April 30, 2006

Seven–Car Dream Garage: The 911

Follow-up to A Dilemma from Semi-Perfectionism

After arriving home a while ago after another marathon library sesh, filling my head with the intricacies of group theory and topology, going through a million past papers and the like, I came home, turned on the PC and did the usual check of the internet to see if anything interesting had gone on in the world that day. Berlusconi still not accepting defeat? Bird flu may or may not be here? Pah...these all paled in the face of the first signs that Porsche are well and truly underway with the development of the new 911 GT2 and GT3 RS :–D. After a day of work, it was nice to have such a stark reminder of what's it all in aid of…get a good degree, get a highly lucrative job, and buy one of these. But, given the choice, would I really buy one of these for the dream garage?

It goes without saying that no decent car collection worthy of the name is complete without a 911 in there somewhere. Not only is it one of the best all–round cars that there has ever been, it is also well suited to being used as an everyday runaround. Indeed, since it’s the flagship product of what is essentially a manufacturer of mainstream supercars, if it gets bashed around in the daily commute, then that’s no problem. However, if a cyclist knocks off the wing mirror of your Pagani Zonda in the morning rush, then not only has a work of art been desecrated, you’ll have to deal with Italian bureaucracy to get it fixed. Rather you than me…

However, it would be careless to limit my selection of 911 candidates to this pair. The previous generation 911, known by geeks as the 996, was without doubt the class–leading product of the period. It spawned some truly epic 911 derivatives as well; in particular the Turbo and GT3 RS. Although this pair were, technically, inferior to the 996 Turbo S and GT2 models, with the GT2 being the ultimate version of the 996, they still make it onto the shortlist. For unquantifiable reasons, the Turbo S and GT2 leave me cold, I have no idea why, and hence they don’t make the cut.

I shall also, perhaps controversially, rule out all of the pre–996 911s…simply because I don't like them; again for no real reason. The 996 was the 911 of my youth, so in the same way that people's favourite Bond is usually the first Bond you saw (although Brosnan is my favourite, which kind of screws that theory), the 996 is what I consider to be the benchmark 911. I have some friends who I'm fairly sure would happily murder anyone who would even dare to suggest that the 'old' 911s are a bit pants; but happily my life has been spared on many occassions by the fact that modern society would consider that to be a bit of a social faux pas

Moving back to the future, there are two more candidates. These are the recently unveiled Turbo and GT3 versions of the latest 997–generation 911, both of which move the game on considerably from their 996–generation predecessors. So, the candidates, in chronological order of release:

911 (996) Turbo
This monster was the first (and only, alas) 911 that I've had the pleasure of driving. Shortly after turning 18, I was fortunate enough to see 130mph whilst at the wheel of one these…which is a bit limp considering I was driving round Thruxton at the time, the fastest circuit in the country :D. However, it still made an impression; you've got to love a car with 70mph marked not even 30 degrees from the bottom of the speedo. I was never a fan of the 911 up until the point that I sat in it for the first time. I was under the impression that its German teutonic–ness made it a bit too clinical. On the contrary. That's what I love about it…the teutonic–ness means that this car is about delivering the goods with no fuss, none of this exposed metal gearshift gate and offset pedal–box rubbish. Consequently I almost feel obliged to let the 996 Turbo into my dream garage, and with them being total bargains on the used market, there's no reason not to have one.

996 Turbo

911 (996) GT3RS
This is a proper car. If it wasn’t brilliant, then you know Porsche wouldn’t have gotten away with that outlandish sticker/paint job. And you didn't think that I'd have a rubbish car in my blog banner, did you :–p!? They were/are very rare, I think only 25 made it into the UK for every year it was on sale, and indeed, they appreciated nicely until the 996 was killed off. However, they were most noted for being brilliant on the track…a bit twitchy, probably a bit rubbish on the road, but still…just look at the paintjob. And the wheels…the wheels are nice.

996 GT3 RS

911 (997) Turbo
The 996 Turbo was still top of its game when the 996 was killed off, so Porsche can't fail to make the 997 version into a star performer. I'll be astonished if it's not once again the benchmark car for sub–£100,000 Grand Tourers. The 2+2 seating configuration means you can sling the kids in the rear until you've saved enough pennies for a Cayenne (err…hopefully by then the Panamera will be in the dealership, although a Turbo S would suffice…), and lots of clever tricks in the engine department mean you'll have no trouble in provoking motion sickness. However, the 997 Turbo looks a bit…fussy. Nice details round the front, but it doesn't seem cohesive. Hmm.

