A conversation I have seen brought up dozens of times, in pubs, online motoring forums or in just idle chat is what cars would you have in your perfect garage. Peoples responses range from the inevitable Bugatti Veyron, (well why not given a free range why settle for a garage full of Nissan Micras and Toyota Yaris) to such ecliptic choices as a 1930 Blower Bentley or even a Ford Capri…
…to fulfil a childhood dream that has never been lived or perhaps allowed to live by a partner who thinks that telling her friends that the reason her Mercedes SL is no longer garaged is because the other half has designated the entire space to the new love in his life 1985 Capri with accompanying oil leak(s), rust holes, damp carpets and torn seat covers so he can be a real man, love by pretending he knows what he’s doing when tinkering away at 11pm on a Friday with a set of shiny new spanners and screwdrivers and retire back into the house with an inflated sense of self-satisfaction, complete with grazed knuckles and smelling of Swarfeger.
But with such trivial matters such as budget or even the previous scenario of a 20-year dream gone wrong, what would form the perfect garage? Now to stop this getting too much out of control and ending up needing garaging space to rival a branch of Hertz rentacar we should limit this to the following categories. Family, Super, Daily and Fun cars.
We will get the most boring out of the way first with the family car. Now assuming that you have 2.4 children and the need to carry the associated junk, normal family cars such as saloons or hatchbacks aren’t going to fit the bill here so I will take a step above and look at the MPVs such as Renault Espace, but these as Jeremy Clarkson so rightly quotes shows that you’ve given up on life and no longer care what anyone thinks of you.
So moving swiftly on we arrive at what I call the Soft Roaders such as Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes. In this category and with our endless budget you may as well as aim to the top and consider either of these two. The Range Rover is a truly amazing machine, oozing class from every pore, with a timeless design and amazing off-road ability but is beaten into a cocked hat for road manners by the Porsche Cayenne. In its turbo guise it will cruise at 160mph as well as plod around town or on the school run. Admittedly it does have challenging looks, but I look at them in the way I look at someone like Dawn French. Curiously pretty perhaps, but you have enormous respect of its talent, which is why she succeeds in her professional capacity over a wannabe like Jade Goody.
The supercar is up next. Ask a group of people what defines a supercar to them and 90% of people will say Ferrari and this is for a very good reason. Ferrari has now mastered the art of producing a car that excites and can be used everyday. Previously the sole trick of Porsche with its amazing 911, but with the 360, 550, 430 and 575 models you can truly use them for a trip down the shops or drive them as Enzo Ferrari meant for his cars to be driven, at 101% on a clear night with the windows down. Although we shouldn’t overlook Lamborghini, its Murcielago is one hell of a car. Compared to other 200mph cars, once you’ve got over its huge dimensions when driving, it is actually a very pleasant place to be. With a gear change easier than any other car I’ve driven and huge reserves of power it can be on a charge to headbutt the horizon before you can adjust the air con or grab another Werther’s Originals from the glove box. But if you going to drive a supercar, why not go berserk and go for a Pagani Zonda. In its latest F guise with 602 bhp and no real driver aids to speak of it is a real supercar all for the paltry sum of £400,000(!)
Okay, back down to earth now. With the family and mega-money cars covered what are you going to get into a drive everyday to earn a crust to keep the previous two behemoths in fuel and tyres? It needs to be comfortable which in my experience means it needs to be quite big, anything smaller than a BMW 3 series, after 200 miles non-stop motoring you really start to feel very mile drag on, no matter how good the build quality. It also has to be quite powerful, not stupendously fast like a Mercedes E55 or Audi RS6 but quick enough to make the journey effortless.
Now out of all of the cars I could choose for you, there is one that stands out for me. I’ve driven hundreds of miles in one of these and it delivers 40 miles per gallon, every toy you could want and combined with excellent build quality and great performance..ladies and gentlemen I give you the BMW 535 diesel. Yes that’s right, diesel. Its three litre (despite being called the 535) engine with twin turbos makes every mile fly by, the only time you notice it’s a diesel is with how infrequent the fuel stops become compared to its petrol counterparts. It has performance to rival 95% of other cars in the real world. Why else do you think that my local Constabulary use them as plain clothed high-speed pursuit cars? They caught me in one for speeding once and I wasnt hanging about!
Last but not least, the toy. Now with this category you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of pounds to have fun. There are numerous manufactures that strangely enough are British that can pander to your whim, with such companies as Ariel with its Atom, Lotus with the Elise and Exige models, Westfield and of course the iconic Morgan. Although in a small industrial unit 5 minutes from the Dartford Crossing in Kent is Caterham. They build cars based on the original design of the Lotus Seven with varying power options from 105 to 256-brake horsepower. Now I know that 105 doesn’t sound a lot, but remember this is in a car with no doors or real weather protection and that weighs just 540kg all for about 13,000. For smiles per they can’t be beaten. But what the hell, this is a fantasy garage go for the 256 hp model, and be sure that your toy can’t be beaten in any game of performance Top Trumps.