“Lancia Quest” will conclude this evening

A quick update…..

There are currently two bids on the car and given that it’s a ‘No Reserve’ auction starting at $10K, that means it WILL sell to the highest bidder – tonight.

The auction started at $10K and is currently at $10,100. Neither of the bids are mine. I’ve set myself a ceiling somewhere not far above the starting price. I have to aim low simply because there’s so much work to be done on the body and the interior.

I went and saw a local Fulvia last night, just to see one in the flesh and to see if I’d fit in with a helmet on. I’d need to put a sports seat in it, but it will be possible to use this for club events.

The auction finishes at midnight. It could well go past my ceiling before then, but hopefully I’ll still be in the game. It’s a big commitment given the work that needs to be done, but I think this car is worth it. I’ve had lots of very positive communication with the Lancia community online in the last few days. Very dedicated, passionate and encouraging.

Let’s see what happens.

“Lancia Quest” continues….

I’ve long had a theory that any given model of vehicle is worth X-amount of dollars in good condition. If you get it for X-minus-Y dollars, there’s a good chance you’ll have to spend Y dollars (or even Y-plus-Z dollars) on repairs or restoration to bring it up to good condition.

That’s proving to be the case with the Lancia Fulvia I’m looking at right now.

I first saw the car on Carsales.com.au with five photos and an asking price of $21,000. I talked to a few people and that price seemed a bit ambitious. The ad read as if the car was quite good, with some modifications but with the original parts included. The photos presented the car as if it was in quite good condition. At $21,000, I expected this Fulvia to be ready-to-roll with little to do other than routine maintenance.

I figured if I could get this car for around $16K or so, then I’d have a wonderfully interesting car to scratch my increasing Italian itch.

The Lancia Quest got turned on its head completely on Sunday, however.

On Sunday, I found that the same car had been placed for auction on Ebay – with a starting reserve of just $10,000!!!

I called the owner to have a chat about the car. He said the starting price was set so low simply to get the ball rolling on the auction. Fair enough.

But having conducted two unsuccessful Ebay auctions for my Alfa Romeo GTV6 in the last few months, I know that you can have several dozen ‘watchers’ for an auction that ends with no bids. There’s a very real chance that someone will jump in with a last-minute bid and pick up this car for just the $10K starting price.

My question, therefore – why is he willing to risk this?

During my call with the owner, he mentioned that a $10,000 sale would likely be “car only”, that he’d keep the spare parts to sell individually. He doesn’t mention this in the ad and if I was the successful bidder, I’d feel a bit peeved about that.

Anyway, I called on a Saab mate in the same city to see if he could visit the seller and check out the car, which he did yesterday.

The car’s been sitting for a while and they had a little trouble getting it started, but it fired up eventually. Lars found the driving experience somewhat intoxicating. The car responds well and the exhaust note is just fantastic. That’s what I was hoping and expecting to hear.

Less encouraging is the over-all condition of the car. It looks like it’s been repainted in recent years, but a closer inspection reveals that the preparations for that repaint might have been sub-standard. There are various chips, cracks and marks that indicate there might have been some swift filling done in less-than-ideal conditions.

There’s also a small oil leak somewhere at the bottom of the engine (see photos, below).

Then there’s the interior. The seller has installed some seats from a Subaru into the car. The original seats are available, but he’s already told me that they need refurbishment. There are cracks at the top of the rear seat, the window furniture looks like it’s 45 years old (which it is), as does the top of the dashboard. The wood trim around the gauges is in good condition for age, but will benefit from a good sanding and re-finishing.

All things considered, this car seems to be more of a running restorer than a $21,000 ready-to-go car.

Images from Lars’ visit with the car, below.

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You might think I’m being too fussy…..

Well, back in 2006, the car below was passed in at auction in Melbourne with a desired sale range of $10-15,000. The Lancia I’m chasing is nowhere near as well finished as this one:

That one was passed in at a lower price, but that was back in 2006. I have a feeling it would achieve that price quite comfortably today.

