In 2012 I kept a Blog. Luckily, teenage angst and open discussions on celeb crush's were absent. I was 30 years old and at that turning point in life when being an adult was supposed to be embraced. With my middle ages looming before me I penned the following. Update is both long overdue, and after the below:
""-- A lot of people have a mini crisis when they hit 30. “Youth has finished” or “I haven’t done as much as I should have by this point in my life”. I’m a petrolhead. I’m having a far different crisis.
I haven’t owned all the cars I wanted to.
My problem here is I have got a fair few marquees under my belt. But in doing so, I have revisited things when I maybe should have moved on to other pastures. I don’t feel bad about this, for example the AW11’s I have owned have netted me a great deal of experience, and as such my current MR2 is in prime fettle, and has been modified perfectly (in my mind).
Other examples have left a nostalgic residue. This is perhaps less constructive. My first E30 was so basic, a white 316 more-door, that I loved it to bits. It was a rust free steal at 80 quid with a full MOT, but my neglect caused it to snap a timing belt. I felt that there was more to be had from this marquee, so I revisited it with a red 318 touring. That was not such a smart buy. I should have left it well alone.
So as pass my first decade of motoring, I feel the need to rethink my strategy. I have owned a marquee from all corners of the globe. Every country that produces a car has been tried. Some I have learned from and I stay clear, others I haven’t learned a lesson from.
Take Fiat. My first foray into the Italian stable was with a Cinquecento (no snickering up there), and although it got me back on the road after a license loss, it was a pain in the arse.
The wee 900cc was not up to the rigeurs of commuting 100 miles a day perhaps, but it soon died. That coupled with the rumours and scaremongering that Italian cars have caused me to bodyswerve them for near on a decade. It was only the need for a newer and more reliable backup car that saw me purchase a yellow 500. Touch wood, its been reliable so far!
I think the 500 has made me re-evaluate a lot of things. Have I been biased for the wrong reasons? Has it been my constant bangernomics that have led me to poor cars rather than the cars themselves? Have I not gave less common marquees a fair shot? It is a question that I will soon need to answer, as I find myself on the edge of another purchase. The logic goes like this:
500: This is a reliable backup car, but also predominantly the good lady’s machine. If both of us need a car at once, I have to fall back on to….
AW11: Perfect little sports car, economic, reliable, but not practical. Plus its increasing classic status means I’d like to take the strain off it mileage-wise to protect my investment.
Camaro: This is a proper project, and is at best halfway through a restoration. In fairness, it should be viewed at present as a hobby more than a car.
So that leaves the 500 and the MR2 in regular duty. I’m soon to be taking a move up north, and a practical car could be useful for this. As such I have started to ponder what I could get on a budget of about 1k.
At first I pondered the Swedes. I had a Volvo 740 turbo many moons ago. Fantastic load lugger, good torque, took all the abuse I threw at it. Tremendous value but I have to strike it off for a number of reasons…
1. I’ve had one. This needs to be an exercise in originality. Experiencing new things.
2. Its RWD. Normally this is a big plus for me, but as I am moving to somewhere that is a bit more rural than before, I need something with a bit more versatility should the weather get nasty. 4WD has now become a big box needing ticked.
This places some other as-yet uncharted marquees in my criteria. First off, the Subaru
No, not the Impreza. I have neither the budget to ensure that I will get a decent one, nor the inclination to own what everyone in Aberdeen uses. This is despite me loving that addictive noise and character. Make no mistake, the Impreza has been on my to-do list for many years. No, for now if I venture near the starry badge, it will be for a Legacy.
Crazy good value, more practical, less yobbo, but I have heard they are sore on the juice. To be honest, a practical 4WD is never going to be economical, but I figure if I’m going to be stung for petrol, I might as well have the torque to justify it. Therefor, the left field choice is……….
The Jeep Cherokee. Proper load lugger, Volvo looks, great torque, and not all that common. Will get me out of most sticky wickets weather-wise, and most if not all of the old ones are sub 1k.
Never owned a big 4X4 before, so this is new territory for me as well. As I said, its all about new things! Let the hunt commence! ""–
4 Years have passed since I wrote that. I am older, and to some extent wiser. The Fiat, no shock here, was a mistake. I quickly dispatched that following its first horrific MOT for a new Diesel Passat, then a FN2 Civic Type R, then a TVR Chimaera. We will come to the Chimaera in due course and in another article, as there is much to be said for it. I neither went for a Cherokee nor a Legacy, but for an Impreza after all. It was a green classic shape Turbo 2000. Great car, and to date the only one that has parted company with me by means of theft. I thought the days of cretins stealing turbo cars were left in the 90's, but clearly not. Would I own one again? Absolutely, but only when the time is right, which if you have read this far will now start to realise, is a hard thing to gauge for me!!
And so to another snapshot of my life, this time 4 years on. What do I have now? Well as mentioned there is a TVR, but also (and somewhat surprisingly) the AW11 MR2 is still with me. To date, it is the longest owned car I have ever had. Is it on the road? No. Again, another article, another time. For daily duties, I have both calmed down and learned nothing. I have had a variety of daily cars in the past 4 years, most surviving ownership with me for anywhere from 6 months to a year. Shocking for most, normal for me... to answer the question, it is a nearly new BMW 318d. Not the most unusual, nor the most exciting of chariots, but a reliable one. A strong lesson I have made over nearly 2 decades and a hundred or more cars.. have one that is dependable.
Looking forward, what does the quick march to my 40's hold? The TVR has struck a chord, so I would hope to still have that in the coming years. Its fast but not the fastest, nice but not the most beautiful, predictable if not the most reliable. This, I feel, is why I think it might just last. Just like me, it does enough things well enough to make it worth it. The MR2 though... thats anyone’s guess.... I've started a Skunkworks tribe on here, which will have updates in course (ones that probably won't be as longwinded or introspective as this). Search for Overdrive's Skunkworks to follow it.