Best of Bargain of the Week

December has always been the month of culmination; a years’ worth of work all down to the wire. The Car of the Year tag is over used and, although the end of the year isn’t far away, I’ve decided on our very own – Best BOTW. I had no idea that two years down the line I’d still be writing MTI’s BOTW but it’s proven to be a good read and I’ve enjoyed searching the classifieds and telling you what I think, even though I’ve spent a few bob in the process. Long gone is my Maserati but I’ve picked up an Impreza (which is doing fine). It’s hard to juggle life and write yet despite my horrifically late reviews (some Bargain of the Week’s can actually take a month) it’s time to announce the very first “Best Bargain of the Week” 2010.

It’s amazing what you forget and going over my old posts I still stick by what I said. Picking a favourite is hard work (ok not that stressful) but to come up with five worthy contenders isn’t easy especially as I would pretty much have everyone in the driveway. Five is just enough for the final and that’s what I’ve done. What I think sums up the bargain philosophy is listed below. Agree or disagree here they are. It’s also my final BOTW post of 2010 – although I might slip in a Christmas special. But just before I sign off, can I thank you all for supporting/reading my BOTW series and ask that you take five minutes to leave a few comments with every bargain post you read? That way I get to know what your thinking!

See you in 2011.

5. Ford Capri 2.8 Special – September 12th 2009.
In at number five is probably one of the most memorable cars for me. My old man had some decent cars including a ’77 Capri 3.0S auto. I know that the Capri is tarred with the “naff” brush but it captures the era of British sport coupes perfectly. Although we Brits couldn’t replicate American muscle cars I felt proud, as a five year old, cruising in the passenger seat. That’s why thirty-odd years later I bought one. I only earned £275 in profit but for me it was more the nostalgia than the monetary gain.

4. Peugeot 306 – June 27th 2009
I don’t seem to learn; buying, slogging and non-profit making. Oh, and near divorce. Buying and selling should be left to the professionals. But I did try. Trading is hard work especially when you pick up sheds. I had a spate of buying crap cars thinking I could turn them around and make some money. I look back at 2009 with fond memories. I did, however pick up a few decent wheels including this 306 convertible. I still think it’s a looker even though they’re plagued with reliability issues. Mind you, last year I was plagued with spending issues. Still, we live and learn.

3. TVR Griffith – November 17th 2010.
I’ve put the “Griff” in at three because 1) it shows just how late my writing can be especially as my last post was back in November and 2, if I had the spare cash, the Griff would definitely have a space in my garage. Bold, brash and no-nonsense. TVR’s were proper mans’ cars and everything was just right. As Jeremy Clarkson said “Owning a TVR in the past was like owning a bear, I mean it was great, until it pulled your head off, which it would. One day, it would pull your head off.”
It’s such a shame the company has gone to the wall and will lose out when they re-launch sometime next year. I’ll miss TVR and I’ll miss that great British institution; home-grown car manufacturing.

2. BMW E30 325i Convertible – November 6th 2010.
Talk about great finds; undiscovered treasures from the Titanic, new tribes deep in the Amazon rainforest, and new galaxies 70 billion light years in space. Then there’s finding this E30 convertible. I worked for be-em ten years ago and it was always a big pleasure driving the E30. I like its six cylinder engine, back to basics enthusiasm and old-school road manor. As I said in November, it still has the looks and not many cars can carry the “classic car” tag like this one.

1. Ferrari 355 Spider – June 27th 2010.
As considerations go, if you’re on the hunt for a new sports car how does a Ferrari sound? Back in June I found a 22,000 mile ’98 355 Spider for £32,995 which puts it straight in the path of all those German sports cars which could make way for an Italian icon. Sound tempting? And don’t let things like servicing costs put you off. I’ve found several specialists which will service your 355 from as little as £399. A major service will only set you back around £700, which all things considered isn’t bad at all. Yet rather than spend your re-mortgage or bank loan on a BMW or Porsche, you could spend it on a Ferrari. A 355 Spider, one of the prettiest Ferrari’s ever made. The phrase, ‘Bargain’, is such an uncouth British word, though. Say it in Italian with rolling the tongue, “Affare”, and it sounds so much better.

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One Response to Best of Bargain of the Week

  1. Nigel Ogram January 5, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    If you’re going to write an article about the Fiat Coupe, please do a little more research. “Terrible engine problems” is woefully wide of the mark. Yes, there have been failures, but they are mostly due to owner neglect. Up to 1 litre per 1,000 miles oil consumption, 12,000 mile service intervals and 5 litres of oil in the sump means owners HAD to lift the bonnet every now and then to check and top up the vital fluids. If you came from a VAG or Japanese car, this notion of actually knowing what’s under the bonnet may be alien, resulting in a dry sump and a dead engine. I know of at least two spectacular engine failures that were dealer inflicted – one forgot to put the oil in and another left a screwdriver under the rocker cover. The other main cause of failures is poor modification. Its amazingly easy to wind up the boost and get 275+ bhp, but unless its accompanied by supporting modifications, it will usually end up with melted pistons, or more usually, cracked ringlands. When maintained as specified, the engine is a peach. The Coupe club has man examples that are well over 150,000 miles without any engine work. My own (highly modified) Coupe reached 246,000 before rust consigned it to the scrappy. I swapped the engine into a newer car and it’s still going strong, pushing out well over 400bhp. Yes – Coupes are bargains, but they need a little care and attention to keep them running properly. Sadly, they are falling into the hands of people that don’t know how (or can’t be bothered) to maintain them properly, and the reliability reputation will be further tarnished as a result. Shame, really – it will go the same way as many other Italian cars and drop to volumes of sub 1,000 (there were only ever 7,000 in the UK) before people realise how good the are and decide they are worth saving. I think they then call it a ‘classic’. Cheers – Nigel

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