2013 Automotive Bucket List

It’s time for my annual review of desireable cars in the form of my Automotive Bucket List. What’s in? What’s out? And how likely is it that any of them will end up in my garage?

My 2012 Automotive Bucket List looked like this:

  • Subaru Brumby
  • Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon
  • Saab 9-3 Viggen
  • Mid-80’s Porsche 911
  • Porsche Boxster S
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Saab Sonett III
  • Alfa Romeo 105 Series GTV
  • Mercedes 500 SL
  • RenaultSport Megane
  • Jaguar XKR

Obviously, that list is prone to change. Some cars stay on your automotive radar, some cars don’t. Some cars end up in your garage and can be crossed of the list as one desire satisfied (the Brumby, for example).

The following are erased from the list for the 2013 iteration:

  • Subaru Brumby – For obvious reasons; I’m currently scratching that itch.
  • Saab 9-3 Viggen – As much as I loved it, I’m unlikely to buy one again.
  • Mid 80’s Porsche 911 – It’d be nice. Very Nice. But I think the Boxster S is a more likely acquisition.
  • Dodge Challenger – for practical reasons. They’re just too damn expensive here.
  • Jaguar XKR – Still interesting, but not compelling at this point. Maybe another time.

What replaces these? I’m glad you asked 🙂

Let’s start the 2013 Automotive Bucket List with the new additions. Five are gone, but only two are added in their place.

Jaguar XJ6 with a V8 implant

Jag V8I know. I should be ashamed for debasing such a storied marque, or something like that. But I’ve wanted one of these since I was in my 20s and even after 20+ years of commonsense being drilled into me, I still want an XJ6 with a Michigan twist.

They’re not overly common, but they’re around. Most have had a Chevy V8 installed where the 4.2 Jaguar engine used to be. The V8s are more reliable and depending what you’re after, they have better aural and performance characteristics, too. I’ve never owned a V8 and something like this would satisfy both my power and beauty needs.

Of course, the downside is that you’ve got to do a fair bit of investigative work to make sure the transplant has been done properly. All part of the deal with this sort of thing.

The Jag shown here is a Series II XJ6 with a 350 Chevy V8 and Turbo 400 trans. It’s selling for $6500 in South Australia.

Alfa Romeo 33 S 16V Permanent 4

Alfa Romeo 33 Permanent 4I’ve had two Alfa 33s over the years, with mixed results. The first one was an absolute gem and I’d buy that car back in a heartbeat. The second one I felt compelled to buy because I’d travelled a long way to view it and didn’t want to leave empty-handed. I was a little uneasy about the way it steered but went ahead with the purchase anyway. I should have stayed away.

That hasn’t put me off my love for the model, however. The 16V Boxer engine is so incredibly sweet. It has a wonderful note and great performance for such a small unit. These cars are genuine little pocket rockets bursting with character.

The Permanent 4 is a rare bird in Australia. There were only about 20 or so of them brought into the country. It’s a 4WD version of the car I’ve had twice before. It’s a little slower than the FWD version, but the grip is said to be astounding (and you can work on engine performance, right?). It’s also got an exclusive Recaro interior and exclusive wheels that I quite like.

I’ve had to resort to an Alfa press photo for this one as there aren’t any for sale here in Australia right now. They do come up from time to time, though, and I’ll be watching.

My price expectation is around $5K and if one becomes available, I’d be a likely customer.

Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon

Saab 9-5 Aero SportCombiA perennial contender for when our current Saab 9000 finally pops its clogs.

This entry has been made all the more interesting because I have a friend here in Tasmania who may put his 9-5 Aero wagon on the market in the coming months. It’s a low mileage example from 2005, in black, and some of you might have seen it in a film I made oh-so-long ago. The car received a Maptun Stage III tune well before I knew who Maptun really were.

We need a wagon or hatch for at least one of our vehicles because of Mrs Swade’s painting business. We have to be able to fit framed paintings into the rear of the car. As my cars are usually smaller than our main family car, Mrs Swade gets the bigger vehicle. Right now, that’s our 9000 but every year a new problem pops up and makes it more and more of an uneconomic proposition.

Of course, all this is contingent on Mrs Swade being interested in a 9-5 Aero Wagon, and of course I’ll make my own enquiries about parts availability (last reports from my mechanic weren’t stellar, to be honest).

Porsche Boxster S

Porsche BoxsterI watched one of Clarkson’s drives in a Boxster and took great offence to his contention that buying one was more-or-less conceding that your life hadn’t quite turned out the way you’d hoped. I would absolutely love a Boxster (the S version, please) and for me, it’s very much an aspirational vehicle that’s going to take some sacrifice to acquire.

I can see why the original 2.5 litre Boxster might have attracted some negativity. It’s a Porsche, after all, and a Porsche has to have certain things in certain quantities. Porsche’s front-engined efforts of the 70’s and 80’s – admirable as they are – were shunned by many because they didn’t have those classic Porsche elements in the way the market demanded them. The 2.5 Boxster has handling like a go-kart, but is considered under-powered, which is why it’s now comparatively under-priced.

