21 05 2018

V – Power: Five of the Most Cost-Effective Routes to V8 Ownership

The V8 engine occupies a very special place in the annals of petrolhead folklore. It's the only engine that can claim to be intrinsically linked to a youth-led counter-culture movement (all those working-class Americans saving all they could to own a Mustang circa 1968), and as such blurs the line between automotive and mainstream culture. Put simply, even folk with little or no interest in cars know that there's something a little bit special about the burble of a V8, making it among the most evocative noises in motoring history.

The good news is that V8 ownership needn't break the bank, as we've attempted to outline in the following blog – five V8 cars available for less than £10,000. That being said, while the cars themselves might be cheap to acquire, keeping a thirsty V8 in fine fettle can be a financially taxing undertaking, particularly if the car in question is a certified classic. Still, all your money concerns will lift (temporarily at least) the moment you turn the key – honest!

  1. Range Rover Classic

    The days of picking up tidy, V8-powered classic Range Rover for buttons are long gone, but that doesn't mean that there aren't reasonably priced examples still out there, they just take a little finding. Those who do take the time to sort the wheat from the chaff will be rewarded by one of the British motor industry's undoubted gems, a highly capable, go-anywhere bruiser of a car with character in spades. Expect high fuel bills with every stab of the accelerator but also plenty of road space – no one wants to mess with someone in a V8-powered classic Range Rover!

  2. BMW E39 M5

    We thought we'd begin with one of the all-time automotive greats of the sporting saloon genre, a car so perfect that even its maker has struggled to beat it, and all this despite the car in question, the E39 shape M5, being well over a decade out of production. It was one of those machines in which everything seemed to just 'work,' from the timeless styling (including those awesome 'pineapple ring' headlights) to the sublime handling, the E39 was a high watermark for BMW, and its 4.9L V8 was always a key part of this. £10,000 is still just enough to bag yourself an example of Munich's finest, but we wouldn't hang about if we were you.

  3. TVR Chimaera

    Just because you can buy a V8 powered TVR for less than £10K doesn't mean you should, but that's by the by – we're not here to convince you to open your wallet. The Chimaera certainly makes a fairly convincing case for itself, complete with stunning good looks (all the better to view while you await the AA), relative reliability (for a TVR) and one of the firm's most charismatic motors, a V8 4.0 – 5.0) with its roots in the eponymous Rover unit. Said roots are a good thing, they mean that getting spares isn't as tricky as you might first have thought, and mean that there are no end of specialists willing and able to work on it should you feel the need.

  4. Rover SD1 V8

    Ah, the Rover SD1, a car intertwined with the successes and failures of the British car industry in one of its most tumultuous decades. Of course, there are downsides to buying a V8 powered SD1 in this day and age, not least the challenge of actually finding a decent one under budget and with some of its bodywork still in one piece. That said, there's no denying that the SD1 is one of the most handsome cars to have emerged from these isles, and there can be no better variant than the one powered by Buick's legendary eight-banger. Buy one, cherish it – and brush up on your Snatch quotes before going for a blast!

  5. Jaguar XKR

    A big, supercharged V8 slung in the nose one of the prettiest Jaguars since the E-Type, and all for well under budget – what's not to love about the Jaguar XKR? Coventry's late '90s grand tourer has some great features (including the price), but the noise emitted by its engine is probably as good a place to commence waxing lyrical as any; it's a complex noise, one lent an extra shot of malice by the addition of a supercharger. Put simply, it's the closest most of us will get to piloting a Spitfire!

    The 4.0 V8 found in early cars is well under our £10K budget, though it does come with its own set of reliability points, namely the fact that pre-2000 cars came with engines with Nikasil bore coatings. Said coating is known to fail, leading to all manner of bottom end issues, none of which are in any way desirable of conducive to classic, V8 Jaguar motoring, so all the more reason to buy with care.

Bonus Entry - Lexus LS400

All these oily old Brit (well, Buick) V8s not your cup of chai? Fear not, as we (or more correctly, Lexus) have you covered with this, the LS400. Probably the 'safest' option on this list thanks to its rock-solid Japanese underpinnings, the LS400's quad-cam V8 hails from an era when Japan made up for its lack of luxury car credibility with an all-encompassing commitment to over-engineering. The result is that examples of the LS400, even long in the tooth, high mileage cars with several owners, can be astoundingly reliable – though we'd still recommend you take the time to find a good 'un before handing over the readies.

What have we missed? Tell us your entry level V8 favorites below.

Join the Discussion

5 reader comments

  • 1
    Patrick Dixon UK May 23, 2018 at 2:53pm
    Daimler 2.5L V8 - a Jaguar Mk2 with an extra 2 cylinders
  • 2
    David White Surrey May 24, 2018 at 1:04am
    The rover P6 3500 snd 3500S (manual) is a great under 10k V8 classic and plenty good examples out there and of course tax and MOT exempt now. Findinv a good rot free one is not as hard as you may think but look carefully as the tin worm (rust) loves the P6!
  • 3
    Robert Hall Kettering May 30, 2018 at 3:33am
    What about a Triumph Stag with a British built V8
  • 4
    Don Francis Birmimgham November 06, 2018 at 7:29am
    Own an Ls400 vvti...dont find many V8s that give 22mpg around city. and the equipment for a 20 year old car is astounding. Genuine leathers still pristine too...Japanese do it again
  • 5
    Richard Darlington April 30, 2019 at 2:41pm
    I have an LS400, original 1991 model that runs a fair size turbo at 18psi of boost - all I've done to the engine is change the head gaskets and injectors. 750bhp for a car that cost £900 to buy and £5k to modify - yup. Search Youtube for "turboshed" to see the LS400 in all its glory :-) Mine does 1mpg, not sure about the other comment that does 22!