I’ve never sat and thought about this until quite recently. Many a time I’ve sat chatting with friends and family about anything with wheels, and have found myself blurting out loud “I love that car” when a particular one pops up in the conversation. Then I’d say it again. After a few times, I thought to myself “I genuinely can’t decide between any of these”. It was clear that I needed to get my 10 car garage together.
What you’ll see here is a selection of my favourite cars, all entirely different in character. Let’s get started in no particular order.
01. Classic Sports: 1990 Porsche 911 964 Turbo
I say no particular order, but I’ll start with this as it’s something of a dream car. This is the 911 for me. Its design is just incredible; in the era where cars were starting to square off their edges, Porsche stayed true with its bumps and curves. The rear wheel arches are a particular sight for sore eyes, and the way the headlight buttresses run all of the way back to the A-pillars is mouth watering. I could write an entire article about this car (and I may still), but I’ll try to sum this car up as best as I can. The 911 was supposed to be the car to buy. When you look at the majority of sports cars, they’ve made sacrifices in areas that render them unpractical for daily use. For example, mid-engined cars are incredibly well balanced, but you loose two rear seats. If you wanted four seats, hot hatches soared in the 80’s, but even so the majority of them were front engined, front wheel drive. But the 911 ticked all of the boxes while leaving none blank.
Lets look at a hot hatch setup; you’ll notice the engine in the front, front wheel drive, two doors and four seats. A powerful engine and extremely practical. The 911 is essentially a flipped setup. Its engine is in the boot, it’s rear wheel drive, with the boot being at the front. It now has a layout closer to a mid-engined setup, while keeping its four seats and a large boot. On paper, it’s the perfect car.
After the success of the 964, they released the Turbo in 1990. Nicknamed ‘The Widowmaker’, and with good reason. It featured a 3.3 litre flat-six turbocharged engine with an output of 315bhp. That’s 315bhp coming from behind the back wheels. If you think mid-engine cars have a tendency of producing oversteer, imagine what this is capable of. Hence the name. Even with its huge duck-tail rear wing, you needed enormous balls to drive one; mainly to keep the car weighed down. If you see one of these one the road, you may not see one again. Salute its owner for their bravery.
I’d still absolutely settle for a non-turbo Porsche 911 964 though. I drive past one every day, which thankfully is the owners daily drive.
02. Hot Hatch: 2007 Honda Civic Type-R GP FN2
I looked into buying one of these just over a year ago, and you may be surprised to hear considering my love of Porsche’s. I loved my Toyota Celica T-Sport, and am also a stickler for well refined cars. The Celica lacked some refinement that I would have liked in a car, but throughout the years the car became more refined. At the time of looking for an upgrade, this seemed like the obvious choice. Both cars had four seats, 4-cylinders, front engined, Japanese, valve-lift technology, and both very practical. The FN2 Type-R is a beautifully refined machine. Just look at this interior:
That interior is 10 years old, yet it still looks ahead of our time. The cabin wraps around the driver, bathing the cockpit in red an white illumination, and putting the driver right in the centre of the action. It’s a gorgeous place to be. Its exterior design is still strikingly modern, and with its very forgiving MPG and incredible reliability, I was almost sold.
Unfortunately there was one thing that stopped me at the time, and no it wasn’t its rear torsion bar setup. It was its following. Apologise for any generalisation that’s going to happen, but the next time you see one of these on the road, look at the driver. I seldom see any Type-R driver older than 25, and most of them drive like idiots. It’s a shame as the few people who do enjoy these cars have been instantly branded with this unfortunate image. Nevertheless, if I did want to go back and get a hot hatch, this would be my choice of car.
03. Supercar: 2003 Porsche Carrera GT
The pinnacle of the post millennium analogue supercar experience. Designed completely new from the ground up, and to feature no roof with nothing to stop you being devoured by that 5.7 litre naturally aspirated V10. A manual gearbox, an engine originally designed for racing planted into a road car, and German engineering with looks that have an almost Italian flare. I’ll say that again. Manual, atmospheric V10, convertible, Porsche. What could possibly be better than this.