So what’s “my” Lancia really worth?

I reckon there’s a good $10K’s worth of work involved with this car and that’s if I can learn to do some of it myself. The reserve price on the Ebay auction is probably just fair given what’s left to be done in order to bring this car up to the desired level of operation and presentation.

The auction ends tomorrow at midnight.

Strategy 1 – Place a last minute bid for $10K and hope I’m the only one bidding. Secure the car at this lowest price and negotiate on the spare parts that I want (which is not all of them).

Strategy 2 – Trump the auction with a negotiated price of around $12-13,000 for the car and all the parts. The seller is very open to receiving offers before the auction ends. Take other bidders out of the equation. The seller has said he wants around $15 for the whole package, but it never hurts to ask.

Strategy 3 – Wait for the auction to end and see what happens. If it sells, I no longer have a decision to make. If it doesn’t, then hope to agree on a price that will satisfy the both of us.

All of this pre-supposes that I’ll actually fit in the car whilst wearing a helmet. I’ll find out the answer to that question tonight thanks to a local owner who’s willing to move a few cars around in his shed so that I can get access to his Fulvia.

I’d really like to get this car under the right conditions. It wouldn’t be much good for a run to the hardware store but there’s not much else that I do with a car that it wouldn’t be suited to. Between this and the 9000 Aero I’ll pick up in Sydney next week (yes, we bought an Aero to replace Mrs Swade’s 9000CS), 95% of my motoring needs will be covered completely.

I know I’ll have to commit extra funds to a restoration but given the Fulvia’s character, history and rarity, I think it’ll be worth it. The bonus is that the car will be relatively pain-free to run until those funds are saved and the work commenced.

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If you’ve got another 7 minutes or so to spare, watch this new video from Petrolicious. It’s not the same car. It’s not even the same brand. But it’s the same feeling.

Enjoy.

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Please Donate To Jim’s Cancer Ride

It’s that time of the year again…..

Our Saab mate James Coggeshall (that’s Jim or Coggs to his friends) will be on his bike and riding in the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s annual fundraising bike ride – the Pan Mass Challenge.

This will be Jim’s third tilt at the Pan Mass Challenge. He rode the last two as a cancer survivor, having beaten testicular and skin cancer. This year it’s different – Jim is once again a cancer patient and as he’s fond of saying at the moment: there’s no fooling around this time.

I’m now two and a half years out from being successfully treated for testicular cancer and a year from dealing with a couple of instances of skin cancer. While undergoing my regular post cancer surveillance visits at the DFCI a biopsy revealed I have prostate cancer. At this point the disease is in the very early stage. But there are some indications it could be agressive. I will be monitored through the summer rather than undergoing immediate treatment but in all likelyhood I will have to deal with it this fall/winter.

Hopefully at that time advances will have been made which may minimize the all too common life changing side effects resulting from the current treatments of prostate cancer. I may not be as young as I used to be but not so sure I like the sound of bladder catheters, Viagra, and Depends.

You can read Jim’s full story HERE and I urge you to do so. Two years ago, with the help of the audience at Saabs United, we helped Jim raise over $9,000. We dont have that audience any more but we can still help Jim meet his $5000 target this year (around half still to go!)

The Pan Mass Challenge is a massive event, raising $37 million last year and when this event’s finished, they’ll have raised more than $400 million over the event’s lifetime. As the costs for the event are underwritten by corporate sponsors, every cent of that $400 million has gone directly to cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (and they’re the guys/girls looking after Jim).

It’s a 200 mile bike ride so it’s not like Jim won’t be working hard for the money.

Coggs1

Jim is a Saab nut from way back and has one of the sweetest Sonetts you’re ever likely to see, as well as a Viggen convertible, Saab 9-5 wagon and a 900 Convertible. There might be two 9-5 wagons in the collection, actually. I know he’s a 5-Saab man!!

