Three cars, one day, £200,000

A couple from Rutland hit the news the other day after a dispute with neighbours escalated into a High Court action. Hang on, you may say, what have neighbour disputes got to do with PetrolBlog?

Well it turns out that one of the couples involved in said dispute bought a LaFerrari and a Porsche 918 Spyder on the same day. As one does. Better yet, these new purchases were merely the latest additions to their already substantial collection of supercars.

And that got me thinking. What if I had, say, £200,000 to spend on any three cars in one day? And what might other readers of this august (it says here) online publication be tempted to splash their cash on? There’s only one way to find out.

But before I reveal my own picks, I’d best run through the rules. All you have to do is choose any three road legal cars that you can buy today, the total cost of which can’t exceed £200,000. And that’s it.

Whoops. Nearly forgot to tell you that Gavin has generously agreed that PetrolBlog will pick up the virtual insurance costs. Even better, he’ll personally see to it that every car comes with a fresh packet of Hobnobs in the glovebox. You don’t get service like that from any other motoring website…

So I’ve got two hundred grand burning a hole in my pocket and three cars to buy. Where to start? Ah yes, I know the very place. And my fingers can do the walking…

For my first pick, I’m looking for something with enduring appeal. No, it’s not Kylie Minogue; it’s something that can sing. Sorry, Kylie. And nothing sings better than an Alfa V6. So it’s an Alfa, then. Somehow, I knew it would be. But which one? A GTV6? A 164? A 156 GTA?  No, but I’d happily find space in my garage for any of them.

I’ll give you a big clue: what’s that coming over the hill? Is it Il Mostro? Is it Il Mostro? It most certainly is.

1991 Alfa Romeo SZ
© Silverstone Auctions

There’s nothing that looks quite like an SZ (to use its proper name), courtesy of the chunky, almost brutish lines that flowed from the pen of Robert Opron, the genius responsible for styling the Citroën GS, CX and SM as well as several great 80s Renaults.

The SZ’s muscular stance and brooding visage give it real purpose. If cars have gender then this one’s definitely a geezer; a geezer built like a brick, er, outhouse. It’s fair to say that the SZ’s looks aren’t universally admired. But so what. I’m buying this car for me to enjoy, not to impress the Joneses.

And there’s much to enjoy. The SZ grips and handles superbly and goes plenty well enough for most people: 0 to 60 in about seven seconds flat, 145 mph. The interior is well appointed and, joy of joys, there’s ample room for those of us who didn’t stop growing when we reached six feet. And, of course, it comes with a Milanese symphony orchestra as standard. You don’t need an MP3 player when you have a Busso under the bonnet.

I’ll take one in red with tan leather, thanks. Like I’ve a choice…  It’s a left hooker, of course, with lowish mileage and a recent cambelt change, and it’ll deplete my fund by £30,000.

Job done. Now what in the wide world of sports do I buy next?

I shuffle into a tavern in search of an answer. It comes as I chug down a mug of frothy cappuccino:  beauty and the beast. And I’ve just bought the beast.

I ponder the issue further over a second mug – relax, it’s decaff. I could buy a classic Ferrari, say a 308 or 328, or an Aston Martin. They’re magnificent cars and undeniably beautiful,  but maybe just a bit too obvious. So I’ll pass. Or will I? Perhaps a compromise is in order. By golly, it’s my own little Eureka moment: I’ll buy a car that’s got a Ferrari engine but isn’t a Ferrari.

But what will it be: a Lancia Stratos, a Thema 8:32 or…a Fiat Dino?  Let me see. The Stratos is too expensive, the Thema doesn’t have the sort of beauty that I seek, so it has to be the Fiat. As it’s summer (well, what passes for summer in these parts), I’ll plump for a Dino Spider. A later one with the larger, 2.4-litre Ferrari V6 and improved rear suspension should fit the bill very nicely.

In contrast to the angular Alfa, the Dino appears to have been designed by a chap who’d misplaced his ruler. The result is organic, flowing lines, the doyenne of automotive seductresses.

Fiat Dino Spider
© Fiat

But there’s more to a Dino than just good looks. It’s a car to be savoured. A car for sunny days and scenic roads, roof down and spirits raised. It’s glorious. But it’s not cheap. Prices of Dino Spiders have far outstripped those of their fixed-head sisters. And they’re still rising. Can I find a good one that’s within my budget?

