OKAY, so it was a contentious title for a blog, but I did mean well by it. Honestly.
Lots of people are tightening their belts right now – and, if my many conversations with people in the business are anything to go by, the first household item to come under close scrutiny seems to be the car. Practical Classics magazine’s tech guru, John Simpson, is a good example of this – I was talking to him about the headgasket job my Citroen BX now needs and asked him how his business was going. John said that, although he’s still busy, he’s noticed that more and more people are starting to skimp on servicing; where his regular customers would once come in for the annual MoT and service, now they’re foregoing the service and just sticking it in for a test.
On the market, you can see the evidence everywhere. People are bailing out of their big, old cars and replacing them with something newer and cheaper to fuel. *That means there’re a glut of what people may describe as gas guzzlers on the market – no one wants them* and it means they’re selling for a song. To give you an idea, it’s now evidently possible to buy a very useable Jaguar X300 for around £500. That’s more than tempting. I’ve been getting itchy fingers, too… while I have a very nice 2008 Subaru Outback Boxer Diesel at my disposal as a long termer for What Diesel magazine, I’m hankering after something to call my own to smoke around in.
My current fleet status is critical too, so you’ll see where I am coming from.
Vauxhall Cavalier Sportshatch is at Neil Campbell’s house awaiting a cure for a fuelling issue
Saab 9000 is at a friend’s being restored
Alfasud is in storage
Citroen BX is being used by someone else
Saab 900 is being used by someone else
Rover Tomcat has a cracked cylinder liner and its future hangs in the balance
Rover SD1 awaits my delivery of some parts
I’ve therefore started looking on eBay for another Saab 9000 or Rover 800 and found that the prices are shockingly low right now. My Saab 9000 is the much-underrated 225bhp Aero version and, when I bought mine a couple of years back, the going rate for a good one was about £2500-3000. I paid around that for mine and felt that I’d got just about the very best I could find for the money.
However, check eBay today and it’s clear that, with the combination of another couple of years’ obsolescence and the current cost of petrol, a perfectly useable example with tax and test can be had for £500. Think about that for a moment – 225bhp (assuming it’s not been chipped and most have) for a monkey. Talk about bang for your bucks. That’s a tale that seems to be reflected across the entire big car scene. Don’t believe me? Just check out everything from Alfa Romeo 164s to Volvo 850T5s – via, of course, the Rover 800 Vitesse.
So, if you don’t have a massive commute, and you’re not thinking of moving house any time soon, then why not have a punt on a big old fast saloon? Five years from now, there might be none left to play with.
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.