Of course, I wouldn’t ask you to contribute to this unless I was willing to do it myself. Last year I kicked in a couple of C-notes. Tonight, I’ve donated $250 of my hard-earned to this ride and I hope you can find some change down the back of the sofa to kick in as well.

Donation

My contribution’s not just for Jim, but also for the memory of my father, Donald Wade, for the memory of my Mum’s later partner, Alex Whammond, for the memory of our Saab advertising mate, Curvin O’Reilly and most recently, in memory of our wonderful Mad Dutchie, Nic Schellekens, who died of a cancer-related incident back in March.

This disease gets too many people. Please support Jim in both his quest to fight it, and to stop it. CLICK HERE TO READ HIS STORY AND CONTRIBUTE.

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To Lancia, or not to Lancia?

So the GTV6 is sold and we’ve decided to shelve our plans for building a new home. That means it’s Game On for car shopping!

I had a couple of important criteria for my next car, key among which were that it had to be good for a long distance east-coast road trip that Mrs Swade and I want to do in a few months from now, and that it also had to be fun and engaging for me as a daily driver and club car. Those criteria were going to be difficult to resolve.

I think we’ve solved that particular dual-purpose problem, however.

Mrs Swade has agreed to an upgrade from her Saab 9000CS to a more potent and more functional Saab 9000 (our car has a number of electrical and functional niggles that would be uneconomical to repair). Yes, we love the 9000. I’ve currently got a bead on two suitable 9000s in good order, one an Aero and the other an Anniversary model. I’ve craved an Aero for years and the one I’ve found seems to be in good order after checking it out with a friend who knows the car. The price is right, too, and 9000 Aeros in good condition are only getting harder to find. It’s likely I’ll pull the trigger on that one very soon.

That takes care of the cruiser that’ll make for a wonderful utilitarian family car for us. So now to the fun car.

The usual suspects are on the list. Porsche 944 (either S2 or turbo), Alfa Romeo GTV V6 (the wedgy coupe from 1998 onwards), Alfa Romeo 33 16V. My mate Eggs has even got me looking at Maserati BiTurbos (the survivors have to be well sorted by now, right?).

As you can see, Italian is a factor here. I belong to an Italian car club and while a lot of members own an Italian but bring their reliable Japanese cars to the track, I’m an advocate for flying the flag at all times.

Something Italian that I’ve never considered before, but has recently become available is a very nicely sorted vintage Lancia coupe. We have all manner of brands available in Australia but even here, Lancias are relatively rare. Most of the Lancias for sale are Betas from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. For those who are unfamiliar, the Beta is the car that killed Lancia thanks to rust issues. That old joke “on a quiet day you could hear them rusting at the dealership” applies.

This isn’t a Beta, though.

This is a 1968 Lancia Fulvia coupe. Isn’t she pretty?

Here’s the text from the ad:

1968 Lancia Fulvia Coupe,1.3S excellent condition, great little car that’s lots of fun to drive. Car comes with koni adjustable shocks, stainless steel exhaust, sports seats & 4 point harnesses (comes with original seats & new standard seat belts), factory sports air filtration kit (comes with original filter set up), HF wheels & flairs, Sandro Munari signed steering wheel, re-conditioned brake calipers & master cylinder, some spares included (electrical & mechanical).

It seems to be set up nicely, yes?

If you’re unfamiliar with the Lancia Fulvia, I encourage you to spend the next 2 minutes watching this excerpt from the Top Gear Lancia special (it goes for 8 minutes, but two is all you need). It spends a couple of minutes on the Fulvia that will inform your thinking.

Yes, it IS amazing to look at.

But did you hear that engine????

Lancia used a narrow-angle, high revving V4 in the Fulvia. It’s a 1.3 and it only pushes out around 90hp but then the car only weighs 895kg. It’s not fast, but it’s extremely nimble and even said to be quite reliable, too. If Clarkson’s only knock on it was its historical price, then there’s got to be something to explore with this car. There’s a lot to like about it, that’s for sure. It’s rare. It’s Italian and it’s genuine in both styling and performance.

