Peter Counsell’s Real World Dream Barn

It’s time for the penultimate Real World Dream Barn of 2012 and this one is courtesy of a good friend of PetrolBlog, Peter Counsell. You can see from his list that he’s very much at home here, with the pair of Fiats worthy of a special mention. Follow Peter on twitter @CounsellPeter.

Each reader’s Real World Dream Barn is different and each is a reflection of the influences that are on us from an early age. Look through this and you’ll see the echoes of TV and film, parents and toy cars. I’m 45, so please rebase your timelines accordingly. As others have commented, you think this is going to be easy. Initially, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to fill the barn. Then it became too crowded and now I have a substitute bench which is populated with vehicles that, another time, another week, could easily be in the main barn. The key point though was for each of the vehicles to have something special about them. Something that, in the same way as one’s top ten album tracks, makes you shiver very slightly when you hear or see them. Some of these, as you’ll see, I have vague experience of. Most exist only in contemplation. I am sure that, in reality, they will be a disappointment, but this is my dream and so they will all be wonderful, in their own way.

Relax the £30k criteria and the barn does not change much. Which shows either great taste or a desperate lack of ambition.

That said, when I was young, all I really wanted was a Dino 246 and a tall brunette. Neither of those is available for less than £30,000 each, but the following are.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

I’m going to be quite picky on this one, because it matters what it looks like, but not necessarily how it drives. I have therefore alienated over half of the readership. Mine would probably be a 3.2 Carrera from the mid ’80s, ideally in a dark metallic colour, with no tail spoiler, and probably left hand drive, in order to kid myself that I am sophisticated and have links with Continental Europe. It being the mid ’80s, the Carrera and I will take the hovercraft to get back to England. This one would suit me. Image © Octane

Fiat Coupé

Fiat Coupé

Some 20 years ago, I worked for a large accountancy firm that allowed you a company car once you had reached a certain grade. Not surprisingly this was very much something to aspire to. After all we were young and unencumbered by children. To start with, one was given whatever was in the pool. I got a Rover 216GTI, which was a surprisingly good balance between fast and, mmm, comfortable. Once this came to the end of the lease, the world opened up. Provided the world had four seats and a metal roof.

Just about this time the Fiat Coupé came out and was the closest thing to a sports car available on the scheme. All the press coverage was of the Coupé and how gorgeous it looked. In yellow. My wife and I lived two doors away from a Fiat garage, which had a yellow Coupé in the showroom. We said no. After all, it was very very yellow. Shortly after we got the new company car, (Audi A4 – awful, awful snatchy brakes but first experience of air conditioning), we saw a Coupé on the road in metallic green. “Oh”, we said, “that looks fantastic. And we thought it was only available in yellow”. What might have been. Mind you, our first child arrived later that year and would not have fitted in a Fiat Coupé. He’s 6’ 1″ now and probably still wouldn’t fit. Image © Fiat

Jensen Interceptor

Jensen Interceptor

My Dad had a Jensen 541R, before I was born, so perhaps the Jensen thing was in the blood. I enjoyed many a happy afternoon watching programmes like Jason King, and those sort of ‘cultural’ influences are very significant to a young boy. Also, I wrote to Jensen, aged eight, asking for a job as a car designer and enclosing some drawings. The lovely people at Kelvin Way were very kind and wrote back, thanking me for my letter and suggesting politely that I might contact them again when I was 16. That is the sort of act that engenders deep brand loyalty. Hence, and now that Jensen is no more, the only way in which I can repay that kindness now, is to put an Interceptor in my barn, please. Image © Wikipedia

BMW 3.0 CS

BMW 3.0 CS

For the avoidance of doubt, not the CSL. That is lovely but rather too obvious and, indeed, expensive. No, for me the 3.0 CS would be just fine, ideally not in two-tone and with the original wheels. A friend’s mum had one and I recall vividly getting a lift home from school in it. I mean look at it now – 3.0 CS for sale – just how elegant is that?Image © Wikipedia

Mazda MX-5 Mk3 Roadster

Mazda MX-5 Mk3 Roadster

I find myself in a slight conundrum here. I do like the MX-5 and in particular the first versions of the MK3. But we tested one a couple of years ago and it was slightly disappointing. But I can live with that in this Dream Barn, because it looks just right. Must be the roadster and not the soft top. Highland green or dark blue or it’s not in the barn. Image © Mazda

