My super cars aren’t supercars

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.

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. April 25, 2011

    Great post and I mostly agree with notable exceptions; modern day being Pagani and any 911 GT something or other. Classics, well, there’s all sorts, and does include some Ferraris. Actually, a general ambivalence to modern Ferraris and Lamborghini I can understand, but the F40? Really? Should I send round a defibrillator? In a Skoda Yeti.

    Now, I need to work out my Real World Dream Barn list.

    • April 25, 2011

      Ha! Hold fire on the defibrillator for now.

      Don’t get me wrong, I admire the F40. If nothing else, I remember it fondly in Out Run (showing my age now). But I would genuinely prefer a Thema 8.32. Genuinely.

      Look forward to your list…

  2. April 25, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more, I have a “lottery win” list of cars that I want and the majority are well under £30k (with the exception of a Maserati GranTurismo and a few classics). Topping the list would be a Volvo 850 T5-R estate, VW Beetle Cabrio (old and new), Matra Rancho, Alfa 155, Lotus Carlton, Peugeot 405 Mi16, Subaru SVX, Volvo 480, Alfa SZ…..I could go on. Each of these cars has a special place in my heart from their heritage to memories of them throughout my life. The so called supercars of today have no interest to me and like you have mentioned, if a modern day Ferrari and an Alfa 164 Cloverleaf were put in front of me it would be the Alfa I looked at longest.

    • April 25, 2011

      Another great list! Totally agree about the 850, 155, Mi16 and Matro Rancho. I was in two minds about the Lotus Carlton, but in the end I gave the nod to the Thema. But the Carlton would be in the top 20, as would the 164 Cloverleaf, which I just happen to be looking at right now…

      • April 26, 2011
        Simon Hingston

        Mmm Rancho. My Grandad had loads of Talbots and I always wanted one. Now I know a bit more about them I think they’re probably best left in the imagination.

        • April 26, 2011

          Ha, you’re probably right, but I think they might just slip into the ‘so bad, it’s good’ category…

  3. April 26, 2011

    Once when pulling up at a border crossing in something expensive and German the attendant looked at me and asked if it was mine. I told him no it was a press car. He straight away asked if I had driven anything fancy recently. I replied that I had just driven a new varient of the Gallardo. He shurgged unimpressed and said
    “Oh, hmmm ok – have you driven the new Focus RS?” Cue a 20min hot hatch conversation. I had to oblige, he had a gun.

    • April 26, 2011

      Hot hatches for the win! Even some of the greatest car collections in the world include a hot hatch of some form…

  4. April 29, 2011

    I’m with you on the supercar thing. I think my only exception would be Aston Martin. Other than the fact that all models look disturbingly similar to one another, they are very classy, pretty cars.

    Other than that, it would probably be an Audi RS for me. Perhaps the modern day equivalent of the Thema: a normal car body hiding a mental engine!

    I like the idea of a hot hatch that doesn’t shout about it. Why do you think plod use Golf R32’s in gunmetal grey? Devon and Cornwall have black or silver Focus ST’s. Sleepers again.

    I’m loving your blog more and more Gav. Thanks for all the effort you put into it


    • May 3, 2011

      Thanks for your kind comment Chris. Apologies for not responding sooner, the usually excellent spam filter suddenly decided that you were spamming! No idea why!

  5. May 5, 2011

    Hi, i like your thoughts here are mine,

    1) Sierra Cosworth D500, had one loved it sold it when marriage and child came along biggest ever regret.

    2) Alfa Romeo 164 Cloverleaf, another reminising of the past, learning that use of the correct antifreeze will stop the alloy heads from corroding and trashing the enigine…ah hindsight.

    3)Volvo 850 T5, nuff said

    4)Holden VXR complete insanity!!

    5)Renault 5 Turbo, ah well to dream they were interesting.

    6)Alpine A110, what a body..

    7)Ferrari 246 Dino, yes the one and only beautiful Ferrari.

    8)Fiat 125 Arbath, my dad had one, it was fun, pity the silly beggar set fire to it….

    9)Vauxhal Nova SRi (mk1), another of my Dad’s cars, this one sprouted legs and did a runner one night never to be seen again, but it was a fun car.

    10)Triumph Dolomite Sprint, yes i had a bundle of these, you learn from the first one what keeps them going, comfy, fast, handled well, oh and my third Dolly sprint was abused by Bodie and Doyle in an episode of the Professionals, had i known that i’d still have it gutted is the word i am thinking of….

    Not a definitive list but certainly 10 cars i’d have in my garage today…


    • May 5, 2011

      Have to agree on the 164 Cloverleaf. Were it not for the existence of the Thema 8.32, it would have made my top ten. In reality, it is probably number 11.

      Good call on the Dolly Sprint too. Saw one on the road at the weekend. Always amazed at how fresh and low they look.

      Nice list sir!

  6. May 22, 2011

    I’ve always thought, anyone who buys a supercar could be doing so because they have a passion for it, but equally doing so because of the badge. Anyone buying a RS200 , Integrale etc. is guaranteed to be doing it because they love the car.

    Hence for me the excitement of seeing something more “mundane” than the standard Italian fare.

    • May 22, 2011

      Good point. You drive the likes of an Integrale or RS200 out of passion and enthusiasm. Supercar ownership can sometimes be associated with prestige and glamour.

  7. June 25, 2011

    Great Article (I just happened to stumble on your blog. kudo’s btw).
    I share your sentiments somewhat. Ever since I have been a kid my first “lotto win” car has been a 1972 Holden Torana XU-1, a car that sadly has hit lotto winner prices on the second hand market.
    I adore 911’s, but if I had the choice, I’d pick a Clio V6. Likewise I’d take an NSX over most Ferrari’s (355 notwithstanding)
    Most would find it odd that I’m hanging out for the Skoda Fabia vRS to be launch in Oz next February.

    • June 25, 2011

      Welcome! Glad to know you stumbled across my blog from the other side of the world! Totally agree with your Clio V6 and NSX comments.

      As for the vRS – it’ll be worth the wait. Did you happen to read my review of the little green monster?

  8. December 16, 2011

    I need to confess two cars that I would love to own. Fiat Panda 100hp and a Suzuki Ignis Sport! Whats worse about this confession is that I’m a 6.3 tall rugby player, so my team mates would point and laugh if I turn up in either of them….

    • December 16, 2011

      With a love of the 100HP and Ignis Sport, you’re amongst friends at PetrolBlog! 😉

      I’m also 6′ 3″ tall and have come close to buying the Panda a couple of times. Cracking little car. Can’t claim any rugby skills though!


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