Back Then

Wasting time over at C.W.’s place there’s this little bit of nostalgia, with his comment:

Certainly, my Gran’s did, except her tabletop was covered with a single sheet of green linoleum (don’t ask).

Also at C.W.’s:  he’s been on a tear about the wonderful Alfa Romeo Tipo 105 sports cars of the late 1960s and early 70s, like this one:

This might be my favorite model of them all:  the Giulia GT Junior, with Alfa’s extraordinary 1300cc engine which performed completely out of its weight class.


Finally, and I hesitate to even say this, he has no business posting pictures of terrible things like this on his website:

Doubleplus want.

I’d call that a Texas BLT, but the bread’s a little on the thin side.

Kim’s U.K. Garage

No need for ten cars that I’d want to keep stabled  in Britishland;  just five should do quite nicely, thank you.  And as the distances aren’t vast, I don’t care about nonsense like fuel consumption (not that it’s ever been much of a consideration, come to think of it).

And all right-hand drive, of course.

1939 Alvis Speedster 25
More roomy (and much more powerful and reliable) than the MG T car models, the “25” had a 4.3-liter straight-six engine which provided 137bhp.  Sufficient for the time, and sufficient for the Brit country roads I’d be driving on.  Other candidates for this spot:  the aforesaid MG TF from the T-class, Morgan Plus Four and Caterham Seven 420.

2009 Bristol Fighter
An actual British supercar, made to “compete” with the Gordon Murray-designed McLaren F1, the Fighter had a Dodge Viper V10 engine in a car which weighed half that of a Viper.  Jeremy Clarkson once called driving it “stupendously suicidal”, and I can think of no higher praise.  Other candidates:  Jaguar E-type Series 2.

1975 Range Rover

After they’d worked out all the (many) niggles in the 1970-74 models, the 1975 model Range Rover was upgraded with creature comforts while keeping the lovely 3.5-liter V8 Buick/Rover engine.  Also, this was the generation before all the horrible electronic nonsense arrived to bedevil Rover owners.  Other candidates:  none.

1960 Bentley S2 Continental

…with the “new” (for the time) Rolls-Royce V8 engine tweaked by Bentley engineers, it was (and still would be today) “sufficiently fast” —  and I dare say, “sufficiently posh” too.  Other candidates:  none.

1968 Mini-Cooper S MkII

My “town car” for those quick little trips to the village pub or grocery store.  Small, quick (1,275cc!), nimble, easy to park, easy to drive;  I’d probably drive this little beauty about 90% of the time, and all the others the remaining 10% (assuming, of course, that the others were better-than-average in terms of reliability — high hopes, but there it is).  Other candidates:  none.

There’s no E-type, no MG, not even an Austin-Healey, because there’d be examples of all those in my European- and U.S. garages.

Yup, when it comes to my British garage, I’m backing Britain:

… albeit with some American engines.  I love me my British cars, but there are limits.

Careful Reflection

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Mercedes Geländewagen (“G-wagon/-wagen”) in pretty much all its versions because… well, because despite all its flaws (brick-like aerodynamics, gas-guzzling engine, tank-like ride blah blah blah) all wrapped up in an astronomical price:

I still want to own one.  Badly.  And even despite Mercedes having done away with a stick shift in the early 2000s (pppppbbbbbbbbbtttttt).

Maybe it’s because of all those flaws, or maybe it’s because at the end of the day, the ur-military design and engineering means that the G is pretty much indestructible and will take you to places that would overturn a Jeep, overpower a Range Rover and make even the old Toyota Landcruiser shake with fear.

Not that I myself would ever put any of that to the test, of course, because a.) I’m too old for such foolishness and b.) my idea of a “challenging ride” is negotiating the speed bumps in my apartment complex without becoming airborne or blowing out the suspension.

So why would I want a G-wagen?  Just because.  Because in a world of cars designed and built for today’s softer man, there is still an option to say, “Fuck it” and drive something that makes a statement — that statement being:  “This asshole has too much money and is wasting it on a truck that costs almost as much as a Bentley.”

