If you like automobiles, chances are you’ve played fantasy garage. That’s where you browse the local papers or interwebs for all the cars you could get for a pre-determined budget. Just for fun. This month, we decided to indulge in exactly that, scouring the international markets for cool deals… for R500 000.
Half a bar can get you a lot of second-hand metal in South Africa. You could, for example, get a low mileage Isuzu KB 250 double cab and a decent second-hand hot hatch, like a Mini Cooper S, or Suzuki Swift Sport.
Heck, for R500 000 you can get a whole fleet of cars. Your driveway may be impossible to traverse due to the oil leaks, but at least you’ll have a bunch of interesting conversation starters parked on it.
But what about overseas markets, especially since South Africans traditionally pay comparatively more for their wheels than many international buyers? A word of caution then: in certain parts of the world, pre-owned vehicles are ridiculously cheap, so prepare to be thoroughly depressed.
USA! USA! USA!
American budget: $40 000
Turns out the equivalent of R500 000 will go a long way in the USA. You could get a low-mileage Jeep Wrangler for yourself and a clean Toyota FJ Cruiser for the wife and still have change left from the budget above…
If, however, you choose to blow it all on one car, it has to be the 2018 Toyota Tundra Limited. No, we didn’t get the date wrong. For the equivalent of R500 000, you can get a demo model (15 000km) truck built at the beginning of this year.
As it’s an American-built truck, it comes with full-fat 5.7-litre V8 engine that develops around 300kW. Obviously that wasn’t enough to begin with, so Toyota’s TRD department developed a bolt-on supercharger kit that pushed the power up to 375kW.
It may not fit into our budget, but there are thousands of 2016/2017 models available that fall within budget, and already have that big blower bolted to the engine.
As an added bonus, you get all the luxury gadgets we get as standard on something like a Lexus LX. You name it, it’s there: heated and cooled seats, a touchscreen interface, cooled cup holders and, naturally, a gun rack.
I say old chap…
United Kingdom budget: £30 000
Since Britain has gone all anti-diesel, the price of pre-owned diesels are bombing. There are some nearly new Land Rover Discovery Sports available at that price, or you could go for a demo of the all-new Volvo XC60, which hasn’t even reached SA yet.
We found a number of Porsche Cayennes more alluring, specifically the 4.8-litre S model. It comes equipped with every luxury item you can imagine as standard, as well as a 300kW V8 engine that allows the car to accelerate to 100km/h in around five seconds.
The second-generation model was also much better looking than the first and it remained at the top of the sporty SUV pile pretty much until it was replaced late last year.
European budget: €35 000
There are literally millions of cars for sale in mainland Europe. In Germany alone there are, at any given time, around 1.5 million vehicles up for sale.
There’s one vehicle in particular that would look equally magnificent parked outside a hotel next to Lake Como, as it would plugging across a snow-stricken part of the Alps: the Mercedes G-Class.
Unlike South Africa, Europe had loads of derivatives to choose from. Unfortunately, our budget didn’t stretch far enough for an AMG (unless you want the non-supercharged G55 with ‘only’ 270kW), but it is enough for a G280 or G320 diesel. The latter is a bit more modern, as it was equipped with Merc’s seven-speed automatic.
Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t want a G-Class? If there’s one car that’s a constant in every 4×4 lover’s top 10 list, it’s the Gelandewagen.
Russia budget: 2.3-million roubles
Here’s where SA claws back a few points. Used Russian vehicles are cheap, but there aren’t a lot to choose from. Germany may have millions, but a similar Russian website only provided 15 000.
Russians seem to like Range Rovers, specifically the Sport model. You can have one from as little as R120 000, but it looks as drab as you’d expect a 2006 Range Rover Sport selling for that money to look like.
The prices are similar to what you’d expect to pay in South Africa, except that we have a wider variety of options. In all of Russia we found 10 Range Rover Sports on sale. Here we found at least 80.
It seems we’re better off than the Russians, at least.
Japan budget: ¥4.4-million
Japan used to be all about tiny Kei cars, but recent legislation has made these almost as expensive to own as regular sized cars.
The reason people don’t like big cars is because they simply don’t fit. As South Africans, we can simply drive our Fortuner into the garage, lock it and go inside. In Japan, however, you have to rent a parking space, which will likely be more expensive than a house. Public transport is a way better option.
But there is a huge market for Japanese exports and websites dedicated specifically to this business model. If only our government was a bit more open to importing cars.
These 4×4 imports are ridiculously cheap, but you do get the odd R500 000 SUV lurking about. The best we found was a 2014 4Runner, which is essentially Japan’s version of the Fortuner, albeit a bit bigger.
The good news is that you’re way better off just buying a Fortuner locally. It took us less than a minute to find two V6 models, less than 10km from our Jozi office, both under R500 000.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beer holder, but we reckon the Fortuner is a lot better looking, too.