I have owned a great many cars – somewhere over 50 – but few get their claws in. The 2CV has managed it, and I keep returning to Citroen BXs but otherwise, few cars leave me wanting another. I sample their delights and then move on.

Alfa 164

A car I should not have sold

One car I would still like very much to own again though is an Alfa Romeo 164 V6. I made the mistake of buying a cheap one. £375, which seemed an absolute steal for one of the best sounding engines, in a beautiful Pininfarina-styled saloon body. The digital climate control even worked.

To be fair, it did get me around a fair bit, and it provided many hours of pleasure. Every opportunity to kick-down the smooth ZF auto gearbox provided a treat of power and sheer music. There was something truly primeval in the growling-then-screaming soundtrack that played havoc with the hairs on my neck. Who cared that the rev counter sometimes packed up? My ears gave me all the feedback I needed. Oh, and the speedometer would sometimes cut out as well.

It all went a bit wrong on a trip to the Cotswolds though, when one of the front brakes began to bind to such a degree that I couldn’t touch the front wheel. It would occasionally do this several times, which rather ruined my enjoyment of it. At the time, unlike now, I’d never tried dismantling and overhauling a brake caliper. A feeble attempt at investigation resulted in a snapped-off bleed nipple and a great degree of colourful language.

Idiotically, rather than fixing it, I lobbed it on Ebay and sold it for £300. £300! For one of the best cars ever made, albeit in slightly shabby condition. Everyone has one of those cars they wish they’d never sold. I rather fear that my Alfa Romeo 164 V6 was mine. There is another, entirely different car that fits this category, which I’ll Blog about soon…

Sweet Music?

Owning a selection of cars is a lot like managing a rock band. Probably.

You need the right ingredients. After selling my Citroen BX, the ‘band’ that is my fleet felt out of balance. It was like the drummer had stopped mid-track and dropped his sticks. Don’t get me wrong though – the BX was no Keith Moon. Rather it was a bit of a Ringo Starr. Didn’t do anything spectacular really, but kept everything together (most of the time), though I don’t think the BX would be any good at narrating Thomas the Tank Engine. Sure, the stripey nature of the car and the trick suspension was perhaps a bit of an Octopus’s Garden, but generally, it provided the rhythm to fleet harmony. With the car gone, harmony departed with it and the fleet was unable to continue its career in any meaningful way. There was only one thing to do. Scout about for a new drummer. The Saab was chosen to fit that role, and while there have been some teething troubles (always tricky when a new musician joins an outfit) it’s poised to take on the Ringo role. Maybe a bit more jazzy like John Densmore of The Doors.

I did try a V8 Land Rover in the role of bassist, but it proved lacking in the thundering bass department, despite 3528cc of American-bred, aluminium engine. Perhaps that was the problem because the Scimitar fits the role rather well. The heavy V6 Essex engine bellow a strident bassline at the world. It isn’t the most exciting of bassists perhaps, lacking the zaniness of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers or sheer oddness of Roger Waters from the mighty Floyd, but it adds that all important lower level noise with plenty of style, while looking good in Seventies vinyl. Suzi Quatro it is then.

The colourful guitar stylings are naturally the home of the Citroen 2CV. It may only pack 602cc but crikey does that light-weight engine sing and scream! It’ll hurt your ears with its force, but don’t let the bark fool you – it’s all cuddly and nice really. Only one band fits the bill for me, being the only force of music that I’ve ever seen that left my ears ringing two days after the concert. After the final song, the lead singer/guitarist just stayed at the microphone and pleasantly asked whether everyone was having a nice time. Aw, he did seem nice. That man is Robb Flynn of Machine Head.

All this leaves the Mini a bit like Linda McCartney in Wings. Pointless and not really necessary. She needs to go, so if you can offer Betsy the Mini a new life, perhaps launching a range of vegetarian food and guest-starring in The Simpsons, please feel free to come and visit with your chequebook open.