Underestimated? You bet. Rubbish? I think not!
26/09/2011 in Reviews
Right. Time for quite a subjective topic. Today, I want to talk about cars that, in my humble opinion, are largely underestimated or unknown for various reasons. It’s all too common for a car to never get rid off its initial reception by journalists and motorists. I wonder why. Why would we care what a journalist in 1984 thought, if we are looking to buy today?
So, what type of cars am I talking about exactly? I’m talking about cars that weren’t a particular sales success, or even if they were, they still were despised of by the general public. Yet, I think all of these cars are worth a consideration.
Right, off we go. The cars aren’t listed in any particular order, actually.
1. Renault Avantime
Ok, so this thought-provoking Matra-produced time capsule might have its issues with built quality and fuel consumption, but it might very well flirt with the title of Last True French car. What I mean with that? The French car industry, while getting better and better, is doing so by copying the Germans. What fun is a Peugeot or Renault when it doesn’t squeak or break down?
For less than 10.000 euro, this is in my humble opinion a unique chance to own a piece of history. With only 8.557 ever made, it’s a truly exclusive car too. And with that gas guzzling old-school 3.0 V6, at least you arrive in the French Riviera in style and in (or should I say, ahead of) time. And when the airco breaks down, grab the opportunity to enjoy the great “grand air” feature. All windows (and that’s quite a lot of glass!) including the roof opening with the touch of a single button. Cricky! Check out this beauty.
2. Porsche 924
It’s not very often the ‘lowly’ 924 gets any love. Now, I know I’m slightly biased as this was my very first car and the designer is a Dutch man who -a few years later- also penned the amazing BMW Z1. Setting bias aside, there really is a lot to like about this little ’80 sports car.
Yes, its engine may be based on a VW LT one, and yes, it may have drums as brakes in the rear, and yes, with 125 bhp it’s not really fast in a straight line. However, the transaxle setup with near perfect weight distribution front-to-back makes for a nicely driving car indeed. If, for whatever reason, you’ve never owned a rear-wheel-drive car and you are looking to change that (and you should!), Porsche ownership can start for as little as a few hundred for a banger, but please spend a little more and get a nice example for anywhere from 1.5 to 3 grand. Look for a 1980 or later model to get fully galvanized body and electronic fuel injection, like this one. Good 924′s are a dying breed, get one while you can!
3. Honda Accord Type-R
Now this one is a bit of a stretch. But I thought it’d be a nice idea to include one car suggested by someone else. In this first installment, that “someone else” is the one and only, wait for it, @MajorGav from PetrolBlog. His answer to my -rather vague on purpose- question what was the first car coming to mind when I said underestimated, reasonably priced used car was:
“Genuinely, the first car that came to mind was the
#Honda Accord Type-R. Really not sure why!”
So, there you have it. A car maybe so much underesitmated, that I merely realized it had existed. Now, I must confess that closest thing I’ve ever owned was a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid. I think not even the steering wheel is shared, as it came from the last generation Civic. Nevertheless, we can easily understand the suggestion when looking at the specs. A big naturally aspirated 2.2 liter 4 banger producing two-hundred-and-twenty horsepower (old trick to make it look more, even eighty-two horsepower sounds quite much, really), roughly 1300kg, 0-100 in 7.2 seconds.
More likely than not, it’s going to be hard to find a good example that hasn’t fallen victim to the “lets cover the car with peck, drive through the nearest Halfords and see what’ll stick to it”-type of “tuning”. But if you do find an unmolested example, you’re probably in for a tight steering fast saloon at the very least. And it has four doors and a boot, talk about practicality.
Yours for roughly 8000 euro, it sure beats having to travel in a Toyota Aygo or Kia Picanto. And it’s bound to be more fun. Again, grab one while you can.