Okay, Okay… You Win

After last weekend’s post about my “modern” dream car was roundly mocked in Comments, I’ve decided on my modern dream car — and it’s a 2020 model withal: the Mercedes Benz G550 Geländewagen:

Let’s recap:  it was originally a .dotmil truck, the civilian version of which was first released back in 1979, and has continued more or less unchanged ever since — the longest production model in Mercedes Benz’s history.  (I know:  the 1981 modifications added frilly stuff like automatic transmission and A/C, but that’s all water under the bridge now.)  So technically, the G-wagen is a 1980s car/truck which while modified over the years, has never relinquished its true ethos.  Try saying that  about any other car, I dare ya.

Tech specs for the 2020 model are:  a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine which delivers 416 horsepower / 450 ft-lbs torque, outrageous off-road capabilities, and fuel consumption which gives the Greens sleepless nights, largely because… wait for it… it wasn’t designed by some fucking wind tunnel sycophants.

It presses all my buttons:  a storied heritage, an unchanged appearance (why change it when you got it right first time?), massive power, virtual indestructibility, and political incorrectness.

And because I’m an Old Phartte (First Class), I love the interior luxury as well:

Finally, it has enough room to carry all the gun gear I’d ever want to:

Yeah I know:  the G550 costs over $130 grand (which, considering that the Maserati QP it replaced in my affections costs well over $160 grand, means I’d actually be saving money to spend on a new shotgun).   It’s not as roomy inside as, say, a Chevy Tahoe, but I don’t have to schlep teenage kids around anymore — it’s me and New Wife + guns/groceries for 99.99% of the time.  And yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to get into because of its high ground clearance —  hence the addition of retractable step rails (a 1990s modification).

And no:  I’m not interested in the souped-up AMG version because I don’t need the additional power and concomitant stiffer suspension/less comfortable ride.  I’ll leave that option to the Kim Kardashians of this world who seem to enjoy jiggling around.

I swear to you all:  if I win the stupid lottery in time, I’ll arrive at Boomershoot 2020 in one of these.  Just watch me.

Finalists

Loyal Readers will recall that I reported a shattered dream (in that my #1 Dream Car, the Maserati Quattroporte was decisively debunked by a guy from Maserati), and that later, I confessed to being unable to decide on a post-1970 car in this fantasy exercise.

Slowly but surely, my foggy brain and confused thoughts are starting to crystallize towards a car made after 1970 that I would love to drive for the rest of my life, and about three are starting to break away from the pack.

To nobody’s surprise, none of them are modern (21st-century) models — most modern cars are as ugly and overweight as Lena Dunham — and I flip the bird at all the “safety” and “economy” features that Gummint has mandated, all of which make driving as much fun as steering a sofa down the driveway, or less.  So my “modern” (post-1970) dream car is going to come from an earlier era, and only just ahead of the 1970 rule.

Anyway, here are the finalists, in no specific order of wanting:

 1) 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL (3-liter straight-6, 4-speed manual)

I love absolutely everything about this Beemer:  looks, performance, comfort, handling, the lot.  Unbelievably, this was a loaner (!!!) from a repair shop that was fixing my own BMW (see below), and I had it for three happy days…

 

 

2) 1986 Alfa Romeo GTV6 2.5 (2.5-liter V6)

I drove one of these once, on a long-ish trip, and the owner nearly didn’t get it back. What a beauty.

 

3) 1984 BMW 318i (with 5-speed manual) (This was the E20 generation which replaced the earlier 1800/2002 line.)

Alone among the cars featured today, I’ve actually owned  one of these — okay, it was a company car, shortly before I left South Africa — and I bitterly regretted having to exchange it for a 520 (POS) when I was promoted.  If I could have kept it, I’d still be driving it today.  It was no racer;  that little 1800cc four-banger wouldn’t stand a chance against the other cars listed, but I loved driving it.

 

4) 1985 Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 (4.2-liter straight-6)

If I wanted to eschew any kind of quickness and nimbleness in favor of pure, luxurious comfort, this model Jag would get my vote, every single day of the week.  And two  12-gallon fuel tanks.  But if I wanted something equally comfortable, but far more reliable:

 

5) 1976 Mercedes 350 SE (W116, 3.5-liter V8)

Zur

My Dad had one of these, we went on countless road trips in it, and I still think it’s one of the classiest-looking Merc sedans made since 1970.

Those are the finalists, so far.  I should also point out that as I posted each of these, I wanted it badly, until I posted the next one.  Looking back up the list, I would take any one of them, any day of the week, without looking back.

