An early morning start and a wander down to my local high street, saw me rooting round the local bomb-sites in search of a Bangernomics bargain in an impromptu kerbcrawling session. I must be well on the road to recovery now, because my juices soon started flowing at the sheer number of wacky – and not so wacky – sheds are out there within walking distance of AROnline Towers for well under a grand. Okay, a quick flick through the gallery won’t exactly set your hearts a-fluttering, but me for me – it’s great to see such a variety less than a ten minute stroll (well, hobble) from home.
I’d been kerbcrawling before for AROnline. Last time, about 18 months ago, took me to the Southend-on-Sea golden mile, and we unearthed some amazing cars, including an SD1 Vitesse for £700, but came to the conclusion that the day of the £500 bomb-site motor was well and truly over. And that may well be the case in sunny Essex, but further north, where money is scarcer, and dealers are less like bare-knuckle boxers, there’s plenty of sub £500 action, if you’re into getting your hands dirty and don’t particularly care what your neighbours think.
But the dealers up here can relieve you of £1000 or so and hand you the keys of something truly, er, interesting. Our first bomb-site owner obviously seems to have a thing about topless models. As well as the outwardly solid (brush-painted) MG Midget that he promises a fresh MoT for the (lucky) buyer, you could experience the joys of a Bertone bodied Vauxhall Astra cabrio (with at least half a sill gone) for a stickered £595, or an after-market chop-top Corsa for around £1000. What price dryness? MX-s seem to be the flavour of the month up here, with at least four on offer in a two-mile radius, all for under that magic ‘bag of sand’.
For the more sensible, there’s lots of mid- to late-1990s rep fodder to choose from. There was a delightful pair of cheap diesels could be yours. A Peugeot 306 which had everything going for it – except its colour – for £700, or the Ford Focus estate, which we couldn’t get a straight answer to our question of the missing MoT for £375. Would you? In contrast, I think we spotted the most expensive N-registered boggo Ford Escort in the world. £995 for a sexy three-door sporting Mexico badges. Nice.
Good MG ZR105 for £1495
Bad Renault Lagunas and Daewoo Leganzas.
Ugly The £700 Nissan 100NX. Ugh.
Tragic The 90K Citroën Xantia 1.8i SX estate, that hasn’t moved for at least two years, and is still up for £700.
But in the grot there were a couple of cars worth a punt on for the brave. We like the Toyota MR2 T-Bar, which could be yours for £1000. We’d need a close under-body look, and want to be present at the MoT test, but for an emerging classic – and one that’s so popular in the Japanese scene, this mid-engined bundle of fun looks like a bit of fun. But maybe only if your name is Kaff. And the low-mileage £700 Vauxhall Omega 2.5TD – years of minicabbing awaits you.
And the conclusions from this jaunt? Only one – you really don’t need to spend much money to enjoy interesting motoring times. Stay tuned for more kerbcrawling jaunts from around the country.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.