To which the typical G-wagen owner will reply, “Yeah?  And so?”

It’s the ultimate middle digit directed at the Greens, the wealth-envious, the nannies at the NHSA and pretty much all the little petty totalitarian wannabes who want to tell us how to run our lives and prevent us from owning this and making our only choice that.  And it’s always been that way, from earlier times:


…to the early 2000s:


…and today:


…and if there’s a better picture that encapsulates the hulking body and brooding spirit of the G-wagen, I haven’t found it yet.

Needless to say, of course, Mercedes being no longer the militaristic- and engineering-focused company that it once was, has bowed in obeisance to the Global Cooling Climate Warming Change© hysteria, and will now produce… an electric G-wagen.  Here’s a pic:

(yeah, it looks more like the new Ford Bronco and relaunched Land Rover than a G-wagen)

What amuses me is that Mercedes were going to call it the EQC or some such bollocks, but realized that making it sound like something Apple would make might be a bad idea — so they dropped that and called it the G580 (because the Duracell-powered engine produces 580hp and gets it to 60mph in under five seconds, whoop-dee-doo).

And this?

They’ve dropped the spare wheel to accommodate the massive, pythonesque charging cable that will be needed to recharge the Duracells every 285 miles — uh-huh — with no mention of how long said process will take.  Of course.

By the way, the Duracell G-wagen weighs about 3.5 tons (6,800lbs) compared to the “normal” G-wagen’s 2.5 tons (5,500lbs).

And to complete the cynicism of the whole exercise, it has a CD player under the hood which creates a fake “G-wagen roar” instead of the typical electric engine’s “Thunberg whine”.

Here’s an overview of the thing.

Anyone who knows me will be able to predict that I regard this fucking piece of shit with something akin to sex with Rebel Wilson or Lizzo — i.e. no man should — and I haven’t even discussed its price yet.  Okay, I will:  $190,000 (compared to the G550’s $150k).

Considering, as I’ve said before, that the G-wagen I really want is the diesel-powered

1984 300GD

…with a manual gearbox and separate transfer case for serious 4WD activity, you may understand how far off the new Mercedes is from my radar screen.

And the fully-reconditioned- and rebuilt G-wagen above has a F.O.B. sticker price of $55,000.  The hundred-odd grand in “savings” would be spent on a sports car like a second-hand low-mileage Mazda Miata:

…and guns like this H&H Cavalier.

Note that the Mazda has a manual transmission and the shotgun is a side-by-side:  still more pointers that as far as I’m concerned, the modern world and all its whizz-bang technology can go and fuck itself.

Kim’s European Garage

We’ve all seen my American garage;  now here, spurred on by last Saturday’s post of the Holland-to-Spain exercise, is its European counterpart.  It would be located in, I dunno, maybe the Austrian Alps or somewhere in the Black Forest, wherever I decided to set up a European base.

I excluded all British right-hand drive ones, with regret, because while I’d be okay on a highway, the smaller Euro roads (which I’d surely drive instead) are another story altogether.

Anyway, I limited my European garage to ten cars, as before, and here they are, in no specific order:

1972 Fiat Dino 2400

Are you kidding me?  I’ve always loved Fiats, with all their little quirks and niggles, but a Fiat with a Ferrari (Dino) 246 V6 under the hood?  [exit, drooling]

1971 BMW 3.0CS

I drove one once, and I would feel comfortable making this my everyday driver, on any continent (okay, Europe or the U.S.).  All the power I’d ever need, understated looks, old-time Beemer reliability and performance… I think you get my drift.

1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6

As for Fiat, so with Alfa.  I’ve driven this beauty before, from Johannesburg to Durban (about 400 miles) and I can truthfully say that it was the most enthralling drive ever — the old mountain road called Van Reenen’s Pass was a twisty, narrow and stupendous test for any car’s roadholding and handling, and the GTV6 passed with flying colors.  (Me?  My whole body was shaking with an adrenaline overload.)  And yeah, when I eventually stopped to refuel, the door handle came off in my hand.  Si bella.