It’s a beautiful machine, with timeless looks and a banshee-like engine note. The only thing I can think of that comes close in terms of sound is the Lexus LFA, but even that doesn’t scream as loud as this. If you don’t have anyone sitting around you while reading this, fire up YouTube and look for how this car sounds. Prior to this car, I had never heard such a sound come from an engine that wasn’t Formula 1. Its interior is far ahead of its time, with similarities of new era McLarens, thanks to its carbon monocoque and swooping centre console. It’s not exactly cheap. When new in 2003, this car would have dented your wallet by £300,000. Now it’s over three times the amount, with examples well in excess of £1,000,000. It’s huge carbon ceramic brakes cost £25,000 to replace and servicing it every four years will cost you over £6,000.
I’ve always believed that ‘the devil’s in the detail’, and it couldn’t be more accurate here. The gear leaver isn’t a teardrop shape as it is on other Porsches of this year; it’s a simple round birch wood gear knob that rests perfectly in the centre of your hand. The rear light clusters are purely LED, the enormous rear spoiler raises at 75mph and the car has an electronic anti-stall feature even though it’s a manual (which is enormously helpful with a clutch as heavy as this). My personal favourite point though is the colour coded single centre locking wheel nuts. Each wheel is only held in place by a single large nut, the left wheels being red and the right wheels being blue, so that you don’t mix them up. All typical German examples of form following function, but creating soul in the process. Incredible.
If there’s ever a car I could ever wish to drive, it would surely be this.
04. Classic Supercar: 1987 Ferrari F40
Enter the Ferrari F40. Keeping on the subject of super cars, this needs no introduction. Pure in every aspect you could possibly think of, overly in some areas. It’s the driving equivalent of free climbing a mountain without a rope; an incredibly pure experience, but careful it doesn’t kill you.
Its interior is shamefully simple, with green sealant running across every join and panel gap. There’s nothing to it. The interior is very basic, there’s no traction control, no anti-lock brakes, no power steering, no air conditioning, no electric windows – nothing. What it does have is one of the purest driving experiences you could ever hope to have. Think of it as a full sized go-kart with a roof, and a 2.9L twin-turbo V8 bolted to your spine. It sounds ludicrous and, to no surprise, is exactly that. The initial turbo lag from those enormous twin turbos gives you the impression that the performance is tamable, making it the biggest error you could think of, as by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence, you’d be travelling well in excess of 100mph from a standstill.
This machine looks achingly gorgeous now, so imagine what it must have been like in 1987. Google ‘1987 cars’ and you’ll see what was around at this time, to help better understand the impact it had. I chose this photo above for a reason. There were many I could have placed in this article of it sitting in a studio with fluorescent tube lights covering every curve, but you needed to see what it’s like out in the public. A friend of mine’s Father has an F40, and drives it around a small sleepy Welsh town. I see it from time to time, and amongst the miners terraced houses and soaring mountains, it’s a sight to see. It’s one thing seeing this at an event, but it’s another seeing it in the real world.
05. Modern Sports: 2014 Porsche Boxster GTS
Lets pull everything back to earth for now. I own a Porsche Boxster S myself as you’ve now realised from previous posts. It’s had an effect on me that I didn’t think I’d get, and that’s the love of convertibles. There’s two things about driving with the roof down that hit home with me. The first is the design of the car. With its roof down, you look at the sweeping shape of a car’s body, rather than how high or low the car is. The second thing I love – and what I love most – is how close you are to the elements. Driving gives me enormous pleasure with the freedom you can get from travelling in speeds and ways that you otherwise couldn’t. Driving without a roof only amplifies this feeling. You’re more connected to the road, to the environment and to nature itself. You could touch everything you see if it’s in arms reach, doing so with the sun shining directly on top of you. It’s perfect.
The 2014 Porsche Boxster GTS is a car that I know I’d look to buy in the future. As I’ve previously stated, I’m a stickler for a well refined car and this one is incredible for precision in build quality and engineering. The leather feels delicately soft but totally firm on the steering wheel. Its carpets are diagonally pre-brushed to contrast with the rest of the lines in the interior, and there’s something very comforting about witnessing the bright, clean suspension work behind the enormous rear wheels. It’s as if the car has nothing to hide. Its shape is no longer borrowed from its 911 bigger brother, and instead has elements purely unique to the Boxster. This no longer makes it an entry level car as it’s now in fact more expensive than its previously more expensive hardtop model, the Cayman. It’s totally justified too. This model in particular is the GTS, which is in a basic explenation a Boxster S with every performance option ticked, and then some. It’s 0-60 sprint takes just 5 seconds (the PDK being 4.1), and it’ll plough onto a top speed of 175mph.
