- My M3 - family saloon track car

I need more cars

The perfect car - the one car for every occasion - probably doesn't exist. So I need more cars

3y ago

I would argue that the perfect car does not exist. What I mean by that is the car that - for you - does just what you need it to do, perfectly in every way; that there is nothing about it you can criticise. For every day you own it.

Every car ever built, though, has a purpose in mind. Some are designed for comfort, some for speed. Some for carrying loads, some for handling. They all, with very few exceptions, prioritise some of those traits, because no car does everything equally well. A car built to carry loads - say, a Mercedes E-Class estate, will be too heavy to make it handle as well as, say, a Lotus Exige. Similarly, you wouldn't buy a Caterham if your most common trip was taking the dogs for a walk on the moors. Yes, I am stating the obvious here, but bear with me a moment.

Why did you buy the car you did?

I bought mine - the E90 M3 you see above - because I wanted a car that I could take to the Nurburgring for a few laps, do the North Coast 500 or a road trip through the Alps. Are there better cars for that job? Probably, but not at the price I paid. The purpose of the M3 is to put a massive smile on the face of the driver, which it does almost every time I drive it. It has done a couple of track days, but the brake pads and fluid needed upgrading first. It helps that it will also carry three passengers and a couple of decent sized suitcases on such a trip, although its firm suspension means it is not the last word in ride comfort. And that is part of the compromise BMW had to make with this car. To give it the power, throttle response and handling balance required, BMW gave it a naturally-aspirated 4.0 litre V8 engine and pretty firm suspension. That means that it won't do 300 miles on a tankful of fuel and passengers tend to start complaining when pressing on over broken surfaces. It is BRILLIANT, but flawed.

It was - and still is - a low-mileage car, so I am trying to keep the mileage down in order to limit the depreciation. So I stopped driving it to work. I needed another car.

So I bought an old (even older) Ford Focus. The purpose of the Focus is not necessarily the same as the manufacturers intended, though. They intended it as an affordable family hatchback. It has plenty of room for 4 adults, comfortable seats, a decent ride, and a 1600 petrol engine that averages about 38mpg. But, after many years and miles of service, the handbrake tends to stick, the demister doesn't work very well and it doesn't have much in the way of luxury equipment. But it suits MY purpose of being a car I can leave in a multi-storey car park while I catch a train into London or do some shopping. It is fine for taking stuff to the dump, and if I did take dogs for a walk, it could do that too.

But it doesn't do comfortable. Not really comfortable, I mean. Not Mercedes or Jaguar comfortable. And let's face it - if i was going to a fancy country manor hotel, or the casino in Monte Carlo, I wouldn't pull up in a 12-year old Focus. Even the M3 doesn't cut it there, as good-looking as it is. The Focus is front-wheel drive and not especially adjustable in a handling sense, so it's not a car you buy to have fun in.

There are times when I want a car that will get up the hill where I live when it's covered in snow. And I want a car that I can do loads of track days in. I want a car in which I can drive 500 miles in comfort, and pull up outside a 5-star hotel with pride.

Look at the new cars being launched recently and all you see is yet another sport-cross-urban-utility-family car that supposedly is all things to all people. They are, in fact, barely acceptable to most. They are all big, heavy, tall five-door diesel or hybrid copies of each other. They are bought for their utility, they are essentially appliances, compromised in every way. Distinguishing features are limited to how much equipment they include - things like adaptive suspension, adaptive headlights, automatic braking and parking systems, lane-change 'assist', blind-spot warnings, et al - things that take all the skill out of driving. I don't want any of them.

I want to know what it's like to waft the family in quiet luxury all the way to... Tuscany, say. But then I want to drift around mountain hairpins, heel-and-toeing with confidence, as fast as I can. I want to do track days in a car that doesn't wallow in the corners or wear out its brakes after three laps. I want to pull up to the Savoy in a car that says VIP. And I want to take the whole family to the south of France for a week or two.

In short, I need more cars.

And a place to park them.

And the money to afford them. I either need to be Shmee150, or win the lottery.

What do you think? Is your car perfect? If so, what is it?

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Comments (4)

  • Very well put. I tell this to my wife all the time, but she just doesn't get it.

      3 years ago
  • Brilliant article, Chris! Thank you for posting :)

      3 years ago
  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe reviews Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

      3 years ago