Blog : AROnline Bangernomics is back!

It’s been a while, but 2017 sees the return of AROnline’s attempt to show it’s possible to have a perfectly pleasant motoring experience playing by the rules of pure Bangernomics. The rules of the game are simple: pay buttons for a car that you don’t love, run it as cheaply and simply as possible and see how it goes – in fact, as the current advertising by Peugeot says, simply just add fuel!

The subject of this year’s experiment is this fine 2008 Ford Mondeo 2.0 Ghia. And what a bargain it is. I picked it up from RJModern Classics in Oxfordshire for the princely sum of £760. This outwardly seems like astonishing value for what many of us AROnliners would consider to be a brand new car, but hold your horses – it is cheap for a reason.

So, what did we get for our £760?

There are pushing 210,000 miles on the clock, which is more than enough to put any sane person off – but I’m far from sane. This car wears its miles well – it might have two scuffed front wings and a mucky front driver’s seat, but everything works and, surprisingly, it feels tight and agile on the road. The engine is still smooth and refined, the gearbox slick and accurate. Oh yes, and it has four matching quality tyres with a fair amount of tread on them. Job done!

Another reason it’s cheap is that it’s a Ghia saloon in doom blue. Yes, they made a four-door Mondeo, which is not only longer than its hatchback cousin, but it’s also considerably less practical and less good-looking – still, as dad cars go, this one ticks all the boxes. Most intriguingly, though, is how modern it feels – you really do feel like you’re doing well to be driving this one, and not the second-class citizen that most Bangernomics motors leave you feeling.

And what’s the plan?

Not a lot really… I just want a quiet life and to enjoy some reliable, dependable, cut-price, driving in a comfortable and capable saloon. Let’s see if this leggy old stager can make it to the end of the year in one piece, and without any major form of expenditure. I will throw lubricant, coolant and brake pads at it but, beyond that, I don’t want to find it broken down on the A47 with a blown headgasket or hole in the side of its engine block. Life’s too short for that.

I do hope we can take it abroad at some point during the year, though. Riding around England’s crowded roads is simply too dull for a fine machine like this. I have nothing planned yet, but would appreciate some suggestions.

I’ll tidy it up, make it shine, and sort out (cosmetically) the front wings, though. Let’s see what we find along the way. Stay tuned, and let me know what you think – is this a good Bangernomics buy?

Keith Adams


    • Just like I pretended my 93 was a Vectra, or currently pretend my Octavia is an A3 saloon.

      Ford were ahead of the game in platform sharing, just that some elements of the motoring media had an agenda.

  1. well i hope it works better than my stab at running a older motor…….bought for 1200k & cost the same in bills in 4 months!

  2. Bangernomics makes big sense. I paid one third of the cost of that Ford for this “They all do that 1.8t ZT-T”.:~


    Came with several months MoT and despite lots of dust and Dog Hairs, I suspected under all that was a half decent car.

    The previous owner had been advised the Cylinder Head Gasket had “failed” and so part exchanged it at a local dealership four miles away from me. The dealer put it on ebay with so called HGF as “spares or repair”. Being local I had a look. The dealer handed me the Keys and I spent about fifteen minutes checking the car with engine running. I saw no evidence of so called “HGF” but some signs of coolant loss. I decided to bid and told the dealer I would. I also left my card. In the event I was outbid on the car. So, bought another 1.8t ZT project. Checking my answerphone later, the ZT-T dealer had left a message saying the top bidder was a no show. So, if I’m still interested, I can have it at my underbid. So by a series of coincidences, I bought TWO ZT 1.8t cars on the same day.

    Eight months and two thousand miles later, no sign of any Cylinder Head Damage although I was able to discover where the coolant was being lost leading to overheating. A small unseen split in one of the top radiator hoses. Had that not been identified and sorted, then almost certainly the CHG would be damaged.

    All this goes to show that the “They all do that” is still widespread both within “the Trade” and car consumer circles.