The last reason for this to be on my 10 car garage is because of the newer 718 Boxster. It’s now a 4-cylinder and, while I’m sure it’s a far superior car, the soul is now completely absent due to its Subaru-sounding engine. This 981 is the last 6-cylinder Boxster, and it’s such a shame.
06. Long Distance: 2015 Audi RS6 Avant Performance
Essentially the ultimate all-in-one car. I’ve got enormous respect for estates of modern. Not only have they been a value to society in being the pack-mule for the open road, but they’ve now shown the world that they’re the tick to everyone’s box. The evolution of estates couldn’t be more astonishing over the past 50 years, coming from wooden-framed rears right up to harnessing 10-cylinder engines with more power than Italy’s finest.
Take the RS6, for example. It has five seats and a cavernous boot – 1680 litres in fact – so there’s plenty of space for pretty much anything you could muster, and thanks to the seating arrangement there’s room for the whole family. But aside from all of this, nestled under the bonnet is a 600bhp 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 monster. That’s the same power as the almighty Ferrari 458 speciale. In a 5-seater family estate car. That sort of power once belonged to the track and the most exotic of all machines, and in a way it still is, but Audi (and others respectfully) have made this performance available for all in a practical and exciting package. Just incredible.
07. Daily Drive: 2004 Volkswagen Mk5 Golf GT TDI
Taming things down a bit, there’s a car that I’ve always had a soft spot for, and it’s the Mk5 Golf. Around the time of Mk5 Golf’s release was the explosion of popularity with German turbo diesel engines. Reliable, economical (MPG), quiet for a diesel, and powerful. Post millennium turbo diesel cars allowed everyday practicality with sports car performance, and it was met with huge demand.
Out of all of the cars that the turbo diesel found home, the Mk5 Golf GT TDI was the one that stuck with me. I yearned to own this car at the time of this release, but still haven’t to this day. It still looks fantastic, hugely reliable, and being mechanically minded it’s a great car in terms of sensibility in its build without overly complicated engineering. It seems to be the perfect all-round car, and for me it still is.
My favourite feature though is the interior lighting. At night, the cabin is bathed in blue and red lighting that’s incredible calming. My Father owned a 2003 Volkswagen Passat with a similar interior. The calming lighting made long journeys hugely relaxing and easy on the eyes. It made a welcoming change from the sea of orange and green back-lit dials. Other factors that make this a top 10 car would be its practicality, looks (as previously stated), eerily quiet ride and huge performance for what it was. These came well equipped, including dual climate control, heated seats, cruise control, xenon headlamps, to name a few.
Oddly I’d choose this over its petrol GTI brother. If I wanted a hot hatch, I’d get the Civic Type-R as previously explained. But if I wanted a car for every day use, give me the GT TDI any day of the week. Thankfully, my girlfriend may be looking for a new car soon. Guess what I’m going to recommend.
08. Ultimate: 2014 McLaren P1
This isn’t a predictable selection, despite what it may seem, which is why it’s right down at number 8 on the list. I didn’t want this to appear as a “New shiny fast car wow it’s my favourite car ever wow it’s so cool and fast” choice, as it’s far from it. I actually couldn’t care for its speed (though it is a factor into its choice).
My reasoning for this is down to one of my passions; technology and computing. I’m quite the nerd outside of the motoring world, sitting for hours calculating the most stable overclock, altering voltages and bus speeds on processors, all the while using incense sticks to visualise air flow inside a computer case for optimum cooling. No, I didn’t make any of that up. As a technological achievement, this car is X-rated.
There’s a 30 minute video on YouTube of Chris Harris interviewing McLaren’s chief test driver Chris Goodwin. There’s no driving, there’s not a single engine started, it’s just 30 minutes of technical talking and it’s fantastic. If you’re wondering where to find this, click here to watch. The car is thriving with technological advancements that blow the most advanced machines on earth out of the water. I’ll refrain myself from explaining some of these facts.
