2014 Automotive Bucket List

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We’re a month-and-a-half into a new year and I haven’t done my automotive bucket list yet. C’est Terrible!

The list is just a self-indulgent indication of the cars that interest me most from year to year. Car’s that I’d like to own before I die (according to this year’s thought processes, at least). If I had spare cash and spare garage space, you can bet that I’d be using both to add one of these to my tiny fleet. Of course, should cash and space become available, this list becomes all the more important 🙂

Last year’s Automotive Bucket List read as follows:

  • Jaguar XJ6 with a V8 implant
  • Alfa Romeo 33 S 16V Permanent 4
  • Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon
  • Porsche Boxster S
  • Saab Sonett III
  • Alfa Romeo 105 Series GTV
  • Mercedes 500SL
  • RenaultSport Megane

As always, the list changes with time. Tastes change, and occasionally you get to scratch an itch by actually buying a car. So, I’m dropping several cars from this list for the reasons outlined below.

  • Alfa Romeo 33 S 16V Permanent 4 – One actually came up for sale 2 weeks ago. It’s sold already. These cars rarely become available and it’s a matter of being cashed up and ready to pounce. I’m not sure I have the patience, but aside from that, I also have other boxer-engine Alfa plans. Read on 🙂
  • Porsche Boxster S – The purchase of my Porsche 968 CS in 2013 has made this goal redundant. I’ve got my Porsche. I’m not sure that I’ll have it forever, but I’ve got it now and don’t feel a pressing need to own any other Porsche in the future.
  • Mercedes 500SL – it’d be nice, but it’s very unlikely. To be honest, if I was going to go for a convertible, I’d probably look for another MX-5 (it’s the MX-5’s 25th Anniversary this year, which makes no difference, but just means they’re crossing my radar a bit more).
  • Alfa Romeo 105 Series GTV – As per the Permanent 4, I’ve got other Alfa plans on my mind. Consider the 105 as being always on my radar, but on the fringes.

Those are the ‘outs’. So let’s have a look at the list in full for 2014, with the ‘ins’ noted where appropriate. As always, I provide an example of one for sale, where available.

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Jaguar XJ6 with a V8 implant

JagXj6-ChevYes, I still want to go here. It’s down on the list, in priority terms. It’d be the third or fourth car if I had the room and the budget. But it’s still something I’d like to do at some stage.

I’ve always loved the classic elegance of the XJ6 and the practical (and cheap!) power from a Chev V8 would be fun, if not quite as refined.

Scouring the classifieds this year has revealed slim pickings in terms of quality (as well as a nice variation in an XJS with a V8 conversion – well, nice if you like yellow!). I’ve definitely seen better finished cars in the past.

This white XJ6 looks to be the pick of the bunch right now, with a Chev 350 and LP Gas conversion. It’s for sale in South Australia for $3,000.

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NEW! – Alfa Romeo Sprint with 16V conversion

AlfaSprintTo me, this is the holy grail of all boxer-engined Alfa Romeos. And I LOVE boxer-engined Alfas. This project would combine my favourite boxer body – the Sprint – with my favourite boxer engine – the 16V from the last Alfa 33.

Sprints come with an 8V engine that makes somewhere between 90 and 105hp depending on configuration. The 16V engine puts out an extra 30hp and is much more torquey, making it a genuine pocket-rocket.

The Sprint and the 33 share the same basic platform so the transplant is quite achievable. People have done it before, so this is not pioneering work that involves lots of trial and error. The complexities include changing the front crossmember and adding all the fuel management you need. You might want to upgrade brakes as well.

The trick would be getting the right donor vehicles. 16V engines are pretty solid so I’ve got no problems with the idea of picking up a 33 with a beaten body on the cheap. As long as the chassis is straight and the motor/gearbox run OK, it’s no problem. And they’re available for good money, too, like this $1,000 car in Melbourne.

Getting the right Sprint is a tougher task. Good bodies can be hard to come by, but they’re around. This one down the road from me (pictured, above) needs just a little remedial work, so might end up a good candidate. Being a local car is a massive bonus.

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Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon

Saab9-5AeroI hate to admit it, but the 9000 Aero I bought last year was/is a dud. The transmission blew last year (2 days before a scheduled road trip holiday) and whilst I’ve installed a new (old) one and the car is driving fine now, there are a few remaining electrical niggles that persist. The whole situation’s left a bad taste in my mouth, which is bitterly disappointing as I love the 9000 in general. This will be our last one, though.

