If one of my new year's resolutions was to be a little more structured with my blog scheduling, then I'm afraid I've failed miserably. If early January was a drought, then the last week could best be described as a flood. If you subscribe to PetrolBlog via email or RSS, then you have my apologies for the barrage of waffle.
But hopefully you'll forgive me for this blog. I started writing it on December 31st and seeing as it's now February 2012, I felt it was about time it had an airing. Especially when you consider the subject matter.
As previously mentioned in my Christmas message, I'm looking to add a fourth car to the PetrolBlog Fleet. Mrs MajorGav is delighted with the A6, the Citroën is going nowhere and for some reason I seem very attached to the Winter Saab. So with selling out of the question, it's only right that I add a new car, right? That's PetrolBlog logic for you.
There are ten cars on the short list. The reality is, I'll probably end up with something completely different, but hey, it's good to have targets. I therefore present PetrolBlog's New Year's resolutions - cars that I'm determined to buy this year. Well, perhaps not all of them...
Volkswagen Passat W8
I've blogged about the W8 before and the urge to buy one is growing stronger every day. It's a ridiculous car of course. It has a drinking problem that would have shamed Oliver Reed. It bares an uncanny resemblance to the standard everyday B5.5 Passat. And it'll probably cost a small fortune to repair should anything go wrong.
But in wagon form at least, I think it's one of the most useable and understated performance cars you can buy. The headlines say it all - 4.0 litre engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive, 271bhp and 155mph. And right now, mostly because of its love of V-Power and completely anonymous character, prices are at an all time low. You need pay no more than £5k for the best W8 on the market, assuming you can find one.
The perfect PetrolBlog car then? There's only one way to find out...
The Avantime is a car I've coveted for some time. Reading Duncan McVitie's account of the French obscurity did little to dampen my desire for it. Again, prices are ridiculously low, but it seems to receive almost unanimous love and affection within petrolhead circles. Some Avantimes are sold for as little as £2k and you certainly don't need to spend more than £5k. For me, it would have to be the top spec 3.0 V6 Privilege model, but it's really all about the design and packaging. Just look at it - it's simply brilliant.
And the best thing of all. It's the one car on this list that has been given the green light by Mrs MajorGav. This therefore makes it a 'low hanging fruit'.
So, another big, unfashionable and potentially ruinous French fancy? Well this is PetrolBlog. I absolutely adore the C6. It's overpriced and probably makes as much sense as an umbrella in a hurricane, but just look at it. For me, it's the modern day equivalent of the DS, SM and CX all rolled into one. It's a car that only the French could produce, with its beauty lying in the dramatic styling and sumptuous interior. Citroën does sumptuous interiors like no other manufacturer can achieve. It's not lavish like a Bentley or Rolls Royce, but neither is it anodyne like a German marque.
Whenever the C6 is mentioned on twitter, it's greeted with almost complete and unanimous praise. Of course, nobody would be foolish enough to pay the £40k asking price for a new C6. In fact, nobody seems to willing to pay more than £5k for one! But as soon as prices fall below £5k, the demand will shoot up. The result being that prices would then start to rise. A big Citroën that makes a sensible purchase then? Who'd have thought it?
Today it's only available in the UK via special order and you're restricted to the 240bhp V6 HDi Exclusive model. Of course, you wouldn't do it, especially when you consider that for half that price you can get a C6 that's not even out of warranty yet. I've seen prices as low as £7k, so it won't be long before the magic £5k mark is hit. But I do wonder if temptation will get the better of me and I end up doing something stupid this year...
Saab 900 Turbo
My winter wheels, the Saab 9000, has made me rediscover my love of Saab. I actually owned a 95 when I was 16 and my father owned a number of Saabs when I was a lad. I recall a 99, at least three 'classic' 900s, two 96s and a couple of GM900s. So you could say he was a fan!
My one previous experience with a 900 Turbo was when I was given a car with 340k miles on the clock. Despite being a little rough around the edges, it was still on its original engine and gearbox and felt as good as the day it was new.
With Saab's recent sad demise, I predict an increase in the demand for cars like the 900 Turbo. Prices vary wildly, with rough ones fetching just a few hundred quid and good cars going for £5k, sometimes even more. The 900 Turbo is a glimpse back at Saab's better days. A solid, reliable, quirky car that's actually pretty good to drive and packs a formidable mid-range punch. Perfect for geography teachers and doctors everywhere.
They say you should never go back, but in the case of the VX220 I'd make an exception. In 2003 I bought a one year old Rabiata Red VX220. It was fitted with the optional, track-only sports exhaust that produced an almost perfect soundtrack. I seemed to spend every spare minute behind the wheel of that car. Rain or shine, it never failed to put a smile on my face. It was just a delightful car to drive, with masses of feedback through the steering and pedals. Yes, it would leak and yes, it was cramped and okay yes, the build quality was questionable. But you could forgive all this because it was so bloody good on the road. Quite simply, of all the cars I've ever owned, this was my favourite.