997 Turbo

911 (997) GT3
Although down on power compared to the Turbo, the GT3 has its heart set on being a track hero. First reports from the motoring press claim that the 997 GT3 is even better to drive on track than the 996 GT3 RS, which is an excellent start. Even better news is that is it's also apparently considerably better to drive on the road as well…maybe sufficiently so for it to be an everyday car. It looks better than the 997 Turbo too…but, if I had one of these…would I feel robbed, knowing that, ultimately, my 911 isn't the mightiest 911 of them all?

997 GT3

On a slight tangent, the clever Porsche 'Origin Motorsport ' web special for the GT3 is an example of internet advertising at its best. It shows you everything you want to see, and tells you everything you need to know, without upsetting the ASA. Apparantly they get a bit bitchy about TV advertisers even hinting that their cars could possibly be used as a tool for minor entertainment on the road, so this nicely sidesteps that problem. And the legendary configurator has got to be up there with the greatest procrastination tools of all time…well worth a gander.

911 (997) GT3RS
What can be said about this. It's like a GT3++. Since the car has only recently hit the test tracks, there's not much to comment on apart from the mere prospect of the car. If it can improve on the GT3 without being excessively compromised, which is extremely unlikely, then it's a strong choice. And just look at the rear wing…wow. I cannot recall another production car this side of a Subaru Impreza with such a big, aerodynamcially–useful wing as this.

997 GT3RS

911 (997) GT2
evo ran a headline a while back asking whether the 996–generation GT2 was 'the last scary 911', a bit of a widowmaker that would happily throw you into the scenery if you got a bit carried away. This contrasts with most contemporary performance cars, which are engineered to be able to save an overenthusiastic driver from their own stupidity. I'd be surprised if the 997 GT2 keeps that violent reputation, considering it's supposed to be good for at least 200mph (and, bizarrely, becoming the first production 911 to be able to do that), which will make it just as quick, on paper at least, as a Carrera GT. Consequently I imagine that Porsche will make the 997 GT2 a bit more benign that it's predecessor, else the potential for some severe carnage is quite plentiful. This is good, since I don't really like the prospect of facing death every time I go out in the car to purchase some milk. However I do like the prospect of being able to go out in the car to purchase some milk from a newsagents 100 miles away, and still be able to return within the hour (not that I can officially condone that sort of reprehensible behaviour) :–D

997 GT2

Meh. Face it, if you had any of these cars, you’d be extremely pleased unless you were an ardent environmentalist/communist–type person. I guess we can rule out the 997 GT3…why settle for that if the GT3RS is up to scratch? Similarly for the 997 Turbo. Provided the technically superior 997 GT2, which is based on the Turbo, isn’t liable to kill you, then you’d take the GT2.

So we now have the 996 Turbo, 996 GT3 RS, 997 GT3RS and 997 GT2. Since the latter two cars haven’t even been released yet, I think that for now, the 996 Turbo gets the nod. Although in this kind of situation there’s the potential for the grass to always be greener on the other side, if you did see a GT3 RS coming up in the rear–view mirror of your Turbo and started to feel a bit jealous, you could always rest safe in the knowledge that given a nice bit of disused runway, you could comfortably out–accelerate it all day long. Which, I believe, is a fact.

However, there would be no harm in putting your name down on the list for a GT2 whilst we wait for Porsche to put it into production ;)

- 46 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. The 996 Turbo is a fine supercar. Its great value etc. Works well in the snowy winters cos the weight is over the back wheels (ask Rob). But my only gripe is, its too common.

    It would always be nice to demand respect from other 996 Turbo drivers cos you have a GT2 – but then again, I'm not sure if it would justify the extra £20,000 on list price it used to have when new. And plus the Turbo has 4WD which meant it was less likely that you'd understeer into a tree, as opposed to driving backwards into the tree.

    For that reason alone, I might even settle for less power in a GT3 (dude the 997 GT3 is soooooo pretty – even in white). With no Carrera GT anymore, the 997 GT2 will have to do as the ultimate Porsche – You're right, you could drive 130 miles to a farm to milk the damn cow yourself!

