You may have arrived here following my potentially shocking confession about supercars. If you didn’t, can I politely suggest you have a read of it first?
But having confessed that a lottery win wouldn’t see me searching for a copy of What Supercar? magazine, I thought it only fair to name and shame the contents of my own Real World Dream Barn. Remember, ten cars and a maximum budget of £30k for each. Anything left over can be used for fuel or the inevitable ongoing maintenance and breakdown cover.
So without further ado and too much waffle, here’s PetrolBlog’s Real World Dream Barn.
1. Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione II
There has been a Lancia Delta Integrale in my dream garage for as long as I can remember. It all started when I was a young lad when I’d watch the rallying on BBC2. In those days, before multi-channel satellite TV, rallying coverage was largely restricted to a 30 minute show in the evening. I can’t remember if Juha Kankunnen or Markku Alén was my favourite driver, but what I do know is that the Martini Racing Integrale was my hero. I was in awe of the machine and promised myself that one day I’d get one of my own. As yet I’m still waiting to drive one, let alone own one. Part of me worries that it would be like meeting my hero and for them to fail to live up to expectations. But a bigger part of me knows that this won’t be the case. This will be one hero worth meeting. One day I’ll set aside the £25k needed for a good one, get a one-way flight ticket Milan and not return until I’ve found the best Integrale in Italy. I’ll then drive it back to England with comprehensive breakdown cover and the biggest smile you’ll ever see.
2. Porsche 968 Club Sport
What’s a Porsche doing in my dream garage? Well this isn’t supercar territory. In fact, a good 968 Club Sport can be yours for about £12k. For that you get a stripped out two-seater 968 with a 3-litre engine developing 240bhp. Nice. A good old fashioned sports car, front-engined, rear wheel drive and with lots of potential for sideways action. This would be my track toy.
3. Lancia Thema 8.32
Take a rather humdrum 4-door saloon car, add a sublime Poltrona Frau interior, then for good measure, add an 8-cylinder Ferrari engine and what have you got? The Lancia Thema 8.32. In my opinion, the Thema 8.32 is the world’s ultimate sleeper and oozes sophistication and discreetness. It is the antithesis of a showy supercar and it commands respect from those in the know. It might well be cast aside by Ferrari purists and shunned by Lancia enthusiasts, but that’s half the appeal. At £37,500 it cost three times that of the standard Thema and this probably accounts for the fact that only seven were sold here. But today you can pick one up for sub £10k. Be warned though, the cost of keeping a Thema 8.32 could easily rival that of a supercar. Still works for me though!
4. Audi RS2
The Audi quattro is likely to be in many people’s dream garage, but there’s no place for it in mine. Yes, it would almost certainly appear if the garage was extended to include a further ten cars, but the Integrale has more than enough rally pedigree for me thank you. Instead, my choice of Audi is the quite brilliant RS2. The first RennSport (RS) model from Audi, the RS2 combined the practicality of an estate car with the performance of a Porsche 911. This is hardly surprising when you consider that Porsche played a huge part in the car’s development, taking the underpinnings of an Audi 80 and producing a supercar taming machine. Better still, it would still seat five people and have enough room in the boot for a week away in the Alps. Today, an RS2 will set you back in the region of £15k, but kept in a good condition, you’ll probably make your money back. Brilliant.
5. Ford Capri 2.8i
I’m not sure how many dream garages would include a Capri, but if they did I’d hazard a guess that it would mostly likely be a RS3100, 280 or Tickford. Not for me though, for my choice is a 2.8i, preferably in white. Although the MK1 represents the genesis of the Capri and is arguably the prettiest of the range, I grew up with the MKIII and it will always be my favourite. I grew up at a time when the Capri was THE choice of practical performance car and witnessed it spiral into near oblivion when the birth of the hot hatch rendered the Capri outdated and out of fashion. I owned a number in the days before they became cool again and will always have a soft-spot for the car. But it has to be the 2.8i for me, with the amazing sound and grunt. By today’s standards it is far from quick, but for cruising about with windows and sunroof open, there are few better. Just make sure you perfect your ‘Capri elbow’ stance. Price for a good 2.8i today? Up to £5k, but prices fluctuate quite dramatically.
