YesAuto>News/Reviews>10 reliable cars for £1k

10 reliable cars for £1k

Tyler Heatley

11 Feb 2021

If you’re shopping on a shoestring, there’s still some great cars to be had if you look hard enough. £1,000 might not get you something in mint condition, but with a bit of TLC, you could have a bargain on your hands.

Money does not go as far as it used to these days, and cars can be pretty costly things to buy. However, plenty of joy can be found when hunting for a bargain, especially if you find something that ticks the boxes at a low price. Sure, it won’t be all shiny and new, but these cars could be a real winner with a bit of TLC.

Here’s 10 reliable cars for £1,000.

Ford Focus Mk2

The Ford Focus is one of the most critically acclaimed cars in its class. Each generation offers a keen steer to those who enjoy driving, but also practicality for the rest of the family. Mk2 cars are getting on a bit now, but a well looked after car, even with high mileage, could be a good buy. Generally pretty reliable, but the good news that parts are also cheap should they be needed.

Mk2 cars ditched the rounded complexion of the original Focus for a more modern squared-off design.

Vauxhall Corsa

There is an abundance of Vauxhall Corsas on the market due to their popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. These car’s were never the best in their class, but an abundance means that you can pick them up for peanuts – ideal for learner drivers. A simple car has less to go wrong, and that's very much the case here.

Typically you’ll find loads of Corsa B models (very rounded shape) and some Corsa C (more simplistic design) at this price point.

Nissan Micra

Loathed by enthusiasts, but quietly admired for their longevity, a Nissan Micra is rather bulletproof. Being a simple car from the start gives it a huge advantage, but the strong engineering that went into these cars has helped them span the years. They are nothing to write home about in terms of driving, but they will at least get you home.

A budget of £1,000 should get you into a ‘bubble’ shape model with less than 100,000 miles on it. There’s a good reason why so many of them end up as ‘first cars’ for learners.


The original BMW Mini might be over 20 years-old now, but there’s still plenty of them about. and at low prices. Reliability and Mini aren’t typically the best of pals, but the early R50 cars were actually much more dependable than the model that followed. A new clutch can be a costly endeavour, so be mindful of that when looking at high mileage cars.

These Minis are great fun to drive, and if well maintained, shouldn't cost you very much in terms of running it.

Suzuki Swift

The second-generation Swift that was introduced in 2004 is a cracker of a car. Light, rev-happy engine and reliable. A Swift Sport model is something of a cult classic today, so sadly doesn’t fit this budget.

We think they look pretty good! Look elsewhere for luxury, but for ‘cheap as chips’ motoring, it’s a great choice.

Renault Clio

The Clio remains a staple of British roads today, some 30 years after its launch. The second-generation car created in 1998 was a big hit, and today serves as a great form of cheap transportation. It’s another good choice for learner drivers.

We’d avoid cars with sunroofs as they have a tendency to leak quite badly.

Honda Jazz

These cars tend to hold their value, but don’t be afraid of a high-millage first-generation Jazz. The little car is actually ranked as one of the most dependable modern motors! If you can get one in good shape for £1k, you’ll have many happy miles ahead.

Easy to park, practical and reliable. What more do you want?

Mazda 2

It’s far from the sexiest car on this list, but the Mazda 2 is a solid machine to have beneath you. Just before the model morphed into a trendy hatchback, it took the form of a miniature MPV. You can get the hatchback on this budget, but you’ll be looking at sky-high mileages.

If you’re willing to trade vanity for sanity, these remarkably spacious Mazda 2s are made of strong stuff. A durable interior is ideal for a young family, and low running costs are also a plus. You will happily fit a dog in the boot should the need arise, something that’s more of a challenge for the hatchback.

Mazda 5

MPVs might not be that cool in a world of SUVs, but the Mazda 5 is a great choice for families. Seating seven, this people carrier retained the signature DNA of a Mazda and handles exceptionally well for what it is.

Mileages are high at this price, but reliability is also strong.

Mazda MX-5 Mk2

We’ll open with the obligatory call to watch out for rust on this car as it is notorious. However, the Mk2 MX-5 is a lot of fun for very little money. Drop the top and enjoy a genuine sports car chassis that will please those who love driving. Mechanically very hardy, it's probably the most forgiving sports car out there.

MK1 cars are more desirable with their pop-up headlights, but they are quickly becoming the prized possession of collectors.

Tyler Heatley

11 Feb 2021