Oliver Baum reckons he has a tricky question, and it certainly is a fascinating one and a bit different for Car Choice. He wants to reduce the number of cars he owns from five to two, one for him and one for her indoors, Mrs Baum. He currently has a Lynx Eventer, Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo, old Mini, MG Express and Renault Avantime.
What a brilliantly eclectic collection. My first reaction is to keep them all; just tuck the older vehicles away in winter and enjoy them in good weather. That, of course, isn't the answer, although Oliver does his best to justify keeping them all.
The Lynx Eventer is a Jaguar XJS estate, which Oliver says is a bit different and puts a smile on his face. The Lotus Esprit S3 Turbo fulfils his James Bond fantasies and puts a big smile on his face. The Mini is his first car. The MG Express is a Rover 25 van with a spoiler, which Oliver reckons is a bit different, and practical for work and carrying dogs. The Avantime is essentially the family car.
No one car can do everything you want it to, however much they are badged as multipurpose. And environmentalists who reckon it's evil to have more than one car should realise that families who live beyond the reach of the public transport networks have no alternative. That's a debate for another day - so let's whittle this fleet down to a carefully matched pair.
A CAR FOR THE HEAD
This should be easy, although there are three vehicles vying for the practicality vote. First, the old Mini. Four seats, small, frugal and potentially cheap to run. Then the Rover van; how practical is that? Finally, the wonderfully exotic Renault Avantime.
First question; how big is Oliver's family? Once the dogs and Mrs Baum are on board, both the old Mini and the MG van will be full. That leaves the Avantime, itself only a three-door (although the front doors are huge). It just worries me what damage the dogs will do to the back seats.
The conundrum is that if Oliver carries extra non-dog passengers, he's going to need the Avantime. If not, the van is the practical answer. Then again, that puts the Lynx Eventer back in the frame, because (depending on the size of Oliver's dogs) there is room for both people and pups in the back of that. However, I'd be inclined to stick with the Avantime; it is such a wonderfully individual vehicle and has become a cool classic. There is also the small matter that depreciation has been horrendous, so Oliver should stick with it.
A CAR FOR THE HEART
Oliver should sell the MG Express, but I reckon the Mini is so small (and it would be wicked to separate Oliver from it) that it ought to be tucked away somewhere. The words "high" and "maintenance" were coined for a car like a Lotus Esprit. As much as Oliver might love pretending he's Bond, I reckon he might be feeling a bit fed up with the Esprit. Never an easy or relaxing car to drive, I think that perhaps he might want to give his wallet a rest. The Jaguar is much more laid-back and less frenetic; still sexy, but in a much more subtle way. It won't turn heads but it will get admiring glances.
Its economy is not wonderful, but that's not the point and, as Oliver said, it puts a smile on his face. Mostly, though, the Eventer bodywork made the XJS prettier and obviously more practical, so it must be the back-up for the Avantime - plus the fact that it is a genuine rarity, as only 60 or so were converted.
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