6. Alfa Romeo SZ
I was 14 when the Alfa Romeo SZ was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and it really was a case of love at first sight. For others it was more a case of hate at first sight as the SZ’s appearance certainly divided opinion. In fact, even in the SZ’s homeland, the Italian press nicknamed the car ‘Il Mostro’ (The Monster). Zagato is often credited for the car’s somewhat challenging design, but it was in fact Robert Opron who penned the initial sketches. Antonio Castellana then took the designs forward and worked on the interior, with Zagato merely adding a few final touches before completing the final production of the car. Officially it was only ever available in red with a black roof, but Andrea Zagato himself had one finished entirely in black. The SZ was based on the Alfa 75 and was powered by a wonderful 3-litre V6 engine. It accelerated to 60mph in 6.4 seconds before reaching a top speed of 156mph. But the SZ’s trump card wasn’t its speed. Instead, the SZ won critical acclaim for outstanding handling characteristics. Only 1,036 Alfa SZs were ever produced, so they’re a bit of a rarity. That said, you’ll only need to part with £25k-£30k for your very own ‘Mostro’, just don’t expect replacement panels to be cheap. Best not park it in your local Tesco car park, eh?
7. MK1 Volkswagen Scirocco
For me, Volkswagen peaked in the late 70s and early 80s. In fact, pretty much every MK1 Volkswagen is a class act, with a purity of design that is lost on their modern day counterparts. The MK1 Golf, the MK1 Polo, the MK1 Passat and the MK1 Jetta are prime examples. But the ultimate MK1 Volkswagen is the Scirocco and in my humble opinion it represents one of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s finest pieces of work. I nearly bought a Scirocco Storm when I was 18, but an insurance quote of £3,000, for what was then a £300 car, put me off. Shame. I should have just bought it so I could spend some time just looking at it. Beautiful little car and yours today, depending on condition and spec, for around £3k.
8. Vauxhall VX220 Lightning
Every dream garage needs a lightweight two-seater sports car and my choice is the VX220 Lightning. I’ve owned a normally aspirated and a turbo version of the VX220 and I much preferred the standard car. Although breathtakingly quick, the turbo just didn’t have the purity of delivery of the NA, so when I buy another VX220, (and it is when and not if), it’ll be non-turbo for me. Pick of the bunch being the limited edition Lightning from 2001 which added such goodies as black wheels, hard top and black windscreen surround. With the largely bullet proof 2.2 Ecotec engine, a Lightning can be yours for just £10k. Bargain.
9. Land Rover Defender 50th Anniversary
If every dream garage needs a lightweight sports car, then it also needs a 4×4 and there’s only one real choice. The Land Rover Defender. There are many to choose from, but the 1998 50th Anniversary would be my ideal choice. Powered by a V8 engine and driven by a four-speed automatic box, the 50th Anniversary cost £26,000 when new. Only 385 out of a total production of 1,071 cars were available in the UK, so they’re highly sought after. Each one came with air conditioning and extra sound proofing, so if you can live with the thirst, they make for an excellent everyday proposition. Yours today for £15k.
10. Citroen AX GT
A surprising and controversial choice? Maybe. Up until this year, it would have been the 205 or Golf GTi fighting it out for a place in my dream garage, but not anymore. For now, the place for the small 80s hot hatch is taken up by the Citroen AX GT. It is poorly built and the position of the pedals is totally at odds with the position of the driver’s seat, but none of this matters. For the AX GT presents an engaging and involving drive and is every bit as good to drive as some of its better known counterparts. After years in the wilderness, I sense a growing sense of appreciation for the AX GT, I just hope it hasn’t come too late. Many have perished and the majority of the survivors have made far too many visits to Halfords. Good ones can be bought for less than £800 and pound-for-pound I reckon this represents the best value hot hatch on the market. Period.
So there you have it, my very own Real World Dream Barn. OK, so I admit, some of the cars may not exactly fit the heading of ‘Real World’, but each car can be purchased for sub £30k and in 2011 you can spend that on the top of the range Ford Mondeo estate.
Some quick calculations suggest that I could fill my dream garage for around £125,000, an average of £12,500 per car. Most, if not all, are free of depreciation and there’s something in the barn for every occasion. So is it wrong to dislike supercars? Perhaps you can tell me. But if nothing else, I’d very much like to hear about your own Real World Dream Barn. Remember, £30k budget and ten cars. Over to you. Who knows, I might give away a packet of Hobnobs for the best one…
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