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Old Jun 18 2021, 08:58 PM   #5874
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Zelandeth's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Milton Keynes

Fan of: Dragonsdawn
Now Reading: Working my way through the whole Pern series
Default Re: What is happening

I've been having a bit of a think about the medium to long term future for my little automotive fleet lately.

The fact is that I have too many cars. That's a simple fact and is meaning that none of them are really getting as much TLC as they deserve. I also am utterly out of space! We were hoping to address that soon but have been getting absolutely nowhere with trying to get quotes to get the back garden and driveway sorted out. Out of half a dozen contractors who were meant to be visiting only one turned up and exuded the distinct aura of "I really don't want this job" and wanted somewhere in the region of £50K for the work. Our target was less than half that! Having so many cars on the drive results in me suffering a lot of decision paralysis when trying to pick which jobs to do day to day...which then results in nothing getting done.

The Xantia is a wonderful car and unquestionably the most universally capable motors I've ever owned. I think only my blue Saab has come close. She isn't getting any younger now, and is getting to the point where she deserves to be pulled back from front line daily duties I feel and be actually preserved. It's really hard to keep on top of little jobs when a car is in use all the time and she's had a growing to do list for years now.

I just worry that being in daily use in all traffic and weather conditions is going to wind up running the car into the ground. The last winter definitely hasn't done any favours where rust is concerned, the underside in general needs a really good clean and blasting with Dinitrol (or similar...other brands are available, that's just what I use by default).

She's such a well known car I'd love to see her properly tidied up cosmetically and be enjoyed as a weekend toy and to start making appearances at shows again...but I don't see either of those things happening in my ownership unless my circumstances changed a lot. Showing the car is trickier for me as if I'm at most shows I'd tend to be wanting to take the Invacar/Jag/van instead of as well...and I don't have a second driver these days!

The Jag...well it's lovely. However as far as an actual car goes makes about as much sense as an ashtray on a motorbike. If I had somewhere under cover to store it I could see me keeping it longer term...but living outside I can already visibly see the bodywork deteriorating since I bought it. Plus my parts supply situation has become far more of a pain since Brexit as somewhat ironically the best source of many parts for it seems to be the US.

I love it...but unless we were to move into a house with a large double (or bigger) garage I just can't justify it really...if I do there are going to be Substantial bills down the line for remedial bodywork repairs, and that's a rabbit hole I just don't want to fall down. It's also a pig awkward enough car to work on that a lot of what would normally be simple driveway jobs really want to be done under cover. Changing the alternator belt for example ended up taking me a whole afternoon, and ended up with half an ant colony having crawled under my shirt.

Van: This is pretty safe. It fills an obvious niche, is genuinely useful, especially if we want to travel with the dogs for any distance, and isn't something I could replace for anywhere near what I paid for it. So long as I keep on top of things the value should only go one way. It may be replaced with something a bit bigger one day, but until then is safe enough.

Invacar: Obviously a long term fleet member that's going nowhere. Having resurrected the car from so near scrap status I'm quite attached to it. Plus I know that since I picked it up that demand for them has soared and that demand is massively outstripping I'd really struggle to get another. Being tax exempt and costing me something daft like £50 a year to insure while doing 40-ish mpg means she's about as close to free motoring as you get.

BX: I'm reserving judgement on this until I've at least driven the car a bit. Really do need to get my finger out and get the poor thing on the road...really not much needed to get there either. See my earlier point about having too many cars.

Long term I really want to bring something modern into the fleet. While I don't commute, I really do want to have something which I can just rely on to serve the duty of being "an car" from day to day. It would also be wonderful to have something modern enough that if we're on a longer trip that I can actually share driving duties with Chris or Abby. They're both modern car only people who really aren't comfortable driving anything in my fleet. Abby will just about stand for the Xantia, but is clearly worried about every noise it makes - and them not being at ease means I can't relax as a passenger, so defeats the purpose of trying to share the load while on longer trips.

So while the Invacar and Van would be sticking around to fill the classic car niche, the Jag, Xantia and maybe BX would move on and be replaced by something newer.

The question though is what? The list of things I want is pretty simple:

[] Ability to seat four adults comfortably, a fifth seat for occasional use would be a bonus too.
[] Big boot. Ideally big enough the dogs can travel there if needed.
[] Climate control. Hadn't realised now nice to be able to dial in a temperature and just leave things set to auto was until I had that on the Xantia.
[] Heated seats.
[] Decent stereo with proper modern connectivity to my phone etc.
[] Good amount of poke. The Xantia and the Jag have made me realise that while I'm not Jeremey Clarkson, I do like having a decent amount of grunt available. The torque available from a standing start in the Jag is particularly addictive.
[] Light coloured interior.
[] Panoramic roof is one of the common features on quite a few modern cars I really like.
[] ULEZ compliant. I have two friends who live within the London ULEZ as it stands now, and several more within the expanded one that's being brought in later this year. My nan lives within the one they're bringing in Birmingham soon...and there's talk of one in Aberdeen too. So let's just tick that box so it's something else I don't need to worry about.