But then, there’s the practical side to consider.

It’s 45 years old and the question has to be asked – could you use a car such as this 3-4 times a week without fearing too much for its future? One of the main reasons I sold the GTV6 was that it ended up as a garage queen that was driven only once a week because I had the Brumby for regular duty. The Brumby will go. I want something that I both want and HAVE to drive when Mrs Swade has use of the Aero.

Is it fanciful or irresponsible to think that a Lancia Fulvia can be used on a regular basis?

This Fulvia is for sale for $21,000 and it’s located in Queensland (around 2000kms and a boat ride away) so it’s no small decision. I’ve found a club member here in Tassie who owns one so I’m hoping to check out his local example to see if/how I’ll fit in it with a helmet on, as well as taking the chance to simply appreciate one in person.

Despite the challenges it might present, I have to admit I find myself far more smitten with the idea of getting this car than I do with any of the others on my list. Am I a complete idiot?

Here are a few more Fulvia videos to watch and listen to. Enjoy.

Petrolicious, as always, do it right…..

Overview of second hand Fulvias in Britain (old video)….

Good quality driving film from an owner….

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Thursday Snippets – Jokes, GM, Datsun and Sales

I work in an audit office. Suffice to say, jokes aren’t our strong point. I heard a couple of good ones on TV last night and thought I’d better record them for posterity. I’m sure they could be useful in the future.

#1

A sweet young girl, around 8 years old, walks into a pet shop. She walks up to counter and asks the owner “Please sir, I’d like to buy a bunny rabbit.”

The shopkeeper looks over the counter to the girl, smiles and asks “Would you like a white rabbit or a brown rabbit, young lady?”

The girl thinks for a moment, then says “I really don’t think my python will give a $#%!”

and #2

You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

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And that leads me nicely to Cadillac, the GM luxury division that’s had its plans to build a truly luxurious car based on the Ciel concept car, cancelled.

2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept

Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, is always happy to sink the boots in when it comes to GM’s upper management. The monotony of it all gets quite boring, to be honest. But he’s right on the money here.

He quotes former GM head Alfred P Sloan – The business of business is business.

Well, kinda. When you’re in the business of selling an emotive product, the business involves building something that truly moves the emotional needle. Cars done in half-measures don’t do that and companies like Alfa Romeo, Saab, Peugeot, Citroen and countless others over the last few decades have learned that the hard way.

Car companies need scale, for sure. But if they’re not chasing the bottom of the market then they also need to have a worthwhile story to tell and a product that backs that story up.

——

A quick visual scan of the automotive sales results for both Germany and the US should give you an idea as to how the North American and European markets/economies are doing.

Don’t worry about reading the numbers. Just look at the respective amounts of red vs green.

GermanSalesJune13

UsSalesJune2013

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You know that a car is reaching mainstream acceptance when it’s mocked this way.

Hopefully that’s a wrap that can be removed from this Tesla Model S, and the wheels might be loaners.

Spotted at The Truth About Cars

PinkTesla

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There were sighs of disappointment at geeky desktops around the world this week when fans of cheap, thrashable cars found out that the model proposed to re-launch the Datsun brand was something other than the 510 or the 260Z.

In fact, it’ll be this:

Datsun_large

Yes, you could put pretty much any automotive company’s badge on that and no-one would know the difference (which is quite possibly the biggest crime a vehicle designer for a known brand could commit, IMHO).

I guess it’s to be expected, but it’s still a little disappointing.

——

I mentioned in a previous post that we were thinking of building a new house. Complications with the land we were looking at have led the deal to fall through. Uncertainty about some employment factors means the whole idea is on hold for what I think will turn out to be quite a while.

Result – car shopping is back on the agenda!!

Weekend Video – Bruce Turk’s Saab 96 2-Stroke Rally Car

If you’re a Saab fan – especially if you’re a vintage Saab fan – then you MUST WATCH THIS VIDEO.

