IT WAS ABOUT SIX MONTHS into the relationship when my then girlfriend turned to me after a meal with my family and said, “How can you spend so much time talking about what car your Dad should buy next? It’s all you ever talk about. Don’t you ever get bored?” I guess I hadn’t really thought about it before. She was right, though. When I was a teenager the main topic of conversation in the Bovingdon household was Dad’s next car. Even if he’d only had his current one for 24 hours.
Dad was enlightened and instead of getting a brand-new company car, he always took the cash instead and bought something a bit older and a lot cooler.
Instead of a Granada Ghia it’d be a Jaguar XJ, rather than a new 528i it’d be a punt on a seven or eight-year-old M5. We even got him into an R33 Skyline GT-R V-Spec at one point. Midnight Purple, of course.
In a twist of ridiculous fortune, having to buy a car for everyday use is something that I’ve managed to avoid for my entire working life. As a staff member or contributor to various magazines I’ve been blessed with long-term test cars, from Clios to Evos to M3s and even a Nissan GT-R. In Champagne Gold. Even so, I loved it to death.
However, now I do find myself in need of everyday wheels and – mostly due to my Dad’s buying habits, I’m sure – the lure of cheap lease deals and dodgy PCPs leaves me cold. Instead, just like Dad, I’m drawn to older, more interesting cars that are just about in my price range and offer the tasty combination of zero depreciation and potentially ruinous running costs. For a car enthusiast these are the ying and yang with which we must constantly grapple.
So now the Bovingdon family conversations are about what car I should get next. Contenders range from mild ($5000) to wild ($27,000 – which is wild for me). My rational brain says hot hatch. I adore really hardcore hatches and a Clio Cup (either 172 or 200) would fit the bill. Then again, my old long-term Megane 250 was wonderful and they’re selling for a steal second hand...
Everything is ‘just a few grand more’. Get up to $18K for a Megane and it’s only a short leap to an E46 M3. And they’re on the way up, right? So they’re sensible. Really sensible. There will never be a normally aspirated straight-six M3 again.
You know what else there will never be again? A V10-engined super sedan. Maybe now’s the time to buy an E60 M5. Yes, I’ve read all the horror stories, but my M5 would never let me down.
Thing is, I’m a sucker for Japanese cars, too. I really love their weird foibles and single-mindedness. Plus, the Japanese are great at acronyms. Super-HICAS, S-AYC, DCCD... these things are irresistible to me. And they’re tough. I’m pretty sure an IS F will outlive my grandchildren and an Evo’s 4G63 engine could probably spin at 7000rpm from here until the end of time.
As you can see, I need help. I wake up thinking about E46s and go to bed dreaming of Mitsubishi Evos having browsed RS4s at lunch and M5s at tea time. I’m pretty sure I’d be happy with any of them, but I feel at least six weeks more of endless searching and conversations with my family are inevitable. Lucky them.
Some things have changed since my teens. That girlfriend is now my wife and the conversations needn’t stop when I’m away from my brothers and Dad. Our Whatsapp group entitled ‘Next cars’ is lighting up every three minutes from breakfast until bedtime. Still not bored. And she still despairs.