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Best Banger Cars in Ireland

Whether you need a car and are on a tight budget, you want something to potter around with while in the garage, you want to take part in a banger race, or you're simply after a vehicle and aren't overly concerned with the age or condition for any number of other reasons, it still pays to know what you should look out for. When you buy a banger car, you have to accept that you're not going to be getting an immaculate, well-cared-for precision machine, and you're certainly not getting any kind of warranty. But with a little expertise, you can still find yourself a good bargain, even down here.

But what is a banger car?

The most common use of the term in this part of the world refers to a car specifically used for banger racing. This type of race features cars that have been "written-off", meaning they are no longer road-worthy. The idea is that the drivers can get a little more… aggressive… than they do in normal motor racing. Because what's one more dent on a car whose bodywork is practically all dent, to begin with?


A banger car can also just mean a very cheap used car. Still technically road-legal, but it probably will not be for much longer. Banger cars are ideal when you need a car in a hurry and don't have the means to buy a new car or a slightly used vehicle that isn't too old and has been looked after well.

Fortunately, for this article, all banger cars are pretty much the same when you're looking to buy. The only real difference between a banger car for the race track and a banger car for the commute is that the latter must still be road legal. With that in mind, let's get into our list of the 10 best banger cars.

Please note that used car prices can be a little… erratic. We can't guarantee any of these cars will be available for a particular price, but we were able to find all of the vehicles we've picked for under €850 at the time of writing.

  • VW Golf GTI Mk3

  • Toyota Celica

  • Peugeot 206 GTI

  • Mercedes E320

  • Ford Cougar

  • BMW 523i

  • Vauxhall Corsa Mk2

  • MG ZR

  • Ford StreetKa

  • Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk3

The Volkswagen Golf is an iconic vehicle, and arguably the Mk3 played a huge role in making that the case. This compact hatchback can pack a punch under the bonnet, and it has the kind of responsive handling you'd expect from a smaller car. Whether you're entering a banger race or just driving to work, this would be a great option if you can find one with a healthy engine.

Of course, there's also the fact that Volkswagen is enjoying something of a viral moment in time right now. With VW festivals popping up all over the British Isles, an mk3 VW Golf in decent condition might be worth holding onto since it earned a spot in our list of the best banger cars.

Toyota Celica

Toyota Celica's are just as iconic for Toyota as the Golf is for Volkswagen. These cars brought a touch of sport to the affordable end of the market, and, like many Toyotas, they have held up remarkably well over time. It's not the most practical vehicle for doing the weekly shop, but it's still a great vehicle for a nice drive out into the country… or zipping around the banger racing circuit.

Peugeot 206 GTI

Moving back to small hatchbacks, the Peugeot 206 GTI is every bit as capable as the Golf when it comes to laying down the power and has had a long stint as the car of choice for younger drivers. It may not feel as prestigious as our last two picks, but you're buying a banger, not a classic.

Mercedes E320

Moving away from the banger racing circuit, the Mercedes E320 is a big, luxury car (especially the seven-seater model) that, even now, eats up motorway miles in comfort, around twenty years after it first hit the market. You're not going to get the best fuel efficiency from the big engines these things packed, but you will be riding in comfort.


Ford Cougar

If you want something slightly more agile than a Merc E320, you might consider a Ford Cougar (not to be confused with the more recent Ford Kuga). These sleek little numbers could pack a punch, with some models sporting a 2.5-litre V6.


BMW 523i

Much like the E320, you're probably not going to want to take the BMW 523i on the banger racing circuit. If you can find one of these in a decent enough condition, you can enjoy comfortable commutes in the lap of luxury, albeit affordable luxury from decades ago.

Vauxhall Corsa Mk2

The Vauxhall Corsa is a good, solid hatchback that has experienced immense popularity due to its reliability and affordability. The mk2 (also known as the Corsa C) edition of the Corsa features clean lines and a range of engines from an economic 1.0 litre up to a punchy 1.8 litre.


MG ZR

The MG ZR might have just been a Rover 25 with some extra kit, but it's a solid car with a nice little engine. It's small enough to make city driving a breeze but not so small that it's impractical for family drives and shopping trips.


Ford StreetKa

Banger racers are usually required to have roll cages. That being said, we'd probably still keep the Ford StreetKa on the road. This little convertible is great for city-driving, usually good on fuel economy, and gives you the option of dopping the roof and enjoying the sunshine… when it comes out.

Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi

If you've hailed a taxi over the last ten years, there's a good chance you've ridden in an Octavia. This reliable car is the unlikely winner of the "most expensive car on this list" award, but while it may not set the world ablaze with stunning visuals or face-melting speed, it is a comfortable drive, has plenty of space, and can even be used to tow things.


What factors should you consider when looking for the best banger cars?

Even when buying a banger car, there are still some things to consider before pulling the trigger. Here are a few things to think about:

  • What you intend to do with the car: The most important thing to consider is what you will be using the car for. If you intend to drive the vehicle on the road, you must make sure the vehicle is road-legal. Cars that have been written off after an accident or catastrophic mechanical failure cannot just be fixed up and put back on the road. There are different categories of write-offs, with the worst meaning the car can never be driven on the road again, but even the least severe write-offs need to be independently tested first before they can be returned to the road.

  • Testing and servicing: You're almost certainly not going to get a full-service history with a used banger car (though it does happen), but the more history a car has, the better a life it has probably led. If you plan to drive the car on the road, you should look for one with a valid NCT. Cars like this rarely make it through their test smoothly, and the cost-savings of buying a banger will soon evaporate when you start paying to fix her up enough to pass her NCT.

  • The cost: Once you can be sure your needs are going to be met, it's time to consider the cost of the car. Ultimately, you are buying cheap, and this is not an area where spending more will get you more. Sure, an extra €300 might get you a car with more features or a bigger engine, but you will still have a car running on borrowed time. We're not saying you should only buy the cheapest car you can find, but you should certainly err on the cheaper side unless you have a good reason to pony up more cash.

Conclusion

It's worth remembering that banger cars are, at the end of the day, old cars. You're going to have problems with them in some form or another, whether it's mechanical problems, failed NCTs or even just weird smells that you can't seem to get rid of. Your chances of finding a good deal will also be greatly improved if you or a helpful friend knows their stuff about cars.

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