Regrets. I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Actually that’s not strictly true. After reaching a grand total of 40 or so cars in my 20 years of driving, I look back at my back catalogue of cars with a fair degree of regret. There are cars I regret selling. Cars I regret not buying. And cars I regret buying (although there aren’t too many of those).
But given that this is my 20th year of life behind the wheel, I felt it was time I took a reflective look back at some of the decisions I’ve made along the way.
At this point it’s only right that I should give some credit to fellow PetrolBloggers, Rob Griggs-Taylor and Ton Dumans, for it was a discussion on twitter that prompted the new feature. Safe to say that we can expect some regrets from them soon.
So where to start. Which of my many regrets do I start with?
It’s a tough question really as it all depends on my given situation at the time. If I’m faced with a long drive back from somewhere, my thoughts invariably turn to my old Passat V6 TDi or Skoda Superb. But if the sun is shining and I’m pining for some B-road action, then it’s the VX220 or Racing Puma that spring to mind. But the vast majority of my regrets are about selling rather than buying. Make of that what you will.
We’ll start with my old Volkswagen Corrado. The only car I’ve owned with an electric spoiler and the only car that made my children cry.
I distinctly remember buying the Corrado. It was for sale on PistonHeads and for once it didn’t involve a trek across the country to view it. The rationale for buying it was classic PetrolBlog logic. I was running a Honda Accord Type R and a twice weekly 220 mile commute meant I needed something more economical. I managed to convince myself (and Mrs MajorGav) that a Corrado VR6 would be more fuel efficient. A big engine that would cruise at low revs opposed to a rev-hungry VTEC lump, there’s some logic there, surely? OK, perhaps not.
Anyway, it was love at first sight. I arrived at an immaculate bungalow in the country to see a gleaming red Corrado parked in an equally impressive detached double garage. The seller was an absolute gent and informed me that the Corrado belonged to his late wife who had passed away a couple of years ago. He had only just brought himself to sell it and desperately wanted it to go to a good home.
Having being presented with a box file of old receipts and enough evidence to suggest that this was a good Corrado, I went home to think about it. In truth, it didn’t need much thought. So I phoned up the next day to make an offer, at which point the kind seller offered it to me at a reduced price as he felt it was going to the right home. What a gent. Carlsberg doesn’t do car sellers, but if it did, they’d be exactly like this gentleman. You can tell so much about a car from the person who is selling it.
It turned out to be an absolute peach. It wasn’t perfect, but it ticked all the boxes that matter to me. Original condition, full service history, unmodified and everything that should have worked, did work. Right down to the electric spoiler: a feature that was by far and away my children’s favourite.
The Corrado is also one of the rare coupés from the 1990s that still remains cool today. Think about the Vauxhall Calibra and Ford Probe and it’s fair to say that their image has spiralled into the abyss. It’s the same for the majority of Japanese coupés from the same era. The Corrado on the other hand remains the epitome of cool. Although the new Scirocco has only been out four years, I think the Corrado looks fresher, more elegant and suitably aggressive. It’s a car almost exclusively driven by those in the know.
What’s more, in VR6 guise, it goes like stink. The narrow-angle 2.9-litre V6 engine develops 192bhp and is capable of propelling the Corrado to a top speed of 145mph. It would also accelerate to 60mph in six-and-a-half seconds, but it was the manner in which it moved that was significant. The V6 engine is creamy smooth and produces the kind of aural stimulation that a hot hatch can only dream of. A proper performance car.
It’s also pretty handy on a B-road too, often ranked as one of the greatest front-wheel drive cars of all time, with some people claiming it to be as much fun as some of the rear-wheel drive heroes. They’d be right. The Corrado VR6 is supremely fun through the twists and turns, with a wonderfully communicative chassis and slick gearbox. And thanks to that V6 engine, it powers out of a bend like a hare on a greyhound track. Damn, I miss that car so much.
When circumstances dictated that I really did need a car capable of 45mpg+, I bought a Passat V6 TDi. But I held on to the Corrado and even built a new garage around its dimensions. There’s a whole new regret right there as I’ve since found that it’s not entirely suitable for subsequent cars I have purchased. It’s perfect for the AX GT mind you.
I eventually sold it to fund a new oil-fired boiler for our ageing cottage. Goodness, those things are expensive to buy and cost nearly as much as a Corrado to run. Still, it keeps the family warm and that’s what matters. But for some reason the Worcester boiler doesn’t encourage me to wake up at 4am and head for a drive across the hills.
I’ve promised myself that one day I’ll get another Corrado. Perhaps even a G60 or a 16v. But I certainly have unfinished business with the brilliant car.
Every time I see a Corrado on the road, I think back to mine. I’m unlikely to find such an original and well maintained VR6 again. Even Matt at Volkscraft Exeter, a chap I trust implicitly with my cars, claimed it was the best Corrado VR6 he had the pleasure of working on. Random statements like that stick in your mind forever, especially when you see it being driven away by a new owner.
It sold within two hours of it going on PistonHeads. Full asking price and sold on the strength of my description. Last thing I knew it was in North Devon, so I hope it’s still going strong.
Both my children burst into tears when it went. I tried to console them with the fact that the new boiler would provide hot water and heat for our home. Their response? “But it doesn’t have a spoiler that goes up and down, Daddy.”
STOP PRESS: the Corrado VR6 has returned to the PetrolBlog fleet. Read the story here.
Car: 1993 Volkswagen Corrado VR6
Reason for selling: New boiler
Strength of regret: 9/10
Possibility of buying another one: 8/10
PetrolBlog wants to hear your regrets. Get in touch with us at the usual address and fill PetrolBlog with regret. You know it makes sense.
Footnote – check out The Corrado Forum for all things ‘rado. It’s one of those rare forums that isn’t home to wallies and fan boys. A brilliant resource.