Audi A6 Avant 4.2 quattro

Audi A6 Avant in Atlas Grey

Whilst acknowledging that a Dream Barn needn’t be balanced or practical, I feel that mine should have something that can transport the family. I have a 2003 Audi A6 at the moment. It’s huge and relaxing. Something with a bit more power would be nice, plus quattro for the occasional moist car park. Also an acknowledgement that the C5 A6 Avant is the most attractive estate car ever. Beside it, every Mercedes, BMW and later Audi estates look over-styled and clumsy. Image © PetrolBlog

Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper

My mum had a Mini 1000. It had twin fuel tanks. Great idea, but to get the second tank to kick in you had to stop and rock the car. Which was generally inconvenient, particularly on dual carriageways. So we never let the first tank get anywhere near empty. Which rather negated the purpose of the second tank. In my Dream Barn, this Cooper will be late ’60s, in good but not immaculate condition and will be used. A lot. Image © MINI

Triumph GT6

Triumph GT6

The dream barn budget does not stretch to an E-Type. But…

When I was about seven, I can recall the family entering a competition in the TV Times to win an MGB GT. The timing of the competition coincided with us going on holiday to Cornwall. On our return I was absolutely sure that we would have won and, being seven, expected that the good people at TV Times would have delivered the car to us. We travelled back from Penzance, turned the corner to our house and there was no MGB GT. In any case we hired an MGB a couple of years ago and it was just a bit like hard work. So I’ll have a GT6 please, Probably a MK3 in some funky purple or orange, man. Image © Wikipedia

Alfa Romeo GTV 24v Lusso

Alfa Romeo GTV 24v Lusso

A very good friend has one that he acquired for, relatively speaking, peanuts. Indeed his revolving door policy on vehicles is worth an article on its own. Such a noise. Such a blooming liability. Same goes for the car. Image © Alfa Romeo

Fiat Uno 70SL

Fiat Uno 70SL

Had one and loved it. Followed it up with an Uno Turbo. Loved that too. But I will put the Uno in the Barn as I will need a vehicle for pottering around. Also deserves a place for having the nicest non-conventional switchgear. Not only was that brave design but it actually worked as well. Spec is important. 70S – bit sparse. 70SX – unnecessary stripes and nasty wheel trims. 70SL – electric windows and manual sunroof. Perfect. Image © Fiat

And there you have it, the penultimate Real World Dream Barn of 2012. Just one more to go before the vote for the greatest Dream Barn of all time. Then we start all over again in 2013…

Further waffle you might like

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Peter Counsell
Official. And still here. 48. No longer in my prime.

22 comments

  1. December 13, 2012
    Tom (@why_theory)

    Great list, agree with you on the C5 Avant being the best looking estate ever.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      Thank you, Tom. I am biased, but am glad that others feel that way too.

      Reply
  2. December 13, 2012
    Adrian

    Our man has cracking good taste. A superb Blend of cars that work well and those that dont but have hård to find personality. He could ha ve an e type just but the gt6 Moré fun. 911 tick thats obvious but the top mark and outstanding effort must go to the ………Uno. Yes these were the real italian mini, simple, fun, and the revvy thrash it drive flat out and it will thank you quality that seems a distant memory now that all small cars are optimised för economy rather than spirit. To the Uno! Hurrah!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      Indeed, I am a repeat offender on Unos. Mark 1 only, naturally.

      Reply
  3. December 13, 2012
    Rut the Nut

    Ha, saw a 3.0 CS just yesterday morning – they are a rare sight and do look gorgeous.
    Porker a nice option, being an air-cooled one especially. Though wonder if a later Turbo would be of even more interest? Plenty available below the £30K budget limit.
    Jensen another interesting, classic, option. Nice.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      You are probably right from a driving and thrill perspective on the 911. However, to get the tingle at the back of the Counsell neck, it needs to be correctly proportioned. For me, that means not too wide and no tea tray.

      Reply
  4. December 13, 2012
    troston

    Great list list but I have to disagree on a couple of issues. First and foremost, I have always considered the Fiat Coupe as early evidence of Bangle’s crimes against good design. It looks awkward from every angle and never ‘sits’ on the road properly like a good coupe should. Lovely though the Audi estate is, the Passat B5 estate holds the Best Looking Estate Ever title as far as I’m concerned. My wife’s has now done 140K but I can’t get rid of it as it is so damned handsome.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      Disagreement is very welcome. On the Coupe, I do agree, it doesn’t sit right. Albeit it does better in dark green than in yellow. But the details are what makes it for me – bumpy headlamps, round frenched tail lights and the fuel filler cap. A rare opportunity (that I missed) to drive something that was just a bit special.
      On the A6, I have sympathy as I have previous with the B5 Passat estate (especially the V5 that I had for a good while). Had to sell as it didn’t have enough seat belts.

