Simon Ford’s Real World Dream Barn

It’s a week since the last Real World Dream Barn appeared on PetrolBlog, but it’s back with a bang with another eclectic selection. This time it’s the turn of Simon Ford, he of Simon’s Car Spots fame to make his selection. He’s made a name for himself for being one of the nation’s top car spotters so it’s no surprise to discover he had a tough time deciding on his top ten. No doubt by the end of the day he’ll have seen another car, making this Dream Barn null and void. In the meantime, enjoy.

As you know choosing ten cars for a Real World Dream Barn is quite a challenge. I’d even go as far as saying it’s virtually impossible.

PetrolBlog has created a set of boundaries by allowing a maximum of ten cars, each with a budget of £30,000. This presents quite a challenge in itself because it opens up so many doors on what you can have and also what you can’t have.

My obscure taste in cars usually has me tweeting for the underdogs, mainly the Ssangyong Korando and Perodua Myvi, but for my Dream Barn I’ve omitted them. So in no particular order, here is my top ten and the reasons why I’ve included them.

Alfa Romeo 75

Alfa Romeo 75

My parents owned one of these and I absolutely loved everything about it.

The 75 was the last of the rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeos and retained many of the obscurities which made Alfas so appealing. Like the aircraft-style handbrake and the electric window switches mounted in the roof. Or the radio mounted behind the gear lever, making it impossible to remove a tape when in first, third or fifth gear. Or, as in the case of my parents, the grey with white flecked seats that had two leather patches on the sides (reminiscent of a history teacher’s jacket).

But the best thing about my parents’ Alfa Romeo 75 was the engine – a 2.5-litre V6. It made a delightful noise which even at 35mph sounded like it was doing 135 mph. Image © Alfa Romeo.

Mercedes A 210 Evolution

Mercedes A 210 Evolution

The only German car in my Dream Barn!, I’ve always been a fan of the original Mercedes A-class – small and diminutive in size, with enough space inside for four people, a raised driving position and a good city car. The A 210 Evolution was an unofficial AMG product with a 2.1-litre petrol engine that was enough to propel it to 130mph, in a car the size of a Nissan Micra. Nice! Image © Mercedes.

Westfield SEiGHT

Westfield SEiGHT

My reason for picking the Westfield SEiGHT is simple.

Everyone likes the Caterham but many people forget about the Westfield.

Based on the Lotus Seven and built to the same way as the Seven, the Westfield is often overlooked when looking for a trackday car. Plus it comes with a 3.9-litre V8 engine – who wouldn’t want that in a small track car weighing no more than a packet of cigarettes? Image © Wikipedia.

Perodua Kelisa

Perodua Kelisa

I owned one of these for more than a year and I absolutely loved it. Admittedly it’s not the best or last word in quality, but it makes up it in terms of smiles per mile.

The 1.0-litre 55bhp 3-cylinder engine (also found in the Toyota Yaris and Daihatsu Sirion) is a joy to mess around with in the city where you can use all the power all the time. And weighing in at 750kg it rarely gets stuck in the snow and averages over 45mpg in the city and around 60mpg on the motorways. Image © Perodua.

Daihatsu Boon x4

Daihatsu Boon x4

Ever since owning a Daihatsu Charade GTti, I’ve always been a fan of the mad turbocharged Daihatsus and this one is no exception.

The Boon x4 uses a 130bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, so in essence its the modern day GTti. What’s more its essentially the Perodua Myvi on the outside, a car I’m also a big fan of. Image © Wikipedia.

Jaguar XJ

Jaguar XJ

After driving one last year on a Jaguar experience day I was smitten with everything about this car. Its fast, luxurious and does everything that you need it to do. For me, especially in V6 diesel form, this is the best car Jaguar has ever made. Image © Jaguar.

Volvo V60 T6

Volvo V60 T6

Last year I wrote about the Volvo V60 D2 115hp 1.6-litre diesel and how it was arguably the most discreet and comfortable ‘luxo-barge’ that I’d tested for a while. I was genuinely very sorry to see it go.

