What do you buy when you just want a cheap run-around, that you don’t mind bearing a few small scratches from other careless drivers coming out of parking spots? Most people would go for a small hatchback and then call it a day. Me? I’ve bought an 18-year-old E36 BMW 320i, and considering that it was just a regular run-of-the-mill 3-Series in the ‘90s, convincing you that it’s a standout car might be a bit difficult.
When someone mentions a classic car, you probably think of something that was highly desirable in its day and over time appreciated in value. Something that’s in pristine condition, costs a lot of money to buy, and is probably brought out to the roads only when it’s 24 degrees and the sky is completely blue. Great examples are cars like the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 275 GTB, Mercedes Benz 300 SL, or an all-original 1966 Shelby Cobra. At a recent Gooding & Company auction, a 1957 Mercedes Benz 300 SL roadster was sold for $654,500!
Yesterday, on my way back home from a supermarket, I drove past a used car dealership that had on display a car that I haven’t seen in quite some time now – a Mk 1 Volkswagen Golf. It was a bright orange 1981 GLS model being sold for CHF 4,400. It had 107,000km (hopefully genuine), a four-speed manual transmission, three doors, and a heater – a very basic car in a world of cars that can now parallel park themselves. However, despite the small number of features that the old Golf had, it was the base for one of the best cars ever made, a base for the first of hot hatches. The Golf GTI.
Inconspicuous, yet it fits the description of what makes a standout car. First of all it carries the name of one of the highest-selling vehicles of all time – Honda Accord. Then there is the fact that it offers affordable motoring while being well-equipped. But most of all, the Honda Accord has solidified its reputation as one of the most reliable cars ever made – a reputation that even luxury cars costing many times more can’t match.
The Citroen C6 has always come off as a peculiar car since it was introduced seven years ago – very stylish, unique in its appeal, very French, but not much of a big seller. In fact the C6’s days on the showroom floor are nearly over.
Even for a European resident the C6 remains a rare sight indeed, until I travelled to Paris a few weeks ago – C6s are everywhere. Spend a little bit of time in central Paris and you will see a couple dozen of them from morning to evening, rather than one every other month like elsewhere in Europe. Obviously, being French-made makes it a common sight, and a default fleet choice for the French government. But it’s not only the government that uses them: taxi drivers, chauffeuring services, as well as embassies seem to be loyal Citroen customers. So, if you like, the Citroen C6 is France’s Lincoln Town Car – a few people buy them, but they’re mostly seen in some kind of fleet service.
Like most car enthusiasts, when I see a car on the street that catches my attention, chances are I will end up going online to look at how much a second-hand one costs. So having recently seen a 'black-on-black' BMW 645ci (E63) with a rather nice-sounding aftermarket exhaust, I spent a good bit of time on used car websites trying to find out how much little money can get you one, and on YouTube to see which aftermarket exhaust makes it sound best.
The 2003-2010 6-Series was introduced when BMW’s design department was under Chris Bangle. It made use of a reincarnated version of BMW’s distinct ‘shark nose’ for the front, a rather odd-looking rear end, and a few Bangle-style creases here and there – making today’s pretty-looking F10 6-Series look rather conservative in comparison. Although it didn’t have the sharp lines of some of Bangle’s other designs, the E63 definitely had some visual impact.
The Porsche Cayman is a perfect example of a good car that gets an unfair characterization, both from enthusiasts and the motoring press. You’ve probably heard someone say that it’s a car that's been compromised from the very beginning – that it’s not allowed to be better than a 911, otherwise there’s no point in buying a 911. So instead you get a car that feels like it’s being held back. Others say that it’s just a car people buy when they can’t afford a 911.
Have you ever bought something simply because it was very cheap? I’ve done this more times than I can remember - how else would I end up with a pair of Nike skate shoes that I’ve only worn once in five years? A friend of mine has recently bought something really cheap as well – a 1999 Honda Logo he found posted on Switzerland’s glocals.com. It cost him all of CHF 250, and in a country where cars cost roughly twice what they do in North America, calling it a bargain is a bit of an understatement.
The 1990s will be remembered for many things; Nelson Mandela got out of prison, Tupac and Notorious BIG shot, boy bands, the bowl haircut, OJ Simpson in the Bronco, etc. But there’s also the W140 Mercedes Benz S-Class, probably one of the best Mercedes Benzes ever made.
Having driven a 1997 S300 TD on several occasions, the first thing that strikes you is how long the car actually is – 5,113mm in length. The second thing you will notice is how light the steering is, it is easily one of the most effortless systems to use. You don’t get much in the way of detailed feedback though, but that’s irrelevant in a car like this. Instead you appreciate the fact that the response to steering input is more than acceptable, and that the ride quality is superior to many modern big saloons.
The Honda S2000 went out of production late in 2009 after ten years in sports car service, and up until the Ferrari 458 Italia arrived, the S2000's engine produced more horsepower per litre than any other naturally-aspirated engine in the world, with the Italia’s 126hp/l just about passing the S2000’s 120hp/l.
The S2000 was offered with a high-revving 2.0-litre four cylinder engine producing 240hp and 153lb ft of torque (250hp for Japanese cars). As with many high-performance Hondas, the engine was connected to a sweet-shifting six-speed manual transmission, sending power to the rear wheels. And if you decided to make a 0-60mph sprint, you would get there in 6.2sec and reach a top speed of 150mph. Also, the VTEC system meant that you could rev the engine to 9000rpm without it exploding.