The biggest sticking point though is that it needs to be something I actually find interesting and would actually still feel proud to see on the driveway and enjoy driving. Otherwise I'd just use my sensible head and probably go pick up something like a couple of year old Skoda Superb Estate. Well if I didn't find every seat that VAG have produced since about 2003 to be catastrophically uncomfortable because I'm a totally different shape to the Industry Standard Human they seem to be modelled after anyway. You get the idea though...if I didn't actually care what the car was, there are any number of options for White Goods like cars out there which would tick the options on my list. As it is though, I'm a car person so do want something interesting.

After a lot of thought, head scratching and idly poking Autotrader hoping something interesting would fall out I eventually came to a conclusion. It surprised me so the exercise was re-run a bunch of times, and I kept coming back to the same result. The modern car that I actually want to put on my driveway is a Tesla Model S. It's just the only truly modern car I've been in in the last ten years which really left a positive impression on me and wasn't at best utterly forgettable or falls foul of one of my requirements above. There were a few Volvos in there, but none of the ones I'd be interested in are ULEZ complaint, and cost about a million pounds a year to tax.

Not a new one obviously...lottery win nonwistanding. Probably five years or so old is where I'd be aiming. This isn't something I'm going to be pulling the trigger on for a while anyway, so I've got time to keep an eye on used prices. I'm just hoping that the growing popularity of the Model X and 3 and them being more common will see the prices drop a bit...rather than the growth of low emission zones push them up. Just have to wait and see I guess! Either way it'll be quite a protracted shopping exercise...if I'm spending that much on a car you absolutely bet I'm going to be picky about spec!

[] Dual motor version...because if we're doing this we may as well do it properly. Do I really need north of 400bhp? Absolutely not. Do I *want* it? Absolutely. I can't see the launch ability in those cars ever getting old. I'm not actually too fussed about what battery size it has, even the P70D has more than enough range for me to live with comfortably, and I think the 90 and 100 are likely to be the most common by the time I start shopping anyway. 99% of the places I go that are far enough away for it to matter are on the Supercharger network too which helps... I'm not someone who tends to run down to the wire range wise even in a petrol car so don't thing range anxiety is something I'll really suffer with.
[] It must be a colour. Absolutely NOT silver or white. Preferred colour is the deep metallic blue, though I'd happily live with red if it otherwise ticked all the boxes.
[] Light coloured upholstery. I like that Tesla offer that option but still with dark carpets which I'm sure makes it way easier to live with.
[] Probably the biggest headache to find as it seems to be a rare option in the UK is that I want the trim inlays to be the more traditional looking wood effect. I just really like the contrast that gives against the otherwise very modernist design. I'd not consider a car with the silver or piano black trim. I know that sounds like a silly detail to discount a car over...but the interior is the bit of a car as a driver I see the most of, so it's an area I'm going to be picky about.

I know they're not cars without their faults, and I'm definitely going to make sure I get some proper time behind the wheel before I actually put a deposit down on anything. I've spent about an hour driving one to date, but that was quite a while ago. My overwhelming memory though was that it felt like I was driving the car of the future done right. I know the interior fit and finish isn't up to Audi standards and that a lot of people find the seats a bit hard and it sounds like if you get one with electronic gremlins you can be in for a world of pain (which is why I'll definitely be buying from a dealer and making sure there is a warranty provided!). They're Marmite cars and I fully accept that, I think people love them or hate them and there's not much middle ground.

I just like them though, and I think one would really fit my needs (especially given that a lot of my journeys are pretty short) down to a T. The fact that Tesla took the whole idea of a car and tried to do something new with the way everything was packaged and how it all works gets points from me in today's world where cars in general are getting more and more samey by the day. Chris' work will contribute a substantial chunk towards installation of a home charging point too which would be a nice bonus, as it's an expensive enough thing to be thinking about as it is!

It's been an interesting thought exercise to be honest even if nothing comes from it for a long while.

In the meantime there are some things I really want to try. I really need to own a Volvo, having been a die hard Saab fan since I was about five, I just feel duty bound to sample their most obvious competitor. I've also never been in a Volvo I didn't like. I also really want my Jeep. I've wanted a Cherokee since I first saw one on their UK debut in 1993 however have utterly failed to buy one so far. Nearly bought a lovely looking one in Limited SE spec back just before I got the Lada back in 2016, right up till the point where the seller discovered that the carpet was basically holding the underbody together! Finding an early one at all now is getting really hard, much less a decent one that's not been off-roaded to death and at a vaguely sane price. I'd love a Citroen CX or XM too... though this needs to be something I can treat more or less as a daily driver so lower maintenance is kinda a priority, so that rules those out really...Otherwise I'm just going to end up with *another* car on the driveway!
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