In its place, hopefully sooner rather than later, I hope to get a Saab 9-5 Aero. We need a spacious wagon to carry all of PJ’s art and market gear so the 9-5 would be perfect (as the 9000 has been, in terms of load space). Add in all the creature comforts and the swift-but-smooth drive of the 9-5 Aero and it’s a highly desired model.

The car pictured has just 173,000kms and is for sale for a tad under $7,000 at the moment. I’ve spent more than that on the 9000! If it’s an honest car, then that’s one heck of a lot of car for the money.

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NEW! – Lancia Fulvia 1.3s

Lancia FulviaThis should come as no surprise to regular visitors to this site. I’ve been watching Fulvias for the last 12 months and would desperately love to get one, one day. In fact, the Fulvia is the other reason why a 105 series Alfa has taken a back seat on this list.

The Fulvia I’d love to get is the Series 1 1.3s model. It combines a little more engine poke with original spec aluminium doors, bonnet and boot-lid. This makes it a lightweight throw-about with oodles of character and Lancia’s famed engineering.

I probably should have grabbed the red Series 1 that came up for sale last year, but I was rightly concerned about it’s body and the owner was difficult to deal with. Series 1 cars don’t come up that often and those that do – if they’re in good condition – command a healthy price.

There are two Fulvias for sale that I can see at the moment. The one pictured is a series 2 car and I reckon the owner’s asking a little too much, at $23,000.

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RenaultSport Megane

RSMeganeAnother perennial favourite. Last year I showed the new series Megane but this year, I’m happy to settle for the older series, the one with ‘the bum’.

A distinctive shape, a 2-litre turbo, outstanding handling and a hatchback. What’s not to love?

The model photographed is a 225hp Cup model. It’s the less attractive, but more practical, 4-door model in Prussian Blue and it’s selling at a very attractive $11,500.

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NEW! – Alpine A110

AlpineA110OK, this is not really serious. Maybe if I win the lottery or benefit financially from the passing of a rich Aunt (that I don’t know about). Call it a long-term bucket list goal of the highest order.

I didn’t know anything about the Alpine A110 until Alpine made a 50th anniversry tribute model a few years ago. Since then, it’s been my cult car de jour. I can’t get this beautiful little machine out of my head and what’s most surprising is that for a car with it’s beauty, performance and pedigree, it’s actually almost affordable. OK, maybe not affordable, but it’s not stratospherically priced like a lot of classics.

A110’s were built primarily in Dieppe, France, but you’ll pay big money for one of those (I spotted one for £85,000 today). If you can stomach one of the less desirable ones made in Spain then you can pick one up for nearly half the price. The car pictured is for sale in Switzerland for £45,000.

Not exactly affordable, but not six-figures, either.

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Saab Sonett III

Do I even need to explain this one?

I thought not.

Saab Sonett

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17 Comments

  1. 9-5 Aero Wagon is fast becoming ‘unobtainium’. None for sale right across the country, and it is quite clear that those who have one intend to keep it. What’s that all about then? Maybe it is now THE Saab to have. Try finding a 2005+ model with the nicer front and bigger cobra pipe. Good luck with that.

    1. There are a couple of Aero wagons for sale, but not many.

      The 9-5’s an interesting beast. The jury’s out on which ‘face’ looks better, but the earlier ones were generally better equipped. More equipment as standard and better materials (e.g. no ventilated seats on later models and lesser quality leather and door panels, etc). GM seems to have wanted to squeeze more value out of it each year by cutting some costs.

      I have a mate in the UK who had successive 9-5’s and he commented on it more than once. I’d be happy with an early one that’s been maintained properly.

    2. You’re right Andrew, but also wrong at this moment in time – there’s an utterly sexual 2005 Steel Grey 9-5 Aero for sale in Launceston RIGHT NOW. I know because I have been salivating over it. It’s a tad overpriced for the miles it’s done, but it’s come down from 15k to high 12’s and might be obtainable for a couple of k less once it’s sat for a while.

      As you probably know the 2005 model is the best of the bunch.

      It’s on Gumtree now, Swade!

      http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/launceston-area/cars-vans-utes/saab-9-5-aero-wagon-2005-immaculate-car-/1036412858

    1. Yes. The engine is arguably the best part of these Jags. Why would you want one that’s been butchered?

      Mind you, $3000 is cheap to buy, but I would be surprised if it was cheap to run: that engine compartment is a mess, and you won’t find a service manual that explains the unnatural pairings which were performed to sire this scary hybrid. The fact that it presumably had a blown engine points to poor maintenance, so I have no faith in the rest of the car either.

