The weekend started in such a good place. But deep within my soul there was a sense of unease. An itch. A line of thought which I just couldn’t put to rest.
Breakfast was the full Monty and the sun was shining. I’ve been driving my XJ12 a lot this season and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. It’s just such an accomplished car. My SLC has come back from a bit of work on the fuel system and is now in better health than it’s ever been before during my ownership. I now look forward to driving it more this season. And there’s even been time to take the MkII Spitfire out for a spin. But I’m apparently insatiable. The classis car swinger within me is alive and well, and there are fantasies which need to be lived. It’s not a question of “if”, but more one of “when”…
But this feeling starts with what I have in the garage – the classic cars which I already own. The feeling was also helped along by one of my friends recently asking me whether I was only going to own soft-cap cars from now on. Uhmm… excuse me? I had to immediately remind him that I still own my Alpine Renault A310. And there are of course others in the garage as well. To be honest, I really enjoy every one of them. So my need for living out another fantasy of mine certainly doesn’t stem from being dissatisfied with what I have. It equally doesn’t stem from that soft-cap remark, as I embrace both wearing a soft-cap and also driving luxurious and comfortable classics. But it did ignite some thoughts nonetheless. If I weren’t to own what I currently own, what would I then own?
It’s a complex question as well, and one which can all too easily lead one to simply go around in circles. On the one side, I don’t believe in “keepers” – yet I have one in my Reliant Scimitar GTE. I do however believe in diversity, because no single car will ever be able to cover every requirement. But then again, with all the diversity in my garage, I sadly must confess that I didn’t get to drive them all during last year’s 2018 season. I can partly excuse that by some of the cars not being physically able to drive. Yet, it’s all interconnected, and if I owned fewer cars, making sure they could all drive would probably be of a higher priority for me.
From there, it might be worth considering the heretic notion of owning just one classic car. Is single classic ownership more practical? Will it make you happier? And if so, which classic would be the right one? Perhaps that whole thought experiment seems even more relevant to me right now, as I’m finding myself somewhat challenged on garage space at our new house.
But if this were to be more than just another dream, then the inconvenience of current market values must be considered too – even if it is a bit of a spoil sport. Lancia Stratos? Impossible. BMW M1? Equally so. Maybe a V12 Lamborghini then? Also out of reach. But what then is within reach with this little mind game? Well, I’m thinking somewhere between Euro 70,000 and 100,000. I believe that’s roughly what I could scrape together if I sold everything – only retaining the most vital organs for myself. So in my usual optimistic frenzy, I’ll aim for the top of that span and keep my fingers crossed that there will be no vicious surprises which need sorting immediately after purchase!
As our most loyal readers will obviously know, I’ve been through a similar exercise before – as I’m sure all of you have too. Last time it became reality, I found myself with a budget of approximately euro 35,000 and I opted for an Alpine Renault A310, thereby keeping myself comfortably within budget. The A310 I ended up buying proved to be a real peach and I still love the car to this day. Frankly, I’ve never previously considered whether I could settle with owning only my Alpine, but I actually think it could well suffice.
So if the budget was suddenly almost three times bigger, surely the greater choice will make the decision making process easier? Wrong! The bizarre thing is, I actually find that the increased budget makes it all a lot more complicated.
Again, our loyal readers will recall my feelings for the exotic Lancia Stratos, and it is indeed the first car which comes to mind as I start this little mind experiment. It’s simply delicious – but it’s also well out of reach. Another mid-engined 2-seater wedge springs to mind – the fabulous BMW M1 – but no, too expensive as well. Okay, hang on a second… there’s another seventies homologation special which became an even bigger success – at least commercially. Would the Porsche 911 Turbo be a valid alternative? Well quite possibly, but being a little awkward, I’m going to insist that it’s an early 3-litre version as that was of course the car that got the party started. But that leads me down the same blind alley as they too have shot up in value and now reside well north of our Euro 100,000 budget.
This is where a more sensible man than I would point out that a normally aspirated G-series 911 in stunning condition can be found well within budget – leaving financial space for some epic roadtrips too. That sensible man would of course be right. But it’s hardly a true exotic, is it? I’m left wondering what would be achieved compared to owning the A310 which I already have?
Nope, if it’s going to be a real exotic, it’ll need to be Italian. However, I also realise that I should have pursued the dream of a 12-cylinder Lamborghini some ten years ago. That was back when I wrote on the Danish ViaRETRO site about a Jarama which I had seen for sale in Norway with an asking price equating to approximately Euro 30,000. Then in 2011 I wrote about another which was for sale at Euro 40,000. With market values hovering around the Euro 100,000 mark in 2014, I wrote a Danish article about the Jarama becoming the next big Lamborghini. And today… well, you would struggle to find a good one under Euro 200,000. I clearly missed the bus! But if anyone out there followed my good advice, would you perhaps at least allow me a short drive in your Jarama?