The Boxster S is a slightly different kettle of fish. With a 3.2 litre engine sitting amidships, the ‘S’ has the grunt to take best advantage of the car’s exceptional chassis.

The styling is contentious, of course, and the interior isn’t quite as good as I’d like it to be, but I’d take it before the quality of the build and most importantly, the quality of the drive.

This is high up on the list. Boxster S’s start in the low-mid 20’s here in Australia but I’d probably look for a more desirable configuration at jut under $30,000 (which is more than I’ve ever spent on a car in my life). The one pictured above is currently for sale for $29,500.

Saab Sonett III

Saab Sonett IIIThis is still on my most-wanted list when it comes to Saabs.

Aside from the 9-5 Aero Wagon, there’s not really any modern Saabs that interest me too much in terms of ownership. The 9-3 SS and SC are wonderful cars, but not compelling at this stage of my life. My main interest is now in the type of Saabs that drew me to the brand in the first place: Saabs that are different to anything else. The Sonett certainly qualifies.

There is absolutely no rush on getting one of these. It’s going to be a logistically complex situation anyway from an import point of view, nevermind the fact that we’d need more garage space.

But a Sonett III remains on the list regardless. I actually regard it as one of Saab’s finest and most interesting bits of work. If you’ve never driven one, then I implore you to find one and beg the owner to go for a drive. You’ll be amazed at how comfortable and easy it is to drive and the fact that it looks so cool is just a bonus.

The car pictured has been written about before (can’t remember where) but it’s talked of as being a body-kit prototype for a new generation of Sonett that never got made, back in the 1970’s. It’s for sale on Saabnet at the moment for $15,000. I don’t want it, but it’s definitely interesting.

Alfa Romeo 105 Series GTV

Alfa 1750This one’s slipping down the list, but it’s still there. Why is it slipping? Well, some cars you can justify having for weekend driving. Some are daily drivers. A 105-series Alfa wouldn’t be a priority for either, for me. It’s a car I’d really need some garage space for.

My preference, like everyone else’s, would be for a 1750 with the ‘batwing’ seats. They’re not always easy to find, but I’m not in a hurry.

The car you see here is a 1971 model 1750 and it’s currently selling for $13,000. It looks to be in wonderful condition, but it’s gone 42 years without me owning it. I’m sure it can go a few more.

Mercedes 500SL

Mercedes 500 SLI was a little bit generalist in my 2012 listing of this car but my thoughts have focused a little more since then.

The big SL will quite possibly be a car I own one day, but it isn’t likely to be here in Australia. These cars still sell for consistent mid-$20K-and-up here in Australia (unless you want a cheaper grey market import) and that’s more money than I’d want to spend on this particular model car.

BUT…… it’d be the perfect chariot to carry Mrs Swade and I around North America one day. The good part about that is you can get them for around one third of the price you’ll pay here. The difference is amazing. I don’t know why they hold their value so much better here – maybe it’s just that there are a lot more of them in US.

This one’s on the list for as long as a US driving trip is still on our travel list, which it is right now.

The car you see above is and Aussie delivered example with 200,000kms on the clock and it’s for sale here at the moment for $25,000.

RenaultSport Megane

RenaultSport MeganeOne day. One day.

Most of the cars on this list would be weekenders. The Porsche Boxster S and the RS Megane would be the exceptions, however. These are cars that are more modern and made to be driven every day – which is exactly what I’d want to do with them. These are cars that you wouldn’t want to shuffle back to second preference or treat with kid gloves. It’s made to be driven and young enough to be driven regularly.

The car above is a 2012 RenaultSport Megane 265 Trophy and is basically brand new with only delivery mileage. Hence, it stays on the list for a considerable period of time until it comes down to a price I can afford rather than the $50K it’s selling for right now.


That’s it for another year of automotive indulgence. I’m sure my 2014 version of this list will change again.

How am I doing? And what have you added or taken away from your automotive bucket list in the last 12 months?

Comments are open. And be nice about the Jag, OK? We all have our faults 🙂

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  1. Swade – my list goes something akin to this:
    1. Alfa Romeo GTV 2.5V6 (119 series of cars of 1985 vintage thru 1987)
    2. Alfa Romeo 75 3.0V6 (this is the same engine honed to live in the 164 of yore)
    3. Saab 9-5 Aero HOT (facelift of 2002 – 2004 only) sedan
    4. Maserati Quattroporte IV 2.8 L twin turbo V6 4-door sedan 1994 – 2001
    5.Saab 9000 CSE Aero 2.4 I4 168kW 1997 – this is the car when viewed in your rearview mirror one commentator said you had no idea what was about to happen to you
    6. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 IX 2.0 FQ-320 – without the rear wing
    7. Alfa Romeo 159i Gold Cloverleaf (2.0 I4 direct injection) manual 4-door sedan

  2. Don’t forget to add the 20 grand you’ll need to set aside for a new transmission for the Boxer S 🙂

  3. Great list. I’m starting the slow search for a 9-5 Aero myself. My 1999 9-5 SE (LPT) beater is good, not great. The Aero should provide the additional 30-40 horses to get the job done.

