Adding To The Fleet: The Hunt For The Cheapest Running Car Over 24 Months

The hunt has begun. Already four vehicles strong, Garage62 is on the hunt for something cheap. Cheap? How cheap? And cheap in what respect? Well, the challenge has been set to see just how little can be spent on running costs over the course of not just one year, but a solid two…

One year, naturally, would be too easy. Buy a scrapper with 12 months MOT and run it into the ground before scrapping it on week 52. This is a realistic way of running a car obviously, and many an article has been written on the subject. We have even started a 12 month challenge with a banger Ford KA which you can read about soon, but we felt that a two-year challenge would be a little more specialist and involve much deeper research in order to successfully make it through to month 24.

Poking about across eBay, Gumtree and Auto-trader, it’s very easy to narrow search results down to a handful of cars. The Auto Trader search turns out to be super-helpful. Firstly, we need it to be small. A small hatch will ultimately be much cheaper to run up against anything else. Secondly, its engine needs to be small and preferably diesel – for those all-important MPG figures (and turbo-boost?). And thirdly, my god it needs to be reliable. The car and engine need to be well-known for reliability, a blown turbo on month 20 simply will not do.

Thankfully, that eliminates a lot of £500 part-ex fodder that does the rounds on Auto Trader. There are indeed bargains to be had, but traders are everywhere and they always want top dollar for average, usually high-mileage trade-ins. Crap, basically. However, across the three platforms, a pattern begins to emerge. I start to see that for around the £750-£1000 mark, the same cars keep appearing time and time again, regardless of the filters set. So I push the filters higher – from 50mpg+ to 60mpg+, £1k down to just £800. The list narrows down further and highlights three cars that seem to have plenty of examples. A sure sign that those cars last well. The ones I shall take forward for further analysis? Here goes:

Renault Clio 1.5dCi MY2001 up to roughly a 2005.

Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi MY2001 up to roughly 2006.

Nissan Micra 1.5dCi MY2003 to roughly 2005.

Interestingly enough, the Clio and the Micra share the same K9K 1,461cc Diesel engine. Some quick research shows that the K9K has been fitted to a huge range of cars, anything from a Clio to a Suzuki Jimny, a Micra to a Mahindra. Immediately it strikes me as an engine that might well prove to be a real workhorse, and crucially, a reliable bet.

But lets not discount the Corsa, it’s a smaller unit at 1.3 litres and after a little peruse of the internet, I find that it’s an engine that also seems pretty decent – available in such cars as the Corsa, Fiats’ Punto, Alfas’ MiTo and Suzukis’ Swift. Hmmm. This could be a tougher choice than I first thought.

I decide that those three cars are definitely the ones to target, and next, test-drive. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I shall be looking deeper into facts and figures and of course taking a ride in some of the most economical cars you can buy for £800. Exciting! Sort of. Ish.

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