£20,000 could get you a seriously sorted example of one of Stuttgart's finest handling sports cars, but make sure it's not a money pit.
by John Evans
11 January 2019
If you’ve got around £15,000 to £20,000 and a yen to spend it on a Cayman, go for a second-generation 987-series one (2009-12) – the standard model with the 2.9-litre flat six (Gen 1 cars had a 2.7) producing 265bhp.
It’s a great improvement over the Gen 1 and better, even, than a Gen 1 3.4 S. The new PDK auto was popular at the time but go against the grain and flush out a manual version for a more connected experience.
Porsches are often optioned to the eyeballs but the extras you should aim for on a 987 Gen 2 Cayman are 19in wheels, active ride suspension, which, ironically, removes a lot of the harshness from those larger wheels, a sat-nav, a Bose sound system and heated seats.
Porsche Cayman, £19,950: We found a 2011-reg Gen 2 with 75,000 miles and full Porsche history, finished in Basalt Black Pearl. It has the extended leather pack and a sat-nav. No luck on the 19in wheels but, in any case, it’ll ride well enough on its 18s.
It’s from a specialist and comes with a comprehensive, six-month warranty. Even so, whoever you buy it from, it’s as well to know that around one in 10 Caymans is a serious money pit requiring lots of remedial work but also that there are some simple checks you can make to keep clear of trouble.
Such as checking that the oil has been changed every year, that the front-mounted radiator, condenser and hoses are sound, that the gear cables feel taut, that the clutch isn’t slipping through overly gentle use and that the tyres are N-rated. And then go and enjoy one of the best-handling sports cars £20k can buy.
Volkswagen Passat W8, £2595: Father of Phaeton, grandfather of Bentley Conti GT, great-grandfather of Bugatti Veyron: that’s the Passat W8. The 4.0-litre engine (271bhp, 273lb ft) was a test bed for a new family of W engines. This 131,000- mile 2002-reg is an historic bargain.
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Peugeot 306 GTi-6, £1995: With prices for nice 205 GTis off the scale, here’s an alternative. The GTi-6 was powered by a 165bhp 2.0-litre four-pot attached to a closer-ratio six-speed gearbox. Our find is a rustfree, 2000/W-reg Phase 3 model with 92,000 miles.
Vauxhall Calibra, £6995: It may have been a tarted-up Cavalier but we loved the Calibra, especially in turbo four-wheel-drive form. This one is the more down-to-earth but reliable 115bhp 2.0-litre 8v cooker. It’s an immaculate 1996 car; one female owner, full Vauxhall service history.
Proton Savvy, £2695: To a certain buyer, the name would be reason enough to buy one, hinting, as it does, at good sense. This 2009 car has a 75bhp 1.2 with 38k miles, full service history, rear parking sensors and two female previous owners. What’s not to like?
Ford Mondeo Citrine: “Mondeo Latrine, more like,” said one wit on glimpsing this 141,000-mile, 1994-reg lime-green Mondy 2.0 Si Mk1, which fetched £2968. But titter ye not since the Citrine of 1994 was a rare and desirable special limited to 211 examples, each intended for the nation’s Ford dealers as a promotional tool. It sported the RS bodykit and the racy Si seat fabric. Still, even this wasn’t enough for one dealer group. Hendy Ford produced its own even more exclusive version, still in Citrine but with the Si’s 136bhp 2.0-litre engine tweaked to produce 150bhp. Only 10 were made. Yours, then, for £17,250.
Get it while you can
Mini Cooper D, price new – £18,495, price now – £15,380: The confusion over diesel has claimed another scalp in the shape of oil-burning versions of the Mini hatchback. Now you can only buy new models powered by a choice of 1.5- or 2.0-litre petrol engines. That’s no hardship but at least diesel ones went further on a gallon and offered a tax advantage. They were EU6 engines, too, so safe from forthcoming inner-city emissions charges. It means you should strike now if you fancy a late-plate Mini diesel. We found a 2018/18-reg Mini Cooper D with 10 miles on the clock for £15,380 – a saving of almost £3000.
Clash of the classifieds
Brief: Find me a £20,000 car that’s as much fun as a sports bike.
Caterham Seven Roadsport 140, £19,995: Bikers love something that accelerates like a ballistic missile, which this Caterham Seven Roadsport 140 will do because it weighs not much more than Danny DeVito and has a potent 140bhp 1.6-litre engine that reaches 62mph in less than five seconds. They also like a loud exhaust (for safety, obviously) and since it’s practically next to your right ear, you’ll definitely hear it. Plus, if you’re not careful, you’ll burn your leg on it on the way out, just as with all the best sports bikes. Max Adams
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII FQ340, £19,500: There are many, myself included, who will find it impossible to conceive of a car that’s as much fun as a motorbike, even if it be a fire-breathing supercar that’ll cost you way in excess of our measly £20,000 budget. But this well-kept Evo Vlll must be a contender. You’ll get 400bhp, for one, four-wheel-drive 1g grip for a second and gravel-spraying performance in the order of 0-60mph in 4.5sec for a third. Nothing will flick like it, so maximum driver enjoyment is guaranteed, and there’s no finer way to release your inner Mäkinen. Mark Pearson
Verdict: Chosen, and spoken, like a true biker, Max. Loud, scalding exhaust: tick. Zero weather protection: tick. Extreme power-to-weight ratio: tick.
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Join the debate
11 January 2019
If you’re buying a 8 year old Porsche sports car the last thing I’d want is adaptive suspension and a flash sound system.