The 2017 Automotive Bucket List (Part 2)

After publishing what has turned out to be Part 1 of the 2017 Automotive Bucket List, last week, a few people pointed me towards cars that made me extend my thinking a little. The first two are both cars that I’ve thought about in the past and by rights, they should form part of my thinking today, too.

To recap last week’s potential purchases:

  • Mini Cooper S JCW
  • Jaguar XKR
  • Maserati GranTourismo
  • Porsche 911 (996)
  • Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
  • Morgan 3-Wheeler

The Mini and the 911 are the clubhouse leaders as we turn for the back nine (of which there won’t be nine, but hopefully you get what I mean!).

To the continuation, then…..

Ford Focus RS

The juvenile delinquent option. Almost irresistible on a certain level. And downright stupid on another.

The car I’d be looking at is the second generation Focus RS. Most examples sell for under 200,000 SEK here in Sweden but there are a few that creep over. All examples sold in Sweden were 2010 models. Most of them are white but there are a couple of green ones, for those feeling a little more lairy.

The Ford Focus RS uses a 2.5 litre, inline 5 cylinder engine sourced from Volvo that produces 300-odd horsepower. It’s a popular tuner model, too, with typical outputs of over 400hp. All of that power is sent to the front wheels, via a Quaife LSD. It’ll do 0-100 in about 6 seconds, so it’s proper fast. It’s got 4 seats and the rears even fold down to give you cargo space.

It’s a little practical and quite mad. It was a massive success for Ford and the new model’s going gangbusters, too.

I’ve driven a couple of regular Focuses (Focii??) and while they’re quite pedestrian under the hood, the chassis is really well sorted. Even the garden variety version was fun to drive when pushed around the winding roads in Tasmania’s north (my thanks to the Tasmanian taxpayers for the Focus in our car pool at Mt Nelson campus a few years ago).

I can only imagine how much fun an RS model must be.

The downsides….

I’m 47 now. Shouldn’t I be acting my age? This is a Ford Focus RS in green. It looks like it was built for a 7-year-old, not a 47-year-old.

Secondly, I’m not sure if I could handle the rather plain interior. Yes, it’s got really nice Recaro seats but have a look at that dashboard. This is why you pay bargain-basement prices for top-floor performance with the RS. It understandable. I’m just not sure I want to live with it.

And finally….. I’m just not sure I could cough up that much money for a Ford.


Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

At the other end of both the elegance and performance spectra is the beautiful Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (Type 14).

Every car company, no matter how ordinary or boxy it’s general design history, has at least one eye-catcher somewhere in its history. Volvo has the P1800, BMW has the 507, Mercedes has the 300SL.

Volkswagen’s history isn’t dull, by any means, but the Karmann Ghia is – for my money – the definitive standout.

The bodywork by Karmann is gorgeous but the engine by Volkswagen leaves a little to be desired. Maximum output from the factory is only around 50hp. Thankfully, plenty of owners have upgraded their engines to get a little more poke out of them. Yes, I know this is a cruiser and not a racer, but still….

Examples start under €10K for a fixer-upper and you can get decent runners for €15-20K. The sky’s the limit from there. Both the white model, above, and the green one, below, are for sale for around €20K.

The downside – apart from the sluggish performance, the Karmann would definitely be restricted to summer duties (as would the Morgan in Part 1).

But oh, what a beautiful summer it would be!


Porsche Cayman S

The Coxster!

I’d be restricted to early year S models but the Cayman S has long been on my mind.

The S model produces 295hp and with its mid-engined setup, is a beautifully balanced car. It’s widely believed that Porsche restrict output on the Cayman to ensure that it doesn’t out-perform the 911, which it *could* do if equipped with similar output because of it’s inherently better balance.

The styling of the Coxster can be polarising due to that dip at the back, but I love it.

It’d cost a little more than I want to spend (ideally) but prices are pretty stable and your money is buying you both Porsche quality and Porsche performance.

Downside – would I get bored? I’ve had a good performance Porsche once before and it was so solid and capable that it bored me to tears. I like a car that needs to be loved a little, wrestled with. I’m not sure about the Cayman.