And there’s another challenge to overcome: with only 420 2.4-litre Spiders having been built, I’m not liable to find one in the local car supermarket. The net needs to be cast a little further…to Greece, where I find a picture-perfect red 2.4 Spider that’s lived in a museum for the last 20 years. It’s £115,000, but I’ll have to add in the cost of transporting it to Blighty. Call it £120,000. Sold.

Two nil to the Azzurri, then. I could murder a pint of Moretti but settle for another decaff cappuccino as I consider my third and final purchase. I’ve bought a coupé, a convertible and now I need something that I can transport the dogs around in. Oh, I’m sure that the big guy would be quite happy to don a pair of doggles and accompany me in the Dino, but I fear that the sight of a small polar bear riding shotgun might cause a few RTAs. So, responsible citizen that I am (honest, guv), I’ll buy a proper doggy mobile. Of sorts.

In the end, it’s a one mug problem. It has to be a Range Rover. Some inverted snobbery comes into play here, leading me to eschew the later, more luxurious variants. What I want is an early, no frills Rangie.

1970 Range Rover
© Land Rover

I’d like one that’s been well restored but isn’t so perfect that I’d be afraid to take it off road.  Hell, I might even let my wife borrow it. Possibly…

Best get looking. The game’s afoot.

Sorting the chaff from the wheat takes a little while, but I’m rewarded by finding a nicely restored 1971 model with vinyl seats, rubber mats, push-button radio and carburettor-fed, low-compression V8. No carpets, no gizmos, no gadgets. Luxury, pah! This is Sparta. Except for the price…it comes in at £40,000.

So there we have it. A total spend of £190,000 has netted a hat-trick of great cars. Not cheap, but less than a top Premier League footballer’s weekly wage or the cost of a new Ferrari 458. The boy done well.

I think I’ve earned that pint of Moretti. Cheers!

Editor’s note: this idea for a £200,000 threesome feels rather like PetrolBlog’s Real World Dream Barn. To submit your own list, get in touch.

Further waffle you might like

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David Milloy
Freelance writer and all-round good guy (it says here). Loves cars with character, movies, history and the offbeat.


  1. July 27, 2015
    Ben Day

    Interesting choices!

    My three off the top of my head

    Tesla Model S 85D (£65k)
    Citroen DS (DS23) (£30k)
    Jag e-type series 1 fixed head (£70k for a really good one?)

    Still got some change – an English classic, a French classic and a technical modern marvel…

  2. July 27, 2015
    David Milloy

    Good choices, Ben – three seminal cars.

    Oh, and in case anyone was wondering about the ‘small polar bear’ comment, here’s his mugshot:

  3. July 28, 2015
    Chris Smith

    1982 Audi 100 (game-changing engineering )
    Jag XJS V12 (sorry, Planet)
    Citroen Mehari (for fun in the sun)

    The balance of the £200k would be spent on a bespoke 5 car garage / man-cave

    • July 28, 2015
      David Milloy

      The Mehari really is quite something, isn’t it? I’d definitely have one if I lived in a place where the weather allowed me to enjoy it. Sadly, it’ll have to remain a pipedream. Unless, of course, someone can point me in the direction of an amphibious conversion kit…

      As for the Jag, you could always salve your conscience by having it converted to run on LPG!

  4. July 28, 2015
    Gavin Big-Surname

    I’ve been thinking of this from a new car perspective.

    Right now, I’d opt for the following NEW cars:

    Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription (£72k, including options)
    Ford Fiesta ST3 (£20k)
    Tesla Model S P85D Ludicrous (circa £100k)

    Pretty handy 3-car garage…

    • July 30, 2015

      I thought you were having us on about the ‘Ludicrous’ – I hadn’t heard of it! Truly amazing. 2.8 seconds to 60….

  5. July 29, 2015

    Hmm. It’s got to be something British, something French and something Japanese.

    British is easy enough. Something big and luxurious from the 60s or 70s. An XJS would be a bit to obvious these days, so I’ll go for a Jaguar Mark X instead. Call it £20k for a good one.

