Byline: BY PETER HAYWARD
WHEN it comes to large cars, many are real bargains after a few years on the road because they suffer from huge depreciation.
This holds true for the executive models from all of the mainstream car makers and even some prestige cars are not immune.
The worst hit for new buyers are the large models from Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot and the like, which depreciate like a lift in freefall.
But this makes them great bargains second-hand, even though some, like the Ford Scorpio, are cheaper to run than other smaller cars.
The last Scorpio, with its hang-dog face, went out of production because of consistently poor sales. The 'fish eye' look may have had something to do with that, but I know a number of people who like its individuality and would be happy to have another.
There is little doubting the German-built Scorpio's prowess when it comes to eating up the miles in big comfort. It's one of the most affordable luxury cars on the market.
Depreciation makes the price drop like ice cream sales in November and on top of that, maintenance is reasonable at dealers and peanuts at your friendly neighbourhood fettler, while parts have always been among the lowest priced on the market.
The Scorpio is great to drive, with very direct and responsive power steering and marvellous seat and steering column height adjustment
The interior is huge and almost up to limousine levels of comfort and the estate has Volvo-rivalling loadspace.
Engines start with a two-litre which, surprisingly, offersreasonable performance, giving 0 to 60 miles an hour in 10.5 seconds andgood acceleration through the gears, which is even more important.
In the last three years of its life, a very smooth and quiet 2.3-litre four was also offered, and this 145 bhp 16 valve engine is still used in the Galaxy people carrier.
Next up the range comes a fine 2.5-litre turbo diesel which offers 35-plus mpg and good performance for an oil burner.
And then we come to the silky smooth 2.9 V6's, a 12 valve with 150 bhp and the storming 24 valve with 195 or, later, 207 bhp.
These are only available with an excellent four speed automatic gearbox and many of the others with smaller engines were also fitted with it, making them wonderfully easy to drive.
The Scorpio is a motorised armchair capable of huge mileages without problems and with an excellent record for reliability. Buy right, with service history, and you are very likely to find a bargain that will last for years.
But remember, the depreciation doesn't stop when you take delivery, so get the price down as low as you can.
Specification is good even in lower models, and top Scorpios have electrically adjustable leather seats, air con and all the other trimmings.
Model: Ford Scorpio.
Driving: Comfortable, refined and a good handler.
Performance: Fair in two-litre, good in 2.3.
Recommended Buy: 2.3 with history in any spec.
Price Guide: Pay around pounds 1,200 for a '96 N-reg 2.0 Ghia auto, pounds 1,800 for a '97 P-reg 2.3 Ultima. A '98 R-reg 2.5 T-D Ghia estate should be about pounds 1900.
CURVY: the distinctive back end of the Ford Scorpio DROOPY: the firsh-eye front of Ford Scorpio