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Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I have returned

8 Jul

So last week Carficionado spent a glorious time in the sunshine of Santorini, an island in Greece. Good for Carficionado’s skin tone and feta-cheese consumption rates, bad for his car spotting. In allegorical terms, Greece is the automotive equivalent of an obese person attending a Weight Watchers buffet – unsatisfying. Did I see anything of note? Here’s a list:

1) Two Yugos (designed by Giugiaro, no less). One was on a scrap heap though.

This picture amuses me

2) A canvas poster of an MG-ZR used as the canopy of a small fishing hut.Perhaps the best thing an MG-ZR has ever done

Umm. That’s about it.

Or is it?


I also saw a rather delectable thing, much as it pains me to say it: an Opel GT. Based on the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky (again, seriously America, names), I must say that it is very comely indeed. It’s powered by a 2.0 petrol with 257 bhp, so it should go OK, although as to cornering…..well, it might be a bit of Pontiac shall we say? Nevertheless, although I want to pour bleach onto my tongue every time I saw this….Vauxhalls and their immediate family are starting to look…..quite good. I don’t know how long it will take for Vauxhalls to not be a byword for ‘orrible little rep- and/or chavmobiles, but things are certainly looking up, in spite of GM’s major issues. Apparently there’s a bit of furore as to whether the GT will make it over here (and if it does, it may be left-hand drive only. Like a Lancia Delta Integrale!). But I personally think that it would be a welcome addition to our roads.

And I thought I wouldn’t see anything of note in Greece.

P.S. Here’s a little Yugoslavian joke for you, taught to me by my equally Yugoslavian girlfriend:

Why’s A Yugo called a Yugo?

Because it stays, you go!

Knock out stuff.

Carficionado’s Brave New World

26 Jun

Ladies and gentlemen, stop the presses. Unbelievable as it may sound, Carficionado is considering going back to school to get EVEN BETTER at journalism. I know, I know, “How?” you all ask incredulously. I don’t know, but I will put my genius in the hands of others and see what comes of it. A job, I hope.

However, and here’s another shock, it does present me with a problem in that the University I wish to study at is an hour drive away and, call me a charlatan if you will, Carficionado does not currently own a car. Nor does he currently own vast sums of money. So I’ve given myself a budget of around £1500 to see what I could find that was decent and the results have been…..mixed.

First off, let me say that I’m looking for something that’s easy to look after and economical on the old gasoline, or diesel as it may well prove to be. It also has to be comfortable for cruising down the motorway and have a vague sense of modernity so that when I’m stuck in an inevitable morning traffic jam, I can have the radio on (so anything after 1938 then). And, of course, it has to be a car that, if Carficionado is to find himself at a party and happens to mention his current whip, he does not damage the name of Carficionado in any way.

The funny thing is that, during my search, I have found myself inexplicably drawn to big, 90s French cars. Thus far, I’ve considered: a Peugeot 605 (605, mind!), a Citroen Xantia, a Citroen C5 and a Citroen BX. The advantage to these cars is that they depreciate like Zimbabwean currency, and they’re usually owned by octogenarians who do around 8 miles per year. Within my £1500 limit, I’ve seen a 1995 Xantia with 22,000 miles on the clock. That’s roughly 1,500 miles a year, which is nothing. Alas it was petrol, and does not sit well with my fantasies of fuelling up the car every Christmas like I would in the diesel. So back to the drawing board.

Other things I’ve considered on my search have been the under-appreciatedly (new word) handsome Volvo 960, or V90 as it came to be known. An E30 BMW 3 Series. A Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Octavia estate. The list goes on, and it’s a fun game to play, but fun is going to have to transcend into reality some time, and so I’m wondering what I would really go for. And I think I’ve come up with it. Unless I find a very cheap, very low mileage, very good condition post-92 Peugeot 605 (Pininfarina designed I might add), I think I’m going to try and find a Citroen XM. Cool looking, practical, rare but not exotic, cool suspension. And French cars have arguably the most comfortable seats of any car since time immemorial. So if you own one and are selling it, let me know. Meanwhile, the search continues.