My next cars a while off yet, but I’ve started pondering about what to replace the current steed with, and been having a bit of a discussion on twitter with various suggestions
My car history is actually a surprisingly short list for 16 years & over 200,000 miles of driving
- 84 Ford Capri 1.6 Laser – slowish but oh so much fun
- 89 Vauxhall Cavalier mk3 2.0 – quick, and practical, and yet boring as watching paint dry.
- 87 Volkswagen Golf GTi 8v – quick to the legal limit, fun & full of soul
- 95 Ford Escort Si – emergency stopgap, run for only 4 weeks, bought as I’d pretty much run the Golf in to the ground
- 92 Audi 80 2.0E Saloon – was looking for an Audi Coupe, this turned up 1 owner, 80k on clock, all the receipts, £600 bit hand
- 95 Audi 80 2.6E Cabriolet – the current smoker, power starts to kick in @ 40mph & then doesn’t stop, great with roof down, just like a pillar less coupe with it up.
I live on the edge of the Derbyshire Peaks, my commutes 3 miles, and most of my pleasure driving involves driving around the short & twisties in the peaks. The soft top is great for just plodding around in the peaks, and as a keen photographer, can also enjoy the views without any pillars or roof getting in the way. Whilst the Audi is quick once going, its 0-60 is 12 seconds! Once you’ve got it going you’ve then you’ve got 1400kg to reel in going in to the corner, with half of it in front of the front axle. Under steer rules. I do start to miss the point & squirt rawness & pure chuck ability of the Golf, I also miss the RWD sliding of the Capri…
One of the reasons VAG stock has had quite a showing in my list of cars is soon realised with galvanised build, they’re built to last a while, and I like buying 10 yr old+ cars that have finished depreciating, but aren’t about to fall apart if you drag them in to daily service. I ran the Golf till it was 19 years old with 150k on the clock & the only corrosion on it was on the front wing & boot which are both bolt on parts easy to fix if you wanted. This was despite the fact I’d been doing 20k a year in it, and in the winter it spent a lot of time black covered in road salt, which if it’d been anything else meant it would have rotted to a pile of dust by now.
Despite my short list of owned cars I’ve been lucky enough to drive a fair selection, talked my dad in to a Porsche 924S a year after I passed my test, and he followed that up with a 944S a few years later, both of which I borrowed the keys to quite a few times. Via the hire cars for work, I’ve driven all sorts the rental companies have sent me, but very few have stood out, the Astra Coupes, Zafira Turbos, Vectra SRi, Astra SRi stood out for going quick in a straight line, but hopeless in the corners. Honda Accord was very nice, but just not my cup of tea, Mondeo, again a damned fine family car, but I don’t have one. VW Bora (mk4) 2.0 Sport was nice enough (whereas the mk4 Golf 130bhp diesel wasn’t), and the MX5, which introduced me to soft tops…
There was a lot to like about the MX5, quick enough, RWD (bonus), and plenty of fun. At the time I was driving around in a mk2 Golf GTi and it was the first hire car I’d thought ‘yeah I’d like one of these’. I could see why it gets the girly image, 18 stone builders just can’t fit behind the steering wheel. When I bought the Audi cab, it was first on the list but for one biggish issue. For a single car it just isn’t practical enough. My work involves shifting computers around, monitors, towers.
the Audi can swallow a lot of stuff, plus I’d got a tower & monitor on the backseat, and a passenger… It’d be a lot easier if the girlfriend drove, I could just have an MX5 then, and borrow her hatchback when we needed a bit more practicality. I’ve thought about the two car route, but that leads to double insurance/road tax, and I know from the Audi, if I drove a hatchback to work & back, I’d miss a good 50% of the roof down usage. It also means having driven it home with the roof down, I leave it down & it encourages me to take it out again in the evening. So I want to try & wrap this in to a one car package.
The downside of the Audi is even with the 2.6 150BHP engine, it has a glacial 0-60 of 12 seconds. It’s quick enough when it’s going, plenty of overtaking midrange, but then it follows it with 1400kg of weight going in to a corner so you never really get it flowing. Living on the edge of the peaks this kinda takes the edge of the fun off of it. Of course on a sunny summers day, roof down, it’s quite nice just to potter around slowly, downside is this is the UK, particularly this summer we’ve not had that many summer days to potter around in. The weight & 2.6 also = 22mph average which while I expected, it’s a good job I only do 6000 miles a year.
So, fun, nippy, practical enough to carry computers, but not for 4 & a wardrobe, and can we chuck in lightish & RWD would gain brownie points. The local roads are short, narrow & twisties, so high speed motorway cruising isn’t a priority, chuckability & mid range grunt is good. Something that can be enjoyed within the national speed limit. Oh and a budget of around £2000-3000, and much as I like the idea of Audi A8s & BM 735s for lots of power & toys for bugger all cash, for our local roads, they’re not the best combination.
So the contenders in alphabetical order
Alfa GTV or GTV Spyder – Damned fine looking cars, interior on the later specs is damned pretty too, Alfa reliability? Galvanised?
Alfa 147/156 – Look nice for family cars, the 156 V6 is worth buying for the view under the engine bay. Again just how reliable are 10yr old Alfas to run nowadays? As another twitterer has already pointed out “its going to be hard to match that Audi, doing it with an Alfa could be a head in hands moment too.”
Audi 80 S2 Quattro Coupe – 4WD, lots of power, I do worry about when that £1000 bills going to hit when the Turbo blows though…, but it’s a 5 pot & that noise OMG! Hence it being allowed on the list, and other Turbo’s not. Also less likely to have been owned by a hoodlum as some of the others would have.
Audi 80 Cabriolet 2.6/2.8 – Manual – mines an auto so some of the performance hit I’m suffering is down to the auto box
BMW E36 323/328i, scores on RWD, soft top with practicality. Basically a quicker version of the Audi & has RWD, but it’s a BMW so you’re a cock.
which is another one that comes up on my wish list regularly, lacks the soft top, but under 1000kg, 50/50 weight distribution, quick, handles well, RWD, practical, galvanised, reliable, and not that expensive to run. Lucky enough that I talked my dad in to running a 924S then 944S over a 10 year period.
Downside besides not being a soft top is image. I do self employed work, and pull up in a Porsche & suddenly people look at the badge and think you are charging too much. This is despite the fact the car is 20 years old & cost less than their Mondeo. Pull up in a new £30k BMW 5 series they won’t bat an eyelid, yet a used £5k Porsche & suddenly you are earning too much. Go figure that one.
VW Bora V6 4 Motion or V5 – quick, but has it got soul? I was reasonably impressed by the 2.0 Sport I drove a few years back.
VW Golf VR6 mk3 – Quick in a straight line, but would it be as fun as the Golf?
VW Polo GTi – I quite like the looks of the Mk3F in GTi form at least, weight & power similar to the mk2 Golf, could be fun…, and unlike a lot of the above choice may even be frugal too.
You’ll probably note that diesels are lacking, I’m a proper petrolhead, and I like my cars to be powered by petrol.
Feel free if you’ve made it this far to hit up suggestions/thoughts in the comments