    30 Apr 2006, 12:55

  2. For me, the ultimate 911 is the GT1, but then that's not terribly practical! Of the rest I'd probably take a GT2 because it has proper RWD instead of the 4WD nonsense of the normal turbos – fine to make "useable" performance cars for the road, but not what you want on a track tool. However, I don't really want any of them – I'd sooner have a TVR Tuscan S if I was after a performance machine, or a Jaguar XK/Aston DB7/9/V8 if I was after a comfortable GT. The 911 is a bit of a halfway house that I've never signed up to, plus it's German–ness does annoy me, even if it sounds good and actually looks ok these days (993 and earlier look pig ugly in my opinion).

    I should start my own 7 car garage feature at some point!

    30 Apr 2006, 13:19

  3. Hot topic:

    Jag XK8 or the AM V8?

    30 Apr 2006, 13:58

  4. To be honest. In my 7 car garage, it is possible that a Porsche wouldn't feature in it!

    30 Apr 2006, 13:59

  5. Plus, I'm sorry JJ, but I'm not fond of the 996 GT3 solely because of its looks. It could have been camel yellow or fuscia pink and it would have been better than the white with crappy red stickers look, which reminds me of the old chavved–up Sierras! ;)

    30 Apr 2006, 14:03

  6. Subaru Impreza WRX STi WR1 (2003)
    Audi RS 4
    SLK 55 AMG
    Jag XK8
    AM DB9
    Ferrari F430
    Lamborghini Gallardo V10

    Damn no room for a Land Rover, or XJR, or Exige, or… argh!?!?!! It should be 10 car garage!

    30 Apr 2006, 14:21

  7. Goodness, four comments in a row from the same person…that must be a record, surely!

    To answer your many points:

    "But my only gripe is, its too common."

    Indeed, however that's part of the appeal. You can drive around and no–one will give you a second glance. There's still plenty of room in the garage for the pose–mobile, though…

    "...but not what you want on a track tool."

    Yes, it's not ideal, but I've got the Caterham for that after all!

    "Jag XK8 or the AM V8?"

    Waiting for the XKR is the best option here; although of this pair, the AMV8 is the way forward. Or even better, a used 996 Turbo ;)

    "It should be 10 car garage!"

    I know!! I'm already wondering how I'll fit all the necessary cars in, and still have a fleet that will cater for all occasions…but let's face it, if it was a ten–car garage, we'd think of 15 cars that we'd have to have!

    "I should start my own 7 car garage feature at some point!"

    The more the merrier! However I won't best pleased if you nab any vehicles that I've already got my eye set on ;–)

    30 Apr 2006, 16:17

  8. I've discovered I need a 10 car garage, I'm missing room for exactly three vehicles! My choices would be:

    Focus ST
    Jaguar XJR
    Aston DB9
    TVR Tuscan S
    Pagani Zonda F
    Radical SR8
    Ultima GTR

    With the three extras that I don't have room for being a Range Rover, a Bentley Arnage T and a Merc SL55AMG. I should blog about these in detail at some point.

    My thing about the 911 being compromised JJ, is that if you want a road car then the 911 is bettered by it's more cosseting peers such as the Jaguar XK, which is a much nicer place to be, more comfortable and in the real world not any slower than a 911. On the track it's bettered by more focussed hardware such as the Caterham and Radicals of this world. If you have to have a single car then yes the 911 represents a good compromise, but in a 7 car garage why put up with compromise?

    30 Apr 2006, 17:00

  9. If I could pick 7 cars with my heart…

    • Audi RS4
    • BMW M5
    • Range Rover Supercharged
    • Jaguar XK
    • Merc SL65AMG (to beat Siggy)
    • Aston DB9
    • Ferrari F430

    With the head too:

    • Audi S4
    • BMW 535d
    • Jaguar XK
    • Range Rover v8 Diesel when it arrives
    • Merc S Class 500
    • Lexus RX400h
    • Porsche Boxster/Cayman

    Shoot me ;)

    30 Apr 2006, 17:13

  10. Ah, yes, I see what you mean Sig; I hadn't noticed that, and you're quite correct, good logic. However, given the choice between XK and 911 Turbo I'd still take the 911, purely because it appeals to me more. However, given the choice between an XK and 'normal' 911, I think I'd rather have the XK…I mean, what's the point in a 911 without a rear wing :D

    SL65…that is a car!

