Bangernomics: Is Driving A Cheap Secondhand Car Worth It?

Bangernomics: is driving a cheap secondhand car worth it?

What is Bangernomics, and can it save you money?

If you’ve not heard of bangernomics before (it’s been over 25 years since its first mention here in the UK), it’s the practice of running a cheap, used car. Running it to the ground, perhaps, as there’s a chance you might be the one handing it over to the scrap dealer when the music stops in the big game of musical cars.

We get the name from combining banger – one term for a cheap wreck of a car – with economics.

Pros & Cons

Pros – cheaper, more eco-friendly (recycling!), more character (sometimes)

Cons – Not as stylish as a new car, no maintenance included in contract


I’ve never owned a new car – secondhand all the way for me

It would be great for me to say what an expert I am at bangernomics, but that would only be a half-truth. I’m simply an expert at driving old bangers. I’ve not exactly been great at keeping them alive. However, since getting married and converting my husband to my point of view, our combined efforts have helped us to improve on that record and save quite a lot on cars.

However, there are downsides to buying cheap cars. I’ve had debates with my friends over the years as to whether it’s worth it, and whilst I always argue for it, I will admit that it’s worth considering without bias.

So now I’ll face up to the question: is it actually worth driving a banger? I’m going to update this post with details of our cars and what they cost us.


The start of our bangernomics journey

As I said, I’ve always had old cars, but I’ll leave my personal history to the end of this post. Soon after our wedding, my old Rover 25 died (more below). After that, we relied on my husband’s Vauxhall Corsa, which he bought on finance (OUCH) 5 years previously and had only finished paying off, before another long story of a day ended with that car being left in pieces in the middle of a four-way traffic light junction.


Decision time – lease or buy a car?

We had to decide whether to lease a car or buy one outright, so we worked it out by asking, “how much would you pay for the privilege of having a car?”

Whether you buy or lease a vehicle, you are paying something for owning it; it’s just that the cost of leasing is fixed, but the cost of ownership decreases relative to how long you keep the vehicle. We wanted to keep our monthly “car payment” as low as possible – under £50.

With this in mind, we bought another banger:

Rover 200

Practically identical to my previous Rover 25, it cost us the miserly sum of £250. We kept it for 9 months, meaning that the monthly cost of owning the car was £27.77. But we also scrapped it for £40, which brought that monthly cost down even further.

Bought for £250, scrapped for £40. Monthly cost: £23.33

Tax after refund – £ 111.25. Monthly cost: £12.36


This is the car that started my husband on his home repairs journey. He replaced the brake pads, replaced a drive shaft, repaired both the newly split cv boot on the other drive shaft with a cv boot replacement kit, and fixed the windscreen wipers with just a bit of ingenuity.

Repairing a split CV boot.
Repairing a split CV boot.



Changing brake pads.
Changing brake pads.


Ford Fiesta

The next tin can on wheels we picked up was even cheaper. We bought a Ford Fiesta from a friend of a friend for £150. Now, I won’t say we didn’t suffer for it – it looked and felt like a £150 car. Still, that’s cheap!

It was actually running well when we retired it due to being offered a better car – more on that later – after six months. In hindsight, we might have been better off keeping it, but who knows. We scrapped it for £80 though, so that certainly helped.

Bought for £150, scrapped for £80. Monthly cost: £11.66

Tax after refund – £87.50. Monthly cost: £17.50


Rover 75

This was the winner in the race to the bottom… it cost us the princely sum of £1.

Yes, that’s what I said! Of course, it was passed on to us by a well-meaning family member. However, despite our apparent savings, it needed a fair bit of work and eventually conked out on us in dramatic fashion after one year. Despite looking more posh, it proved that looks aren’t enough to go on when it comes to the used car game.

Bought for £1, scrapped for £50. Monthly profit: £4.08

Tax – no refund – £147.50. Monthly cost: £12.29



Renault Clio

To get us out of a bind following the death of our practically-free Rover 75, we bought a clapped-out Renault Clio for £250. It was five months before we decided that we just had to trade up. It wasn’t just for vanity’s sake though, as we’d replaced one tyre on the Clio and realised that if we carried on replacing all the others, we’d end up spending more than we bought the car for.

Bought for £250, scrapped for  £80 – monthly cost: £34

Tax after refund: £15. Monthly cost: £3

We might have been able to squeeze a bit more out of this car and bring the monthly cost down, but in truth we just wanted to get something less embarrassing!




Renault Megane Privilege Convertible

Spending a bit more this time around, we paid £520 for a much better-looking beast of a car. Sadly, beasty cars come with beasty vehicle tax bills, but hey.


One thing is missing… maintenance costs

Bear with me – I’m collating the costs of all MOTs, services and parts for our cars over the years. It’s taking a bit longer than I’d planned but I’ll update the post asap!

Our first banger… that Rover 25

As I said before, I brought our first banger into our marriage, whilst my husband was still paying £167 per month for his own car.

I’d have had my Rover for a lot longer if I’d only have looked after it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. Its head gasket died on a motorway journey and we were plunged into the worst day ever, which is a very long story culminating in the three of us on a train to Preston carrying a vacuum cleaner and a bird cage wrapped in a t-shirt containing two loud and unhappy budgies.

Rover 25 – Bought for £900, scrapped for £250ish. Repairs: too many, but not enough to keep it alive. Worth it? It might have been if I’d have kept the water topped up…


The moral of the story…

Driving secondhand cars can save you a shedload of cash, but there are a few things that will help make it easier:

  • The will and ability to do some of the lighter work yourself, or having someone who can help.
  • A driveway or space to do repairs yourself or keep it offroad
  • A backup vehicle or access to alternative transportation if you need it


But then again, all of these things can apply to newer cars as well! What are your thoughts on bangernomics?


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  1. I’ve never purchased a car on finance and managed to get good deals on decent used cars with cosmetic damage. My most recent car purchase was a Jaguar SE (2014 model) which cost me £1250 if my memory serves me right. It’s just passed it’s first MOT a year later (with repair costs of £450, so has a total monthly cost of £142 at the moment. However, if we get to our next MOT without any further repair costs the monthly cost will then drop to £71 per month. Not bad for a car that sold for over £25k at new! It’s my dream car and no longer manufactured so I’ll be driving it into the ground – so here’s hoping for many more years!

    1. Nicola, that’s a great point – you can get your dream car for a fraction of what it would have been, and to get a 2014 Jag for that price is fantastic! 😀

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