      Reply
      • December 14, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        I find the Fiat Coupe can be massively improved by the right wheels and a subtle drop on the suspension. The shape itself looks excellent IMO, but its stance was compromised out of the factory by such boring stuff as ride quality and ground clearance.

        Reply
  5. December 13, 2012
    Graeme Thomas

    Best list so far,top marks,very eclectic, my list would be a very similar,however, i would substitute the Uno with 127cl.!!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      127? Horses for courses I guess. At a tangent, my wife tells a good tale of her, her sister and mum and dad all packed in a Fiat 126. With a St Bernard. Cosy, by all accounts.

      Reply
  6. December 13, 2012
    Dogknob1 (@Dogknob1)

    What a fantastic list. Would almost be tempted to have the 911 in that gold they did to totally avoid the 1980’s red braces link! Fiat coupe ? yes? no? err maybe? love the painted dash though. Jensen & bmw are a given. Can we just skip over the whole sordid MX5 thing please. I’d substitute the A6 to an A6 AllRoad in same spec. Mini yes,Triumph yes,Alfa yes plus could use the spare space in the barn(given over as MX5 booted out) for maintenance. Now that just leaves the Uno! What can I say but “Sir I salute you”
    As a side note thank you for posting a beautifully passionate bit of automotive dreaming.
    Cheers D

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      D
      Thank you, most kind.
      Can swap the MX5 for a Mk1 if you prefer.

      Reply
  7. December 13, 2012
    failcar

    I keep looking at anything with an Alfa V6 at the moment. Must be something wrong with me.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      Yep, intoxicating. A 164 is somewhere on the subs bench too.

      Reply
    • December 14, 2012
      Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

      I’m doing exactly the same, FC.

      Reply
  8. December 13, 2012
    willp1987

    What a great list! Really enjoyed reading through that one, Mini is the only car there that holds no appeal for me whatsoever and MX-5 would have to be a MK1 for me. Very envious that you’ve had an Uno Turbo, I have only ever seen on in the wild once, it over took me while I was on a driving lesson some 8 years or so ago, have always thought they looked like a huge amount of fun!

    Reply
    • December 13, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      Obviously saddened by your Mini aversion. On the Uno Turbo matter, yes huge amount of fun, both in its own right but also because it wasn’t a 205Gti. Was black, unstriped and completely standard. Sold it due to the arrival of the 216GTI mentioned in article. Saw it six months later pratting around in a Burger King car park, lowered and with a fat exhaust. Shook my head sadly and went back to my Whopper.

      Reply
      • December 31, 2012
        willp1987

        Mini thing is long standing I’m afraid…just don’t get them, except perhaps the 1275 GT! The Uno sounds wonderful and the rarity value would appeal to me too, just such a shame that they all seem to have fallen victim to chavs…

        Reply
  9. December 14, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    What an excellent, eclectic mix. I’d not personally buy an Uno, I don’t really like the Triumph, the MX-5 is the wrong generation and the Audi holds no appeal for me, but everything else is top-notch.

    The Bimmer CS looks better every day, the GTV has always looked stunning, and the Mini would be bags of fun. The 911 constantly alternates with the Honda NSX on my “real-world dream supercar” list, and therefore constantly alternates on my own RWDB list… which I’ll have to send to Gav at some point!

    Oh, and consider the “best looking estate car ever” can of worms thoroughly opened and spilled everywhere by voting the A6 in there! Alfa 156 Sportwagon and Mercedes-Benz T123 rank higher for me, as does the E39 BMW 5-Series. Granted, the Alfa is ludicrously impractical as estates go, but on looks alone…

    Reply
    • December 17, 2012
      Peter Counsell

      As you say,156 Sportwagon is very beautiful, but more of a Scimitar GTE. Something to carry a suit in rather than the wardrobe.

      Reply
      • December 21, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        Oh, I concur. Seem to recall the SW had less boot space than the saloon! But it’s big enough for telescopes, which are about the biggest items I’d need to carry around.

        Reply

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