What old car?


Last week I wrote about getting nicked for speeding in my old 911. This week I sold the car. The two events are entirely unrelated and took place over three years apart, but it leaves me with a problem.

When I flogged my first 911 ten years ago to finance some racing I regretted the decision so much I swore that if I ever got another I’d never let it out of my sight. But what I failed to appreciate is that if there’s one thing worse than not owning a 911, it’s owning a 911 and not using it. Of late my ever more manic work schedule had reduced its role in my life to one of making me feel guilty every time I walked past it. So when a brother made a reasonable offer, I found myself more happy than saddened by the prospect of it going to a good home with an owner who’ll drive the wheels off it as once I did.

So naturally I must now find a car to replace it. The reason it won’t suffer the same fate as the Porsche is that it will be cheap and slow. There was no point in firing up the 911 unless your journey involved at least 100 miles of decent roads and, welded to the motorway network as I am these days, that was an increasingly rare occurrence. By contrast I’m after a car which you’d only drive 100 miles with a revolver between your shoulder blades.

Some may remember a column I wrote a few months ago about taking three original Fiat 500s to the pub. It may have only been a crazy run through the lanes but it might as well have been the road to Damascus. I don’t have time for long rural escapades any more, but I do have time to go to the pub.

What I need is something slow, charming and capable of inducing hilarity at less than 60mph. It should also have at least the theoretical ability to carry more than two people. A Fiat 500 would be perfect and were there not already three in my family, that’s what I’d have.

My thoughts have ranged far and wide but so far seemed to settle mainly on cars that are badly built and French. I’d buy a ripple-bonnet 2CV in a heartbeat but I can’t find a decent one for sensible money. An Ami 6 appeals in theory but, I suspect, would prove less endearing in practice and I fear the same can be said of the Renault 8. I’d really like a 1.6-litre Peugeot 205GTI and know it would be cheap to maintain and hold its value well over time, but I fear it being far too good for my purposes.

What else? Italy provides some interest in the form of a late pre-hatch Alfasud 1.5Ti (but where’d you find a nice one?) while I really hanker after a 105-series car like a Giulia Super or Sprint but worry again even these might be too good for purpose.

Perhaps you can help? If you were to spend up to a modest five figure sum on something purely for ultra-short haul recreation, what would it be? All inspiration will be gratefully received and, if any of it results in a purchase, I might even take you to the pub in it.

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