      I much prefer the $6500 Daimler XJ-40 in the “You may also be interested in…” section.

      A friend has a 2005 Aero wagon. It certainly is a near-perfect car in terms of size, practicality, build quality, performance, handling, looks, reliability, luxury, economy, etc.

    2. Gents, I take your word on the XJ40. I’m sure it’s a great engine. I just love the more traditional XJ6 look, however. Much more elegant than the rectangular front of the XJ40.

      I wouldn’t want one that’s been butchered. I’d want one that’s been done well. Those available at the moment don’t necessarily fit that description, but I committed to putting something current up in the post, so I had to run with what’s available.

      And, of course, you can’t discount the fact that I’m an idiot. But I’m an idiot who knows what he likes (most of the time).

  2. the best 9-5 Aero and Aero Wagon is for me MY 2004 and 2005 before! the upgraded 2006 and with the nice aero spoiler front! I am lucky to own one ( not wagon) Aero Hirsch in espresso black wit beige leather… love it!!!

  3. I am so glad the Aero wagon is on your list……..you know your stuff Swade….but I always knew that!!

    Tell me about the Aero wagon!

    In the last 2 years both of my sons have bought them. And in both cases it was a big search and they did find good cars.

    My wife had a 1999 95 wagon with a 5 speed manual when they were first on the market and we eventually traded it for a 2001 Aero. The 95 is a great car. We have 4 Aeros in our family. I have a 2001 with 5 speed manual and hot engine with 290 HP with forged pistons, no balance shafts and other mods. That one is mine of course. My wife has a 2003 Aero automatic which is a great car.

    Twin sons Jon and Jeff have 2001 Aero wagon and 2004 Aero wagon respectively. The 2001 was found at the end of a 7 month across the USA search for a good wagon. he paid for a few PPIs finding that car. He finally found one 70 miles from here with 60,000 miles one owner and perfect condition. BBS wheels and not a parking ding on it. It has needed a heater by-pass valve and we did have to replace the rear shocks and install spring spacers to get the ride height and alignment right. Minor item and normal for Aero wagons.

    So I maintain 4 Aeros all COD (call on dad) service. And we love them all with no thoughts of ever selling them. there is nothing like them and especially at the price.

    Swade contact me when you find that 95 Aero wagon……..I can tell what to check and what to look for.

  4. I’m going to be buying a car this year.

    My list looks like this
    – Land Rover Discovery 3 or 4
    – Saab 9-3 Aero Wagon
    – Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon
    – Suzuki Grand Vitara (Brand New)
    – Holden Commodore SS Wagon
    – Alfa Romeo 159 Wagon

    Also welcome to suggestions, looking at wagons, haven’t really looked at what Volvo offers yet. It’ll probably be influenced by what’s available at the time.

    I’ve sold my Renault, just need to sell the Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Viggen Vert and see what’s available at the time (and see how long we last with only our ’77 99 GL as our daily)

    1. After a wagon later this year myself Brendan, and I can see we might be competing!

      My list looks like this:

      9-3 Vector/Aero Wagon (2007+ facelift model)
      9-5 Aero ’02-’05
      V40 T5
      XC60 T5
      Alfa Romeo 159 Wagon

      I’ve recently moved the 9-3 to top of the list above the 9-5, as I quite fancy the newer chassis and a change from the 9-3/9-5 interior I’m used to. I’m not sure I want the 6-cyl of the Aero, though I know it’s a great engine. They’re so cheap now – looks like Saab is really that unpopular here. It’s a heck of a lot of car for the money, but I think we say that about every Saab?

      The Volvo’s are on there as I’d like to cross-shop and see if there’s a reason to go to the V50. I expect there isn’t. I like the XC60 a lot but have no idea how good they actually are, or if they are any bigger than the 9-3. Just taller. Nice looking car though.

      And again, the Alfa is a great looking car, but probably not the workhorse I’d want. I also really dislike the deep set dials in the centre console. Not sure about the dash as a whole. The rest of it is pretty hot though.

