IMAGINE IF YOU will, parked in your modest suburban driveway in a major city, is a new car that costs around two-anda-half times what the house did. These days, thanks to the way the house market has gone nuts, that’s almost unthinkable.

First, let’s chat about the car. It was an E34 in BMW-speak, aka the first 8-series. What got me thinking about this was the Big Drives feature starting on page 102 in this issue, extolling the virtues of the E34 as a used buy. With good reason.

Somehow I ended up on the local launch for the very first 850, which was done in Queensland alongside the then new E31 M5. Weirdly enough, Dave Morley (as in our Morley’s Workshop) was there too. Clearly the security was lax.

It was all done in 1990 at a dinky little track in the Gold Coast hinterland with race legends Alan Jones and Tony Longhurst taking the assorted writers out for joyrides. I’ll never forget the experience of Jones sawing at the wheel of the M5, which was doing some hideous speed, casually turning around and chatting to his passengers. I wanted to blurt, “Very interesting Mr Jones, but will you please just watch the sodding road!” However I was too transfixed by the weirdness of the situation, and the fact his amply-demonstrated lack of knowledge of the laws of physics clearly enabled him to get away with stuff us mere mortals can’t. Well, it’s a theory.

Anyway, the M5 was huge fun thanks to its ratbag-in-a-suit mentality. The 850 V12? At the time, it was a spaceship. V12s in new cars were thin on the ground and the styling – wow. Just wow. At the time I’m not sure I liked it, but it’s grown on me over the years and now I’m a fan.

The best part was, back in Vic, I somehow ended up taking one home for a night and that’s when the reality hit home, because now I was concerned about its security. We’d only recently bought the house and that cost a little under the $90,000. The 850? Two hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Earth dollars, plus on road costs.

At the time, with both of us working to feed a mortgage, two young kids plus assorted cats and dogs, summoning up that sort of money for a car was unthinkable. We’ll stick with the old Kingswood, thanks. And we did.

These days I could actually afford an 850, for two reasons. One is we finally have the bank off our backs, and the other is 850 prices have plummeted.

Let me run a few numbers by you, just for a laugh. In 1990 our house was worth $90k and the Bimmer $220-plus. The hovel is now more like $800k and a good 850i auto can be picked up for $50-65k. Cheap, I reckon.

Now if I’d bought a Falcon GT-HO Phase III the same year, instead of the house, it would have cost me around $70k. That would now be worth anywhere from $600k to a cool mil, assuming of course I hadn’t knocked it around by living in it. So many difficult choices…

Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

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