But then I remembered that Volvo also made a mad 3.0-litre turbocharged T6 version with 440Nm of torque. That’s when I thought…yeah I’ll have one of those instead please! Image © Volvo.

Marcos Mantis


Marcos MantisEver since I was into cars I was also into British sports cars, and none more so than the Marcos Mantis.

The Mantis was overshadowed by TVR in the British car scene. Its Cobra V8 engine was capable of speeds of up to 170 mph and it would accelerate to 60mph in just 3.7 seconds. Ideally I would have loved to see a LM600 in my Dream Barn but alas £30k just wasn’t enough. Image © Marcos Motors.

AC Aceca V8

Displayed at the 1999 British Motorshow, AC produced three Aceca prototypes with a Ford V8 engine. With space for four people, this luxury GT was planned to sell for around £75,000, but due to AC’s financial situation the Aceca never made it into production. A shame, as I’d have one in a heartbeat. Image © eBay where it’s currently for sale.

Maserati Ghibli II

Maserati Ghibli II

I’ve always been a massive fan of Maserati. I admire the brand’s quirky uniqueness and ability to be just that little bit different. And for me the Ghibli empitomises everything I love about Maserati – its fast, luxurious, quirky, eccentric and everything an Italian car should be.

Launched alongside the Shamal (which I’d also take) The Ghibli is a four seater GT with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Varying in power output from 310-335bhp (the highest output at time of production from a 2-litre engine) and top speed of 158 mph. Image © Maserati.

So there you go my Real World Dream Barn. Ask me again next week and in true petrolhead fashion they would’ve probably have changed again…well except the Ghibli II.

Follow Simon Ford on twitter @sf4d74.

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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. February 18, 2013
    Simon Hingston

    This is bad my two favourites are the moderns! Always thought the V8 was the wrong engine for the Westie, too heavy. Got to admire how ugly the Marcos is though 🙂

  2. February 18, 2013
    Simon Ford

    That’s the idea of a Dream Barn,
    Thought provoking choices!
    If we all agreed on the same cars, there wouldn’t be any thought provoking choices left for anyone,

    P.s the Marcos does look better in Blue 😉

  3. February 18, 2013
    Dogknob1 (@Dogknob1)

    Good Grief Simon! an A class! Ewwwwww nasty things drove a few of them incuding some sort of automanual clutchless abomination. Right with that off my chest lets have a quick look. Alfa 75 yes please,car that shall not be mentioned NO, Westi yes in BRG please, Perodua really? the Vw garage group I worked for also owned the import of those,never did get to drive one though, Didin’t Boon ride a crap bike & have a duff syrup?, Jag Yes , Volvo Yep love the idea of the T6 car/estates 300bhp & subtle as buggery did price an XC70 T6 for a giggle £55K !!!, Marcus yesssssss but in Mantula trim please, AC lovely choice sir & very rare £30k? Ghibli Oh yes and some AA membership!
    superb Barn Simon bar that A-Classless thing 😉

  4. February 18, 2013
    simon ford

    Lol Thanks Dk, the Ac Acera is on Fleabay under Ac other, been on there for about 6 months for £18,995 I couldn’t find a Mantula spec for less than £30 🙁

    • February 18, 2013
      Dogknob1 (@Dogknob1)

      doesn’t sound expensive for basically a one off type car? quite like the AC 3000ME

  5. February 19, 2013

    Strange but interesting list! I love the italian eighties look of the Alfa 75 and the Maserati Ghibli, and both of them have a dangerously low price in the market right now. I love too the li’l brother of the 75, the Alfa 33, an incredible car that still have a horrible reputation in Spain because of its motors were too complex for the repair shops of this years, making them impossible to tune it properly and trashing all its reliability.

    But nowadays that this problem is more than solved, the second-hand 33s have a really tiny price…

    The Daihatsu is a really interesting car… 130bhp in a kei car? Wow, that’s like a kart, more than the Seight xD

    P.S. I wouldn’t put a Class A in my Dream Barn nor with a gun on my head xD

  6. November 6, 2014
    Stephen Pollock-Hill

    re: ACaceca shown above…
    Do you realise this was sold a couple of years ago for only £11,500?


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