    30 Apr 2006, 17:20

  11. I've discovered I need a 10 car garage, I'm missing room for exactly three vehicles! My choices would be:

    Focus ST
    Jaguar XJR
    Aston DB9
    TVR Tuscan S
    Pagani Zonda F
    Radical SR8
    Ultima GTR

    With the three extras that I don't have room for being a Range Rover, a Bentley Arnage T and a Merc SL55AMG. I should blog about these in detail at some point.

    My thing about the 911 being compromised JJ, is that if you want a road car then the 911 is bettered by it's more cosseting peers such as the Jaguar XK, which is a much nicer place to be, more comfortable and in the real world not any slower than a 911. On the track it's bettered by more focussed hardware such as the Caterham and Radicals of this world. If you have to have a single car then yes the 911 represents a good compromise, but in a 7 car garage why put up with compromise?

    30 Apr 2006, 20:38

  12. For some reason I came back to this and no amount of refreshing would show me beyond comment 7 until I just reposted comment 8… D'oh.

    SL65 is tempting but ultimately pointless. It's a nice car sure, but is it actually any faster than an SL55? They're both limited to a frankly pitifully slow 155mph which is just a blatant waste of potential, and the grip limiting means that in the real world I'd be surprised to see anything significant in acceleration, given that the 65 is a much bigger lump of engine. And for the extra 50 grand list you could buy the TVR Tuscan S or Sagaris and out–accelerate and out–speed either of them. Respect to Chris though, his 7 "heart" cars are actually pretty good and whilst they aren't what I'd buy, none of them are cars I'd be unhappy to own. Most of them are a little bit lacking in character and a little bit heavy in german anal engineering, but nevertheless not a bad selection. The 7 cars with your head… Well a downhill slide a bit, but still not bad. Too bad the ones I disagree with most (535d and Lexus RX400h) are the ones I can see you buying the most. If you get an S4, XK or a Porsche Coxster I'll be amazed. Truly amazed.

    With regards to the 911 Jj, well it's different strokes for different folks. When it comes to the dream garage after all, beyond a little logic there's no right or wrong answer. We want the cars in our dream garage because we love them, not because of numbers and figures. These are decisions of the heart. And the heart has reason that reason cannot know (Blaise Pascal). How philosophical.

    30 Apr 2006, 20:47

  13. Yeah, I noticed that too. For some reason those last three comments just vanished from the main post, but remained in the 'comments admin' page and on the sidebar on the left. Madness. Oh well, they have returned.

    As for the SL65 vs SL55, 65 is a bigger number than 55, and is therefore better ;–). I've never considered philosophy when contemplating what cars I'd populate my ideal garage with, but like you say….different strokes for for different folks…!

    30 Apr 2006, 21:03

  14. The 65AMG engines were made solely for doing 100m burnouts
    You want the SLK 55AMG folks, hairdresser is the style to go for! Phat engine, smaller chassis.

    If its a car from the heart, it would have to be that old school F1 car I mentioned the other day JJ, what's it called again?

    30 Apr 2006, 21:07

  15. I actually drive a Focus ST. I'm amazed to see it in a dream garage as much as I do love thrashing it through Stoneleigh every day :)

    30 Apr 2006, 21:21

  16. Is your's the electric blue one I see around campus every now and then? My reasoning behind the Focus, as I will doubtless explain when I get around to blogging, is that for all the fantasticness of a supercar or luxury of a super–saloon, sometimes you just want to thrash about down a B–road in something small, pop down to the shops etc. If it gets dented or abused, big deal, it's easy to get fixed. It's also greatly rewarding to drive. For an everyday runabout in the real world, it's fantastic. Even the likes of Clarkson have a Focus in amongst their more impressive stuff.

    30 Apr 2006, 21:33

  17. Mine's actually a panther black mk 1 st170; i'm patiently awaiting delivery of the mk2 st225. Ford being Ford, they've made a hashup in their production schedule so everything is running late.

