In 1993 the Rover 620i faced the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and Ford Mondeo 2.0.
All of these cars had something going for them. Car magazine judged all four to be “formidable”. Car estimated the BMW to cost €17,000 with a few options thrown in to make it habitable; ditto the Rover though it came with more features as standard. The Mondeo cost only £14,000 in GLX trim (I miss trim designations like that). Citroen wanted £17,500 for their car. So what are these cars worth now?
If you coughed up the extra for the BMW, would you see any of that come resale time 23 years down the line? Was Car right to judge the Rover the best of these four cars: “It is a winner. If we are talking class – and that’s what the upper echelons of the M2 sector are all about – the 620 SLi exudes it. It is not as roomy as appearances suggest, it does not perform with great distinction, and it is no more fun to drive (arguably less) than the Mondeo. But it scores handsomely for comfort, refinement, quietness and build quality. Above all, it imbues the driver of it’s-good-to-be-here well-being that its rivals can’t match. It has style, it has image, it has class.”
Firstly, I looked at autotrader.co.uk and discovered they didn’t allow a search based on the criteria I was after. Obviously in the UK, if you want a 23 year old car you must look in more specialised places like scrapyards. So, I tried the European market and used mobile.de to go virtual tyre kicking.
To keep things constant, I have picked 100,000 km as a reasonable target for mileage. Sometimes oddballs with really low mileages come up and these are hard to judge. For example, the most expensive 318i was one with 27,000 km and the buyer wanted €5000 for it. I left that out of my general search.
Here we have a 1993 BMW 318i. It’s €1500 and comes with a manual transmission and with 95,000 km recorded. Further up the cost ladder, an automatic with 102,000 km comes in at €4000. The very cheapest 3’s cost from €400 with 150,000-200,000 km registered. So, you can have a banger 3 for the price of two Ikea sofas and a set of plastic plates. There are lots of these cars around. About 150 were available on mobile.de at the time of writing. This is not true for the rest of our troupe. If you were determined, you could buy a replacement 3 every few months and still spend less than you would on maintenance.
Now the Xantia, Citroen’s hydropneumatic wonder – the one closest to the target mileage was for sale for €1900. It had 92,000 km on the clock. The other 1993 Xantia available had 170,000 km up and could be had for €250. Its interior and exterior seemed unmarked. Oddly, there were no other Xantias. So, take your pick: a Xantia for peanuts or one for two grand. The average is approximately €1000, then.
There were 36 1993 Mondeos in all on sale, amazing given the numbers sold. The closest to the requirement was a 1993 2.0 automatic for €450 (in Bamberg, above). Car’s test vehicle had a manual. The Bamberg had covered only 69,000 km. The closest manual I found on mobile.de was a 1.6 CLX 16V, near the top of the trim range, but not Ghia. That was €990.
Mobile.de had no Rover 600s in the target year. In all, they had two for sale out of all years. I switched to autoscout.com to find one. There were seven of all types on sale. The closest car to the target was a 1994 automatic with 134,000 km on the clock. Despite the dents and orphan status, the seller wanted €1,150 for the car (dealer basis). For €1200 a seller wanted a ’95 with only 114,000 km on the clock, automatic transmission and leather.
The answer to this search is that these cars cost pretty much whatever you are willing to pay. If you don’t mind another 50,000 km on the odometer, a BMW 3-er is running at €500 to €1000, which for many is about half a month’s take home pay. If you want one with 100,000 or so on the odo, you’ll pay €1500. That’s not far off the price of the slightly younger Rover. Citroen and Ford are each odd in their own way.
Few Xantias remain so the data is hard to average. The one car mobile.de turned out to be quite costly in comparison with the others. And Ford sold loads of cars but seem to have zero appeal so you can bag an “old man’s car” for the price of a good weekend in Bamberg (where the car is located).
Had one bought the BMW you would have invested £3000 more in the car than the Ford driver did. The return 23 years later is that you get about £500 of that back (roughly converted). Is that worth it?
Of the foursome, it seems to me that that Ford offers a lot of car for nearly no money. There are lots of well-maintained Mondeos out there for pocket money. At the other extreme, the few Rovers that are out there are often quite well specced and offer a more distinctive choice than the same money spent on our benchmark, the 3. Whatever this survey proves, it shows that long term, all this class of cars turn into fairly worthless commodities, however they were viewed when new.
Wasn’t Car’s verdict really inconsistent? The Rover wasn’t roomy and wasn’t fun to drive. The Rover was the second slowest in the test. It had the lowest top speed. It was the second heaviest car.