Come for a spin in my classic time machine

| 22 Jan 2013

I really envy those enthusiasts who can browse old magazines and not pay attention to the prices for cars. I simply can't rationalise them like some people can.

If I see a Ferrari GTO advertised for £3000, I cry a little. It doesn't matter that when that advert was run in the mid-1960s, £3k might have bought you a row of cottages in South Ascot, I still weep.

Then there are the others, the hyper-rational who, regardless of the whole price thing, never visit my world of regret, and never rue their missed opportunities. And that's just not normal.

Rightly or wrongly, classics are an emotional business for me and I don't at all envy those for whom they are not – I bet they are better mechanics than me, but I wouldn't want that sense of total detachment.

How could I not wish that 10 years ago I didn't borrow £20,000 instead of £10,000 to transform the purchase of a Westfield Eleven into the purchase of a Lotus Eleven? My salary was depressingly similar to what it is now so the level of debt would have made very little difference.

Neither is it that I have any qualms about any of the classics I have owned, but (as I have bleated many a time), I am very greedy and therefore forever tortured by the hundreds that I haven't had, and especially the scores of "must-have" cars that due to the booming market, I now know that I never will.

Of course the GTO is an extreme example that the rationalisers tend to quote, but it doesn't mean that my irrational approach isn't (slightly more) justified if we look at more recent trends.

When I took the helm at C&SC, I told company bigwig Eric Verdon-Roe to find me a million quid to buy cars with. He didn't, so I never did buy the two and a half decent C-types I could have had for that money at the time.

Likewise, the other day I was browsing our 20th anniversary edition in which the team picked its dream classics for under £20k. Mine was a Lancia Aurelia B20 GT. Today it seems mad to suggest that they were ever that low, but a decade ago, when if I was bolder I could have taken on and then paid off that sort of loan, they were.

Others in the test (all sub-£20k remember) included an AC Aceca, Allard, Gordon-Keeble, Mustang GT350 and BMW 3.0 CSL!

Naturally, after reminiscing on the Aurelia et al, I spent some time damaging the pages of the Price Guide with my tears.

The only solution was to follow the advice of Johnny Mercer and accentuate the positive by turning it into a game.

So I gave myself a budget of £100k to assemble my dream garage at 2002 prices (though, some of the valuations do look suspiciously low).

And this is it (all in 'average' ie road legal but ropey condition).

1. Ferrari 246GT - £27,500

2. Alfa Romeo Montreal - £4500

3. Lancia Aurelia B20 GT - £12,500

4. Lotus Elan S1 - £7500

5. Maserati Ghibli £14,500

6. Audi 100S Coupe - £1000

7. Porsche 911S 2.4 - £12,000

8. Mini Cooper S - £3850

9. De Tomaso Pantera - £12,500

10. Jensen Interceptor - £4000

Total - £99,850

Or I could just tick all those boxes with a real Cobra 289 (£60,000) and a Ferrari 330GTC (£40,000).

Now, why don't you have a go yourself? I've started a thread in the forum so you can see the Price Guide and make your own choices.

Number of cars limited to 10, total value must not exceed £100k, and you can't use the values for restoration projects, just average or mint examples. It's a lot tougher than you would think, too, I still had to drop a whole bunch of dream cars.

No need to be negative about the pointlessness of the entire exercise either, I'm well aware of it, but it's just a bit of fun (or in my case, therapy).