I’ve been fortunate enough to own a number of classic cars thus far in my life. I’ve been even more fortunate in that I’ve driven significantly more classics than just those which I’ve owned myself. Yet – needless to say – there is still of course a huge number of classic cars which I have not yet had the good fortune to sample. Exciting and tempting classics which I’ve never had the opportunity to get any more intimate with than merely appreciating them from the outside and perhaps reading about their many attributes and charms. It leaves me wondering what I’m missing out on? And more importantly, whether one of those yet-to-be-tasted classics might in fact have been the perfect match for me? But how am I ever to find out?
This is perhaps just a variation of the question posed by Claus last week: The 100,000 Euro Question. Only where Claus’s question was a fantasy dream scenario for me (and probably most others), today’s question is indeed both very real and very relevant. Of all the fabulous classic cars out there – even limiting the selection to those which I can both afford and already feel attracted to – how do I know which one would put the biggest smile on my face while fulfilling the majority of my personal criteria?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still very much enjoying my Reliant Scimitar ownership. It’s not that I have any huge desire to rid myself of this lovely British shooting brake. It is much more a case of acknowledging that there are just so many other glorious classics out there which I would love to try owning at some point. Remember, variety is after all the spice of life! If only I had unlimited funds along with a huge barn, then it would be simple. I would of course duly purchase the next dream classic on my list while storing the Scimitar in my barn. But like most normal people, that’s not the world in which I live. So if I want a taste of something new and different, the Scimitar will at some point need to go. But which classic would then be the right choice as a replacement?
And that’s really the very essence of my troubled thoughts. Because without having driven the options, how am I to know whether I’m making the right decision? If I were an enthusiast who’s love for classic cars was expressed through polishing them while storing them in a climate controlled environment, then I could simply buy the classic which best pleased my eye. But I drive my classic. And I drive them much and far. So, much as I too appreciate a sexy design, I require my classic to also offer me the right driving experience and not least elements of both practicality and reliability.
Now if I were looking to buy a new car (pfff… what a despicable notion!) and couldn’t decide between a BMW 3-series, a Mercedes-Benz C-class or a Lexus IS, then I would simply visit the various dealerships and take them all for a test drive. After this, I would know which suited me best. But this is a practice which is widely frowned upon within the classic car scene. Do this too much and you will inevitably be stamped as a so-called tyre-kicker or even worse, a time waster. Classic car dealers will often want some sort of commitment from you before they move their stock around and roll out into the sunlight the classic which you have been eyeing up. If it’s a private vendor, then it’s even worse if you visit them, look over their beloved classic, take it for a drive and then walk away. To be honest, when it’s me that’s selling a classic car, this can (depending on the general attitude of the interested party) also irritate me, so I do get it. But it all leaves me searching for answers which I’m unlikely to find.
So if the Scimitar was to be sacrificed for something else, what should it be? I’ve always had a real hankering for a Peugeot 504 Coupé V6. But will the PRV engine sound as fabulous as the Scimitar’s Essex V6? So maybe a Ford Capri II instead as it’s of course blessed with the same 3-litre Essex engine? But is the ride as comfortable? Is the rear seat of a Datsun 260Z 2+2 too cramped for my two daughters? Will an Opel Monza 3.0 GS/E be a little dull and unengaging out on a twisty backroad? The entire body of a FIAT 130 Coupé might dissolve between my fingers at first sight of a salty winter road. Would the mandatory automatic transmission of a Mercedes-Benz 450SLC eventually bore me to death? Is a SAAB 900 Turbo 16S just a tad too modern for me? Is the boot of a Lotus Excel big enough for the suitcase which I constantly have to lug to a fro the airport? Would I be disappointed with the overly servo-assisted steering of a Jaguar XJ-S 3.6? And maybe I’m not even the GT-man which I see myself as, and I might be better suited to a big comfortable saloon like an Alfa Romeo 90? The questions in my head seem never ending…
In this particular case, I won’t even achieve much by asking the advice of our very knowledgeable readers, as most of these questions are of course a matter of personal opinion. One might find the steering of the Jaguar XJ-S immensely comfortable and relaxing while another finds it dead and unengaging. There’s of course no right or wrong to that question – it’s a matter of preference. And no amount of good advice will ever tell me how I will feel about the XJ-S steering. But how then do I find out which classic car is the perfect match for me? In reality, it might well have found the perfect match already in my Scimitar. Without sampling every one of the alternatives, I can’t possibly know. And selling the Scimitar only to end up with a different classic car which doesn’t please near as much would obviously be rather annoying.
So what am I to do with this dilemma of mine? I won’t ask your advise on particular cars, but I can ask how our readers deal with this issue. We’re all in the same boat here, so I’m sure plenty of other enthusiasts will have had similar thoughts? How have they overcome this challenge? Do I simply insist on test driving all of the alternatives at various classic car dealerships and then worry later about the reputation I might end up with among UK-based classic car dealers? Or do I sell my Scimitar and gamble? What have you done to find your perfect match? Is it even possible?