On a recent episode of Fifth Gear, Tiff Needell introduced a piece on the new Ferrari FF by implying that it was every petrolheads dream to drive a Ferrari. Well I’m sorry Mr Tiff, I know I’m a little weird but it isn’t and never has been my dream to drive a Ferrari. Sorry.
In fact, I’m going to say something rather controversial now. I’m not that fussed about supercars. There, I said it. I know I’m probably going to have to turn in my petrolhead badge now and be told to empty the contents of my desk into a box, but hey, sometimes it’s good to get things out into the open.
But isn’t a petrolhead confessing something like this is tantamount to sacrilege? Surely it is the automotive equivalent of saying that Ringo Starr was the most talented member of the Beatles? Or walking into an Apple conference proclaiming your love of Bill Gates? Well maybe, but the thing is, you’re never likely to see a supercar on PetrolBlog. OK, so I may have let a Pagani Zonda in once, but I’m not sure anyone noticed. No, PetrolBlog is much more focused on the mundane, the everyday and the accessible. Sorry, that’s just how it is.
I’ll never forget the time I arrived home after picking up my Vauxhall VX220. Upon seeing me pull on to the drive, my then next door neighbour came bounding out of the house asking questions about my ‘new Ferrari’. When I tried to explain that it was merely a Vauxhall built by Lotus, he looked at me in one of those looks that suggested I was a Hobnob short of a full pack. This misconception continued throughout ownership and I’d often be told that I had a ‘nice Ferrari’. The most comical occurrence was in an Italian petrol station just across the Austrian border. The attendant, wearing full Ferrari regalia, insisted that I told him all about my ‘test Ferrari’ and that the strange griffin on the front of the car was merely a disguise. Now for some, having folk believe you are driving a Ferrari might be fun. Besides, there are some truly hideous kits available on eBay. But for me, it was awful. I bought a Vauxhall and was proud it was a Vauxhall. Yes, I was one of the strange people who actually chose it over a Lotus.
On a similar theme, I’ve literally been inundated with two questions asking what car I’d buy if I won a million on the lottery. Clearly I should tow the line and respond with a rather predictable Ferrari or Lamborghini, but instead I single out a Lancia Delta Integrale Evo II. This causes some bemusement and the look on the question setter’s face suggests that they may have misheard me and thought I told them that I enjoy picnicking with my pet penguins and like to eat lemon grass from the back of a baboon. But no, I really did mean to say that the first car I’d seek out would be a five-door Italian hatchback from the mid-nineties that can be bought for about £25k. For sure, I’d be spending the remaining £999,975 on repair bills and a probable divorce settlement, but a lottery win wouldn’t change my choice of dream car.
Which brings me nicely on to dream garages.
Back in December 2010, the rather excellent Drive Cult featured a post by Matthew Lange where he listed the cars that appear in his ‘Top Ten Dream Garage‘. Fantasising about a dream garage is nothing new and has been a part of pub chat for many years. For many of us it is highly unlikely that a dream garage will ever come to fruition as even with ten cars in the garage, the cost could be well into seven figures. So bankers’ bonus or lottery win aside, most of us will continue to daydream.
But reading through Matthew’s list and the comments that subsequently followed it, something occurred to me. As I looked down the list, largely consisting of Porsches, Ferraris and Aston Martins, I realised that I’m probably not normal. I genuinely struggled to find a car that I’d want in my dream garage. The plethora of supercars and automotive giants might represent the pinnacle of motoring greatness, but they simply leave me cold. I can admire and respect them for what they stand for and am glad they exist, but they don’t float my boat. If I was passed by a Lamborghini Murcielago and a mint condition Citroen Visa GTi, it would be the little French rocket that would get my attention. When picking up the latest copy of evo or Octane, the first thing I do is flick through to read the articles that don’t feature supercars, with Stephen Dobie’s Willy and Richard Meaden’s Rallye always providing interest.
It is the same on twitter. Reading a tweet about a hot hatch or seeing a photo of an old classic will get my attention, whereas another tweet about how fast a supercar has just gone or how expensive a new supercar is of no interest. Take @PerfectionValet on twitter. Richard often provides work in progress photos of the projects he works on and does, without a shadow of a doubt, a fine job. But amongst all of the exotica I’ve seen in recent weeks, it was the work done on Richard Meaden’s Peugeot 106 Rallye that really caught my attention. Top work on a brilliant little hot hatch.
I guess it all started when I was young. The majority of Corgi and Matchbox cars lined up on my hallway motorway queue were ‘normal’ cars. I distinctly remember a green MK3 Ford Escort Ghia, a silver Renault 5 Le Car, Ford Sierra XR4x4 and MK1 Golf with surfboards on the roof! To name just four of a rather large collection, many of which have been handed down to my children. I was the only one of my friends who didn’t have a poster of a Testarossa or Countach on the wall. Instead I had a MK1 Lotus Cortina, Lancia Delta Integrale and a Saab 900 Turbo. ‘Normal’ cars rocked my world then and they still do now.
But what about my dream garage? The contents may be a little less extravagant and exotic as those featured on Drive Cult but to me they mean a lot. Restricting the list to ten is the tricky part, but the beauty of my dream garage is that my lottery win would go further. I wouldn’t have a dream garage, I’d have a dream barn. Heck, I’d even have a dream warehouse. A quick bit of research suggests that each one of the cars in my top ten can be purchased for less than £30,000. So I’m going to name my list the Real World Dream Barn. Ten cars and £30k budget for each. Any cash leftover can be used for the fuel!
So here it is, PetrolBlog’s Real World Dream Barn.