    Not all car dealers and traders have a good idea of what goes on under the bonnet of cars. They may be experienced with dealing by buying and selling cars but that is far from being the same thing. Over the past dozen years, I have bought ten “Spares or repairs” Rovers and MGs from both previous owners and some dealers where they had been professionally advised that their otherwise nice car has the “They all do that” so called HG failure…. all ten had not suffered Cylinder Head Gasket damage. Coolant loss leading to overheating due to other agencies such as a worn and leaking water Pump or perished Coolant Hose or Inlet manifold gasket.

    Absolutely delighted with the car and so far the biggest expense has been the twelve months silly high VED. Thanks to misleading EU emission guidelines and measuring parameters petrol turbo cars are most unfairly penalised. Eagerly taken as gospel by those we entrust to our Nation’s and the environment’s welfare eager to be seen to be doing the right green thing without questioning those emission guidelines and parameters. All Hail VAG etc.

    There’s more, it cost me less than fifty quid in total including test fee to pass the recent MoT. It failed on an inoperative from Headlamp Washer for the Zenons and something I’ve not seen before, one of the indicator bulbs was not yellow/amber enough. I sourced a used Double Washer Pump Motor ( BMW item ) from a BMW breaker and immediate free MoT repass along with a more yellow bulb.

    It is possible to go the “Bangernomics” route at minimal cost and with more than a touch of class for your personal transport for little more than loose change. The ZT-T 1.8t is now my favourite daily driver. Oh yes, the silver Gridspoke alloy wheels were a tad cosmetically unsightly so I had them all refurbished in Brilliant White Gloss which I think suits the car …brilliantly… especially considering they cost a mere £20 each to refurbish by a well known firm in Digbeth… Eighty quid well spent … 😉

    Got to love bangernomics. It’s over thirteen years since I bought my last new car.. An MG ZS 120+ still giving excellent service as a family member’s daily driver and still no sign of the K-Series “They all do that” … 🙂 Doubt I’ll ever buy another new car again whilst such excellent value is about if you are patient and know what to look for.

    • Unfortunately a lot of K-Series suffer the same fate.
      I have seen many mint cars in the breakers with so called HGF and the problem was probably a coolant cap or a small leak.
      Soon as a K-Series loses a little coolant people think HGF !
      I have owned 7 K-Series with no issues at all.
      Only once did one of them lose a little coolant and all it was is the coolant cap £4.00 fixed.

  3. I love Bangernomics cars. Just important not to get sentimentally attached to it as at the first sign of a large bill you just throw it away.

    If anything, it’s easier to buy a sub-£1000 car than a £5000 one. If a £5000 car has a big bill (and there’s no reason why one wouldn’t have these days: EGR valve, particulate filter, dual-mass flywheel etc) you really have to mend it or be stuck with a broken car. If such a bill turns up on a £750 car, just chuck it and get another one. Nice.

  4. I practice this dark art in a 2007 Saab 9-3 Diesel estate, bought with 106k its the 150 bhp one, it could do with a glow plug or two, the front wings and bonnet have a few dents and the front bumper is scuffed to hell. I have changed the oil and filters and that’s it.
    It has a clean not to the end of the year, I am not going to tidy the body work, it wont make it drive any better.
    I paid £200.00 for it, I’ve done 1500 miles so far. This really is budget motoring

  5. Lovely stuff. Petrol engine, manual, good spec, still looks modern. Ideal bangernomics material.

    The Mondeo is an enormous success story. It has been at or near the top of its class for over 20 years, thanks to clever facelifting and evolution by Ford.

  6. Looks nice but the MOT history shows 27,000 miles/3 years with the eml (= engine management light?) on which seems a bit iffy?

  7. Nice colour, nice price, and it’s got a boot, so it should be quiet. Enjoy. It’s got a petrol engine, so it should be cheaper than my £990 Polo!
    PS I got almost 3 years, and 57000 miles, from a £380 Mitsubishi – see if you can double that for twice the price!

