Leaders of industry, Lord Alan Sugar and the bad guys in James Bond films; what do they all have in common? It’s not a shared hatred of 007 - though that might be the case, Lord Sugar stays quiet about such matters – no, they all love to drive or be driven about in great big luxury cars.
And why not? They look great, they drive brilliantly and they can make even the most tiresome of journeys a pleasure. The problem, however, is that when these machines hit the dealerships, they cost a small fortune – normally about as much as a three-bed semi in Croydon.
Be clever about it though, ignore the usual suspects such as the Mercedes and BMWs and you can pick up a used example for hardly any money at all, at least when compared to their prices when new. So, get comfy, sit back and have a look at out five favourite cut-price luxury cars.
Then, once you’ve bought one, you’ll be able to make the neighbours think you’ve just been hired as Sir Sugar’s right-hand-man. Or they’ll think you’ve got James Bond locked in the boot.
Volkswagen Phaeton – From £5,000
Think Volkswagen and you’d be easily forgiven for having the image of a Golf, Polo or Beetle pop into your head.
When asked to think of its foray into the executive arena, most might only be able to come up with a Passat that’s had all the option boxes ticked. Again, that’s okay. We wouldn’t anticipate anyone would think of the Phaeton, mainly because since its birth in 2002 VW has sold about 12. Well, maybe a few more.
That’s no reflection on the car’s quality – it was built specifically to go up against the Mercedes S-Class, so it had to be impressive. Hand built in Germany to the highest possible standards, the Phaeton built on VW’s already famous reputation for quality.
Filled with leather, toys, space and luxury, it was a hell of a car. It also pioneered the use of the W-formation engines – like a Bugatti Veyron, sort of. Still, we’d go for a diesel. You’ll get one for £5-6,000, but when you arrive at work the boss will think you’re taking over!
Citroen C6 – From £6,500
The French have a penchant for building things their way. You can’t replicate French style and eccentricity, and the C6 is proof of that. There’s nothing like it in its sector. It’s long, elegant lines draw in the eye. The concave, curved rear windscreen raises an eyebrow and then a smile.
Then there’s the interior which, while not as bonkers as the Citroens of old, is still a refreshing breath of fresh air when compared to other executive cars.
It’s full of typically French toys, too. Head-up display, lane departure warning system, electric everything and more ensure that even the most busy-handed of drivers will have something to tinker with.
Still not convinced? What if we told you that this car has Presidential credentials? Oh yes, former France head honcho, Jacques Chirac rolls in a C6.
In fact, he had a pre-production model first; such was his lust for this great car. And trust us, it is a great car – the kind of car you walk back to at the end of the day, and no matter how bad it’s been, this car will make you smile and waft you home.
Chrysler 300C – From £5,500
The Chrysler 300C could only be more American if you covered it in cheese and painted it red, white and blue.We’re okay with that, though. We like how brash it is, we love how it just does not fit in with the UK’s executive car-parks and we also really like that fact that driving one makes you feel like you’re in a gritty Guy Ritchie movie when you’re actually just popping down to the shops.
It’s a big Chrysler with a Hemi V8 option. It doesn’t need VW build quality and quite frankly, if you asked it to spell “objet d’art” it’d drink a beer, burp in your face and then roar away.
A car like this isn’t about looking fancy; it’s all about simply being looked at. People will, too.
For maximum effect there are a few caveats. Firstly, buy a black one. Most of them are, but they look odd in any other colour. Secondly, ignore all sensible thoughts and buy a petrol V8. A diesel in a 300C is so very, very wrong.
Finally, don’t buy the cheapest you can find. It’ll have 6,500,000 miles on it and it’ll fall apart. You don’t want that.
Alfa Romeo 166 – From £1,500
The cheapest here by a longshot, but don’t let that put you off. As you can see, the 166 is an amazing looking machine.
It oozes Italian style and design from every angle. Sadly, however, they also had a tendency to ooze plenty of vital fluids at any given opportunity, too. Oh, and electricity. They loved running out of that… and stuff fell off a lot.
Erm, but it’s a good car, honest. Look, let us explain. It’s backwards logic to say the least, but it is logic.
When Alfas were new they were famed for their mechanical and electrical failures almost as much as they were fames for their looks and style.
It was bad news for new owners, as they lost time and money having them fixed, but get them fixed they did. If a 166 of old has broken, it’ll be in a scrap yard by now. If it’s out there for sale, staring you in the face with ‘buy me’ eyes, you can rest assured that it’s lived a cared for life.
Check for full service history, spend a bit more than £1,500 and promise us you’ll buy the glorious V6 version and you’ll be very happy indeed.
Bentley Eight – From £6,500
Oh come on, we had to include one of Britain’s finest. Plus, it’s the quintessential luxury car.
You see a Bentley waft past – and they do waft – and you’ll instantly think the driver’s on his way to take over a small country, or rule industry, or he might just be going to put some more fuel in it again. For the fifth time that day. No matter what their business might be, you’ll also always find yourself having a little shift around in your seat as you gaze at your dash, sigh, and then secretly wish it was a Bentley. We’ve all done it, it’s okay.
Wish no more though, because you can be behind the wheel of your own Bentley Eight for as little as £6,500.
Don’t think of this as a car, think of it as a stately home on wheels, a regal and blue-blooded means of propulsion with its acres of wood, leather, deep shag carpet and more. It’s for driving slowly, for being seen and for parking next to your neighbour’s (probably more expensive) Mondeo, just for a giggle. Though it’s possibly not one for the fuel conscious among you – there’s a 6.75 litre engine under the bonnet.
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