Charlie Cooke is thinking of investing in a weekend toy, and has a budget of around £25,000. He really fancies something with two seats and a lot of grip – maybe a Porsche Cayman – though he is open to any ideas. He would prefer a coupé rather than a convertible as he feels that he would like something which he can enjoy all year round. This would make a great Christmas present, although Charlie knows that he will have to wait until the New Year to realise his dream.
A car for the head
Actually, what we have here is two cars for the heart, really. There is certainly no shortage of options, especially with such a generous budget. However, a high performance coupé which is both rare and great value, is the Vauxhall Monaro. Built in Australia and sold in selected Vauxhall dealerships, it may seem ridiculous with its huge V8 engine. Some would regard it as a mad, modern day Ford Capri, which handles in a reassuringly old-fashioned manner. At the heart of the Monaro's appeal has to be the fact that it costs sensible money to run. The servicing intervals are every 10,000 miles and will cost £136, rising to a maximum of £189 – and even the major 50,000 mile service is no more than £300. Last Christmas was the price low-point for Monaros, but the situation has certainly changed since then, as values have firmed up massively and it is now unrealistic to shop for early cars below £10,000. Realistically they are £11-£12,000, and a 2005 VXR is around £14,000 in modified form. Mileages are usually very low because few get used as everyday transport. I found a one-owner, full service history 2006 6.0 V8 VXR, with just 19,118 miles on the clock, at £16,450
A car for the heart
A Nissan 350Z, is a good, old-fashioned, aggressive, and slightly brutish car that in recent years you had to buy from TVR but it was not only cheaper but a million times more reliable than the TVR. With a 300bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine driving the rear wheels, and a six-speed manual gearbox, it's a very purposeful coupé that can his 60mph in seven seconds. That engine makes a great sound and is very flexible even at low speeds. It's not that practical of course, although the driver and front-seat passenger have plenty of head and leg space. The 350Z is well kitted out as standard, and features 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, xenon headlamps, electric front windows, remote central locking, and a CD multichanger. Sat-nav was available from 2006. The optional GT pack adds electrically adjustable and heated leather seats, cruise control and an upgraded stereo. There is also a lot to like about the roadster. Without the lid, you get an aural assault from the V6 engine, which sings heartily as you wring out its 300bhp. For £16,000 you can get a 2006 example, with around 20,000 miles, with a full service history.
Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at email@example.com, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.