1949 Mercedes-Benz 170S

My oldie choice.  Yes, I’d prefer the 1954/55 300 S or SC, but that’s not what they had in stock, the Dutch idiots, so I’d “settle” for the 170.  Drive all day, and drink in the admiration from passers-by.  My kinda fun.

1977 Jensen Interceptor MK3

My token Anglo-American car in the garage.  Who’s going to say no to a spacious sports car with that lovely color scheme, and the brilliant Chrysler 7.2-liter V8 engine purring (okay, roaring) as you get to a nice flat bit of straight road?  Not I.

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

For those days I just want to be incognito.

1989 BMW 320i E30

A sentimental choice, this one.  I owned a BMW 318i back in the old Racist Republic, and loved it more than perhaps any other car I drove back there.  And this E30 model has a stick shift, just as mine did.  Hubba hubba.

Porsche 356 Pre-A Roadster

If my European garage is going to contain a Porsche (and of course it should) then this lovely old 356 fills the requirement, more than adequately.  And anyway, I don’t care much for the 911 line.

And finally:

1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pagode

Okay, maybe the older 230 SL is a little underpowered by today’s rip-roaring sports car standards;  but if we go by my major criterion, i.e. “Will this car make me glad to be alive when I see it in the garage?”, then the little 230 most assuredly qualifies.

Wait… no Ferrari, Kim?

I’m not too impressed by the ones offered, to be honest.  And I did pick the Ferrari-powered Fiat 2400, didn’t I?

Oh, I need to answer the question posed in last Saturday’s Amsterdam – Madrid exercise:  which one would I pick to make the trip?

None of them — because the rules state that it’s a one-way trip and the car to be sold upon arrival in Madrid.  I wouldn’t want that for any of the above.  For that reason, this is my pick:

1961 Jaguar MK II

That unbelievable color scheme, a supremely comfortable ride, and pretty much all the power one would need on a European road… if you don’t agree with this choice, I’m quite sure you’ve never been in a Mk II.  I have, and that’s all there is to say about that.

One last thing:  there is, among all the cars for sale at ER Classics, one that I’d buy and ship back to the U.S., simply because I’d want an SUV that would be more U than S, if you follow me.  That’s this one:

1984 Mercedes-Benz 300GD

Excuse me, but that lovely and powerful 3-liter diesel engine (fuck Earth Day) in something that can be driven hard and put away all muddy and dusty, to be driven in the same manner the next day, and the next, and the next, without ever breaking down or even breaking a sweat?


Same Problem, Different Continent

Two weeks ago, you were stranded in St. Louis and had to buy a car to drive home.

Guess what?  It’s happened again, only this time your airport was Schipol, outside Amsterdam. The problem?  You were going to fly home from Madrid, Spain, so somehow you have to get from Holland to Spain (a full two-day drive), but you decide you’ll take five days because that’s when your flight leaves Madrid, using a route roughly along these lines:


And luckily, you discover ER Classics, just a short train ride from Amsterdam, where you will find choices like this:

So browse the showroom and pick yourself a car for this one-way trip through northern Europe.  There are a lot more choices here than there were at St. Louis, so take your time… and be assured, as before, that the car will be reliable enough to get you there, needing only refueling along the way.

Oh, and the weather will be warm, mostly sunny but with occasional light rain (because Yurp).

Let me know in Comments.

Simple Fix

Watch as Harry Metcalfe tries to get his ancient Fiat 500 to start, after a 5-year layoff.

(yes, that’s Harry, back in the 1980s)

As it looks now:

Much frustration follows, as Harry and Charlie try one thing, and then another — and along the way, we get a lesson on how the Fiat’s simple engine works.

But… all is to avail, and in despair they start talking about having to drop the engine out.

And then… a simple fix, and there is much joy in Harry’s Garage.

Now, a tour of Harry’s garage.  And there’s a sequel to this, in the very next post.