Idol fancy: Autocar writers' dream second-hand cars

I know this Golf is good, because I bought one three years ago. Stick to the prettier, more stylish Mk7, not the Mk7.5, which went a bit too digital and touchscreeny. Petrol makes most sense and the 1.4 TSI offers a strong, almost diesel-like 50mpg-plus. Regular servicing keeps it reliably sweet.

However stunning and brave the purchase of a used EV might seem, a Golf will be around for the long haul. That’s what used car heroes are all about.

Caterham Superlight R300 – Andrew Frankel

I spent lockdown as I do most of my downtime: fantasising about owning a Caterham again. I’ve had two, raced a third, built a fourth, run one as a long-termer and decided after she put up with a holiday in France in one that I should ask my girlfriend to become my wife.

But which one? It needs to be slightly nutty but still usable. And my mind keeps coming back to a Superlight R300 from around 2009. That came with a bombproof Ford 2.0-litre motor, 175bhp, wide-track suspension and a close-ratio gearbox, but I’d need one with a limited-slip diff and weather equipment, too. All in, I expect you’d be looking at a £25,000 bill, or the same as you’d pay for a new Mazda MX-5 but with glacial residuals. What a wonderful thing that would be.

Ford Ranger Raptor – Steve Cropley

I’m not sure that I should be confessing this. It doesn’t feel entirely respectable, given that the nearly new vehicle I spent most of lockdown lusting after isn’t the kind of thing that Europe’s car makers are very good at building, nor does it suit our advancing age of efficiency and electrification. But as any fool knows, a love of cars is blind. I’m talking about the Ford Ranger Raptor: two tonnes, big diesel, 10-speed auto, as long and wide as a limo and twice as tall. There are plenty of late-model examples on the market right now at low miles and usefully reduced prices, possibly because while they’re instantly desirable (surprising driver appeal, surprising comfort, amazing presence), their first owners soon come to realise they’re not very suitable for traffic, parking or even turning up at a friend’s house.

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