Oil has been stealing a lot of headlines in recent history. The versatile, viscous fluid extracted from the Earth’s core affords us many luxuries: Plastics manufacture, medicine manufacture, road tar, clothing, toothpaste and fuel. But its combustion plays a significant part in the worlds current environmental crisis. Given it’s many uses, we use rather a lot: Around 35 billion barrels annually. At this rate, we’ll burn the Earth’s reserves sooner than you may think. That means fuel prices will rise until they become unaffordable for all but the mega-rich. We need to have our fun before that becomes an unfortunate reality.
Vauxhall Monaro VXR
This GM monster barged its way onto the scene in 2004, but it’s the facelifted 2005 version - wielding the 6.0 ‘LS2’ V8 powerplant – that’s of interest. The famously tail-happy Holden derivative supplies its power lazily, low down in the power range – making for effortless cruising filled with temptation. It’s a truly unique offering compared to its UK competition, which is perhaps why it remains so rare on the road: An M3 or RS4 is more practical, more economical, and a nicer place to sit. However, the maturity of the German offerings takes the edge off their ‘hooligan’ appeal. If exclusivity is your goal, a limited-edition VXR500 edition marked the end of the Monaro, featuring a dirty big Harrop supercharger. This helped the car produce 500bhp and an almost satanic supercharger whine. Your wallet won’t thank you at the petrol station, but your inner child certainly will.
The Jaguar XJS has to be one of the most cost-efficient ways to earn your V12-owner badge. £5000 will afford you an entry-level foray into the world of classic V12 ownership, but even strong examples of this 80’s grand tourer have developed a reputation for unreliability, so spend more for a rust-free example with service paperwork. A super-platinum-gold-diamond AA membership is also highly recommended.
Most XJS V12s utilise the long-standing 5.7 litre engine, which became the “high-efficiency” model in 1988. Later iterations of the XJS were available with a 6.0 litre V12, created by boring the cylinders of the existing powertrain. Regardless of the model you choose, flexing the V12 engine will return a 0-60 time in the low 7’s – stellar performance for its age and still plenty in 2019. It’s how it does the 0-60 sprint that’s evocative: The interior is lined with enough wood to rebuild Noah’s Ark and the engine gracefully surges with waves of torque. It’s like accelerating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s smoking jacket.
E60 BMW M5
When I was a young lad, I had a brief work experience placement in a BMW garage. During my time there, I replaced an O2 sensor on a 2006 BMW M5. Keen to check my work, the mechanic took me out for a very, very thorough test drive. My perception of motoring was irreversibly altered from that point. The V10 effortlessly powers the four-door saloon to ludicrous speeds in an incredibly short amount of time. Those speeds are then securely held through corners – much like the occupants, enveloped by the hug of self-inflating side-bolsters in the seats.
The iDrive system is dated, they aren’t famous for reliability, and when it does go wrong you can expect a call from your mortgage broker to discuss payment options. But no one gives a crap because the engine scream tickles every nerve, the power delivery is unstoppable, it’s comfort is seemingly unparalleled and it’s all from a practical family-transporter – which adds a sense of hilarity to the equation.
Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG (C215)
If you want ballistic levels of straight-line performance and enough torque to tow a cargo ship, this is your vehicle. Arguably, the cheaper, lighter CL63 AMG offers better bang-for-buck; but the obscenity of the 65’s twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 can’t be ignored. The sheer audacity Mercedes have just to release such a behemoth commands respect. This top-of-the-line Merc sacrifices its cornering poise in pursuit of becoming the ultimate hooligan grand tourer. Short of chartering your own Eurofighter Typhoon, this is the quickest way to cross continents in style and comfort (with a hefty grin on your face). Thanks mostly to their rarity, used prices start around £30,000. If that makes you flinch, wait ‘til you start paying for rear tyres.
The Chimaera seems a little left-field in this list: It’s TVR’s most popular model, the most common TVR, likely even the most docile. However, there’s a very good reason it made the cut: The Rover V8. This engine is a cornerstone of British Engineering, featured in everything from the Rover P5b to the Bowler Wildcat. It’s sophisticated enough to use an aluminium block and heads, but simple enough that you don’t need specialist tools and a computer science degree to work on it. The Chimaera housed the Rover V8 in a range of capacities from the 240bhp 4.0 model to the full-fat Chimaera 500, boasting a 340bhp 5.0 derivative. Whilst the 5.0 V8 may earn you the most respect from the locals down the pub, enthusiasts widely regard the 4.5-litre model to offer a significant improvement in balance at the expense of a small sacrifice in power.
These cars certainly don't offer sensible MPG figures, but they do offer a touch of exclusivity and a scintillating soundtrack. But plenty of cars tick that box - What would your £30,000 fuel-burner be?