Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One thing I’m trying to do in my life is limit the acquisition of stuff. Its not that I’m all of a sudden frugal, but I’d rather spend my money on experiences that have me meet new and maybe different people, go places that I’ve never been and have an opportunity to learn. It the extent an item of ‘stuff’ can facilitate that, I can justify it. I’m not terribly disciplined about this, two of my favorite activities are skiing and surfing, both of which can provide a complete experience with a single set of equipment, but there are two pairs of skis in my storage locker and I’m at four surfboards and counting. Let’s say it’s a work in progress.

Regarding motor vehicles, I have two, Buster my VW camper who has transported Anne Marie and me on numerous adventures and provided free or inexpensive accommodations when we would have otherwise checked into a hotel. The other is Waldo, my Smart FourTwo cabriolet. Ostensibly, Waldo is my daily driver, except he gets used about once a week as I usually bicycle to work and use public transit to get around the city. My thought was to replace Waldo with the Alfa, but that’s probably not a good idea.

Waiting for my flight to Frankfurt on Friday, I ran into an auto industry acquaintance also heading to Frankfurt, so I asked him his opinion. Before he could answer our flight was called so the response waited till we arrived and shared a taxi; I had a workable plan but the wrong vehicle. Buy the Alfa he said, but take it out on a few sunny days each summer and keep the Smart as a daily driver. At the hotel our rooms weren’t ready, so we joined several others for breakfast and received a many opinions and some useable advice.

Every loves the Alfa, but all noted that it begins rusting at the prediction of humidity and Paris is nothing if it’s not damp and rainy. If I want a car that is older than I am, but not my Dad’s then a Porsche or Mercedes SL should be considered. Those are probably outside my budget and the consensus was that if I insist on an old crock, then a British sports car would be a safe choice. They do rust, I was told, but less than anything Italian, plus they are cheap to buy and maintain. But the real advice was to avoid a vintage sports car and get something contemporary that evokes the earlier era, Miata’s, BMW Z3’s, Mercedes SLK’s, Boxster’s and the like. We’ll see, I’m in no rush.



Anonymous jo said...

You are being practical and I do agree with some of their advice, however these are my two cents.
As much as my heritage is Italian and the mere site of their lines and purr of their engines make me a bit weak at the knees they are under the bonnet - Italian. Makers of things shiny and beautiful but not of the best quality. My 81 Fiat spent more time on the back of a flat bed than it did on the road. Underneath the beautiful dashboard was a spaghetti tangle of wires with no true wiring harness. Electrical problems were rife!
My Dad is the director of an auto museum and a life long collector - some of the things I've seen come and go through the garage range from Bentley's to Jags (vintage and new - 8 and 12 cyl, all body styles fro old XK120's to E types to the XJS and sedans), Rolls, Ferrari, Aston Martin (DB's 4 and 7), Range Rovers, Land Rover Defender (Squee! hands down my favorite with giant tires, hella lights, black with loads of chrome), Mercedes (vintage and new), 66 Lincoln convertible, 39 Packard, 40 Ford, Alfa Romeos (GTV and Spyder) - the list could go on. I rolled all the choices around before I chose Panther and after eliminating all the cute but not reliable rust prone cars like the MG, Alfa, Fiat, Sunbeam Alpine, Bug Eye Sprite, I started to look towards more reliable options. I narrowed it down to an old Mercedes with loads of chrome in the vintage SL range like an old 450 convertible and the XJS. I feared the reliability of the old Jag, but I bought one in the years when Ford stuck their hand in the ring and brought a bit of reliability and common sense to the manufacturing process and after the old Prince of darkness Lucas took their electrical parts out. She's been no more expense to run than my Japanese pick up truck but I do drive her as your friends recommend on a few sunny beautiful days. I never drive it in the rain and she will never see snow. The advantage I have over your situation is a garage where she spends her life tucked up and warm.
I still think you will be happier going vintage over the boxster, miata option, but I know you will love every single top down minute of whatever you choose. It's glorious. And not that you need the help...but the men they love a girl who has cool wheels.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

The first new car that I ever purchased was a Fiat 850 Spider two-seater. Wonderful to look at and drive but with severe and inexcusable mechanical flaws. It also rusted out in three years of Canadian weather. Fiat withdrew from Canada. I had friends with a Volkswagen Westphalia camper that they drove for years.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Jo, thanks for your thoughts, and to you and Robert I've received numerous warnings about old Italian cars.

The garage issue is a hassle, currently there is no available space at Buster's storage, but even then it is difficult to get to as it is in the far suburbs and a on the other side of the city from my apartment. That works for the camper as impulsive use is seldom an issue. Now Waldo is garaged under my building, but before it was in a public garage and subject to numerous door scrapes (not dings due to plastic body panels). I don't want to go through that again.

Last weekend at Goodwood, I had the chance to look at, sit in and even drive several cars, most of which I couldn't afford, but it was fun.

8:13 PM  

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