    Japanese is more difficult but something small and modern would be a good choice. While I’m tempted by Daihatsu’s mini-convertible Copen let’s go for the triple crown. Designed in France for a Japanese company and then overhauled by the Brits. The Aston Martin Cygnet. £30k.

    French is most difficult of all. So many beautiful cars to choose from that I’m going to chicken out and use the remaining £150k to build a modern Espace F1. Sadly the budget won’t stretch to a Formula 1 engine (especially if I’m paying for maintenance) but a nice high revving engine, or perhaps an electric motor, and a gearbox set up for road speeds mated to an Espace Mark IV chassis (cream interior of course) should be a very satisfying car.

    • July 29, 2015
      David Milloy

      Interesting choices there, EW.

      Could you be tempted to go for a Jaguar XJ12 Coupe instead of the Mark X? Although the XJ 12C has a cult following, I think the day may soon come when it finally receives the recognition it merits. If (or, rather, when) that happens, prices will leap.

      The Cygnet is a wonderfully off-beat choice. Not sure it’s quite £30K worth of off-beat choice, but I doff my cap nonetheless.

      As for the Espace, is there any possibility that you might be tempted to consider a modern version (with whatever powerplant your heart desires) of the Espider? It’s brilliantly bonkers, albeit absolutely useless on anything but the finest of days.

  6. August 1, 2015

    The XJ12 Coupe doesn’t do it for me. The previous XJ as a whole really, although some of the later versions like the X300/X308 are quite nice. The Mark X combines remnants of the post-war sculpting with the 60s curves and tailfins and I find it an appealing combination of features. Compare the grilles for example. The XJ12-C looks like a performance car, narrowed down to take up the minimum of space – designed for efficiency. The Mark X’s forward tilting affair with horn grilles and other fiddly bits looks more dramatic – arrive in style and aerodynamics be damned.

    I’ve always liked the Toyota iQ. So many MPVs and Crossovers have boot space that converts into back seats, it seems such an obvious thing to do to apply it to a two seater city car yet nobody else has. Plus that pug nose and wrap around back window have the character so many small cars lack. The Aston nose is just as pretty and I bet the interior is much nicer so it seems the obvious one to go for as my choices are likely to be limited by count rather than budget.

    An Espace without the glasshouse? That could either be Brilliant or Terrible and it’s very hard to tell without having a ride in it. I wonder if you could make a convertible Espace? Perhaps keep that visually very thick D pillar in place, strengthen it and have the roof panels and rear window glass rotate around that to slot into the boot. It might need to be made into an Avantime-style four seater for the room though.

    • August 1, 2015
      David Milloy

      I’ve seen the Espider in the metal (and plastic) a few times, but have never seen it run. I believe that it was used as the course/pace car at the 1998 Le Mans 24 hours, so it’s definitely capable of moving under its own power. How well it runs is, of course, another question.

      Although designed and built by Sbarro, the Espider can now be found in the Espace Matra Automobiles at Romorantin – a cracking little museum that’s well worth a visit if you’re holidaying in or passing through the Loire Valley.

  7. January 3, 2016
    The Dreamer

    I’ve recently compiled my Dream Garage,, or what you would call the Dream Barn. So compiling three cars on a ‘budget’ has provided interesting food for thought. Firstly, I need to convert from pounds to Aussie Dollars and this gives me about $400,000 to spend.

    I’ve done two lists, one for used cars and one for new cars. I need a new cars list, because I have two children and the options for fast cars with four safe seats, is far greater today, than yesteryear.

    My three used cars would be:
    – a low mileage Ferrari 430 for around $260,000 (I would rather a 458, but will have to wait a few more years for them to come down in price);
    – a low mileage BMW E46 M3 for around $50,000 (I’ve driven one around the Nurburgring and I utterly loved it!); and
    – as a young girl all I wanted when I turned 18 was a red 1978 Corvette Stingray, I could pick one up now for between $30-50,000.

    So that leaves me some change to extend the garage to fit them all in!

    My three new cars would be:
    – a Mercedes-AMG C63 S, just $165,000 drive away;
    – a Nissan GT-R, the base model is a bargain for only $189,000 drive away; and
    – a Subaru WRX, which is around $40,000 or if I could get the other two for a bit cheaper, I may even be able to squeeze in an STi at around $50,000.


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