Focusing on Italian V12s, a Ferrari 400 – even a really nice one – is still a sub 100 grand car. Furthermore, I’ve always really liked it too. Maybe that’s because it’s a soft-cap Ferrari? But would I actually dare if it really came to it? I might just end up excusing the notion by claiming that a Ferrari 400 (at least one with an automatic transmission) probably doesn’t do anything which my Jaguar XJ12 can’t match.
So which other alternatives can we find? Both Ferrari and Lamborghini have their “small” V8 models too. I probably prefer the Urraco, and only very recently did I announce the Jalpa being on the climb. Yet, if it came to pulling the trigger, I think I might well opt for the 308 instead – and for maximum chock effect, it would simply have to be Bertone’s GT4. A dark blue one in excellent condition which has been owned by a close friend of ViaRETRO here in Denmark was recently up for sale at DKK 600,000 which equates to Euro 80,000. The owner has accompanied Søren Navntoft on several of his trans-European roadtrips, so the GT4 has proven itself worthy. A beautiful car no doubt, and with that, it seems I’ve come to a conclusion, right?
Hmmm… no, not really. This is proving difficult! But isn’t a Ferrari just too obvious? Surely I can be a little more adventurous. I also don’t quite feel ready to jump straight from an Alpine to a Ferrari. Especially not as the Alpine is more comfortable than the Ferrari. Oh dear, perhaps I am fully immersed in soft-cap cars? Aargh… I just don’t know…
But this whole thought process is at least full of just that: Thoughts. And they’ve led me to conclude that I’m just more of a GT-man, which is of course an entirely different thing than soft-cap cars. I think? Because what is a Mercedes-Benz SLC? Maybe it bridges the gap and manages to be both GT and soft-cap, which explains why I like mine so much.
It could also be an equally German rival in the form of BMW’s grand E9 coupé. I’ve often regarded it as a brilliant compromise between style, comfort and sport, and it has always been a strong candidate for my dream garage. Prices have shot up in recent years as well, and even disregarding the legendary CSL, it’s now easily a Euro 50,000 classic – maybe even more if you want one of the best. Like with the G-series 911, that would also leave a significant chunk of money for roadtrips. Tempting…
Yet it’s not quite there. The elegant BMW coupé is a beautiful car – of that there can be no doubt. But if we’re aiming for a Euro 100,000 dream car, it just falls a little short. If nothing else, there seems to be missing at least a couple of cylinders. It’s also not truly exotic. For that, we need a touch of playboy, oil sheik or secret agent. So I shall move on to my all-time favourite marque: Maserati.
Today’s fictive budget leaves plenty of space to move above and beyond the Biturbo. So even if the often-hated Maserati of the eighties is another classic which I would love to own one day, my choice for this exercise will have to be the stunning Maserati Indy. Here’s the car that delivers in spades. It’s certainly a pure GT. Then there’s that glorious V8 in either 4.2- or 4.7- or even 4.9-litre form. Either would do for me as they’re all out of the same classic family of engines which have propelled Maseratis such as the Mexico and Ghibli. With plenty of cams and plenty of carburettors, the engine alone just about justifies choosing the Indy. It’s not a frantic V8 though – instead there’s ample torque from low down and it sounds so glorious right from idle and all the way to redline. My Indy would have to be a manual, thereby allowing be to be the best possible conductor for that V8 orchestra.
But it’s not just the mechanical components which have drawn me in. It was Vignale who penned the elegant coupé, and he even did so without compromising practicality as the Indy has a reasonably sized rear seat too. Why that matters to me I don’t know, as I rarely have anyone travelling in the rear seat of any of my classics anyway. But then the Indy also has a large boot (at least for this genre of car), and that’s certainly of good use for me as my Indy would explore European roads on every given occasion. It’s comfortable too. And there I go again; the Indy is no sportscar but rather a proper grand tourer made for long distance travel. Which is precisely what I need if I were to have only one classic car. The Indy could take me to a meet anywhere in Denmark – or in Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris or Rome and beyond…
Those are of course the more practical aspects of the Indy. Add to that all those difficult to define qualities like class. Style. Self-esteem. In my opinion, the Indy perfectly combines all of that and more without ever taking it too far and becoming bling and in-your-face. Quite the opposite in fact, the Indy displays its purebred exotic heritage in about as subtle a manner as a sixties Italian GT possibly can. Finally, there’s rarity, and with only 1,104 Indys produced it ticks that box as well. What’s not to like?
So it’s not entirely impossible that I could settle with just one classic car in my garage. At least for about a year I think. I’ll have my Indy in either blue, green or brown, thank you very much.
A lengthy and confusing exercise, but with Euro 100,000 lingering on my account, I would be shopping for a Maserati Indy. What would you spend your budget on?