A barn consisting of 10 cars, each one costing no more than £10,000. Ah, if only. I'm more accustomed to much, much smaller budgets. Not to mention much smaller outbuildings. Some with more out than building.
There is a lot of overlap in the categories, which shows what a brilliant thing the modern motor car is. Here is my fantasy selection, which will ultimately change as soon as you have finished reading it. For the original PETROLBLOG Barn, click here – ed.
HOT HATCH: FORD FOCUS ST170
The default pick would be a Mk1 Golf GTI, but good 'good' ones are well above our limit, so let's go with something that is just as obvious, but still affordable (for now, at least).
The Ford Focus ST170 in original Mk1 flavour before it went all 'Elvis in Vegas' with the bigger, brasher Mk2 version. A decent amount of pace from its Duratec 2.0-litre engine, and also available with five doors and a rare estate version.
Better value and more usable than its big brother the RS Focus, it can only go up in price, because it's a Fast Ford, innit. Cheap enough for some leftover cash, which will be used to fund an industrial dehumidifier to keep the traditional Dagenham rust at bay.
FAMILY WAGON: VOLVO 850/V70
From ambulances to hearse conversions and everything else in between cradle to grave. To shift all that stuff you pick up along the way in those two moments. Like life, you can have a choice of slow and fast from GLT to T5. A 23-year lifespan gives an extensive selection to choose from. Possibly the only car that proudly displays a high mileage as a badge of honour. The estate car for everyone.
4X4: RANGE ROVER CLASSIC
The sensible thing here is to pick something like a Toyota Hilux or Isuzu, but there is plenty sensible above, so let's go silly and pick a late-plate Range Rover Classic, which is (just) within budget. A late model is not as cool as the early ones, but it has had less chance to rust and is still cooler than the new ones. If you wanted to go really silly, you could pick a good, sorted, later P38, which hopefully won't be full of the filler of the same name.
The oil leaks, electrics and rust will be balanced out by the glorious sound of a legendary V8 engine as soon as it starts. It will have a parking battle with the ST170 over the dehumidifier.
FOUR-DOOR SALOON: BMW 5 SERIES
In these SUV-obsessed times, saloons are becoming a dying breed. So, I'll celebrate the saloon's existence courtesy of an example from a manufacturer who once upon a time would build nothing else. The E34 is arguably the best 5 Series saloon ever made – within budget, at least. It doesn't matter what engine it has under the bonnet: in fact, the basic cars are already beginning to rise in value.
But a big six-cylinder 5er would be nice. With a 518 badge on the back for added driving fun.
LUXURY: ROLLS-ROYCE/BENTLEY 'SZ'
This is a tough one. A smart choice would be a Lexus LS, while silly is a Daimler DS420. But, if we are intending to drive the thing, let's pick an 'SZ' type Rolls Royce/Bentley model. At this price range, it's more likely to have a Spirit of Ecstacy hanging on for dear life, and it will have seen its fair share of confetti and sparkling wine on the seats.
But if you are handy with your hands, it can be done on a budget. There is something glorious about seeing a shabby Shadow or Silver Spirit in a supermarket car park – it's had an exciting life. We are going to need a bigger dehumidifier. Which we can cover by doing some extra work running up and down to the registry office.
COUPE: VOLVO C70
Easily the world's best-looking coupe, and because Volvo made four times as many 'hairdresser' convertible versions, exclusivity and prestige are guaranteed. Prices are skyrocketing out of our budget, so it doesn't matter how much it is, just buy it! Pay double if you have to!
Fast and elegant: in my humble opinion, it's the world's greatest car.*
*I've owned one for over 15 years. If it found out I'd mentioned a Porsche 928, Jag XJS or Mercedes SEC, bad things could happen. It knows.
CONVERTIBLE: MAZDA MX-5
An easy choice: the Mazda MX5 – but not the version you would expect.
The Mk1 is great, but history has shown that it's the previously replaced model that is the best value, so I'm going with the superb Mk3. Brilliant to drive and to live with, and just as good as a city car as it is a sports car. Prices are on the way down because of the Mk4, so it's a bargain. Also available with a stab-proof folding metal roof for added posing fun/security at the traffic lights.
SPORTS CAR: PORSCHE 911
Remember those car magazines you used to see in the newsagents back in the day? On the cover, they'd say things like 'Buy The Ferrari Of Your Dreams For Under £10,000!' Well, that dream was also called a 'nightmare', but we need all the additional money available to pay the electricity bills thanks to some of the previous barn selections. And, sadly, that 10 grand Ferrari is easily double the budget.
That's why I'm picking a Porsche 911. I admit it will probably be a shabby 996, but it's still a 911. Nice Boxsters and Caymans will be within budget, but the 996 won't be for much longer.
ECO: BEDFORD CF ELECTRIC VAN
If you think the above is a bit daft, you haven't seen anything yet. I have an idea – let me run this past you.
Take one Bedford CF Electric van: they surprisingly pop up for sale fairly cheaply (£2-4k) quite often on eBay, and not so surprisingly, they usually don't work because all the electric has run away after all these years. They typically have low-mileage for some strange reason. Get one of those slightly eccentric people – usually with beards – who convert modern vehicles to electric power... you get the idea.
If you are handy with wires, you could save a fortune. An instant, bona fide, low-emission, good classic vehicle, that will work much better than it did when it was new. You heard it here first. This is inspired, Kenny – ed.
...on the back of a 7.5-tonne recovery truck with a suitable winch, and with my selection, it's going to get used. I also like the idea of being able to fix some of my collection, so a suitable ramp in the mythical, leak-free and dry barn would be nice.
To paraphrase Loyd Grossman: readers, it's over to you. Time to submit your own choices for The Barn.
Bedford CF image courtesy of bedfordcfelectric.blogspot.com