    • how about 11 1/2 years and another 100,000 miles on a 1995 Peugeot 405 diesel. currently on 236,000 miles that cost £150.

  8. I’ve never had a car with such a huge mileage myself, but this one looks good for its age and the model spec makes it decent for only £760. I have no doubt some jobs on it will need doing sooner rather than later but that’s only to be expected on a 9 year old car.

    For the price, there’s little to be vexed about. Let’s see how it goes

  9. I was tempted to see how long I could keep my 2001 Toyota Yaris running, but it was beginning to cost me money in long term wearable parts, & after the last MOT my regular mechanic said it was looking like it would need some serious work to get through the next one.

    I cut my loses & PX’ed it for a nearly new Nissan Micra, which they paid £500 for.

  10. So getting the cambelt done on my XM (soon haeding for 200k) wasn’t exactly living bangergnomics rules… But then, I really did grow to like that thing (again – fail). Still, with all the expenses of running a luxury car, having spend a very low sum up-front it is still very much affordable compared to running a luxury car AND paying the depreciation…

    Even of the Mondeo is about as cheap as family cars can get here in Germany (much cheaper than VW or Opel), I doubt you’d have an easy time finding one for this sort of money.

  11. I once bought an FD Ventora for £200, eighteen months later I wrecked it and sold the spares for £240. I won’t mention spending £150 on clutch and exhaust!
    Depreciation is often the most expensive running cost – the trick is to buy something cheap, which works and continues to do so. Unlike my Firenza, which broke on the first journey, the second, the third… it was finally put out of its misery after colliding with a black Labrador in Scotland. The dog didn’t stick around, but he didn’t sound too good.

  12. I ran a 1999 Focus to 238,000 miles, and it was more age than mileage that killed it – by 15 years old various rubber seals had started to perish resulting in water ingress in the boot and beneath the windscreen. Add the plethora of worn engine mounts and suspension bushes and it wasn’t viable to invest in a new clutch when the (original) started slipping once the car had clocked up the equivalent distance of driving to the moon!

  13. Diesel 45 is the ultimate bangernomics car. Currently running an x plate astra which is a bit meh. Actually now that I think of it, I’ve had the Mazda 6 for so long that it probably qualified for that status too.

  14. Visit any car recycling or breakers and you will be surprised at the nice older cars to be found there. Not just worn out tidy cars, but, nice low mileage examples with current MoT Certificate in the glove box. These taken in part exchange by local Arthur Daley used cars dealerships which, because of trading constraints and consumer rights, mean these fine old cars are no longer considered “nice little earners” which most of these cars would have been in the past. Very wasteful and guess what, the consumer still pays.

    Last August, I saw a high spec, MK11 Rover 75 1.8t in a local yard. DVLA check showed current MoT and less than 40,000 miles when tested only a few months before. Car was mint inside and out when first arrived before parts Vultures .. like me… descended. There were minor signs of so called Cylinder Head Gasket damage. That can be sorted without large sums being involved. Trouble is, folks get quoted silly high four figure sums when they can be repaired effectively for a mere few hundred if you know the folks who specialise in these repairs. An MG ZT I bought last year came with a two year old Invoice for an engine rebuild in excess of £1400!

    Folks really should shop around ~ the Internet is a boon here rather than use the same old local repair shop you’ve always used for years who are not specialists.

    I have asked at the Scrapyard office If I could buy such cars and offered TWICE/THRICE the current scrap value. Nothing doing. Years ago when I first did this I was refused. The Guvnor explained he has arrangements with local car dealers NOT to sell complete cars, only break for spares. Otherwise he would be sales competition … :). That’s understandable. The car I wanted to buy was driven round and left by a local dealership. Taken in part exchange. That car, a near mint MG Montego Turbo showing 70,000 on the clock. That was best part of twenty years ago so the waste has been going on for years. I worked near that yard and popped in couple of times a week to check on new arrivals.

