For the latest classic car news, features, buyer’s guides and classifieds, sign up to the C&SC newsletter here
Finances, space and continued marital bliss permitting, I still have quite a few classic cars on a floating ‘wish list’.
None of these are exotic and hardly any of them very valuable. You could have all eight (or maybe 10) for £60,000 all in – and there is nothing over £15,000.
I am talking here about tidy, running examples of cars that are disparate in appeal, but have a common thread of being significant (not always in a positive sense) and slightly off the mainstream radar.
The list boils down to things I have owned before, but had to sell due to lack of money, space or merely succumbing to a general need to move on, and but also, in some cases, machinery that I just feel I should own, either because they summon happy memories of a person, a place or a time, or because they seem like an unfinished relationship.
A typical example of the latter is the Fiat 2300S Coupé. I owned one in the early ’90s, and loved the one featured in the September 2021 issue of Classic & Sports Car, but at £30,000 they don’t come within the budget.
I am surprised to discover there are no Mercedes or Jaguars on my list, but this is because I already own a pre-HE XJS and a 420G (I will keep the latter, sell the former), and I can’t justify the prices asked for any Mercedes or BMW I would actually want.
I own two American classic cars, so I don’t feel a third is warranted. That said, but special dispensation might be made for the right clap-door Lincoln or some sort of giant late ’60s station wagon.
Pre-war cars? I admire them, and fantasise about driving a Phantom III, but my ambitions don’t extended beyond owning a Lancia Aprilia – even then, I suspect my Lancia Appia captures much of the appeal of that car.
One rule I try to stick to is that, as much as possible, the cars should not duplicate each other in type, purpose or character.
All are from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. I grew up in the 1970s, with ’60s cars still very much in evidence on the road, but surprisingly few ’50s cars, which were really only 15 or 20 years old when I was say, seven, a commentary, perhaps, on how rapidly motor cars aged in those days.
The Atlantic appeals most strongly because of the association with my dad and stories he would tell about tearing around Manchester in the early ’60s in them.
I’m not sure where my Pathfinder fascination comes from, but it won’t go away.
The Austin 3 Litre – which I have owned multiple times – is just one of those recurring distractions that seems to go round on a mental loop. It is an object so remote and irrelevant from our current experience that it just gets more interesting with every passing year.
The Renault 16, by contrast, is perhaps the beginning – or one of the many beginnings – that has led to where we are now and is worth having, and celebrating, for that reason alone.
Funnily enough, my pal Fredrik has just been round asking if I want to buy his blue TX (for a grand less than the figure mentioned last time), so maybe that one is about to come to pass. I've never owned a 16, or for that matter a Fiat 124 Coupé, another ‘must have’.
A Lancia Flavia I need to have just because they are in the blood. I must have had 15 or 20 of them, however, I miss owning one for the very particular smell of the various plastics, the endearing thrum of the flat-four and the all-round refinement.
But the world has moved on, and I don’t want to give £20k upwards for a Pininfarina coupé that might have set me back a grand or less 20 years ago.
So I’m still focused on finding a reasonably priced 1800 Milleotto saloon of the 1967-’71 era: I have a feeling this is a purchase that will happen sooner rather than later.
Given that I’ve owned upwards of three Rover P5B coupés, I don’t see the point of revisiting those cars when I’ve got a Silver Cloud that duplicates the appeal in many ways.
What I do fancy from Rover is either an early P6B 3500 or a pre-facelift 2000TC – in both cases, there are still plenty about and they are affordable.
The trouble is, I want a wedge Elite that actually works (I’m not sure they ever really did in period), and that means going down the modified route that would soak up my eight-car budget (which I don’t have anyway). Still, something might pop up that fits the bill.
What I should really do, if I was a sensible and rational man, would be to tear up the above list, flog everything I already own and just have one really exciting, beautiful, rare old car which, at one fell swoop, would reduce all the associated financial and logistical headaches of owning a small fleet of classic cars.
It sounds simple, but it wouldn’t be. Selling upwards of a dozen old cars – some of them with very limited appeal – is an activity guaranteed not to run to the timetable I’d have in mind or make the money I’d need to capture, say, a Maserati Ghibli or a Jensen FF.
Believe me, I’ve given all of the above careful thought. Whichever way I look at the idea, somehow it doesn’t quite sit well. So, for now, I’m sticking with the current plan.
We’d love to hear yours.
Images: Tony Baker/Luc Lacey/Olgun Kordal/Max Edleston/Will Williams