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Depreciation is a savage phenomenon. The way some cars lose value after first leaving the showroom often takes the form of a really violent looking curve when charted. In a lot of cases it really doesn’t take very long at all before a car has lost almost all of the multiple thousands that were spent on it in the first place.
But what happens next? Once a car has lost all its value (which is inextricably linked with it its desirability), it is still just as much of a car as it ever was before. It just takes somebody to see beyond such fickle mistresses as age and image and take it on as bargain transportation. If you do things right you need never pay more than scrap value for a car ever again, and there’s an awful lot of cut-price tin out there to choose from.
After it was unanimously decided that a 1995 Citroen Xantia was roundly deserving of our £200 maximum purchase, we’re heading £10 downmarket for a much newer car in the shape of a 2001 Mondeo.

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Ah, the Mundano. Unjustly mocked throughout its 23 year existence, not because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with it but because it represents a default choice or a certain lack of imagination on the part of the buyer. We all love to back the underdog, and Mondeo is very definitely the Overdog. It’s a bit like my eternal hatred of the band U2 (who have churned out dozens of global hits over the last three decades, without once being interesting), but the simple fact of the matter is that Mondeo deserves its overwhelming grip on our nations roads, and the Mark 3 was an extremely capable all-round everyday transport solution.
This one is a mere 15 years old yet has managed to descend to near unsaleability. Indeed, the scrapyards are beginning to swell with Mondeos dumped thanks to indifference rather than illness. An old Mondeo is not a particularly marketable commodity. Hence “190 quid takes it away, mate”.

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“2001 Saloon 140,000 miles Manual 2.0L Petrol++ 4 MONTHS MOT ++ SOME HISTORY ++, Air-Conditioning, Alarm, In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD). 5 seats, GREEN, LOOKS AND DRIVES WELL FOR AGE, +, £190 p/x considered”

I love that phrase “drives well for age”. What the hell does that mean? Would a ’68 Daytona drive “really, really well for age”? In my opinion a 2005 Kia Rio drives quite badly for its age. IT MEANS NOTHING.
Who knows what’s wrong with it. It’s a manual, so unless the clutch is hanging out you should be OK, and it’s a petrol so there are no scary turbocharger issues to fear. It has SOME HISTORY, though we don’t know whether that’s maintenance related or concerns the car appearing in an episode of Eastenders or that Former MP Tony Benn once leant against it in a car park in Bristol.
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We know that it has air conditioning and a CD player and is legally vouched as being safe for the road for another four months. And the strangely photoshopped-into-a-white-room images tell us that yes, it’s a little scruffy, but it has at least three alloy wheels.
What more could you want?
I know it ain’t no Xantia, but bear in mind last week’s car was ten pounds more expensive. If you don’t have that kind of money, but could stretch to £190, What do you think about putting it on a Mondeo?
(I’m proud to say that none of these images are mine. See them here in the original listing on Autotrader.co.uk)