable 4.2 and six-speed manual but on the later platform. Even at more like £10k for a really good one, they’re increasingly alluring; the Walter de Silva design still looks smart after 15 years, the interior is one of those great ones like Audi used to make and, even with fairly plain handling, a V8 and a manual gearbox possess plenty of charm on their own. This 2009 example has a full service history to back up its 75,000 recorded miles, and looks appropriately menacing in black on black.
Honda Civic Type R, 2003, 125k, £11,995
Modifying a car never comes cheap, at least if done properly, and especially so given upgrades seldom add the money invested to the value of the car. It means there are potentially some really smart buys for canny folk out there, pouncing on something that would cost a whole lot more than what’s being asked to replicate. This Civic Type R looks like being one of them; hate to break it to you folks, but £12k doesn’t buy a whole lot of EP3 in 2023 with nostalgia tax factored in. Whereas this one gets a Jackson Racing supercharger, Tein coilovers, a limited-slip diff, a cage and a new, uprated clutch. Plus, er, more than £5k recently spent refurbishing the gearbox. So it’s probably not had an easy life, but then that means the next owner can carry on terrorising track days as intended. Stripped out with 300hp ought to surprise a few…
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