The guys from /Drive, the same mob who brought us the Inside Koenigsegg series of videos, spent some time with Bruce Turk and his Saab 96 rally car. The result is 27 minutes of information, sights and glorious, glorious sound that’ll soothe your soul.

Watch it below, or even better, watch on your big screen smart TV with the sound up LOUD.

Thanks to my mate Mark at Hemmings for the tip.

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This is Australia, where we don’t like drug cheats in sport (even alleged ones)

The Essendon Football Club went to Perth tonight to play the West Coast Eagles. It was an extremely tough game. It should be a memorable game due to the Bombers winning away from home – a come-from-behind thriller for the ages played in hostile territory.

Unfortunately, that’s not what this game will be remembered for.

This game will be remembered for the West Coast fans booing Essendon captain Jobe Watson every time he got the ball.

Watson is universally respected for his hard play, hard work, his skill and his royal Essendon bloodline. His Brownlow Medal win in 2012 was a feel-good moment for every AFL fan. He’s the type of captain that leads from the front, puts his team on his back and carries them to the final siren, win or lose. He leaves nothing on the field. There is barely a sporting cliche that’s inappropriate for Jobe Watson.

111364-jobe-watsonRight: An emotional Watson after the West Coast game, receives the support of teammates. (News Limited)

So why did he get booed?

The Essendon Football Club is the subject of a massive scandal involving the alleged systematic doping of players through the 2012 season. The players thought the substances that were injected into their bodies were legal. The Australian and International doping agencies, ASADA and WADA, are adamant that they weren’t. The club has kept the facts close to their collective chest but last week, Jobe Watson came out in a TV interview and admitted that yes, he’d taken the banned peptide AOD9604.

This supplement is at the center of the scandal – a program intended to enhance the training and recovery ability of the team. It’s a program that is considered to have been beyond the rules, regardless of what the shadier characters involved believed about its legality or stated to their superiors.

Watson effectively confessed to being a participant in the program. He believes he’s an innocent participant (if such a thing exists) because he trusted the club’s medical and performance staff when they told him the supplement was legal. ASADA and WADA place the burden of responsibility solely on the player/athlete. The player has to do his/her own homework about what goes into his/her body. Trusting someone else is no excuse according to the ASADA/WADA code.

Throughout this scandal, the AFL press corps has done everything it can to defend the Essendon players. Many of the big-name commentators are former players themselves and the old-boys club comes into play here. They’re not going to dump on one of their own and tonight, to a man, they all decried the West Coast fans for their treatment of Watson. Innocent until proven guilty, they said, ignoring the fact that he’d actually confessed to using the supplement.

I think a lot of fans actually feel some level of sympathy for the players, to some degree. I felt uncomfortable with the booing tonight, myself. When you grow up in Australia – especially in Melbourne, where AFL football was born – these players are you, your brothers, your school mates, your friends. Everyone relates to AFL footballers because it’s a grass-roots community game and Australia is still a relatively close community. The degrees of separation are small here.

That communion between the fans and the game breeds care, affection, respect and passion. But passion can run both ways and there’s nothing an Australian sports fan hates more than a cheat.

We mock soccer players because of their soft fouls and bullsh** acting. We respect the capabilities of athletes but turn our noses up at their fat-headed posturing. We place our highest value on genuine effort, authenticity and the classic Australianism – not being a dickhead.

The booing of Jobe Watson wasn’t just a gentle jab from a hostile crowd on the other side of the country. AFL fans of other clubs haven’t had their voices heard but I think there is some genuine resentment about the fact that Essendon, as a club, allegedly undertook a program that their own investigation described as a pharmacological experiment in order to gain advantage.

AFL fans have paid silent respect to Essendon’s resilience under pressure this year because there has been no formal finding announced from the investigation as yet. But Watson’s admission last week gave AFL fans some confirmation of what everyone suspects – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It also gave opposition fans a focal point for their opinions on this matter and the message is clear: it’s not OK to try and cheat the system.

