I work at a local private school almost every afternoon every week, cleaning misses off toilet seats, emptying the students’ lunches out of the garbage bins, and vacuuming up staples. Obviously, this is an invaluable service, so it’s only natural that I was recently invited to join the rest of the staff at a bowling club for the end-of-year Christmas dinner party. And I can tell you that, very quickly, my work began to pale into the equivalent of walking a dog through the park.
It wasn’t the game of lawn bowls, which was actually a lot more fun than I expected a game for elderly ladies to be. Nor was it unwrapping my present, because that was a big torch with a toolbox stowed cleverly away in the handle. No, it was the dinner menu. I sat there for a full ten minutes blinking at it like a hypnotised chicken.
I literally cannot make decisions. I try to think about the thing in question from every conceivable angle but just when I’m finally at the point where I make a self-satisfied smile and turn to the waiter or walk towards the checkout, a small hand will go up in my head. And I’m back where I started.
I eventually ended up with what was called a “fishwife’s basket” and I was quite happy with that. Especially seeing as the school was paying for it. But now, I find myself faced with another decision. A decision that is easily the hardest decision a man could ever face. RAF Bomber Commander Harris never even got close.
It is, of course, choosing a Car of the Year.
Actually, that’s all rubbish. Within mere moments, it was done and dusted. The Abarth 124 Spider is the best car of 2017. An Italian two-seater roadster based on that wonderful little dollop of motoring perfection that is the Mazda MX-5 and built in the same Japanese factory. Unless you were around in the early 1940’s, what is there not to like about that?
Well, at least that’s what I thought. Before I learnt that the Abarth 124 Spider was, in fact, released in 2016, and was therefore ineligible. “Right,” I said, but what I actually meant to say was, “Please may someone bludgeon me with a crowbar.”
I knew I was on the right track with the peppery little Abarth, but rather than trying to come up with another one from the top of my head and risk doing it again and again, I thought I would be more scientific about it. So I prepared a comprehensive, alphabetical list of all the cars that were released this year, and immediately crossed out the MG GS and anything that was even slightly boring. This still left me with something that looked worryingly like a dinner menu, but I said “Right” and systematically worked my way through it.
Pretty soon, I’d found the one. It is a car I already deeply appreciate – to the point of wanting – even in standard ‘boring’ form, and now a sporty concept version has been revealed.
You see, for a sports car to actually work as a sports car, it has to be nimble, which means it has to be small. And it has to be quick, which means it has to be light. And well, there is no other that so brilliantly encapsulates all this as the new – 2017 - Volkswagen Up! GTI.
Then I realised it looked like an electric toaster. And this brought me right back to the only other true sports car choice – the Mazda MX-5. Which doesn’t.
But even with the MX-5, I see a potential problem that could arise. For instance, say Clive Palmer wants to have his head blow-dried in it. That won’t look very good. Say he then puts the roof up, which is basically a tarpaulin on a clothes drier. That doesn’t look very good either. All that beauty, wasted, just because the owner doesn’t happen to be a fashion model twenty-four-seven.
It’s not just me who’s thought of this; Mazda has. Which is why this year, they have brought out an MX-5 with a proper metal folding roof. It’s called the RF and yes, it might weigh slightly more, but the upside is that now ugly people can feel comfortable driving it and we don’t have to see them. Not to mention the fact that it is a coupe that can also be a roadster – two in one for the price of one.
I was very impressed by all this and was just about to lock it in, when the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio popped into my head. Followed by the McLaren 720S. Then the new Ford GT. Then the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. I’ll admit that perhaps just briefly a Suzuki Ignis could have been there too. The thing is they’re all tremendous. I’d be more than happy to own any and all of them. However, that would be breaking the rules. There must only be one, so here goes…
The Aston Martin Vanquish S. For being the prettiest car, not of 2017, but the prettiest car ever to be sculptured by man. There can be no argument.
Now I know that the Vanquish has been around for almost a decade, which in car years, makes it approximately the same age as the Queen. The difference is that it’s aged even more gracefully, and with the latest S model, they’ve… I don’t know what they’ve done actually. All I know is that it is far from wrinkled and quivering. If it had hair, it wouldn’t even be what women call “salt and pepper.” I hope that’s relevant.
My mind is made up. I’m smitten.
Well, almost. Because just in the past few months, Aston Martin did it again. They chopped the head off a DB11 to create the DB11 Volante, and result is to die for. And that got me thinking. Here is a car just as pleasing to the eye as the Vanquish S but with underpinnings that weren’t clobbered out of a rock.
You’ll be relieved to hear I didn’t get thinking much more than that. It turns out the DB11 Volante is a 2018 model.
Vanquish S it is then. I think.
PHOTO CREDIT: NetCarShow.com