It was eventually sold in 2004 to fund a new kitchen. I know, I know - this was a sacrilegious act, but I made amends later that year by buying another one, this time a Moonland Grey VX220 Turbo.
As was well documented at the time, the Turbo's pace was blistering and in many ways it was a better car than the normally aspirated VX. But for me it lacked the purity of the original and it's for this reason that I'd be opting for the normally aspirated car should I buy another one this year.
Prices are as low as £6k for an early car, which is an absolute steal for a brilliant little sports car that was built by Lotus alongside the Elise. I'd be after the limited edition and very yellow Lightning edition, or alternatively a standard car in the wonderful Mandarin Orange paintwork.
Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 V6 Cloverleaf
How this didn't make the final cut on my Real World Dream Barn is anyone's guess. But I absolutely adore the 164. It was of course based on the same Type Four platform as my Saab 9000, but it's the Italian and not the Swede that got the best deal when it came to styling. It's just a beautiful and elegant four-door saloon.
My late father shared my love of the 164 and I distinctly remember him borrowing one from the Alfa Romeo dealer in Bournemouth. I thought all my dreams had come true, right up until the point when Dad took it back the next day and decided not to buy it. I never did know why.
There are just 77 left in the UK today, of which only 35 are on the road. But despite this, prices are stupidly low. Sadly, the inevitable repair bills aren't quite so appealing. Doesn't make me stop wanting one though.
Renault Megane R26
I've always promised myself I'll buy a Renaultsport car and my recent day with the Twingo, Clio and Megane only served to heighten the desire. For no more than £10k, possibly even less, you can get behind the wheel of a Renaultsport Megane R26. Although not as hardcore as the R26.R, the R26 still comes with the sublime Cup chassis and a 230bhp 2-litre turbocharged engine. It also comes with a good sized boot and room in the back for two passengers, therefore making it a less selfish option than the VX220 mentioned above.
The handling is superb and thanks to the LSD, there's no understeer and body roll is non-existent. As drivers' cars go, the Megane R26 is up there with the best of them. Even as I write this, I'm finding myself getting excited about the prospect of ownership! That's Renaultsport magic for you.
Ford Capri 2.8i
Ah, the eclectic mix of PetrolBlog. From a precision drivers' car in the form of a Megane, to a retro-hero in the shape of the Ford Capri. It's no secret that I love the Ford Capri. It was the car I remember most from my childhood, specifically a silver 2.8i that I used to see on my way to school. I was captivated by the long bonnet and twin exhausts.
By the time I was 18, I was behind the wheel of a Lacquer Red 1.6 Laser, followed by another 1.6 Laser, this time in Mineral Blue. At the age of 19 I owned my first 2.8i, a C-reg Lacquer Red 2.8 injection Special. These were the days before the internet and price comparison websites and I distinctly remember spending an entire day on the phone to insurance companies. By playing each company off each offer, I managed to get the premium down from an initial £2.5k to £300! Result.
I subsequently sold it and bought an Audi 80, before the Capri bug bit again and I bought an early 4-speed 2.8i. When someone drove into it, I replaced it with a 2.0 Ghia, before eventually buying a one-owner 280 'Brooklands'. Prices of these have gone sky high now, but given the choice, it would be a 'normal' 2.8 injection Special that would be in my garage. It may have been 'the car you always promised yourself', but for me 'it's the car I always promised myself I'd one day buy again'. Maybe 2012 could be the year?
Another Ford and again, a car I've previously owned.
I've only ever bought one car new and that was a Panther Black 1.7 Puma. The year was 2001 and after years of student life, I finally had the means to buy a new car. Four years earlier I had been smitten by the Puma after seeing the brilliant Steve McQueen ad. For me, this is one of the greatest car ads of all time, combining a great musical score, a legendary actor, a fantastic film and a delightful little car. In fact, in one of PetrolBlog's very first posts, I nominated it as my second favourite ads of all time. See here.
I lost a lot of money on my Puma when, less than a year after buying it, I part-exchanged it for a Ford Racing Puma. I don't regret buying the Racing Puma for one minute, but I do regret not living with the standard car for a little while longer. It remains one of the greatest drivers' cars I've ever driven and I'd dearly love to buy another one.
And right now could be the time to buy one. You only need to pay between £500 and £1k for a very good 1.7 Puma which, for a car that was classed as essentially faultless by evo magazine, is something of a bargain. My choice would have to be an early silver car, with the original propellor alloys. The Puma, just how McQueen liked it!
Fiat Panda 100HP
I want Antony Ingram's car. Enough said...
You can tell this is PetrolBlog, because there's absolutely no logic behind the list presented above. Whereas some people would sit down and work out what they need and how much they want to spend, I just formulate a list based on emotions and pure desire. From a £500 Puma to a £10k Megane, I guess they're all united by being just that little bit different.
Time will tell if I actually end up buying any of them. But still, there's no harm in dreaming, eh?