When it comes to buying your first car it needn’t break the bank. In fact, if you’re willing to go for an older model with a few more miles on the clock, then you can find some excellent used deals. And when it comes to shopping around, you might be surprised just how many second-hand cars are available for under £1k.


Buying a low priced car doesn’t mean it’s going to be low quality. Many car owners out there take excellent care of their vehicles, so when it comes to selling, they not only get the best possible price, but they also pass on a car that still offers plenty of mileage. Nonetheless, you still want to check the vehicle over to make sure it’s in top condition. Be sure to check:

  • For any signs of damage
  • All of the electrics
  • For general wear and tear
  • The interior and upholstery
  • The car and service history
  • The tyres and whether they’re worn or uneven
  • For rust (particularly under the bonnet)
  • Oil, brake, and power steering fluids
  • The mileage and whether it matches the car’s age – the average driver cover’s roughly 10,000 miles a year, using this estimate you can see how well used the vehicle is and learn more about its history in the process

The above points will help you determine whether the used vehicle has been well-cared for and whether it’s in a good condition for purchase. Of course, with a sale price under £1k there will likely be higher mileage or general wear and tear, but knowing what to look for can help you negotiate an even better deal or, at the least, allow you to buy with confidence. It’s also important to remember higher mileage is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if a car has been well looked after over its lifetime. After all, a well-maintained vehicle with high mileage that has frequently been utilised for motorway commuting could actually be more reliable than a rarely used, low mileage car, which could have issues because it never gets to heat up properly. And that leads to a final point, be sure to ask questions about the car’s history to get an idea of how the vehicle has been driven.


If you’ve not long passed your driving test (congratulations by the way), it’s a good idea to choose a car that will help build driver confidence. Of course, if you’re looking for car under £1k, you’ll probably want a vehicle that’s cheap to run and insure, with good miles per gallon (MPG) too. In this department, small vehicles (like superminis, hatchbacks, and compact city cars) are your friend. And that’s what you’ll find below, all of which have lots of used deals within the price range. Read on to discover what we’ve picked for our top 10 best cars under £1k for first-time drivers.


The Vauxhall Corsa is one of the most popular cars in Britain. For buyers, that means a ton of deals on the used car market and that includes hundreds of older models for under £1k. Whilst previous incarnations might not win any awards for their pared back, functional looks, you do get a car that is easy to drive and easy to live with. Vauxhall Corsas also offer low running costs and a good level of practicality. In short, a Corsa makes a great first car – it’s an all-rounder and one you can get hold of easily, allowing you to take your pick from a range of models and mileages.

Best features:

  • Easy to drive
  • Low running costs
  • Good value for money



The Renault Clio is another well-rounded, practical car much in the same vein as the Corsa. It also has hundreds of pre-owned deals for less than £1k. In this price range, you can also find fantastic models from 2006 to 2008 with good mileage too, some as low as 60k-80k miles on the clock – and that should provide plenty of motoring still. The Clio has a reasonable reliability rating as well. It offers a comfortable interior, practical boot space, and it’s cheap to run. It might not be the most thrilling of cars to drive, but it’s a safe choice and engaging enough to instil confidence in new drivers.

Best features:

  • Well-rounded
  • Comfortable interior
  • Good levels of practical



Like the Vauxhall Corsa, the Ford Focus is another car that’s one of the most popular on UK roads, providing good MPG. Again, that leads to lots of great deals on the used car market. Typically, you’ll have no trouble finding a pre-owned Focus near you. For models under £1k, there’s usually hundreds available as well, although these can often have quite high mileage around the 100k mark. But even then, the chances are you’re getting a lot of car for the price. Additionally, the Ford Focus is one of the best to drive in its class and, on top of that, older models look great too. Overall, the Focus is a great family hatchback for new drivers.

Best features:

  • One of the best to drive
  • Great looks
  • Good MPG



With lots of opportunities to find older models for incredible prices, the Seat Ibiza is an all-rounder of a small car. You can always find great second-hand deals, with lots of models from 2006 to 2010 for under £1k. In fact, you can even find pre-owned Ibiza cars for as little as £300 with fairly low mileage (considering the price) sitting around 60k miles – and that’s a fantastic bargain. The car is cheap to run, comfortable, and fun to drive, with older models enjoying sleek looks too. It also offers a good level of practicality. Simply put, the Seat Ibiza is a superb supermini.