We love our sport in Australia. It binds us, motivates us and forms the foundations for much of our local and national pride. It has to be clean. It has to be honest. To quote long-time football commentator, Rex Hunt – football isn’t life or death, it’s much more important than that.

Jobe Watson might well be football royalty, the son of a legend and an emerging legend in his own right. But tonight we learned that even the biggest legends can be brought back to earth if they cross a line and compromise the purity of the contest, deliberately or otherwise. Essendon’s resilience this year means nothing if it comes on the back of enhanced training in previous years. If they are benefitting from the use of banned supplements taken in the past then it’s not just character getting them over the line in these close contests, it’s quite possibly unlawful science and that’s not within the spirit of the game.

In many ways it’s a shame to penalise those who were probably unwitting participants in this program. The sanctity of the game demands it, however. Tonight, with the booing of a champion, a respected player, we saw the start of what’s to come. If the AFL/ASADA investigation into Essendon concludes with adverse findings against the club (which seems inevitable given Watson’s admission and the strictness of the WADA/ASADA code) and if it concludes with no real sanction against the club AND the players, tonight’s unpalatable display will seem like a picnic.

Commentators and ex-players can whine all they like. This is Australia and we don’t like (alleged) drug cheats in sport, deliberate or otherwise.

Alfa Romeo 4C video – (ir)relevant?

Here’s the 2-minute ‘fascination’ video for the new Alfa Romeo 4C.

The big question – Hot or not?

The other big question – will an ad like this kick-start interest in the USA?

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The Alfa Romeo 4C is almost an excruciatingly beautiful car. Actually, you could rightly say that’s both excruciating and beautiful. Its acute case of bug-eye is the excruciating bit and if they could fix that, the Alfa Romeo 4C might just be the most beautiful car of 2013/4.

Alfa Romeo is struggling. Some would say it’s hereditary. Parent company, Fiat, is only as buoyant as it is because of it’s American assets. Fiat’s own model sales are struggling thanks to economic conditions in Europe. Alfa Romeo’s sales have been falling for years, despite the perceived adequacies of the MiTo and Giulietta.

Falling how far?

According to Wards Autos, Alfa’s sales in the European Union totalled around 201,000 back in 2001. Last year, they sold just 89,000 in the same market – and it bears mentioning that the EU has grown from 15 countries in 2001 to 27 countries in 2012.

There are two things that are going to be crucial to Alfa Romeo’s future. The first is their model range. The Alfa Romeo 4C is a beautiful car but it’s also a two-seater sports car. It’s an aspirational flagship but it’s not a breadwinner. Alfa Romeo have to come up with a full range to compliment it.

The second crucial element for Alfa’s future is the United States market. The 4C is Alfa Romeo’s spearhead for re-launching the Alfa Romeo brand in the United States. It’s rumoured to be priced somewhere between $50K and $60K but I think you can count on it being at the northern end of that price range. With around 200hp propelling a vehicle less than 900kg, it should justify its Caymanesque price.

The US angle is probably the main reason why the video above was shot the way it was.

I wasn’t inspired. Let’s just say it’s not particularly imaginative to shoot a car going fast in the desert. The garage at the end was a nice touch but for me, if you’re selling Alfa Romeo, I’d rather see the car zooming along the French Riviera a-la James Bond with that lineup of Alfa classics outside the Casino de Monte Carlo.

That’s Alfa Romeo for me.

Alfa Romeo still has a wonderful identity and DNA. There’s plenty of brand equity there but they still have to craft something modern that relates to the historic. You have to either leave it alone or back it up with something relevant. Alfa Romeo, for me, is about two things: grass roots performance and Italian design.

Just as I hoped Saab would continue to emphasise their Scandinavian origins, I hope Alfa Romeo continue to push their Italian heritage. It’s part of their story, part of the allure. As I sit here in Australia, I’m not overly interested in seeing a 4C driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’m interested in seeing a 4C outside it’s home city of Modena.

