The seven stages in the life of a car: from new to classic

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4: used

Technically, every car with a previous owner is a used car. However, for our purposes, a used car is no longer under manufacturer’s warranty but still tidy and with reasonable enough mileage to get an independent one.

This is the general population for all cars sold and includes private sales and dealerships, so we can now consider older Golfs. So we come to Allans Cars, where for just £5450 there’s a 2014 1.6 TDI Bluemotion Tech SE with 86,000 miles and a full service history.

Diesels are no longer popular, but obviously we can get incredible MPG out of them. A 2011 1.2 TSI 5dr with 89,000 miles from RB Cars and Vans Limited for £3890 will get you into emission protected areas and also deliver a pretty decent economy.

For something a little more exciting, an old-school Golf GTI from the Mk5 era – a 2008 2.0 TFSI 3dr with a reasonable 70,000 miles – costs £6295 from Valor Elite Cars. It has four previous owners, beautiful red paint and unmarked bodywork.

It’s proof that a used car can tick all the best buy boxes, because you can get a premium Golf for a fraction of the cost of a new car.

5: Firecracker

A banger is past its 10th birthday and possibly (but not necessarily) high mileage. Ideally, everything is cushioned but still full of life. So it’s never wrecks or MOT limits, but it’s still just a few big peaks.

If you have £2000 to spend there are Mk5 Golfs to choose from. Loads are clean diesels, like a 92,000 mile 2008 1.9 TDI S. It’s one of the most reliable oil burners ever made, so it should last forever. It’s a clean dealer car, so you can’t go wrong unless you want practicality. In this case, I spotted a 2008 1.9 TDI SE for £1695 with a full service history and not in bad condition, despite having done 127,000 miles.

Otherwise, there is a Mk4 firecracker base. With £350, choose between a privately sold 2002 1.6 S car with a full service history (it will need tyres, though) or bet the farm on a 2003 VR5 with 10 beloved ex-owners and 137,000 miles.

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