  5. The 9-5 Aero Wagon is a great car. I love my ’04 in Nocturne Blue. The only thing that’ll convince me to get rid of that car is a better 9-5 Aero wagon, preferably with a manual transmission. (I’ve been looking for years now. I decided to buy my current automatic two years ago to hold me over until I found a manual car.)

    My 9000 Aero was not a dud (you featured it a couple of times over there on TrolhattanSaab and SU). It had more character than the 9-5 wagon could stuff into its prodigious cargo bay, though the 9-5 is a more modern car. I miss my 9000 Aero often. (Read about one of it’s road trips here: http://www.saabsunited.com/2009/07/saab-pride-the-start-of-a-new-series-aero-style.html )

    Alfa 105 GTV: one of the best looking and simply awesome cars ever built. My dad had three different ones when I was younger. Put it back on the list… take it out of the fringes!

    Good stuff here Swade. Love the musings!

    ~Peter

  6. I’ve got my eye on a Mercedes E-series wagon here — bargain! I’m amazed at the way the big Benzes lose value. There’s something to consider for the wagon in your life.

  7. Yes, the Alpine A110 is the Francoise Dorleac of cars.

    XJ6 – why would you want one without the Jag engine?

    The Fulvia is a delight.

    If you’re looking for a 9-5 mk1, I suggest getting an automatic. For this reason:

    I’ve got a manual saloon, which came my way from a friend and was a great deal, but even though I’m over 6ft and active, and generally do not suffer from aches and pains, I can’t get a comfortable position that avoids painful ‘clutch leg’ unless my knees are almost butting against the dash. Not ideal. Never had that problem in my 9-3 sports. I have driven several 9-5 autos, and there’s something just so ‘right’ about that car with an auto transmission. It just wafts along the road majestically, and you can just sit back and relax. Get one of the bigger engines and, as you know fine well, it doesn’t hang about. My own bucket list is an auto 9-5 sportwagon, my 2004 or 05, or a 2007 9-3 auto sportwagon – but I’m not holding my breath as this one seems to have plenty of life left in it yet.

  8. Great to see the 9-5 on the list, Swade! Having owned/driven just about everything Saab over the years, it was the 9-5 that rekindled my faith and enthusiasm in Saab after the lackluster NG900 of the early GM days. The lines of the body, reminiscent of the 99 sedan, the general layout, and the functional sophistication made it an immediate winner in my book! Much as I loved driving 9000’s, the “down the road” cost, always, kept me away. Now, after 15 years maintaining 9-5’s, I’m STILL a fan and enjoying my fleet of 200.000+ mile 9-5’s. Like the old 900’s, it’s, also, a car where you can pick up an example with higher mileage that needs a little lovin’, put some $$ into it to cover the “usual” wear/failure items, and have a versatile, dependable, fun to drive car for reasonable money. The wagon has, always, been the “one” on my list, too. As a mechanic, musician, and motorcyclist, It seems I’m always hauling crap, but since I sold my wagon to my band’s sound man (you should see the PA system he crams into that car!) and started using a sedan I bought, I’m amazed what the cavernous boot of the 4dr will handle! As you say, there’s plenty of debate over the various “styles” through the years. Externally I really like the later “dame edna” version but, personally, I prefer the earliest, glass headlamp, cars. It seems Saab put a LOT into those early models but did a lot of de-contenting to keep costs/prices down form ’02-onward. Always great to read your perspectives and see the bucket list of a man who seems to share many of my own automotive perversions!…….May all your auto-dreams come true!

  9. Hers is an ’02 silver Linear Sportwagon in pretty decent condition. Mine is ‘the’ ’04 9-3 Aero Hirsch sedan in merlot. I have to think twice about which keys to grab leaving the front door. The Weapon, or the Wagon. Hmmm. Interesting too how the 2.0 litre revs so quickly and how the 2.3 pulls so hard with the little turbo. They are both brilliant in many ways, but not in the same way. I cried on the inside when my 9-5 Aero sedan got whacked. Saved me and the kids but I lost a bit of my automotive soul in that car when it was pulled apart for bits. Only took a day, apparently. Thanks Terry! And that was 18 months ago, showing that I am STILL not entirely over it. She asked That question again yesterday. “What would you buy if you sold the Hirsch”? Straight up I said another 9-5 Aero sedan, but it would have to jump quite a few hurdles and be in the BEST condition. Getting picky now. But we can be, us aficionados, knowing what we do about all things Saab.
    Love everyone else’s lists too. Snap on that one!
    Go for a test drive SW. You know you want to…

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