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Buying a Trendy Used Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 29 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Used Car Trendy Cars Beetle Mini Fiat

Those of a certain age could be forgiven for having a feeling of déjà vu when driving around Britain’s streets. Cars that had become little more than a distant memory have re-emerged, albeit in brand spanking new wrapping. The re-launched Beetle, Mini and Fiat 500 have become trendy cars, with their multitude of trim, accessory and paint job options.

Although not everyone’s idea of style, these cars are extremely popular. It could be a feeling of nostalgia that has older drivers reaching for the chequebook. Younger drivers may be attracted by the numerous options, which allow owners to shape the car to their own specifications – at a price.

The popularity of these trendy cars is such that they hold their value better than most and that is always a consideration when buying a used car. In fact, in March 2009, the car that retained its value better than any other in the UK was the Mini 1.4TD. At that time, a ‘55’ registration with 37,000 miles on the clock was worth 63.2 per cent of the price paid for it when new.

Slower Depreciation

Of course, this is a double-edges sword for those in the market for a used car. On the one hand, more money will be needed to buy one in the first place. On the other, the car will depreciate slower than anything else on Britain’s roads. The chances are these trendy cars of today will become the cult classics of tomorrow.

The original Mini first appeared in 1959 and was an instant success, becoming a 60s icon. It won the Monte Carlo Rally and starred in the hit film The Italian Job. It had star appeal – each member of The Beatles, Steve McQueen, Twiggy, Clint Eastwood, Peter Sellers, Paul Newman and Britt Ekland all had one – yet it was affordable for the man in the street.

Like all these re-launched classics, the new Mini has retained the character of the original. It appeared in 2001 and, although critics pointed to the fact it was now longer and wider, the car proved just as popular and kept its star appeal, featuring in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job.

Back With a Bang

The last of the original Fiat 500s rolled off the production line in 1985, but 22 years later it was back, complete with its circular headlamps and other retro styling such as a body-coloured dashboard and circular instrument pod. Of course, there is nothing retro about the performance. While the 1957 original, with its air-cooled twin cylinder, struggled to get beyond 60 miles per hour, even modest 1.2-litre petrol version of the new 500 has a top speed of 100mph.

When the new Volkswagen Beetle was launched in 1998, the original was still in production. In fact, it was 2003 before the last original Beetle rolled off the production line in Mexico. It had provided a low-cost motoring solution for 65 years – a record in terms of longevity – and become a style icon with its quirky looks. It would be a stretch to refer to the new Beetle as ‘low cost’, but it has retained the ‘Herbie’ movie star looks.

If properly looked after, any of these cars will retain a reasonable proportion of their purchase cost when the time comes for a change, but it's easy to become smitten, so don't be surprised if you hold onto one of these trendy motors for longer than you expect to.

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