    Very wasteful. Thousands of nice older cars now meet a premature and wasteful end here in the UK thanks to trading constraints and consumer rights. A fat lot of good that does for the environment those we entrust to its well being are always concerned about. In the final analysis, the consumer pays anyway. That does not happen in many other countries worldwide where older cars live on at minimal cost to the environment.

  15. Hmmm.
    I do like the design of these Mondeos.
    Quite frankly one of the few modern cars that look good.
    Without silly gills and forced ” styling” of creases here and there.
    No idea you could get one for under a £1000

    As for ideas.
    I’d quite like the last Fiat Bravo as a bangeronomic.

    But as I see it you either go 2 ways either go for a stripper car with no electrics or go fully loaded ( and Pray ) with electric gizmos.
    I’d go the stripper route and the only “extra” would be a rear wash wipe and passenger door mirror !!
    Nissan Micra K10 or K11 Toyota Starlet or corolla.
    They don’t sell them her but
    the Toyota ProBox/ Succeed would be cool.
    A Mazda 626 or 6
    Or a Mitsubishi Pinin for the SUV crowd. Very Cheap.
    Quite like a Galant or How about for rarity
    a Nissan maxima/QX or Mazda Xedos 6 or 9!
    Or maybe A lexus LS400.
    Although in fairness cheap insurance and running costs are the true bangeronomics
    So ruling out some choices

  16. I’ve just bought an Astra H, which i call the ‘temporary mobility solution’s. Only 65,0000 miles and only twice the price of Keiths Mondeo. I don’t love it, but it starts stops and goes. Hopefully I’ll be able to upgrade soon.

  17. So long as the Mondeo has been serviced regularly, and sounds like it’s probably been a motorway car with the worn seat and big mileage, it should be OK. The petrol cars tend to be reliable and take the miles well and don’t have the nasty shocks you might get with a diesel of the same age. Also as the Mondeo is a Ghia, it’s a nice car to be in and the 2 litre engine is smooth and powerful.
    No car now at this age, if it’s been serviced correctly and had any body damage repaired, should be unreliable or have rust issues and it’s amazing how many early noughties Focuses and Mondeos I see in regular use. Not to mention several immaculate Rover 75s, which are at least 12 years old, that I see locally and which don’t have one inch of rust on them.

  18. Amazing that these cars can now be picked up for this sort of money. Only seems like yesterday that Daniel Craig was driving a pre-production car as his hire car in Casino Royale. As noted above at looks far too modern and recent to be a banger.

  19. I agree with the above, it’s amazing how little value there seems to be in complete cars of a certain age – no wonder that early Mondeos are so rare, if a recent one costs as little as £800. It’s now almost a rarity to see an old-style number plate, and they only changed in 2001.

    • Thousands of late nineties cars were culled during the scrappage scheme in 2009. This seemed to thin out stocks of smaller Rovers in particular, and less desirable cars like the last generation Escort and Mark 4 Fiesta. My next door neighbour, who drove a fairly vile basic model two door Fiesta, saw the scrappage scheme as an excuse to ditch this nearly worthless car for a new Hyundai, complete with five year warranty and luxuries that the Fiesta lacked like a CD player and electric windows.

  20. I think the saloon is more handsome than the common as muck and bland as hell hatch, also the “doom” blue as you put it is a hell of a lot more interesting than the usual “Tarmac” grey, “Entry level” white, or “dull as dishwater” Silver all the other cars of that era (and even now) seem to be!!

  21. Also, the colour and bodystyle is nothing to do with the bargain-basement price, it’s the thirsty and expensive to tax petrol model combined with it’s stratospheric mileage!

    • I suppose this is the catch, the tax will be high and mpg won’t be brilliant. However, I drove a 2003 Mondeo 1.8 LX and it returned 40 mpg on a long haul from Whitehaven to Reading, so I suppose the two litre model will be good for 37 mpg on a long run. Also as it’s not a diesel, there isn’t the risk of something like a DPF failing and making the car uneconomical to repair.

