Originally Posted by Henry Ford III
STG£7500 would buy a nice one.
You'll be lucky to find a nice
Caterham for that kind of money. Westfields are considerably cheaper and many to be had for £7500, but they're not quite as good as a well sorted Caterham. There are other cheaper still similar marques, but many are best avoided. Robin Hoods are cheap but nowhere near as well sorted or fun. Duttons are worse. Tigers are cheaper than Caterhams or Westfields and not far behind in terms of fun, but you won't beat a well sorted Caterham. They are the best and the prices reflect that (and a good deal of snobery too).
I drive a Sylva Striker
and can say that it is great fun. It's not as well sorted as a good Caterham, or even Westfield, but it's nice and light and with a 1.6 (Toyota Twincam engine), it pulls quite well. These can be had for a good deal less than Caterhams (£7500 will get a cracker of one). Whatever you pick be prepared for a fairly minimal machine which tranfers bumps in the road straight to your spine with little damping. Caterhams are generally smaller than most, though the new CSR is a fair bit bigger. Sylvas are smaller still. The Westfield SeiW is probably the best for bigger people on Irish roads, but it's not as light as some.
Get a drive in a good one before you even consider spending any money on one. You'll either love it or hate it. There is a club for like minded people:
Edit: Age isn't nearly as important as condition. A car with few miles and many owners is most likely a problem car, beware. Cars built from plans are a very significant risk indeed and be very careful to inspect workmanship on the welds and bolts etc. If you're in it for the looks, get a Robinhood and tart it up. It'll look as good, ride closer to an "ordinary" car and cost a good deal less, but it just won't be as fun to drive.
Final edit: The devil is in the detail. Real lightweight wheels (magnesium) are worth a good £500. New sticky rubber a few bob (not ordinary car tyres but proper kitcar ones, like Avon RC500s or ACB10s), these will transform the handling and braking. Weather equipment is essential, though usually cheap enough to buy from the manufacturers. Seats and instrumentation is all important, but not too expensive to fix up yourself. One last thing, these cars need to be worked on, things go wrong and you'll have to fix them or pay someone in a garage a small fortune to do the same, don't buy unless you are comfortable with a spanner and such.