Okay I give in. Its carbon fibre monocoque on which the interior fits into weights just 90kg. Its 3.8 litre eight cylinder engine punches out 727bhp with its twin-turbo charged setup, bolted to an electrical motor that generates 176bhp, resulting in a car with over 900bhp. It’s therefore a hybrid, but the electrics are built purely for outright performance, not economy. It’s limited to 218mph. It uses ‘torque-fill’, where the electric motor produces power where the engine dips in torque, so that there’s never a dip in power or torque, creating a vacuum effect of acceleration. If an engineer strips the car, anti-static gloves have to be worn with a medic equipped with a defibrillator on standby, as touching the engine before its calmed results in a 600V shock to the engineer. It utilises the heat dispersed from the brakes by converting it into energy, which is converted into even more power for the engine. The engine reaches temperatures of over 980C, the exhaust alone reaching 900C. In track mode, there is a hydraulic event, lowering the car by 50mm and stiffening the suspension to up to 300%, capable of producing 2G while cornering and rendering the car illegal for public road use while active. Its brake discs alone are bigger than the wheels of a Ford Fiesta, and are made of carbon-ceramic material, which is one of the hardest materials on earth. They also cost over £30,000 to replace.
If the car had looks that only a mother could love, I’d still love this car.
09. Born for the Track: 2016 Caterham Seven 620S
I can understand why you’d chose a certain track car. I would never understand why anyone wouldn’t consider a Seven. This is arguably the most pure driving experience you could ever hope to get – even more than the almighty Ferrari F40.
Rear wheel drive, no roof, seating position directly over the rear axle, front engined and a proven recipe. The car’s fundimental looks haven’t changed in decades, because they work. It’s effective and built for one purpose: handling. The car doesn’t strive for its looks or practicality, and makes no apologies for it. Caterhams have always been small-engined, due to their incredibly light weight. This one decides to throw away all reason, harnessing a 310bhp 2.0 supercharged engine underneath. In this car, it’s the equivalent to strapping the SSC Bloodhound to a coffee machine.
Because this car weighs just 610kg.
Let me put that into perspective for you. The McLaren P1 above weighs 1360kg and is praised for its light weight design. This is under half of the weight. You couldn’t get a more intoxicating track experience if you tried. The closest you could get would be to physically run your hand over the tarmac yourself. It’s an instant classic then, built on a proven recipe. I hope it never changes.
10. Built for the Track: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Eunos
I envy anyone who has one of these. You may look at this car and think “It’s just an old convertible”, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Well, you’re right, it’s an old convertible, but it’s an icon amongst motoring enthusiasts. Mazda showed the world that cars can be cheap, reliable and fun with the MX-5. It’s rear wheel drive, two-seater layout with incredible reliability gave a breath of fresh air into the automotive market, and attracted millions of sales, along with an explosion of inspiration from other manufacturers. Even so, the MX-5 stood strong making it a strong choice. It still is. Look at the Caterham Seven above. It has two seats, no roof, front engined, rear wheel driven, and is very light. These five features are also present in the MX-5.
I’ll explain some of my personal plans for one of these. The beauty of the MX-5 is that it brings track-based fun to the road. This car is one I’m itching to purchase within the next year or two, purely to strip out and turn into a track car. It’ll be reliable, cheap to run, parts are available everywhere and it’ll be a perfect introduction to frequent track days thanks to its rear wheel drive and light weight setup.
I’ve already researched this car for months. The plans would be to strip the interior, strip any unused accessories (air con, etc) for weight reduction, fit wider wheels, bolt arches to the bodywork to support the wheels (for legality purposes), stiffer suspension, sticky tyres, improved brakes, 6-point harnesses, a roll cage, Momo steering wheel and racing seats. It sounds like a lot for a cheap 90’s car, but this would turn this car into the perfect track companion.
Sounds expensive? Think again. You can pick up a Mk1 MX-5 for as little as £1,000. This isn’t due to the fact that the car isn’t good, it’s down to the fact that it isn’t a rare car. It’s hugely popular (and for good reason), which has driven prices to the floor. It has a cult following, resulting in people turning these into museum masterpieces, weekend warriors and track beasts. I can’t wait to get started.
I drove one of these after I bought the Porsche, and was a wash of confusion and emotion. If I drove one of these before I bought my car, it would have been a very difficult choice indeed. Though it’s only a 1.8 with its straight line speed not being a strong point, its handling and precision blew me away. If I drove my car over the Brecon Beacons and drove this car back, I’d probably have more fun in this. If I told you that I was at one point tempted to sell the Porsche for one of these, I can tell you that I was very serious indeed.
Hopefully this year, the MX-5 will start as a cheap, reliable track car. At present, there will be a cheap track car and an expensive road car at my home. In the future however, the tables may turn. All thanks to a 27 year old Mazda.
So there we have it. My perfect 10 car garage, documented for all to see. If you’ve made it this far, thank you; you can now put milk on that tea you’ve been brewing, that’s probably tar by now.