I usually enjoy buying cars. You may have noticed. But I’m now trying to do something very difficult. I’m trying to replace the XM, which is something I’ve put off for some 18 months. Largely, that’s because it’s a really nice car, but as I’ve covered more and more thousands of miles in it, I’ve also found it very difficult to think what might replace it.
The problem is, I HAVE sold the XM now, and so I need a replacement. Quickly. I’ve done some work today, and an oil and filter change on the Nippa. For the most part though, I’ve been glued to online classified sites. I know my next car is out there, but I can’t find it!
I want something Japanese. Not just because of editing Retro Japanese, but because I genuinely do love stuff from Japan. There’s something very pleasing about Japanese cars. You can feel the efficiency and the thought process. The sort of thinking that ensures the headlight warning sound is just right, yet somehow scatters switchgear over the dashboard as it if the positions were chosen via a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Those switches will operate every time you ask them to though, and feel robust.
Typically, I’ve not got much budget, but that’s no problem. Under a grand, there is a veritable sea of delicious Japanese metal just waiting for a buyer. Luxurious saloons, sporty coupes and rather dreary family cars, I really am finding it hard to focus on what I actually want.
Practicality is a little hard to find. I’d love a Nissan Prairie, but they don’t often come up for sale. A Honda Civic Shuttle might be nice, but they’ve all seemingly disappeared too. There are some 4x4s, but checking the MOT History via the government’s FANTASTIC website reveals that most of them have had catastrophic failures for corrosion. They’re shagged in other words. Quality is certainly in short supply.
After several hours of fruitless searching, in which I genuinely convinced myself that a Toyota RAV4 short-wheelbase was a practical machine, I gave up. There just isn’t a Japanese equivalent of the XM that falls into my price bracket. To be honest, there aren’t many cars at all that manage to be quite so incredibly practical as the XM. It has a boot that you could sell for £1m as a flat in Chelsea, yet the ride and passenger space of a limo. It’ll tow 1500kg. It does 50mpg. That last point is particularly annoying, as Japanese diesels are a relatively new phenomenon really. In the 1990s, where the most affordable bargains currently lie, you’re exposed to Toyota’s head-cracking 2.2 and 2.4 diesels and not a lot else. The Japanese didn’t really get into their oil burners until later in the 1990s. Which means they’re too new.
The search goes on, but my desire to own a tow car is diminishing. I’ve already sold the trailer, am not particularly enjoying caravanning anyway, and am working on a different plan to get my 2CV back home. So, who knows what I’m actually going to end up with…