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Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 20 March

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If you can avoid front-end rust, rotten brake pipes and crank pulley fiascos, a second-hand Honda Accord Type R is a quirky used buy

Remember when Honda made interesting cars? It still does (NSX, Civic Type R, E…), but its critics are convinced the firm stopped doing so years ago when models such as the Accord Type R were sparkly new. Which is why people still get a bit hot under the collar about them.

We found a very tidy-looking 2002-reg with 120,000 miles for £4500. That’s about top money for one of these but, with so few good ones left, that’s understandable. This is a facelift version (slatted grille, red ‘H’ badge and, if they hadn’t been changed, black tailpipes). It comes with a fresh cambelt and tons of workshop receipts as evidence of regular maintenance. The seller claims it has always been garaged but we guess he’s speaking for himself, not the car’s previous four keepers.

So the first thing we’d do is check for rust. With these Accords, it nibbles away at the front bulkhead, out of sight. Even owners can be unaware of it. A fresh MOT should provide some reassurance that all is well there and in other structural places. It can also lurk behind window rubbers and on wheel arches.

The plastic undertray that traps water and debris takes its fair share of scalps in the form of rotten brake pipes and fuel lines. An MOT tester isn’t allowed to move undertrays, so don’t take a current ticket as proof that these components are sound.

Even a healthy engine will slurp its way through a litre of oil every 1000 miles, so check the level and the grade used. Until it warms through, it’ll sound tappety, but what you don’t want to hear are other noises suggesting worn con-rod shells or a failing crank pulley.

Jaguar XK 4.2, £10,595: Be dressed to impress with a Jaguar XK. This one’s a 2008-reg (so just before the 4.2-litre V8 became a 5.0) with 88,000 miles and full main dealer history. Bodywork is described as excellent, but it’s underneath that trouble can strike, so get it on a ramp.

BMW 135i M Sport Coupé, £10,290: An unsung hero. The 3.0-litre engine is a beast, the gearbox is precise and the body’s so rigid that the car rides beautifully, even on run-flats. Chuck in a locking diff and M Sport bodykit and this 2008-reg with 45,000 miles and full BMW service history is a snip.

Audi TT RS quattro, £13,295: That discreet RS badge, backed by 335bhp and 332lb ft from a 2.5-litre turbo five-pot, is hard to beat when it comes to TT bragging rights. It’s no Porsche Cayman but, at £13,295 for this 2010 car with 88,000 miles and a heated leather interior, we’ll forgive it.

Mini JCW World Championship 50, £12,000: The World Championship 50 of 2010 was a limited edition (just 250 copies). However, rather than tweaking its performance, Mini just emptied the options bin into it, so it’s loaded with every extra as standard.

Auction

Audi S4 4.2 V8 track car: Release your inner Mattias Ekström with this S4 track car. The 2003-reg 4.2 V8, with 100,000 miles on the clock, made £8480 at auction. As well as its boy-racer carbonfibre rear spoiler and front splitter, it has more grown-up mods, including fully adjustable, rose-jointed upper and lower camber control arms, Powerflex racing bushes, a stage two remap with full stainless steel exhaust and even a gel racing battery behind the passenger seat. That’s the front passenger seat, by the way: there are no rear seats. This S4 isn’t road legal, so the owner’s next day out will be a trailer sale.

Future classic

Vauxhall Ampera 1.4i VVT Electron, £7995: It may have arrived with a fanfare and departed with a whimper, but the Ampera, a range-extender with a 71bhp electric motor-generator and an 85bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, was a bold move on GM’s part. The electric-only range was 25-50 miles. When that was exhausted, there was up to 310 miles of range available from the petrol engine driving the wheels via the generator to ensure the battery also received a trickle charge. If that ran dry, there was a further four miles of get-you-home reserve charge in the battery. Clever stuff.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me an interesting LPG-powered car – money no object.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, £13,000

Dodge Ram 5.7 V8, £52,995

Max Adams: A car running on LPG is a great way to save money on fuel and road tax costs. But it also has the added benefit of chucking out half the toxins of regular petrol, which makes this 2004 E55 a fantastic best-of-both-worlds car: kind to the local environment, yet still interesting for those of us who like driving.

Mark Pearson: Yes, mine is a bit like that, too. My 2018 Dodge Ram pick-up is an economy car, first and foremost, thanks to its LPG-ness, so will save you loads on running costs. I think at last someone has found a car that’s both deeply practical and kind to the environment. What I think most people will appreciate, though, is its subtlety.

MA: Subtle! Not only is your Ram the size of a monster truck, but some monster has painted it up to look like the General Lee, too.

MP: But you’re ignoring the fact that it has a leather interior and Apple CarPlay. And it can transport more than one tonne. Oh, and there’s a Hemi V8, too.

MA: While mine doesn’t have the latest smartphone connectivity, it more than makes up for this in brutal V8 power. My E55 has 476bhp, which is considerably more than yours.

MP: Oh God, yes, I’d forgotten you’ve chosen something, too, so exciting is mine. Oh. A Mercedes. How nice.

Verdict: LPG – the drink of choice for monsters and generals.

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