    As much an Alfa fan as you are, I’m surprised that you aren’t attracted to the Spider. Such a long-running Alfa that seems so Italian.

    I agree on the Jag. The best course of action there is to find a car that has failed and get the conversion done to your specification. Personally, I’ll take the 1990’s version with the Jaguar V-8 or V-12. In fact, that will likely be my next car if I don’t just fall in love with the newer 9-5 Aero.

  4. I may be biased but I can highly recommend a 2005 9-5 Aero wagon. I bought my latest silver one with only 42K miles on the odometer and plan to keep this one for a long time. Easy to work on and to maintain, should last for 200K+ miles without many problems.

    Practical, fast, comfortable, reliable and it is a Saab. What more do you need? 🙂

    1. And there are 2 very good reasons to buy a 2004/2005 model as well!
      1. If you buy anything older, there’s the extra risk of black sludge. As of 2004 the carter ventilation is adjusted and this is no longer an issue.
      2. The Aero’s from 2004/2005 are just way better looking than the Aero’s prior or after. And in this case I am biased towards the 2004 model like I have myself, for only one (very small) reason: the 2005 model doesn’t have a button in the door panel for the petrol tank, so there’s a little lump on the outside to open it manually. So better looks and more luxury on 2004. But I wouldn’t let a nice 2005 model slip through your fingers because of this 😉

      1. Millerman, we have been through this before.. Not having to push the fuel door button on the door far outweighs the little bump on the fuel door itself. Therefore, the 2005 is far superior! 😉

        I forgot about the video where the Saab 9-5 Aero is like being in a Swedish men’s club. Leather and timber everywhere and it smells magnificent. 🙂

        1. I am giving some thought to becoming 150% Saab by adding a 2006 -2009 9-5 to my two 9-3s. I would love to hear/read a discussion as to the special merits of the OG 9-5.

          Thank you.

  5. Great list. The parts supply for a 95 Aero is not bad here in the USA. We have a 2001 and a 2003, and my son has a 2004 Aero wagon. Other son Jon is looking for an Aero wagon right now. eEuroparts, Genuinesaab.com, thesaabsite, pelican parts and others all have a good supply of parts. Lost or used parts as well.

    I am just nuts over the 9-5……mine is only stage 1, but it is awesome with the suspension mods and other things I have done.

    Of course you are right on the 911………I will NEVER sell mine. Cheers mate!!

  6. I have seen many of your lists about cars, but I can’t recall having seen the 9-3 2003- on any of them… Maybe I have missed something, or is that car not really your cup of tea?

    1. It’s fair to say its not car that I’d place above these. I’ve always gone for cars that are a bit different and the 9-3 was never quite different enough for me. Maybe a Turbo-X would satisfy that, like the Viggen did.

  7. Swade,

    I would go for a late, low miles XJ40 with the original engine. That’s the last William Lyons Jag, and the ones that are left are well sorted. They should be right at the bottom of their depreciation curve.
    Buying someone else’s project doesn’t appeal to me.
    Good cars are an expression of their designers’ intent. That means that driving a good car is like reading a good book or listening to music. It tells a story. An old Jag with a V8 swap would be like listening to two songs at the same time. Both songs may be great, but the experience will do neither one justice.

    By the way, the new design is very hard to read on some displays. The dark grey type on medium grey backdrop (“Got something to say? “) almost completely disappears. The light grey text on medium grey could do with more contrast. As an old photography teacher used to say “it’s like looking at oatmeal.”

    1. I agree about the new design. But I’m so used to design that I find hard or annoying for reading, that I instinctively use Safari’s Reader function most of the time. Don’t know what I would do without it.

      One other point, though… I wonder what I would think about this site now if I stumbled upon it for the first time. Probably something like “oh, yet another photo blog”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the older designs hooked reader because they had a chance to immediately enjoy a big chunk of your excellent writing skills. Now there are just a few sentences to lure readers, and the picture and headline gets almost all of the visual attention when looking at the site.

      1. I’ll make the following simple argument:

        The older design was more in the spirit of the unique cars you have put on your list.

        It was simpler, easier to read. Good writing and photos enjoyed an un-busy site to land on.

        The newer design. Meh.

  8. Grin, may I add one? A Daimler Series III DoubleSix, the very car I did my first miles in. Dad owned, silvergrey with a black interior. ONE day one of those will grace my drive. That gorgeous V12 burble, the silence inside, was only pipped at the post by my Mum’s Bentley T2 (which still resides in the family). The Daimler wasn’t the best car built, it had its fair share of bits falling off at the most unreasonable of times. Dad replaced it with a Mercedes SEL 4.9 and regretted it.

    Having driven the 9-5 Aero estate, I loved it. The S button on the auto box (which I quickly remaned to the Silly button) made for very fast overtaking and doing allsorts of hooliganisms. Yup at the end of a hard day at work, loosen one’s tiea and go for it 😉 Lovely motors.