    SO late in fact, i've been able to change my spec several times :) At one stage I was considering white with blue stripes on the side but it seemed a bit 'boy racer', given i'm now dealing with student tenants and landlords on a daily basis. (www.smarterhousing.co.uk – my job)

    I've been awaiting the more powerful ST for years now. Ever since the production change on the mk1; originally the Cosworth developed ST would be kicking out in excess of 200 bhp, but because Ford couldn't get more than 212 bhp out of the RS, the ST had to be cut back. Mine's been fiddled with to the tune of 190 bhp but is not even close to the new ST. As Clarkson said in his Top Gear review, the new ST feels like a bit of an animal!

    01 May 2006, 00:28

  18. Incidentally, my dream 7 car garage would contain:

    (1) A supercar – Lambo Gallardo in tasteful yellow
    (2) A family wagon – Range Rover Sport with the Overfinch touch
    (3) An everyday car – BMW 535d with as much torque as possible extracted from its twin turbos
    (4) A pocket rocket – potentially a Ford Fiesta (or other similar small hatch) with some comically powerful race engine set–up. There's a certain feeling you can only get when shooting past someone in a 'slow' car.
    (4) A Porsche 911 – yes this is a class of car needed in the pound :–) I'd go for the latest GT3 RS as it looks absolutely fantastic in my humble opinion!
    (5) An english sports car – at the moment it would have to be the DB9. Previously i'd have said the TVR Tuscan but now the ruskies own them and are planning to close the Blackpool plant :(
    (6) A convertible – the Honda S2000 may make an appearance purely for the noise they make at 65,000 rpm. Can't think of anything better to highlight the sound of a V–tec than removing the roof.
    (7) A track day car – a BMW M3/M5. I've been in love with the BMW M class ever since having one sideways for (seemingly) ages at Bruntingthorpe.

    01 May 2006, 00:38

  19. You'll be pleased to know that the 2.5 T5 unit has been tweaked in a S40 to produce 550bhp. By tweak I obviously mean: shove a whopping Garrett Turbo in it.

    01 May 2006, 00:52

  20. Overfinch – good call. I'm familiar with their P38 work, where they fitted tweaked and bored chevvy small block V8's. I have footage somewhere of one towing a Focus and still beating another Focus down a dragstrip… Truly impressive stuff. I assume by the Fiesta you mean retro–fitting something a bit more meaty than the 150BHP ST engine; sounds like a laugh. How do you find your ST170? I've always thought them to be a little lacking unless you rev them hard. I had the pleasure of thrashing a Focus RS around a circuit; that was much better with turbo boost but apparently the new ST is even better – I await driving one with much anticipation.

    I'm not sure "tweaking" the 2.5T5 to 550BHP is such a sensible move Nathaniel. For one, the turbo probably resembles a Rolls Royce Pegasus and will doubtless have massive lag and driveability issues. Two, durability. And lastly, I'm not convinced that 550BHP through the front wheels is going to do anything other than torque steer into the nearest big unfriendly object and boil the tyres…

    01 May 2006, 09:58

  21. Hmmm boiled rubber. You can get AWD in the Volvo, are they doing the same for the Focus? They should so do a 4WD 300BHP WRC version :P

    01 May 2006, 11:27

  22. You can't currently get an AWD Focus, nor do I imagine them producing one. It would take it up to Golf R32 or Impreza money, and as great a car as the Focus is I can't see them aiming directly at that market.

    01 May 2006, 12:00

  23. Not even with WRC colours and a big WRC spoiler and "M. Gronhölm" written on the side :(

    01 May 2006, 14:09

  24. I believe that when the ST was launched, there was much confusion over whether Ford would evenutally bring out an RS, with 4WD and a planned 300bhp. However I think that they decided to wait and see if the ST sold well…which it has, I mean, a fifth of the people who have so far commented on this entry have one on order ;)...before deciding on whether to do an RS. However there have been no recent noises about the RS, so it does seem unlikely to come into existence. Also…the standard Golf, Imprezas (ie the NA Imprezas) and mkII Focus are all roughly aimed at the same market, so I think that it would not be unreasonable of Ford to try and take them on at the top end, even if the Ford badge lacks the prestige of VW and Subaru.

    Overfinch do rock.

