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- Just after washing it the day I bought it. Scrubbed up surprisingly well I thought

Bargain Bin Motoring

This is my 2002 Skoda Octavia 1.9tdi that I paid just £150 for, and it may be the best £150 I've ever spent. This car has got me to and from work everyday without fail for the past year; it's acted as a taxi for friends and family; it made it to Stansted Airport and back without a hitch (and returned nearly 70mpg but more on that later); and it took my family on holiday over Christmas and never missed a beat. This car seems as though it'll never fail.

How I ended up with it

I'll give you some background on how I ended up with this incredibly cheap piece of Czech engineering: I was on the lookout for a cheap reliable daily driver that I could rely on and wouldn't break the bank with running costs. I decided on something VAG with the "bombproof" 1.9tdi engine. I spent a few days scouring the usual places: Ebay; Gumtree; Facebook Marketplace etc. I found plenty of cars that fit the bill but none were within my incredibly tight budget until I found this Octavia.

The car wasn't advertised anywhere and actually belonged to a friend of my Dad who had recently bought a new car and was going to scrap it (he replaced it with an Audi A4 quattro in case anyone's curious). I asked him how much he wanted for it and he told me scrap value, he said it needed more work than it's worth to get it though an MOT. So the following week my Dad and I went over to his friend's place and picked up my new daily driver, I handed over the cash and drove it home that day. I haven't looked back since.

The first thing I did after picking it up. It looked like it had been dragged out from a canal, then thrown back in and fished out again when I first got it.

The MOT

I bought the car with no MOT, which is probably why it was so cheap, so the first thing I did on the following Monday was book it in and see how badly it would fail. I brought it into the test centre and prayed it wasn't too big of a list and my £150 wasn't too much of a waste.

The results came back and to no surprise, it had failed. It didn't fail on much but it had still failed so I had a busy weekend ahead of me. The main thing it failed on was suspension bushes and a snapped spring, as well as a binding rear brake but nothing too major. As soon as I got the failure sheet I made a call to the local motor factors and found most of the parts for a decent price.

The rear brake caliper would have cost nearly as much as I paid for the whole car which is the main reason it was for sale. So to avoid paying the same as I had done for the entire car I took a trip to my local scrap yard where I found a brake caliper for just £10. I spent a Saturday afternoon sorting all of the issues and took it in for a retest where it passed with flying colours, and a few advisories but we'll gloss over those.

3 generations of Octavia. Taken at my local pub one Sunday afternoon.

The good and bad sides of a Skoda in it's late teens

As I mentioned earlier, this car is amazing on fuel. I will freely admit that I don't have the lightest foot in the world, but I easily get the MPG into the mid 50s regularly on my daily commute, and that's only a 15 mile round trip. That's pretty good for a nearly 20 year old car with over 180k on the clock. But compared to how economical this car is on a run that's thirsty. I went away for a week in February and drove down to Stansted Airport, roughly an hour and a half drive from where I live. I pulled up in the car park at Stansted and looked down at the dash cluster: 68.7 MPG. And that was with a mixture of 70ish mph on the motorway; stop start traffic; and a small A/B road blast. With me being as tightfisted with money as I am, this made me really love this little car.

As any Brit reading this will know, this summer has been pretty warm, or at least the last couple of weeks have been anyway, and the one thing that's made me love using my £150 banger even more is the fact that it has working air-con. I couldn't believe it when I turned the climate control right down and prayed that some cold air would come out of the vents and sure enough it did. My first car that's had working air-con is also the car I spent the least to buy.

Another great thing about this car is the sheer size of the boot. A friend and I tested the size and it will easily fit two 6ft1 men in there with room to spare, in fact you could probably fit a decent sized dog in there too but we didn't have one to hand at the time. This was another selling point to me because I'm in a covers band and I often have to cart a lot of kit around. This car just swallows it all up without batting an eyelid.

It's well known that every rose has it's thorn and my little Skoda is no different; it has a slight, but incredibly annoying, boost issue. This isn't by any account a fast car, but this issue makes it even slower. It'll boost fine when you first put your foot down but take above around 2500rpm and it'll shudder and cut all boost which is incredibly annoying. It's also pretty dangerous when you're trying to overtake a tractor on a small back road. There are other small issues, such as the massive rust hole in the front wing but apparently they're common for corroding there so it never bothered me.

Would I do it again?

100% Yes. This car proves that there's no reason to spend upwards of £300 a month on a car when you can have something so capable for just £150. Obviously I got lucky in the fact that it didn't blow up in my face but that's part of the fun.

If you're reading this and you're still not convinced, try it. It's the best way of buying cars in my opinion.

This is my first post here so I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

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