Real World Dream Barns are like buses. You wait ten months for one to come along and then two appear in a single week. Dogknob’s eclectic selection has inspired @jeckythump to select his own list of ten cars that would grace his fantasy barn. It’s a rather fine selection.
Remember the rules of Real World Dream Barn – ten cars and no more than £30k spent on each. It’s harder than you might think. Check out the previous selections here.
As automotive connoisseurs, we all have a dream garage, one where money tends to be of no object and may be reflected in the exotica therein. In my dreams, I’ve long had four cars that would reside in my dream garage in perpetuity, but the PetrolBlog Real World Dream Barn rules mean that one of my dream quartet, the Lamborghini Miura, can’t be included. Happily, the other three cars can which means that I only have to pick seven others. Easy!
Or maybe not. Even a treehugging petrolhead like me has a potentially vast dream garage, though I must admit that some of its contents are perhaps a rather dubious shade of green.
So, having thought long and hard, here’s my PetrolBlog Real World Dream Barn. Some of the selections for my Real World Dream Barn are pioneers, some have been the subject of a major contemporaneous ‘want’ urge and others suit my preferences for cars that are not necessarily fast, rather cars that are small, light, simple, stylish and fun, cars that transcend what French philosopher Roland Barthes referred to as ‘the bestiary of power’. Hopefully, some of them are ‘not your obvious’ and, despite my long-standing fondness for the marque, I’ve tried not to choose a barn full of Triumphs.
La Déesse, the goddess, needs no introduction. The late LJK Setright described it as the most modern car in the world and, such was the technological leap it that represented, it probably still is. Seldom has a car been subject to philosophical discourse, and yet the DS was eulogised by Roland Barthes in his 1957 work Mythologies, in which the DS was feted as “a superlative object”. Glorious in so many ways.
I raved about Audi back in the 1980s – nascent urbane sophistication, and all very Vorsprung Durch Technik. I also raved about rallying back in the 1980s – Hannu Mikkola was my hero, Michele Mouton was my pin-up. I had the Audi Sport t-shirt and rally jacket, and the quattro was every car I ever wanted at the time, although I wasn’t quite old enough to drive. Exotic, pioneering and subtly brutal, it’s still king of the forests for me.
I was very, very young when the Triumph Stag was launched and, basically, I’ve wanted one forever. End of.
The three cars above are the non-negotiable, permanent inhabitants of my dream garage. The seven below are in no particular order and are subject to change….
I’d always thought Morgans were okay – old fashioned, traditional, 6-year waiting list and all that. Then, in December 2011, I went on a factory visit to Malvern from Coventry University with Andrew Noakes and the students of one of his MA Automotive Journalism modules (I’d done the module the previous year as a ‘complementary’ part of my PhD) and I came away wanting a Morgan – any Morgan – so much that it hurt. Modern tech, classic design – what’s not to like? With so much style, lowish CO2 emissions and the Real World Dream Barn £30k limit, a nearly-new boggo 1600 4/4 would do very nicely, as long as it had a wooden dash. By the way, the factory visit is thoroughly recommended and you can just ring up and book; details are on the Morgan website. You know you want to.
I’ve always been interested in car design, and I remember cooing so over the Z1 when it was introduced back in 1989. A modern, perhaps steely take on the classic roadster – those doors! – its styling has a contemporaneous air yet still stands scrutiny today. I also recall that the Z1 was critiqued at the time for being underpowered, especially as contemporary opinion was that its chassis could handle more than its (no doubt creamy-smooth) straight-6 delivered but, as mentioned in my preamble, ultimate powwwwwwerrrrrrr is of little concern for me. The Z1 floats all of my boats, and is rare with it. Image © BMW
Fiat Panda 100HP
This may seem a rather prosaic choice for a ‘dream barn’, but I’ve always had a thing for the Panda. The original was a fantastic piece of minimalist design, and the second generation Panda is probably the nearest thing we have to a contemporary Citroën 2CV, Renault 4 or BMC Mini in terms of practicality and classlessness. Small, light, simple, fun and (in my opinion) stylish, the 2nd generation Panda is, like the Z1, everything I approve of in a car. I test drove a 1.2 Dynamic version for my sister a couple of years ago and, despite there only being 40kg or so between them, it made my own 1.2 Punto seem very flabby and baggy. I loved it. A basic 1.1 Active would do but this is a dream barn, so a 100hp it is then. Or maybe a more eco-friendly new-generation TwinAir. Image © Fiat
Once upon a time, Mercedes-Benz was a (hyphenated) byword for elegance and quality and, Triumphista though I am, I’ve more than once mused on Twitter as to whether there’s owt much cooler than an old Merc. Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz seem to have taken their stylistic eye off the ball somewhat and, to my eyes, haven’t introduced a truly attractive car since the 1980s. Aesthetically, the last Merc I cared for was the W201 190e (though if anyone’s got a spare SLS knocking around, that’d be nice…), and their stylistic downfall is amply illustrated by the SL. The latest SL is, erm, challenging to behold, whereas the W113 ‘Pagoda’ SL is quite simply one of the most elegant cars ever made. There’s not many around at less than £30k though.
When I were a lad (said best in a northern accent!), the Lancia Montecarlo seemed very glamorous and was almost mythical. It was a car that you only ever saw in books, never on the road – certainly not around Rochdale, anyway. Indeed, the only time I ever saw one moving its parts was in the Disney film ‘Herbie goes to Monte Carlo’. Its styling is simple yet exotic and utterly ’70s and, despite a litany of faults (mere trifles such as rust, brakes and electrics), finding a Montecarlo while perusing Car and Classic always makes me look twice. And then look again. And then probably tweet about it. The Montecarlo transcends logic and I’d almost forgotten how much I wanted one. Image © Wikipedia
Ooh, controversial! I’m going to be brave and include the Leaf here, although it’d probably be more at home on the pages of my own blog. Whether we like it or not, there is a need to reduce the environmental impacts of our car use and, along with hybrids, EREVs, fuel cells and more efficient low emission internal combustion engines, electric cars play an important role in the pursuit of a low carbon automobility. Unlike some EV offerings, there is an authenticity to the Leaf because it has been designed from the ground up to be an electric car, and it shows. The future of the electric car may not lie in cars like the Leaf but, currently (badum tish!), the Leaf is the future now and, frankly, I can’t recall a car possessed of such serenity – from its obvious lack of noise to the quality of its ride and handling – that made me feel just so chilled after driving it. Niiiiiiiice. Image © Nissan
Choosing the Quattroporte would appear to fly in the face of my small-light-simple preferences, as well as my eco-weeny credentials. Actually, it does fly in the face of my small-light-simple preferences, as well as my eco-weeny credentials. But isn’t it marvellous? The looks, the noise, the presence all make it worthy of inclusion into anyone’s barn, and 2007 models slip under the £30k barrier. A magnificent behemoth – I can almost forgive the hydrocarbons. Image © Maserati
Well, there it is – my PetrolBlog Real World Dream Barn. At least, it is for now; I’m sure there’ll be another along soon. There are no doubt many more interesting and off-the-wall choices out there worthy of consideration, including some perhaps more in keeping with the PetrolBlog ethos. Come to think of it, choosing ten cars with a total value of £30k – a Real World Dream Shed, if you will – would be an interesting challenge. Maybe it’ll include an odd Shatchback or two.
Incidentally, you can find more automotive musings – with a whiff of geography and a dash of the environment thrown in – on my blog, which you can find at autohabitus.wordpress.com.
Images are as credited or are photos taken by me at the 2012 Coventry Car Day and at the NEC Classic Car Shows in 2010 and 2012