My obsession with cars started way back in the late 1980s, when I was perusing Ford brochures. This enthusiasm was subsequently nurtured by Car magazine and by scouring the local free-ads. Today, I spend hours dreaming up obscure search terms on Auto Trader and looking at cars I won’t buy.
With something approaching 30 years of experience behind me, my £30k Real World Dream Shed, would look a little like this…
Fiat X1/9 1300 Lido
The top choice on my list and preferably one in metallic black. LJK Setright used to advise fitting skinny tyres, reducing the weight and maybe even taking off those fantastic chrome bumpers. Then, leave the targa-top at home.
Still undervalued today, with all but the very best examples being well within Dream Shed budget. (I know that isn’t a Lido, but it’s the best image we could get – Ed.) Image © Fiat.
Fiat 127 1300 sport (Series 2)
I always preferred the look of the Series 2 Fiat 127, with the Series 3 somehow managing to look fat and bloated. The Series 1 on the other hand, well that was just a little too twee for my tastes. Rust would be a constant worry, so I’d be looking for dry, summer use only.
Where does my love for Fiat stem from? Well, when I was born, I was driven home from hospital (unrestrained) in a Fiat Fiorino van. Obviously the Fiat bug stuck with me. Much more interesting than a Fiesta. Image © Stokpic.
Saab 99 Turbo
The car with headlamps like an architect’s glasses. In turbo form, the Saab 99 is simply irresistible – a beautifully engineered Swedish machine.
In keeping with its image, I’d probably end up spending most of the weekend visiting postmodernist buildings. Image © Saab.
MK2 Ford Escort (1.3 GL)
The car I grew up with. It would have to be one in Roman Bronze – 1970s brown to you – with a tan interior. I owned one for a while – it was so simple to drive and I remember the gear change being smoother than most cars I’ve owned since.
Maybe I’d have to tune the engine up to Sport/GT spec. Has to have the Sports wheels, so 1977 onwards for me. (Yes, I know that’s not a Roman Bronze Escort, but if you squint a little – Ed.) Image © Ford.
MK1 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The hot hatch that started it all – a Giugiaro masterpiece.
As far as I’m concerned, this was the Golf’s peak. It has been all downhill since the MK1. Image © Volkswagen.
Fiat Uno Turbo
I’d be looking at a MK2 here, as the MK1 chassis could barely handle the power. If it rusted to pieces before my eyes – which let’s face it, there’s a good chance it would – I could always use the engine in the X1/9.
Very few are left now, but 0-60 in 8.2 seconds and electronic injection was very competitive in its heyday. I had a 999cc Uno called ‘Pootle’ which was fun – you had to drive her con brio. Fiats need to be thrashed. (Was your Uno named after a Flump? – Ed.) Image © Fiat.
Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6
Why get the 1.9 with 126hp, when you can have the more discreet 1.6? The Peugeot 205 GTi is quite simply one of the best looking small cars ever made.
Pure 1980s perfection, with a typically French flimsy interior. Do I need to say more? An apéritif on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, anyone? Image © Peugeot.
Ah, the Citroën 2CV – more French magic. Hinged windows, a 602cc engine and rear seats you can remove for a picnic. Who needs a MK1 Renault Espace?! Apparently you can add a turbo kit, too – which sounds delightfully frightening!
The snail has to be on the list. As a 20-year-old, I toyed with getting one as a first car. Sadly, when sourcing insurance quotes, one broker simply called me ‘brave’. Still it probably made a welcome change from the requests to insure a Nova SR. For Dream Shed purposes, I’d probably be looking at an unrestored example. Image © Citroën.
Smart Forfour Brabus
Definitely a future classic and probably hitting the bottom of their price range in the next year or two. A B-road blaster with 175 bhp.
I once drove the standard 1.3-litre Forfour down to Rye in Sussex and it was an absolute joy. So I can just imagine the Brabus would be fantastic. Not an everyday driver though, as I suspect the suspension is a bit firm for regular use. Has the cachet of already being pretty rare. Image © Smart.
The car to get you chucked out of the Green Party conference. Perhaps I’d need a LPG conversion or the later 3.2-litre model.
But as the majority of cars in my Dream Shed would be tiring to drive, a Jaguar XJ40 would be just the thing for a smooth, comfortable and refined waft home. Via one or two petrol stations… Image © Jaguar.
Thanks for the Dream Shed list, Ben. If you’d like to submit your own Real World Dream Shed, get in touch with PetrolBlog at the usual address.