I bought my dream car at age 19 - but is it everything I hoped it would be?
Another case of 'don't meet your heroes?'
People dream of owning quirky classics and high-revving hypercars but for me, the dream has always been an Abarth 595 Competizione. Ever since the 'Series 4' models came out back in 2016, when I was only 15, I knew it was the one for me.
However, there were one or two small issues.
Firstly, I couldn't drive. Secondly, even when I could learn to drive there was no way in hell I was going to get insured. Lastly, the list price was twenty-odd grand and where was that going to come from?
So when I turned 16, I went and got a job at McDonald's which paid £4.90 per hour - basically slavery. Three years later, I'm still there as a pretty much full-time member of staff, whilst doing a full-time university course at the same time. Who needs a life?
I managed to save some money and, last summer, sold my 69bhp Vauxhall to buy a 2011 Abarth 500C. It was brilliant. There are a couple of articles on my profile about the experience if you have a spare few minutes. Despite the lurchy flappy-paddle MTA gearbox, it was the most fun thing I'd ever driven... for about 5 minutes. It was a bit of a lemon but I persevered and got it into good shape. However, the constant 'babying' and reliability issues really stopped me from enjoying the car. I came to the conclusion that the cost of up-keep was taking the mickie, and that for much less I could finance the 595 Comp that was on my phone background.
So I did it.
My mum wasn't best pleased. She said it was extremely irresponsible and ridiculous for a 19-year-old to drive an insurance group 37 car. And she couldn't be more right.
My girlfriend despises how loud it is and finds it very amusing how much I love it, often asking if I love it more than her.
The monthly payments may keep me up at night, but the car is everything I hoped it would be. It's plenty fast, despite 'only' having 180bhp. The lightness and firm suspension makes it feel like you're doing a million miles per hour, despite staying within the speed limit. It's the nicest thing I've ever owned which makes me conscious about putting loads of miles on it but it does get it's fair share of use, as you can see from the photos.
I've probably watched this video more than a hundred times over the past few years, and driving it is just as bonkers as it looks.
I don't really fit in it due to the high, 'bus-like' driving position. I am a touch over 6'5 and the Sabelt bucket seats don't do much to help out. That's maybe why I chose a cabrio, so that if I do get a bit cramped I can just make the roof disappear.
The Record Monza exhaust system really is as good as everyone says it is. The 595 sounds absurd for a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder. The turbo-lag isn't ideal, but in my opinion it adds to the fun of the driving experience. The gear-change is tight and definitely makes it worth going with a manual car. The torque transfer control (TTC) system is effective in the bends, however the LSD in the newer models is definitely worth the premium if you are really going to push on.
Thin shoes are definitely the way to go. Leave the chunky trainers at home if you plan on going for a spirited drive. Throttle response is, however, lovely when the car is in sport-mode and the whole setup inspires confidence. The steering-wheel is far to big and chunkier than it really should be, however it has good weight and feedback to it.
If you'd like to see me do anything with it, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to listen to any suggestions.
Also, I'd love to hear about your dream rides. Have you got a particular colour combo/spec in mind?
So, was meeting my hero a mistake?
Absolutely not, I'll probably keep it forever.