    01 May 2006, 16:10

  25. You guys have done it now. I really really want a Focus ST now. What's the RRP?

    01 May 2006, 16:12

  26. They come in three different trims. The ST1 starts at £17,520, the ST2 (the one I'd have, with uprated stereo, Xenons and ESP) is £18,495 and the ST3 (with top notch electric leather Recaro seats and a 6 disc changer) is £19,495

    01 May 2006, 16:33

  27. whoa wow thought they'd be a lot more that that

    01 May 2006, 16:57

  28. I don't think I really want to know whether those figures came off the top of your head or not, Sig ;–). However either way, yes, it's pretty barginatious.

    01 May 2006, 17:02

  29. Not a bad buy eh? And yes JJ, you don't really want to know if I had to look those up or not. Intriguing, if not concerning, is the VXR Astra, which triple 8 racing (who run the BTCC Astras, and have a tuning division for roadgoing Vauxhalls) will tune up for you to over 280BHP if you so wish… Do I hear the words "torque steer" in the background!

    01 May 2006, 17:32

  30. Nope, I hear the word "tree!"

    01 May 2006, 18:34

  31. You'll be pleased to know that the 2.5 T5 unit has been tweaked in a S40 to produce 550bhp. By tweak I obviously mean: shove a whopping Garrett Turbo in it.

    I've actually just driven the new C70 with the 2.5 T5 coupled to some trip–tronic box. Didn't really like it as the car was too big and it had some semi tronic gearbox which really couldn't handle my driving style. Straight after the test drive I was overtaken (albeit in traffic) by S40 sporting an anti–lag mechanism. It caught my attention as, whilst running alongside me, the anti lag kicked in…. bang bang pop bang. As we joined the M40 it became apparent he was running well over 200 horses – cars with less just don't dissapear as quickly !!

    01 May 2006, 22:37

  32. I have footage somewhere of one towing a Focus and still beating another Focus down a dragstrip

    This is on one of Clarkson's videos. It was only a 1.8 Zetec, which takes a whopping 10.2 seconds to crack 62, but it was still impressive stuff. The Range was actually running on the grass if I remember correctly!

    I assume by the Fiesta you mean retro–fitting something a bit more meaty than the 150BHP ST engine; sounds like a laugh.

    Yes indeed. Although the 150bhp engine is already proving to be good for 200bhp with a few de–restrictive bits and bobs i'd look for something like 2 engines. Remember that twin engined R5 that stuffed a Lambo on Top Gear a couple of series ago? I actually used to drive a 1.6 Zetec–S (2000) which kicked out 100bhp as standard. I managed to extract 140bhp out of it at the end (piper cams, sports cat, unichip, px induction and full magnex system) which was pretty good fun as by comparison it was much quicker than it should have been. Unfortunately my engine nearly blew up at 8,500 rpm whilst overtaking an IS200 and it was soon sold…. essentially I need a more robust starting point!

    How do you find your ST170? I've always thought them to be a little lacking unless you rev them hard. I had the pleasure of thrashing a Focus RS around a circuit; that was much better with turbo boost but apparently the new ST is even better – I await driving one with much anticipation.

    It's great fun when you can be bothered to keep it over 4,500 rpm. However it'll do about 20mpg when you do so I've figured I need a turbo to be more economical. A good friend of mine ran an RS at Uni (left in 2005) and that really was a much quicker car as we proved on several occasions. Handling wise it's also able to pull more G because of that LSD and an even wider track.

    The new ST beats the old RS by 16 seconds round the 'ring…. probably doesn't mean much out on the open road but it is definately quicker!

    01 May 2006, 22:50

  33. Slightly off–topic but

    A good friend of mine ran an RS at Uni (left in 2005)

    Chris K? He was in the Motorsport club with some of the commenters here! I never had a ride in it though.

