A friend has just bought a Lancia Fulvia – a lovely, low-mileage pre-Fiat example from 1969. I went round to see it and he had the bonnet open and was happily tinkering away, adjusting the timing and the mixture. It struck me that I miss doing that with cars – modern engines are so packed with electronics that there’s less you can do yourself.
I was reminded of a column that Rowan Atkinson wrote in Car magazine many years ago. He had a collect of supercars, including Aston Martins and a McLaren F1 (as you do) but he was enthusing about a Morris Minor pickup he’d just bought for transporting stuff to the dump. He was delighted at the car’s simplicity and the fact that when he opened the bonnet he know what every component was and what it did.
I grow up fettling cars such as Triumph Spitfires and have fond memories of these little sports cars. I owned several Spitfires but, for some reason, never progressed to my dream Triumph – a GT6. These pretty little coupes were often dubbed poor men’s E-Types on account of their shape. A search online brought up but a handful for sale and part of me is tempted to buy one as a weekend toy. However, going to a rattly old Triumph after getting used to Porsches could be a culture shock too much.
So what about a super-simple Porsche? OK, the obvious choice is a 356 and, I have to admit, I do like these, but they are very old and good ones very expensive. 912, maybe? Well, again I do like these but I like a car that looks like a 911 to perform like a 911.
Stuart Gallagher at GT Porsche suggested a 914. This is a Porsche that’s passed me by. They’re a rare sight in the UK (most were sold in the USA) and I think I’ve only ever driven one once! Mid-engined, just like a Boxster, the 914 offers decent handling and reasonable performance in a surprisingly practical package. The problem, though, is finding one for sale. I did spot one advertised for sale in southern Spain – now that would be a fine road trip home!