  22. Something is wrong with residuals of cars in the UK. I tried to find a similar, high mileage one around here (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium) in the usual online ad channels – nothing under 3000€ – even with higher mileages…

    With values as low as that it is quite clear why so many cars in the UK seem to be in such a bad state of being serviced (more lack of).

    • Trading constraints, Health and Safety, Consumer Rights etc play a huge part here in the UK where old used cars are involved. Due mainly to the above restrictions and constraints, used car dealers here in the UK would struggle to make a living from these older but still nice to own cars. Whereas in the less restrictive past they were able to do so and folks were happy to buy a ten year old on a “sold as seen ” basis.

      Last Summer~Autumn, I bought TWO MG ZT-T 1.8T cars for under £300 each from used car dealers. Both moved onto dealerships by previous owners because of wrong wrong professional diagnosis. I paid those low sums to allow for that repair work ~ the fine Alloy Wheels and good tyres were well worth what I paid for each car ~ The first one needed little work and yes, the wrong diagnosis for the coolant losses were soon identified and rectified before the “They all do that” Cylinder Head Gasket ( CHG ) became damaged. The second one I did renew the CHG which did not need doing as in that repair process I discovered where that engine was losing coolant. Anyway, the car is now back on the road and with a new Cylinder Head Gasket. Both cars less than 100,000 miles on their clocks. Still plenty of life left in them. My problem now, which one to keep as my daily driver. Probably down to colour as I do not like XPower Grey although it cleans up nice. Prefer the rich dark Blue.

      Here are the threads I put up on car sites showing progress with these two projects. Shows what the amateur spannerman ( me ) can do if they know what and where to look for bargain cars.

      The Blue Car :~

      The Grey Car :~

      I’d like to keep both nice ZT-Ts but the unfair silly high VED (Vehicle Excise Duty ~ Thanks to EU’s false emissions guidelines ) on these cars makes that difficult. Now retired, I do less than 5,000 miles per annum in total as there’s no longer that daily twenty mile round to-from journey to my work. So that VED is poor value. Try as I may, I can only drive one car at a time.

      Finally, my little used Rover 620ti I have had for over ten years is only now showing 92,000 miles. I drives superbly and has been well maintained by me during ownership. It would strugle to sell for over £1000 even with a long MoT which it passed a few months back. That same car in Norway or mainland Europe would fetch two or even three times that figure. Elsewhere in the world such as Argentina ( I have several Rover owner contacts in Sth. America where MGs and Rovers are more highly valued than here in the UK.) Much the same in other parts of the world too.

      Only in the … UK. :rolleyes:

      • I’d like to keep both nice ZT-Ts but the unfair silly high VED (Vehicle Excise Duty ~ Thanks to EU’s false emissions guidelines ) on these cars makes that difficult.

        You mean what the UK government made from EU emissions guidelines… Every country was free to make of them what they wanted. I think VED in the UK is actually pretty moderate… Some countries are cheaper, Germany may be cheaper or more expensive, some are much more expensive (e.g. Netherlands).

      • Zzzzz… EU regulations.. consumer rights.. how dare they!

        Looking forward to the UK being perfect in every way once our hugely capable and trustworthy politicians are fully in charge.

        Rolls eyes.

  23. The really annoying thing about how the UK regarded those guidelines, all boiled down to PETROL = BAD… DIESEL = GOOD.

    They got that right didn’t they.

    Anyone watching a Diesel vehicle having what comes out of their exhaust pipes measured come MoT time here in the UK will wonder how any ever pass the MoT emissions. However, they do.

  24. BSD

    What can i say,i can only envy you…

    Here in Iarael the ghia or the 2.0 engine were not sold.

    Instead,the 2.3 engine in titanium trim level was offered as the top model.

