What tractor unit can you get for £20,000?

George Barrow
May 23, 2019

On a budget? We scan commercialmotor.com used trucks to find 6x2 tractor units for £20,000... or thereabouts.

Imagine the scenario: you’ve been in gainful employment for quite a few years, driving for a pleasant enough local company on a pretty decent wage. Things are looking good, with a fair workload doing general haulage that doesn’t take you a million miles away from home. You’re even driving a not-half-bad rig – just as you joined, the boss picked up a bargain from a local dealer who was keen to impress and you’ve landed it as your drive. High spec, sweet engine, nearly new. It’s a little tired now, but you don’t mind as it’s a good truck that’s been well looked after.

But then there’s a problem. The work dries up and the boss is having to make cuts. Unfortunately, you’re one of them and you’re sent packing with a few redundancy pounds in your pocket and aspirations of making it on your own as an owner-driver. Together with some savings, you’ve decided that £20,000 is about your limit for your new truck. But what can it get you?

It’s a good sum of money and one that can actually get you a wide choice of vehicles. If general haulage is still your ambition and you’re not looking to venture into a major city anytime soon then a decent Euro-5 is well within budget, but it’s actually also possible to get a Euro-6 truck with a modest number of miles within your price range.

Whichever you decide to go for, you’ll be looking at something from around 2012 or 2013, which will mean one of the later Euro-5s or a very early Euro-6. Depending on the brand, you might even get a 2014 motor.

Of course you can go considerably older and save yourself quite a chunk of change. For nearer £10,000 you can pick up a premium 6x2 sleeper cab circa 2011. There’s a wide choice from any of the manufacturers, but you will, however, be looking at about 1,000,000km on the clock.

For £20,000 you don’t get much more for your money, and mileages generally are higher as operators during the past five years have looked to work vehicles harder to maximise their returns, but crucially the later models will be Euro-6.

Click on the images below for more details about 4 tractor units we found on commercialmotor.com.

Scania R450 Highline

Take this Scania R450 Streamline from A&M Commercials as an example. This 6x2 with mid-lift axle has got a Highline cab, so is spacious enough with its single bunk for your owner-driver needs. It’s on a 63-plate and has covered 975,000km, but it’s still within its MoT and with the exception of the drive wheels, which are a little tatty, is otherwise in a good condition. It is fitted with Scania’s 2-pedal Opticruise transmission and has a sun visor with built-in lights. For a driver just starting out it is a solid base from which to start our search and at £18,750 (ex-VAT) it’s well within budget. You are getting Scania reliability, a well-proven 450hp engine and a good-sized cab to work and live in.

But what about something from some marques that are perhaps seen as less desirable than Scania?

Find more Scania R Series for under £20,000 here: commercialmotor.com/2033556

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Renault Range T

The Renault Range T might not be your first choice but if you were to spend a bit of time in the cab you’d begin to appreciate just how much of an advance it is from the Renault Premium – which incidentally you can comfortably snap up for sub-£10k on an 11-plate. The Range T actually won our sleeper cab test in 2016 and this 63-plate is just an older version of the model we tested. It’s a high-roof sleeper cab and as such is pretty much top of the range – or at least it was back in 2013. Everything is fitted to this particular vehicle, which is being sold by FleetEx, including a fridge and climate control. It’s got a full aluminium catwalk, drive- and lift-axle air suspension and an Optidriver semi-automatic gearbox. It’s powered by a 460hp engine, again a Euro-6, and has covered 850,000km. It has also been owned by just one operator since it was registered in December 2013. Priced at £19,750, the truck is more expensive than the R series but you’re getting a lot more equipment fitted and cosmetically it is in a better condition.

View the listing here: commercialmotor.com/1866176

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We found a rather good-looking MAN TGX from FW Harrison Commercials. It is on a 64-plate and has just 700,000km on the clock, which makes it an attractive proposition. It’s powered by a 480hp engine and is actually one of a few TGXs of around the same age and mileage on the books. Others are slightly more expensive and this one just squeaks within our budget at £19,800, but with a double bunk in the XLX cab there’s loads of space for your owner-driver bits and pieces. It’s also got an automatic gearbox fitted and a full aero kit. Once again it’s a Euro-6, so you’ll have no problems venturing into any number of proposed clean air zones. As with the Renault, a 2013 Euro-5 with 866,000km just happens to be available from the dealer, which gives the option of halving the investment – £10,500 – for a similar, albeit older and less emission-friendly, truck.

View the listing here: commercialmotor.com/1974851

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Mercedes-Benz Actros

All of our finds so far have been from independent dealers, but as a fledgling owner-driver you may find some comfort in buying from a main dealer – and this Mercedes-Benz Actros looks like just the ticket. It’s located at the used truck centre in Wentworth Park and has covered just 502,000km. As it is less than seven years old and with under 700,000km on the clock the vehicle qualifies for the Approved Used scheme, which means it has undergone a thorough inspection and is backed up by a six-month driveline warranty. This 6x2 has come from a single operator and is fitted with the StreamSpace cab. It has an under-bunk fridge and a full aero package, and while it might sound trivial our favourite feature has to be the lovely cobalt blue paint job.

There is a drawback to this truck though, as it only has a Euro-5 engine. At £19,995, this really is top money for a truck of this age and emissions standards, but it is in an excellent condition.

Alternatively, for the same price you could get an Actros day cab on a 64-plate with 755,000km but for your money you’re getting a smaller engine than the 450hp Euro-5, and a much smaller cab.

What can you buy for £20,000 then? Well, in actual fact, you can buy a hell of a lot of truck for your money. Choice in the Euro-5 market is still at a point where there is enough variety to get cheap traction or a healthy and low-mileage unit like the Merc. Alternatively, Euro-6 truck prices have now reached a point whereby the early examples without crazy mileage now fall within that threshold. It’s not just a case of finding a few good examples either. The classifieds are jampacked with options and as more Euro-6 vehicles get defleeted the choice will only increase.

View the listing here: commercialmotor.com/2030496

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About the Author


George Barrow

George has been writing about nearly anything with wheels for the past 15 years and is the UK jury member of the International Van of the Year and International Pick-Up Award.

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