    02 May 2006, 01:25

  34. James

    Interesting so many of the earlier bloggers wanted both a Jag XK and an Aston DB9 – very similar cars from manufacturers both owned by Ford. There's no sensible case for having seven cars for one driver so the obvious thing is to choose with the heart not head. Here's mine:

    1. Bugatti Veyron (well, why not).
    2. McLaren F1 (the 90s' equivalent, and yes I know it was built with light weight and 'no driver compromise' as priority as opposed to the Bug, which was just VW showing off its engineering prowess, but it was the equivalent in that it had far more sophistication, power and cost than any rival)
    3. Porsche 959 (the 80s equivalent, and left hand drive only so I could use it on a booze run to the Loire and St Emillion)
    4. Bentley Flying Spur (time for some luxury, and I think the Rolls and Maybach too ugly, vulgar and redundant around cities. This is still not a practical decision, as the Audi A8 diesel would be the sensible luxury barge, if that's not a contradiction)
    5. Audi RS4 Wagon – something to use as an everday runaround
    6. Aston DB4 GT Zagato – best looking Aston ever
    7. Massey Ferguson (if I could afford all the above, I'd need something for the gardener to use mowing the very large lawns I'd have as well)

    02 May 2006, 11:21

  35. Adam

    Chris K?

    Yup :)

    02 May 2006, 11:28

  36. Oooooo the 959, that's a good one. I used to have one of those sit–in electric toy car as a 5–year old kid which "was" a 959. It ran on 12V :P

    I chose the Jag XK for the sole purpose of having a Jag.

    02 May 2006, 11:49

  37. Good shout on the DB5 GT Zagato, now there's a proper car! Sadly my 7 car garage is full and there's no room for a lovely classic MkII E–Type roadster or XJS Lister convertible :–( But a Massey Ferguson? If you're getting a tractor for the lawns, John Deere or Fendt are the way to go. Don't mess with that Massey rubbish!

    02 May 2006, 14:12

  38. James

    I've driven a 1950s Massey and I can tell you that's manly driving – two gear leavers and no synchromesh! Anyway it would be the gardener doing it so I wouldn't care.

    Why the Jag obsession? The X type is a Mondeo, just as the Aston DB7 was known as the Jag–in–Drag. My uncle had an XJ8; he thought it inferior to the XJ6 which it had replaced. Unreliable and not a practical interior given the size of the car. Still clinging to a shape that looked good in 1970 but had since grown into a cliche. Similarly, the XK8 was an attempt to look like the E–type. But the E–type was great because it was futuristic and forward looking for 1963, not because it looked like something 30 years old. I always had the impression that Jags were the preserve of bookmakers, and Arthur Daly types, whereas the serious types would own Bentleys. Before Ford took them over, they were appallingly unreliable. But at least it could be said of those days that Jag only made luxury cars, unlike BMW and Mercedes with the 3 series and 190/C–class Hamburg taxis. Now they are just trying to clone the Germans with the X–type diesel wagons. Why is Ford cheapening the name when it already has Volvo to compete in that market?

    True enough the Bentley I chose is just a souped–up VW Phateon, similar to the Jag/Aston thing. But at least they slung two turbochargers onto it. And I think a car that big and that powerful would really benefit from 4wd, and no–one outside the VW group is doing that in that market sector (though I've read Merc has a 4wd S class on the continent – is that right?).

    02 May 2006, 15:02

  39. Bentley's a good choice, I don't see my parents sitting into a back of a Continental GT. The Audi A8 is not classy enough, and Mercs are no–nos. What was the second hand value of a Phaeton again JJ? Bargainatious it was.

    I like the X–type even if it is a mondeo. The V6 AWD seems to catch my fancy. I like the idea of wafting around in a motorised leather sofa where the arm rests are above your shoulders.

    02 May 2006, 15:16

  40. Second hand Phaeton? Hmm, would that the be the car with £40,000 of depreciation and a mighty W12 or V10 diesel in the front? For you sir, £35k…ker–ching!

    We should start a Facebook group….."I've Been In Chris K's Focus RS…I Was Jealous Too"

    As James points out, wanting a Jaguar just because it's a Jaguar doesn't vut the mustard in this day and age. I'm also interested to see the different approaches people have made in picking a seven–car garage. Happily no–one yet has fallen into the trap of "Veyron, F1, CLK GTR, Dauer 962, Koenigsegg CCR, Enzo, SLR"...there's no way you'll be getting any shopping home, loser ;–)!