Best features:

  • Fun to drive
  • Good level of practicality
  • Comfortable all-rounder



You should have no trouble finding a pre-owned Nissan Micra near you for under £1k, with a great selection of second-hand models on the used car market. Typically, you can often find models from 2002 and 2003 with approximately 80k miles on the clock for around £800 to £900. At those prices, the Micra makes a great little run-around car, particularly for first-time drivers. It’s easy to drive and cheap to run too. Additionally, the car’s compact dimensions also ensure the Nissan Micra is nimble around town and easy to park, letting you capture those smaller city spaces others have to ignore.

Best features:

  • Easy to drive
  • Cheap to run
  • Nimble around town



There is no shortage of used Fiestas on the pre-owned car market, which is perhaps no surprise given the popularity of the car. You can always find hundreds of models for under £1k too. Usually, models from 2007 onwards at this price will have quite high mileage upward of £100k miles. However, if you opt for a Fiesta pre-2006 there are a surprising number of second-hand models with mileage around the 40k to 50k mile mark, which should provide plenty of driving life. And when it comes to driving, the Ford Fiesta has always been great to drive, with excellent handling and a reputation for reliability.

Best features:

  • Great to drive
  • Excellent handling
  • Good reliability



Another of the most popular cars in Britain, the Volkswagen Golf is an excellent hatchback which appeals to a large demographic, from families, to young drivers, and first-timer car buyers. It is a little trickier finding a second-hand version for under £1k compared to others on this list, however, it’s not impossible. There are often models from 2002-2003 for around £500, with variants in the £1k price range from 2007 with 100k+ miles on the clock. And to get a VW Golf at those prices is something of a bargain. After all, the car has iconic looks (even going back to the very first generation), it is fun to drive with precise handling, and it has a good reputation for safety and reliability, reinforced by that premium German build quality.

Best features:

  • Fun to drive
  • Good reliability
  • Premium build quality



The Toyota Yaris is another excellent car with lots of deals under £1k. Typically, older models from 2002 to 2006 regularly sell for less than this price and often with decent mileage too, usually sitting around the 70k to 80k mile mark. So you should have little trouble finding a pre-owned Yaris near you. Furthermore, as long as it has been well cared for, you shouldn’t have many problems as the car is known to be very reliable. It’s also known for being very cheap to run and easy to drive too, and older versions of the Yaris continue to tick those boxes as well.

Best features:

  • Very reliable
  • Cheap to run
  • Easy to drive



If you’re looking for a cheerful little car that is nippy around town and fun to drive, then consider the Ka, the third offering from Ford on our list. You can find hundreds of used versions for under £1k, with many for less than £500. At these prices, you might be surprised to learn that lots of second-hand models still offer decent mileage in the 40k to 70k mile range, thanks to being largely used as a city run-around. Additionally, you can find 2007 and 2008 variations that still meet those requirements. And when it comes to looks, well the styling of the Ford Ka was ahead of its time for the first and second generation so they’ve held up well in the image department, remaining compact and stylish. Some would argue the car is actually better looking in previous incarnations.

Best features:

  • Fun to drive
  • Nippy around town
  • Stylish looks



One of the more iconic cars on this list, the Mini Hatch just doesn’t seem to age, with older models still carrying those stylish looks and desirable dimensions. Whilst that is certainly a good point for buyers, it does also mean you will have less choice when it comes to finding a deal for under £1k, as owners will be more reluctant to let go of their timeless, iconic car for such prices. However, you should still be able to find a decent selection to choose from, with 2002 to 2006 models sat within the price range with 100k+ miles under their belt. And there’s nothing quite like a Mini on the road. It offers a superb driving experience, which is fun, agile, and go-kart like thanks to the low centre of gravity.

Best features:

  • Iconic, stylish looks
  • Superb driving experience
  • Go-kart like handling


Your first car doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Find a cheap used car at today.

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Back to articles January 21, 2021

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