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Our life in cars

Survey reveals the cars we buy through our lifetimes

Handing over keys to car

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A new survey has revealed the range of cars bought by the average driver, from the first car at the age of 23, to the affordable run-around in retirement.

The poll of 2,000 drivers, by car finance experts Zuto, found that most Brits own an average of 11 cars during their lifetime, typically upgrading every five and a half years. And most of us are likely to own a Ford Fiesta at some point — the popular model was in the top five cars purchased across most age ranges, with one in five drivers choosing it as their first car.

Most popular cars

Along with the Fiesta, other popular cars for all stages of life include the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford KA and Renault Clio.

As well as being affordable, these models are also in low insurance groups, making them some of the cheapest cars to insure.

The survey identified six stages of the typical British driver’s car-buying habits:

Age 23: First runaround
Age 28: Second car
Age 32: Family car
Age 34: Brand new car
Age 42: Dream car
Age 56: Retirement car

When asked their reasons for changing their car, 43% said their old car was no longer functional or was too expensive to fix, while 16% said they chose to replace their car because they had money to spend.

The value of our cars varies across our lifetime, with first-time buyers spending an average of £1,574. We own an average of three used cars before buying our first new car at the age of 34, with an average price of £11,548, while around the age of 42 we splash out an average of £14,627 on our ‘dream car’.

Financing the habit

But how can we afford these new cars? One in ten surveyed said finance options made buying a car more affordable, and figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) revealed that eight out of ten cars are bought using finance. You can compare car loans from a number of leading providers, including Zuto, on our car finance loans page.

James Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto, said: “For most of us buying a car isn’t about making an extravagant purchase, it’s a necessity to get through day-to-day life, so it’s interesting to see from the research that we are buying cats based on economical decisions at nearly all stages of our lives.”

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