MAYBE YOU just get sillier as you get more miles on the clock, but I do have a track record for buying oddball vehicles over the years and have to admit to getting a lot of joy out of them.
Sometimes it’s when you tell a mate what you’ve just done. Some give you that look of utter disbelief, ask you to repeat yourself, and then avoid further eye contact while slowly backing away.
The more courageous actually engage, and start with, “Okay, why did you buy it?” These are nature’s born counsellors.
They’ll patiently listen to your twisted reasoning – rarity, ground-breaking in their day, blah blah – then gently pull you aside. “Mate,” they point out, “Nobody liked them. Ever. It will be impossible to repair because no one knows how to do it, that’s if they could find the parts, which they can’t. Oh, and I hate to break this to you, but it’s as ugly as a hatful of rectums.
“Take my advice: put it on the market and take the first offer you get. You’ll thank me in the long run.”
As you can tell, I’ve been through this a few times before, but that’s no reason to be discouraged. There are two cars that really have my attention at the moment: the Subaru SVX and BMW 850. Let’s start with the Japanese transport of delight.
To me, this is a fantastic example of a big night on the sake in the marketing department. Flushed with the recent success with the boxer-engined all-wheel-drive platform, some clown decided the company really needed to make a statement – something that people would remember, and would pay a motza for. This could, finally, be the entry into the premium end of the market.
Clearly, to break the corporate mould (why stick with what works…?!) we need to haul in an Italian designer. Enter the legendary Giugiaro. Now before you start muttering about the effects of long-term vino abuse, I happen to like the look of this car. The aircraft-style glasshouse has a lot of appeal and the long-low GT look works.
Of course, Subaru sold barely enough to fill a shipping container and now the remaining owners are so delirious that they’re advertising them at anything from $3000 to $23,000. So take a punt on the cheap one, even though they’re hideously complex? It’s somehow weirdly tempting.
Number two on my shopping list is BMW’s 850. The company famously threw somewhere in the vicinity of $US1 billion at the development of this car and sold barely enough to cover staff lunch room expenses. Somehow I scored an invitation to the local launch of these things and got to take one home afterwards. At the time it was worth more than my house – really – and was far more comfortable. I did seriously consider moving in.
Anyway, there were a lot of firsts with this car: early use of full computer aided design (unusual at the time), adoption of CANbus technology in an effort to simplify the complex wiring demands, all wrapped in a long, low, sleek and sexy body designed by – wait for it – Klaus Kapitza. Never heard of him, which is okay as he’s probably never heard of me, either.
Shoe-horned under Klaus’s seminal bodywork is a long and lovely V12. Not sure what the compelling attraction with V12s is, but I’m feeling something like a gravitational pull from the things and it’s only a matter of time before one ends up in the shed. However 850s seem to be a bit thin on the ground at the moment and are getting expensive.
Which may be enough to send me scuttling back to my first V12 option, a Jag XJS. Speaking of orphans…