    I have checked the leading israeli second hand website,and according to its price list,after i converted the miles to kilometers and the price shown,a 2008 2.3 titanium sedan with equivalent km’s from israeli Nis to
    Uk pound,the mondeo costs in israel 7,300 pounds!!!

    I wonder what can i buy in the uk for that sum of money (your help will be appreciated)…


  25. “not the second-class citizen that most Bangernomics motors leave you feeling”

    If this is really how you feel, bangernomics is not for you.

  26. “Second Class” NO WAY, Quite the opposite in fact.

    Since my “14 March 2017 at 10.41 pm” post here on this thread I have purchased another similar “Banger”.

    I have never felt that way at all, yes quite the opposite. I get far more pleasure sorting a nice project “Bangernomic” problem car than taking delivery of a new car which I have done several times over the years. That’s just private new car purchases, rather more new company cars.

    My latest “banger” project is a good example. Very recently I completely worked through a long list of problems and issues and only yesterday was able to take the car for the first long drive in my ownership. I was to be pleasantly surprised at how well the car drove, handled and performed. The car? A fine example of Longbridge’s “They all do that” MG ZT-T in 1.8 K-Series Turbocharged form. Delighted with the end product.

    For those interested to read about my problems with this project car, they can do so here :~

    Or here :~

    The only thing I do not like about the car is the colour. Not the nicest from the MG-Rover range :~ XPower Grey. Despite that, I may just keep this one for a year or three, it’s that nice and that loadspace is very useful.

  27. You are all right – in the UK secondhand cars are ridiculously cheap and ridiculously good value. However it’s not caused by health & safety laws – it’s the tax concessions which have led to manufacturers flooding the market with new cars via leasing deals and bulk fleet sales. Car hire firms typically buy new cars in bulk at huge discounts and then sell them secondhand at a profit after 6 months. Once I asked a secondhand car dealer why he was offering me so little for a 4 year old car, which he agreed had plenty good running left in it. He just pointed to his forecourt which was full of nice 4 year old cars – the market is awash with them. A colleague getting rid of an 8 year old Audi sold it to some Polish guys who had come all the way from Poland and were going to drive it back, convert it to left hand drive … and then sell it in Poland for a profit. Just for the record, I once asked a Leeds minicab firm how long they ran their Skoda diesels and was told “typically 300-450,000 miles”. Cars don’t rust like they used to and 100 thousand miles on the clock is nothing nowadays. Happy motoring!

  28. It’s possible to pick up a late model Mark 3 Mondeo locally for under £ 500. If I was in the market for one of these, I’d choose a 1.8 Zetec LX, plenty of power, but economy of 35-40 mpg and fewer toys to go wrong. Also a very simple car to maintain and plenty of parts available.

  29. Won’t be far from a bangernomics car now, a 2012 Dacia Sandero Access, £ 5995 in 2012 and probably under a grand now. This car was the cheapest you could buy at the time and had a speciification so basic it lacked a radio and electric windows, but still came with modern safety equipment and things buyers expect these days like a rev counter and cloth seats. For the money, you get a car that straddles the B and C class and has a large boot for its size, the 1 litre Renault engine is no ball of fire, but is dependable, returns 40-45 mpg and can cope with motorway journeys. Also insurance costs are low as no one would think of stealing a Sandero and it is quite low on power.

  30. A long-term friend in the industry (senior) , when I requested “are these Dacia Sanderos unreliable” responded theyt do not seem to, same person has always given sound advice on any matter i have raised in 40 years

    • Where I live Dacias we’re being used as Taxis, but they seem to have disappeared after several years usage and not replaced by another Dacia. Does tha say much!?

      • Dacia do OK in reliability surveys, but since they are built to a price and use older technology, they might not take too kindly to very high mileages. As a low or average mileage car, a Sandero should be OK. Also getting a car without electric windows might make people nostalgic and there’s less to go wrong.

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