    02 May 2006, 16:56

  41. Wanting a Jaguar just because it's a Jaguar doesn't cut the mustard either…

    02 May 2006, 16:57

  42. James – I've driven a great variety of tractors and can agree that it's proper manly driving (one of the Masseys I drove had three gear levers and 32 forward/reverse speeds). Being a tractor person though I'd probably get a nice 6yl John Deere, cause they're fantastic, or a Fendt cause they're like a playstation inside. But I digress…

    Jags are great because of everything that surrounds the brand. Whilst German cars appeal to the mass market and are sold, as you point out, with pissy little diesel engines, Jaguar has (at least until recently) built cars for people who love cars, not for people who just want a nice badge and something that won't fall apart. They are styled in a way German cars can never hope to imitate (some people think this is a good thing and don't get Jaguar's old fashioned or "classic" lines as I prefer to call them, I personally love the older look in a modern world of contemporary junk), and they understand more about what luxury is than their contemporaries. They are far less vulgar than Mercedes, ride far better than BMW's and Audi's, and are just generally styled much better. I love Bentley's too, but they are in a different league of much larger and more expensive/exclusive car. Jaguar in the modern world are chasing sales volumes more than clinging to an outright clean reputation as the enthusiast's manufacturer, because in the analysis of those that run it volume is the only way to survive.

    With regards to the Phaeton, one of my Dad's mates recently bargained an ex–demo 6.0W12 with options loading it to £90k, less than six months old, down to £33k. Now that's freefall depreciation!

    02 May 2006, 19:49

  43. James

    I bow to your superior tractor knowledge – my experience has been limited to the occasional jaunt when visiting friends. All I know of John Deere is that it is the brand of motorised lawnmower that Alvin drives in The Straight Story!

    The Phaeton must be one of the all–time luxury bargains. Funnily enough it is relevant to another blog running at the moment about free markets and relative income disparity: it shows that disparity in income might not truly indicated disparity in living standards. The £35k Phaeton you mention is probably objectively better than a new £150k Arnage (another depreciation champion) and it isn't far off a £250k Roller, so having all that extra cash isn't going to buy you a proportionately better luxury car.

    I hear what you say about Jags but I still have the impression that even in its heyday the XJ6 was an Arthur Daly/bookmaker car, not a car of distinction. It was different when I was growing up in the Antipodes, unfortunately for those who bought one and found out how they rust. The XJ12 was the worst offender. Wonderful ride and velvet–smooth engine, but it was tricky working out if one of the twelve cylinders was missing. The electrical wiring had to be seen to be believed (a jumbled mess of transistors). And the rust–prone exhaust formed an integral part of the chassis, meaning the lifespan of the car was criminally short.

    The German competitors are a bit characterless by comparison, but the Mercedes of the 1970s and 80s were just amazing in terms of quality. I know someone with a 22 year old S500, still in perfect original order with nearly 200,000 miles on the clock. And i rather like the 'Third World Dictator' looks, even if it handles like an ocean liner in a swell.

    03 May 2006, 10:20

  44. Rachel

    M3 convertible in red, paddle shift
    M3 convertible in black, manual
    M3 coupe in silver grey with sunroof, paddle shift
    bentley continental
    tranny van

    05 May 2006, 12:44

  45. Sheryar

    Interesting that someone thinks there is no performance difference between the Merc SL 55 AMG and the SL 65 AMG. I own an SL65, after having tested the SL55. At all speeds, the performance difference is noticable. Furthermore, the electronic speed limit takes 4 minutes to remove. My car is tuned by Danish Kleeman, and while it was clearly superior to the SL55 AMG, with the additional performance boost from Kleeman, I can now also justify the lower fuel efficiency, and the slightly higher maintenance over the last 12 months, due to the V12 compared to the V8.

    I own a 4 car garage. The following cars call it home: (This is not a dream or a wish list, this is reality striking):

    Mercedes SL65 AMG Kleeman tuned
    BMW M5
    Mercedes E400
    Fiat Marea 1.6


    22 May 2006, 15:14

  46. Well with another 78 horsepower on top of the standard 65AMG it's going to be a bit quicker! My point was that for driving around in a normal 155mpg limited car, the extra weight of the V12 doesn't really make an awful lot of difference to acceleration despite having more power. Once you get to very high speeds and drag becomes a serious factor, the extra horsepower becomes worth it. The 65AMG's carry something like a £50,000 price premium over the 55's though, and for that sort of money I'd take a 55 and have another good car.

    22 May 2006, 19:30

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