As a car geek, I’ve sometimes been asked for advice from people thinking about buying a car.

‘Can you buy a good car for less than a thousand euros?’ – This is a question I’ve been asked a few times. The answer depends on who is asking the question;

If the person happens to be a young mother who will need to transport small people and the barrage of equipment required to carry, restrain, feed, clean and distract said small people in a safe and reliable fashion, then no, you probably cannot. However if the person is a student looking for their first car with which to gently crash into things or a couple looking for a second car to use as a runabout then yes of course, you can buy a good car for a thousand euros.

In the interests of research and devilment I recently set out to purchase a good car for less than a grand. I’ve bought cheap-ish cars in the past, a 1990 VW Polo; loud and low and a Merc 190E; with cloth and hubcaps. These cars were each wonderful in their own way. They leaked oil out and water in but they were interesting to look at and to drive. However, the brief this time around was entirely different; ‘ Must be reliable, safe, practical, and inexpensive to run and keep my feet dry.’

I have a soft spot for Hondas. I firmly believe that no engine can take sustained abuse like a Honda engine. My first car was a Honda Civic 1.3 DX. When I was young and more foolish than I am now, I drove everywhere at full chat. The little EG civic could hold an indicated 96mph for quite some time. The dash didn’t have a rev clock but judging from the noise I reckon the redline must have been north of 12,000 RPM. I once let it run out of oil – It must have been dry. I crashed into my house once and a dry stone wall twice; it was a fabulous car. I can vividly remember certain solitary late-night blasts with it. The dim yellowing headlamps illuminating the wet, black tarmac as the japan red front bumper hoovered broken white lines underneath the body and spat them out at a fierce rate.

Mother’s Day 2015 and I’m resisting the urge to kick a tyre on Dave’s ’03 silver Honda HRV. ‘Is it a good car Dave?’ Eh… It is, yeah. It just failed on emissions. Twice.

Dave, I see you want twelve hundred, but to me this car is only worth….seven.

Done deal.



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