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hard banger

James Ruppert: Rose-tinted specs make it hard to spot a banger

We wouldn’t fork out £23,500 for a Toyota Celica

There’s a business case for buying a £12,495 Morris van

Porsche repairs are a lot cheaper when the problem fixes itself

This Vauxhall Astra estate looked on its last legs, but a quick polish and service have made it a do-it-all daily driver

If you own an older executive car, make sure you’ve got the right mechanic on speed dial

One reader’s Kadjar vs. Qashqai debate presented quite a quandary

Any car is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. So it was good to hear from Damien, who told us of his affection for sports cars from a few decades ago. “I’m a child of the 1980s and my second car was a 1992 Toyota Celica ST with the fabulous 21R engine,” he said. Like most of us, he has had a recent attack of nostalgia and has been rather taken by a dealer-owned ’84 one.

Apparently it’s pretty much as new, so there is a stiff £23,500 asking price, reduced from an even more preposterous £25k. Hardly surprising that it has been hanging around for a year, is it? Realistically, Damien sees it at £15,000 maximum, and he’s probably right, although even that was more than he was prepared to pay.

Classic car prices, and indeed all used car prices, are hard to predict at the best of times because there are such variable factors. However, this Celica had an automatic gearbox, which is not a major selling point when it comes to a sports car. What we have here is a premium price because of the mileage, which is just under 4000. Otherwise £12,000 would seem to be fair, but it all depends on what the dealer paid and their stand-in value is (including what has been spent on any refurbishment). That explains why the dealer is holding out.

Classic cars will always be a special case and, nominally with most used cars a decade or so old, a little book could help you. Sure, there are classic price guides, but there is so much more to it than that: the seller is hoping that the buyer will be so drunk on nostalgia that the actual price becomes academic. Do you want the classic or don’t you?

I know about Minis and I saw a Morris-badged van at £12,495 – and, actually, that’s not half bad at all. I could make a commercial case for that, once sign-written. The working Minis were mostly run into the ground, so the survivors are few and this isn’t a silly price. The dealer with that one also had a Ford Escort RS 2000 Custom up for £47,995. To me that seemed like an absurd amount of money. Old Fords don’t do it for me, so that perfectly demonstrates how we all look at classic cars: individually. What is a fortune to some is making a dream come true for others.

Damien has nothing to lose by making an offer for his dream Celica. You just never know, they might want to move it on, but that mileage is so marginal, why not duke it out? Someone somewhere will want to buy it. After all, a car is only worth what someone is prepared to pay.

What we almost bought this week

Buying a second-hand car with your nostalgic heart can mean paying over the odds

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