Downside 2 – finding one in a colour other than silver or black can be a challenge. In fact, if you look at Autoscout24 for Caymans under €25,000, ALL of them are silver, grey or black. Hmmmm.


Saab 9-7x

OK, I’m kidding. Even I can’t manage to put up a facade for this one. BUT….

There are a number of them available in Europe for amounts into the early 20,000’s. The top-price goes to an Aero in the Netherlands with the big 400hp Corvette engine under the hood.

I’ve actually driven a 9-7x in Detroit back in 2010 and the ride was pretty comfortable. It’s got plenty of space, and……

No, Steven!!

This one’s a 4.2 litre 6-cylinder version (291hp) with some custom paintwork and it’s selling for just €6,500.

Hmmmm. No. Still.

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  1. That last bit on the 9-7x was a bit of a joke, right?

    How can you say, “I like a car that needs to be loved a little, wrestled with,” then in the next bit say, “I’ve actually driven a 9-7x in Detroit back in 2010 and the ride was pretty comfortable. It’s got plenty of space, and……”?

    There is nothing wrong, per se, with the 9-7x if you want a big SUV with a little bit of Saab DNA…but I can’t believe any big SUV is on your auto bucket list!

  2. OK, yes, you did say you were kidding…but then it almost sounded like you were getting serious. 😉

  3. I think you are on to so something here. The 9-7x, would be a great tow vehicle to trailer the wish list cars to car shows, track days, and of course the mechanic. We have had a 9-7x for about 10 years and it has been a dependable family haller. I would recommend something nicer then the repainted example shown. Maybe one with the Altitude package.

  4. I have to say that the Volvo 5 cylinder engine (here, in that RS) makes the most lovely and angry warbling sounds when you wring it out, especially if it has a good exhaust… But I could get behind any of these choices! Well, save for the Trollblazer. You’re spoiled for choice!

    1. Speaking of the Volvo 5 cylinder engine, you could get a C30 with a Polestar upgrade. It won’t look as juvenile as the RS.

      I prefer the Boxster to the Cayman. It’s might be 5% less efficient, but that’s the 5% that you wouldn’t use on the street. And nothing says “acting your age,” for a 47-year-old man, quite like buying a Boxster.

  5. Steven, I can’t help think that if you would quickly get bored with the Porsche then you’d probably just as quickly get bored with any of these cars if driven regularly – for different reasons of course. The performance of the VW, The interior of the Focus and maybe the lack of load space in either car, etc etc.
    The Saab 9-7? Well for me, that’s boring even to look at!
    We’ve come to expect that you’ll change cars frequently that it doesn’t really matter which you buy because there’ll be another purchase just around the corner, anyway! (No slight intended) On that basis, in your shoes, I’d go for the Mini or the Focus, in the near term. Almost all the others ought to be long term acquisitions in my opinion, especially cars like the Morgan, VW or Porsche – and at least these have a strong likelihood of appreciating significantly in value, over time.

  6. I endured a major back surgery last January which has left my left leg partially paralyzed. As a result I can only drive my 2007 automatic (with paddle shifters) Aero Combi. For the time being I am having my 2001 Stage III Viggen in the shop for new steering rack with braces front and rear and all new polyurethane, Powerflex bushings.

    Should I still be unable to drive the Viggen next year then I may consider the closest car on earth. The 2017 Volvo V-60 Polestar! Yes in blue, with supercharger/Turbo for $US 55,000.

    1. I have not. It’s still on my list and if I spend long enough here in Sweden/Europe, then I have definite plans to source one in the motherland and drive it to wherever I’m living. It just takes a bit of planning first – being a 50 year old car, etc.

  7. You can get one of the 700 9-4x:s built, for very decent money in the US. A bit scary, given the uniqueness, but very cool too.

  8. The Karmann Ghia looks more like a sculpture than a car. It is gorgeous but was it ever meant to be driven? 🙂 Probably a ford RS is very funny to drive but i think a custom painted Detroit “Saab” is what you really want. It’s a “Saab” and you can climb up and into it instead of the opposite and 291hp should move the car forward pretty fast:-) I cant imagine why someone thought a custom paint would make this car better looking.