Used car buying guide: cheap fast fun for under £10k

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TOYOTA MR2 £2000:

A very particular set of attributes that makes a car suitable for track driving. Sharp and responsive handling, a good chassis balance, durable brakes and all the rest of it. The point is, it simply doesn’t matter that the third-generation Toyota MR2 looks quite a lot like a frog sitting on a lily pad.

At less than 1000kg, the dinky roadster is unusually light, and the mid-engined, rear-wheel- drive layout is perfectly suited to the race track. What’s more, £2000 really is nothing at all for a purpose-built sports car and you’ll find many examples in decent condition.


Before you start worrying about upgrades, and certainly before you ever venture out on a circuit, you should make sure your car is in a healthy state. That means ensuring all its fluids are at the appropriate levels, checking that the suspension isn’t on the brink of collapsing, the brake discs and pads aren’t hopelessly worn out, the exhaust is firmly attached and the tyres have at least some life in them. All of that is especially true if you’ve bought yourself a cheap track day snotter.

Soon enough, you’ll want to make some upgrades. The first thing you will notice is that the car’s standard brakes simply aren’t up to the task. Better pads and fluid will improve their durability and reduce your frustration. Braided hoses will improve your stoppers even further. EBC offers a full brake upgrade kit with grooved discs, pads, fluid and hoses for the Mazda MX-5 for £252.

You’ll be looking at tyres next — perhaps a set of Avon ZZRs — and coil-over suspension, too. Bilstein offers uprated springs and dampers for a wide range of cars at around £600 a set. Long before you begin worrying about engine power, look into a pair of bucket seats and harnesses. Being properly clamped into the car will make a bigger difference than any power upgrade.


Green-laning is like driving o-piste. You are technically on the public highway, but those highways can be so tricksy that only a 4×4 will do


The Land Rover Defender is one of only a handful of cars that can genuinely be described as iconic. With production of them having finally ended a couple of years ago, they are in ever-increasing demand, which means that you could buy one today, spend a year or two exploring the countryside around you and then sell it for what you paid, if not more.

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