What do you think….

  • ….Should car ads stick to the car’s roots, or place the car in your own setting?
  • ….Will Alfa Romeo succeed with the 4C, or do they need a whole bunch more?
  • ….About car ads shot in a desert – still interesting, or been-there-done-that?

Alfa GTV6 sold! Now what?

My Alfa Romeo GTV6 has gone to a new home. The sale was completed yesterday. It’s a little strange now that the car’s gone. I didn’t get to drive it enough to be really heartbroken, which is something I’d like to change with my next acquisition.

Alfa Romeo GTV6 photo by Stuart Semmens
Alfa Romeo GTV6 photo by Stuart Semmens
The GTV6 was a fantastic car. It looked magnificent, sounded like a herd of furious stallions on a rampage, cornered like a slightly drunk go-kart and possessed all the genuine, purist retro-chic that a car guy could ever wish for.

My problem – the Subaru Brumby.

The GTV6 only ever got out on weekends as the Brumby and my wife’s 9000 combined for daily driving duties. I need some serious seat time in a car to truly bond with it and cry when it leaves. I’m not sure the GTV6, for all its virtues, could ever have got me to a truly tearful parting.

While the interior was sensational, it was uncomfortable for a guy with my body shape (long legs, average torso) to drive for long periods of time. I couldn’t wear a helmet in the car for club events without opening the sunroof, which was both frustrating and slightly dangerous. And maybe I’m going soft in my middle age, but I really like power steering.

I’m very, very happy that I got the chance to experience the GTV6 and I’ll only ever have good things to say about it, but I just didn’t have the same depth of connection that I’ve had with other cars.

So now it’s replacement time and as always, there are plenty of options.

There’s one caveat right at the moment, however. Mrs Swade and I are currently contemplating selling our current home and building a new one. That means any plans for extended automotive spending are well and truly on hold. I have to try and do this using just the sale proceeds of the Alfa (and maybe I’ll sell the Brumby, too). No extra borrowing allowed.

The criteria include:

  • Fun to drive.
  • Appealing brand/model heritage.
  • Comfortable to drive, but still enjoyable.
  • Suitable for our three-week drive up the east coast of Oz, planned for later this year.
  • Suitable for car club track events.

I still have a thing for front-engined Porsches but that’s not going to fit the financial plan so a 944/968 is going to go on the backburner for a few years until the house business is sorted out.

Not an easy list to fulfil, then, but I think I’ve come up with a multi-car solution that will not only tick all these boxes, but will fit within the budget, too.

One possible solution is to include replacing Mrs Swade’s car as well. We can target the comfort, heritage and holiday needs with her car and target the more hard-core sporting needs with my car. Both replacements will be cost-effective as long as they’re in good condition. I could even come away with a small savings pot for either the new home or the future bucket-list car.

Prospective solution 1, part 1:

Mrs Swade currently has a Saab 9000CS. I love the 9000 as a model but our CS has a heap of electrical issues that aren’t cost-effective to fix as well as poor heating/cooling.

Black9000AeroReplacing our CS with a 9000 Aero means we upgrade absolutely everything about the car at minimal cost. We get a purpose built long-distance star with much more comfortable seats, much higher spec equipment, bucketloads of model equity and we still get to have the load-lugging capability that the 9000 is famous for.

Mrs Swade only drives automatic but there’s an auto Aero for sale at the moment (pictured). It’s black, too. With low mileage for age. I’m sure the price is negotiable on a car like this.

I’m hesitant about buying Saabs because the parts situation here in Australia is still what I’d describe as ‘strained’, but I’m less hesitant about buying an older Saab than what I would be about buying a newer one. I don’t know if there’s any logic to that, but it is what it is. Aside from our current electrical issues, we’ve had great service from our two 9000’s and I wouldn’t hesitate to own another. Bjorn Envall said that the 9000 Aero was quite possibly the best car Saab ever built and while I’ve never owned an Aero, I can see where he’s coming from.

