Ten hidden gems for under £1,000

  • We pick out some bargain fun cars for £1,000
  • Mix of open-tops and souped-up sensible cars
  • Use Parkers Cars for Sale to find a hidden gem
  • We pick out some bargain fun cars for £1,000
  • Mix of open-tops and souped-up sensible cars
  • Use Parkers Cars for Sale to find a hidden gem

Why not spice up your motoring life with something inexpensive and fun?

Parkers has picked out ten cars for under £1,000* that you might not have considered, to give you an idea of what you can get for your money.

It's usually not too difficult to find these cars either, so a bit of searching should soon turn up a few good examples for sale near you.

As with all used purchases, do remember to get a car history check. It might just save you from an unpleasant surprise later down the line.

1. Mazda MX-5 1.6 (1995)

What is it?
It's a rear-wheel drive convertible with sharp handling and a lively engine, making it great fun to drive. The MX-5 is a borderline classic now but you can still find a good example for under a grand. Don't be put off by the hairdresser comments - it's a genuinely engaging driver's car. Keep an eye out for rust though and if you can get one with a recently changed cambelt.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £950

Power - 90bhp

0-60mph - 10.3s

Top speed - 109mph

Fuel economy - 33mpg

2. Ford Puma 1.7 (1998)

What is it?
It might just be a tweaked Ford Fiesta underneath but the Puma's got a punchy 1.7-litre engine and a stylish design. It thrives on revs and just asks to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and driven hard. It's even cheap to run as it's based on the Fiesta. Just check the cambelt's been done as it can cost up to £300.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £800

Power - 123bhp

0-60mph - 9.2s

Top speed - 126mph

Fuel economy - 38mpg

3. BMW 328i Coupe (1995)

What is it?
The BMW 328i is a rear-wheel drive coupe with a great chassis and a potent 2.8-litre engine. It benefits from lively handling and doesn't hang about when you put your foot down. They usually have air-con and leather and are capable of completing high mileages without issue. Try to avoid one that's been abused as restoring it to a good and reliable condition could prove costly. 

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £1,000

Power - 193bhp

0-60mph - 7.1s

Top speed - 147mph

Fuel economy - 30mpg

4. Citroen Xsara VTS (2000)

What is it?
The Citroen Xsara VTS is one of those rare bargain sports coupes. It's often overlooked so you can usually find a good car for much less than the equivalent top-spec Peugeot 306 or Citroen Saxo. It offers sharp handling and a good ride but the real treat is its snappy 167bhp engine, which makes it a real French flier.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £750

Power - 167bhp

0-60mph - 7.7s

Top speed - 137mph

Fuel economy - 30mpg

5. Toyota MR-2 GT (1994)

What is it?
There aren't many mid-engined coupes you can buy for under a grand. The one that's most worth owning is the Toyota MR2. It's no out-and-out sports car but if you want a reliable coupe with good looks, plenty of room and an engaging driving experience, you can't go far wrong with the Midship Runabout Two-seater. Do check for accident damage though, as early cars can be a bit wayward.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £800

Power - 168bhp

0-60mph - 7.7s

Top speed - 137mph

Fuel economy - 31mpg

6. Ford Mondeo ST24 V6 (1998)

What is it?
A Mondeo? No, we've not gone mad. The 2.5-litre V6, besides sounding great, has plenty of punch which helps make it a good car to drive. It already has confident and precise handling, so ST extras such as sports seats top it off nicely. Besides making sure that the car has been serviced when required, do check to see if the water pump has been replaced. It's a weak link and can cause significant damage.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £950

Power - 167bhp

0-60mph - 8.0s

Top speed - 139mph

Fuel economy - 29mpg

7. Honda CRX 1.6 ESi (1992)

What is it?
Honda's little oddball CRX is a two-seater coupe with a removable hard top. The CRX is closely related to the humble Civic, making it phenomenally reliable. It's fun to drive too, especially with the roof off. The 1.6-litre engine is quick, strong and economical, but a lot of them suffer from abuse and a lack of servicing so check the car's history carefully.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £1,000

Power - 123bhp

0-60mph - 9.3s

Top speed - 118mph

Fuel economy - 38mpg

8. Alfa Romeo GTV Twinspark 16V (1996)

What is it?
Fancy some Italian flair for under a grand? Look no further than the GTV. Despite the design being 14 years old they still look stylish and the interiors are great. It might not be the most practical thing but it more than makes up for it with punchy engine, precise handling and a comfortable cabin. It's worth looking for one with a comprehensive service history. 

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £900

Power - 150bhp

0-60mph - 8.2s

Top speed - 137mph

Fuel economy - 30mpg

9. Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9 (1991)

What is it?
The 205 GTi is one of the definitive Eighties hot hatchbacks and offers an extremely rewarding driving experience. Most of them have gone backwards through hedges but dig around and you should be able to find a usable example for around a grand. Don't discount the 1.6-litre version either as it's just as much fun to drive. 

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £1,000

Power - 130bhp

0-60mph - 7.6s

Top speed - 123mph

Fuel economy - 28mpg

10. Vauxhall Omega (1999)

What is it?
Get one in white and you'll be rewarded with nothing but the upmost respect on the motorway, dispatching people from your path with a single flash of your lights. OK, so it's a bit plain but the Police-favoured cruiser has decent handling and packs the great combination of a big engine and rear-wheel drive. Buyers should keep an eye out for MV6 models with sports suspension.

Vital statistics

Price (used) - £850

Power - 207bhp

0-60mph - 7.7s

Top speed - 151mph

Fuel economy - 27mpg

* Prices based on examples found on Parker's Cars for Sale and limited to availability. Similar examples may be on offer.

Parker's Top Tip

Don't forget you can use our valuation tool to get an idea of how much you should be paying for a car. You can also check our reviews section for more information about the cars you are interested in.

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