Tiny

I’ve probably said this before, but I love the fact that sports cars of an earlier era were so much smaller than today’s fat-assed, safety-obsessed behemoths.  To whit, the 1995 Fiat Barchetta:

…the 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta:

And even by Fiat standards, the little 1950s-era 600 was a weeny:

And here are a few more, all on the same theme:

I blame it all on Mercedes, starting in that same decade:

Still, sometimes you do  need a larger car, for the family:

Or for other reasons:

I miss the old days… [sigh]

Unnecessary

A couple of Readers (or maybe their wives) have sent me emails concerning last Saturday’s post, which pictured the interior of a 1950s-era Mercedes 300S.  To combine and paraphrase their messages:  “O no Kim, that old car looks dreadfully unsafe!”

Whereupon I publish this  response (courtesy of Mr. Free Market):

Participation Trophy

Following last week’s punctured dream, I got to thinking about finding a replacement dream car, and in so doing came up with another one of Kim’s Stupid Suppose games.  Here it is:

Rich old Uncle Elmer always liked you, and when the old boy croaked, he left you a provision in his will that said you could buy any two cars (or trucks) in the world, provided that one was made before 1970, and the other after that date.  There would be sufficient funds set aside for repairs and parts, in perpetuity.

Which would be your pre-1970 car, and which would be your modern choice?  Answers as always in Comments.  You can provide a rationale for your selections, or not.

To kick the thing off, I’ll give my pre-1970 choice, which is a slam-dunk:  the W186-body (1951-1958) Mercedes 300S (two-door version) — my only indecision being whether to get the soft-top roadster

…or the hard-top coupé:

It was engineered to drive for at least 12 hours at a constant 100mph without breaking down, and from what I can gather, the 300S and its 3-liter 6-cylinder engine did just that, all the time.

That’s my “old car” choice.

I’m still reeling from the disappointment of losing my modern  dream car, so it may take me a while to find a replacement — just as it did when I was forced to replace Nigella Lawson as my stalking obsession Dream Girl.  So watch this space…

But in the meantime, get into Comments and give me some ideas.

Cute Lil’ Italian Thang

When Mazda reintroduced the concept of “sports car” to the automotive world, a whole bunch of other automakers, who had doubtless been told by Marketing that nobody wanted sports cars anymore, suddenly rediscovered the joys of a small, inexpensive, modestly-powered open-top car.

Of course, people had always wanted sports cars — what they wanted was a reliable sports car, which the Euros and Brits seemed to be incapable of producing (Alfa Romeo Spider, Triumph anything, MG anything, Fiat anything, and so on), while the US had never produced a sports car.  (Corvettes, Thunderbirds etc. aren’t sports cars.  The closest one we’ve ever had was the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice, which was really the German-designed Opel GT anyway —


and  we were late to the party.  By the time these came onto the market in the mid-2000s, Mazda had gobbled up the market already.)

Anyway, Mazda ended all that, or to be more correct, they started it up again.  Now, all of a sudden, everyone else had to get back to the drawing board and play in this pool.

Enter Fiat’s little derivative of the older 124 Spider:  the Barchetta.

If it looks like the Mazda Miata, it’s probably not coincidental:

…because there are only so many ways you can design a sports car, after all.

Another sports car of the late 1970s was the Lotus Elan (which predated the Miata, and in fact was probably the car that Mazda used as their model):

Even Alfa Romeo replaced their old Spider (which was gorgeous) with a 90s lookalike (which wasn’t).  Here’s the 1980’s Spider:

Compare to the 2000 model:

‘Nuff said.

The only thing which set the Alfa apart from the rest was terminal unreliability a snarling 3.0-liter V6 which made the Spider so much quicker than the rather lackluster Mazda- and Fiat roadsters.  (Then of course there came new environmental restrictions [sigh]  and the V6 was replaced by a 2.0-liter turbo version.)

As Longtime Readers of this here website are know well, I love little two-seater sports cars, whether the 1930s MG TA, the Austin Healey MkIII or indeed, the modern Fiat 124 (a.k.a. the “Fiata” because in the Great Circle of Automotive Life, the 124 shares a chassis with the Miata.  Confused, yet?).

I don’t really care for the 1990s/2000s models, though, because that “bar-of-soap” shape was fashionable at the time but really, it’s dead boring.

However, all was not a complete waste of time.  Enter those maniacs at Abarth and a design firm named Stola,who took the staid little Fiat Barchetta and turned it into this:

Ooooh, baby… and that’s  the “cute lil’ Italian thang” in the title.