Prospective solution 1, part 2:

A 9000 Aero would cover off a lot of our travel, comfort and commuting needs, which means I’d be free to focus on some of the more fun and club-related aspects of my motoring interests.

My first Alfa 33 16V
My first Alfa 33 16V
With a limited budget, that’s pointing me towards getting back into another Alfa Romeo 33 16V. I can fit in with a helmet and it’s not going to cost the earth so I can feel free to strip the insides and make it the track/road car I’ve always wanted to play around with.

I’ve got leads on two of these coming on to the market soon. One has some special equipment already included and looks great in black. The other is classic Alfa red and has a newly rebuilt engine. Neither will be overly expensive and both allow me plenty of room to play. Boxer-engined Alfas are a neglected niche but they’re a model I’ve got a real bug for.

Altenative prospective solution 1

Keep Mrs Swade’s current car and buy a RenaultSport Megane as my daily driver. Neither car really fulfills our holiday needs well but the RS Megane would make a great daily driver and a killer track day warrior.

Downside: after much soul-searching, I really prefer Italian to French, unless I’ve got the room/budget to get both, which I haven’t.

Alternative prospective solution 2

Buy an Alfa Romeo GTV V6 from around 1998-2002. Amazingly beautiful car with a cracking engine and commendable handling. I’ve been wanting one of these for years now but the opportunity has never quite presented. This could be it. It’s certainly affordable as these can sell for less than the classic GTV I’ve just parted with. There’s a very nice black one with a tan interior for sale right now for just $7.5K. The one pictured below is a later model (known as phase 2) with a nicer dashboard, also black and tan, and is selling for $14.5K.

ALFAGTV

Downside: Getting one like the car pictured above would mean not getting a 9000 Aero to replace Mrs Swade’s car. I’m not sure the seats in this Alfa will suit the long holiday drive and I’m not sure the roof will allow me to wear a helmet.

Alternative prospective solution 3

A BMW 330Ci is a nice coupe with all the modern comforts and would be perfect for our east-coast driving trip. The E46 model is affordable if I sell the Brumby, too.

It fulfils few other criteria, but is a reasonably good short term option (as long as I didn’t lose much money on a relatively quick flip early next year).

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If we do end up building a new home, the Brumby would be handy to have around. I think I could do the Aero/Alfa combination from current savings if I was pushed. It’s looking like a good option if the house plans come to fruition.

Car shopping is never easy, is it? And to be honest, it’s getting to the point where the travel involved is a little laborious, even for me. I’d like to find a slightly longer-term solution so that I can focus on saving up for what I’d call a real bucket-list alternative in a few years from now.

Thankfully, it’s still mostly fun, however and I’m sure it will be this time, too.

Judge dismisses Spyker’s lawsuit against GM

Sad to see, but can’t say I’m too surprised. A judge has dismissed Spyker’s $3billion lawsuit against General Motors.

From Business Week:

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a $3 billion lawsuit filed by Dutch car maker Spyker against General Motors Co.

Spyker sued GM last August, accusing it of unfairly blocking a deal to let a Chinese buyer take over Swedish carmaker Saab.

GM sold Saab to Spyker in 2010. Saab filed for bankruptcy protection less than a year later after GM blocked its sale to a Chinese automaker.

GM asked U.S. Judge Gershwin Drain to dismiss the suit, saying it had the right to protect its intellectual property. Spyker argued that the deals didn’t involve GM’s proprietary technology. Drain sided with GM and dismissed the lawsuit.

Spyker said in a statement that it will decide whether to appeal after reviewing the judge’s ruling.

It was always a longshot.

I don’t hate much in this world, but pretty much anything by GM makes that list. The Corvette fares best, registering mere disinterest. Unfortunately, hate doesn’t win lawsuits, especially very arguable ones posed in the defendant’s backyard.

I hope Spyker weren’t banking on this for their future operations. That B6 Venator looks sweet and I hope they get to make it some day. It’s on my if-I-win-lotto list.