Look beneath the surface and there are some devilishly interesting hot hatches with classic potential out there.
First we have the Mini John Cooper Works GP. Launched in 2012 as the second-generation Mini was being pensioned off, just 2000 examples were made, 459 of them earmarked for the UK. At first glance, it looks like another expensive (£29,000) limited edition of even more limited interest. But that’s wrong: it has an uprated 215bhp version of the JCW’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, sits lower, has adjustable coilover suspension (a first for a production Mini) from Bilstein, more powerful six-piston brakes, bespoke road-legal track-day tyres and an aero bodykit that actually makes a difference.
Inside, it has front Recaro seats wrapped in Alcantara and behind them a strut brace in place of a bench.
Our find is a 2012 car that has done 64,000 miles. That’s a little higher than average, but at least that means it hasn’t been sitting around.
It has only partial service history, although the vendor claims to have recently treated it to uprated brake discs and pads. It’s being privately sold so is cheaper than dealer ones.
old so is cheaper than dealer ones. Even so, the price is low enough for us to want to take it for an extended test drive and to examine it carefully from head to toe. After all, its trackday tyres and lowerable suspension might well have been used in anger on a track (note: it has had uprated front and rear springs fitted). Never been raced or rallied? Look the seller in the eye as they answer that one.
Reassuringly, though, it has had a regular diet of high-quality oil and is claimed to have proved reliable.
Ford Fiesta ST200 £12,200: Drivers of the standard Fiesta ST could get 197bhp in overboost, but the ST200 made this as standard, with overboost taking it to 212bhp. Combined with a shortened top ratio, it’s of more than passing interest. This 2016 car has done 58,000 miles.
Volkswagen Lupo GTI £5995: The Lupo was a harmless city car, but in GTI form it grew horns. Its 1.6-litre engine made just 125bhp but had only 960kg to lug around, so it was able to outsprint the larger Polo GTI. The seller of this cherished 2001 example with 69,000 miles knows its value.