Daily Classics

Its 9am on a Monday morning and I’ve just stepped off the sweaty, germ infested Dart. I leave the station and there, number one; an E30 BMW 320i coupe. I absolutely love the E30, Especially the 320i. BMW in its prime time with one of the best straight six engines it has produced.

e30 320i

I continue along up onto college Green and spot a Mercedes W123. Another usual suspect on the classic scene. The W123 was one of the best selling Mercs with over 2.7million sold from 1976 to 1985 so they’re not exactly rare. This, however, doesn’t mean they aren’t at all cool, extremely old school! Its definitely a well established model and certainly going to be knocking around for years to come.

w123-mercedes-benz-automobiles-de-luxe-1024x682

So the aforementioned cars aren’t exactly exciting to many but my next usual spot is one of my favorites and I completely respect the gent who drives this. A 1970’s Porsche 911. I know, I’m being very vague with the ‘1970’s’ part but we all know there are WAY too many Porsche models to remember. This however stands out like, well a 70’s Porsche in modern traffic! It needs no comparison. Its retro brown exterior paint and beige tartan interior sticks out amongst the bland silver, black and white SUVs and saloons. Its Porsche flat-six engine burbles charismatically above all the diesel Insignias and A4s. Don’t even get me started on the smell of petrol which is left lingering in the air minutes after it has passed…. This is getting just too much for me!

1970-porsche-911s-brown-685x400

These aren’t the only daily Classics I see. I cross paths with countless MGBs, various Morris Minors and even sometimes the odd Fiat 500 or Range Rover would pass. On a good day, usually during the Summer, I might see a Merc SL or the likes. The classic car culture in Ireland is, generally, quite good.

Anyway, the point of this post? Are classics just as good daily drivers as a modern car could be? Well I spoke to some owners to find out;

I spoke to Mike Richards about his Triumph Spitfire.
Drives: a 1973 Triumph Spitfire.
Why Mike chose the Spitfire as his daily classic: “My daily classic is a 1973 Triumph Spitfire MKIV. It started out for me as a style thing. I always liked the looks of old cars when my dad got his TR6 I found that I liked working on them as well. So I ended up getting my own”.
Why Mike prefers it to a modern car: “For one I enjoy working/ fettling it, trying to make it better. Modern cars just don’t feel the same. With no power steering and no brake servo I feel like I’m in direct contact with the road. I like that I have to work hard driving it. For example; heavy pedals, heavy steering and having to rev match and heel toe. It just makes for a more involved driving experience in my opinion”.

Triumph_Spitfire_Mk4_1973_1This is not Mikes actual car.
Any downsides to driving a classic as a daily driver: “Rust prevention isn’t fun and finding rust holes. Having to leave early to avoid traffic to prevent overheating. Remote locking would be nice. After a long day having to unlock the doors and take the roof down in the cold can be unpleasant. Lastly the fuel bill. My car runs best on premium and has to be at least 95 octane. Just makes filling the tank a kick in the wallet”.

Next I spoke to Brendan Walls, a classic car fanatic, I know Brendan through the Triumph Classic Owners Club. Brendan’s garage and car collection never ceases to amaze me. Cars are always coming and going, whether they’re his or club members cars. Theres always space for at least one more. The last time I was at his garage I counted 13 cars. Do you want a list? Well you’re getting one anyway:
Mini Cooper
Triumph TR7 V8 DHC
1300 Triumph Dolomite
Triumph Stag Rover – V8 conversion
Triumph 2500Pi Estate
Land Rover Range Rover
Triumph 2000 saloon – restoration project
Triumph Spitfire – restoration project
Mini 1275GT
Range Rover 2 door – Restoration project
Triumph GT6 – Restoration project
2 Daimler Double Sixes – Absolutely gorgeous motors!
AND a motor boat – Forgive me, but I have absolutely no clue what one it was other than that it was pretty big and could somehow still fit in the garage!

3 cars BrenJust three of Brendans many treasures.

Since this mental list was taken, Brendan has added and subtracted cars from his collection. He has sold one Stag…and then bought another, he has sold one TR7 V8.. and then bought another, he has sold one Daimler and then…bought a Volvo! The Volvo is Brendans usual weekend daily classic, a 1979 Volvo 244 DL. Finished in a typically 70’s, poo brown*.
*Not an actual Volvo colour name, but you get what I mean!

Drives: a 1979 Volvo 244 DL
Why Brendan chose the Volvo as his daily classic: Brendan says that one reason he is restricted to using his Volvo is that his Classic insurance policy only allows 3000-3500 miles to be driven per year. When he does use it, though, he likes how comfortable it is. When the Volvo 244 was released back in 1974, Volvo was known for its safety features in its engineering. This, along with its comfort, helped gain popularity amongst families. Volvo went on to produce 1.4 million units of the 240 Series between 1974 and 1993.

Volvo 244 DL
Why Brendan prefers it to a modern car: He likes to work on classics rather than modern cars as they are simple. He mentions how he doesn’t have to deal with computers or electronics so therefore he considers it more reliable. 
Any
downsides to driving a classic as a daily driver: The only thing that Brendan could think was that on a cold, dark night the Volvo isn’t be as warm as a modern car and that the wind screen takes that little bit longer to demist. The things we sacrifice for for our classics, eh?
Brendan doesn’t worry too much about rust as the cars are always kept in the garage.

Volvo 244 DL 2

So a daily classic, does it make sense? I think so.  They add a bit of character and charm to this diesel, hybrid and electric car invested world. Also, owners can avail of classic road tax, €56, and insurance which can be as little at €200.

Until I can find someone willing to insure me on the TR6, I’ll just have to stick with the DART.

“Ta-lah” – Mike Brewer

Sixt Leasing CorporateCar Sharing

Today saw the launch of a new concept of Corporate Car sharing by Sixt Leasing in Ireland. Sixt have already implemented this in other countries across Europe but will now offer it for businesses to introduce into their companies in Ireland.

SixtCCS1

What is it?

Exactly as it says on the tin, it is a car sharing service that companies can introduce to their business to cut costs. For example; If the business has three or four employees doing an airport run, rather than each of them taking their own company cars, they can all take the one car. Therefore saving on mileage, insurance costs, fuel, etc.

A run down of how the service works:
• Once an employee is registered they will receive an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip card.
• Drivers book and schedule the use of a car like they would with a         meeting room.
• Cars are opened with employees’ RFID chip cards
• The black box in the car communicates simultaneously with the           central management system and track the situation of the car, and     scheduled bookings; that is, this service provides a total                             management of the car usage.
• The stations are created depending on companies needs.

So far Peugeot have partnered with Sixt and offer the 308, 3008 and 5008 for long journeys and offer the Peugeot iOn for short commutes and city based journeys. ESB were on hand to talk about the vast amount of charging points available throughout the country, just under 2000 Fast and Standard charge points are dotted around the country.

Peugeot_iOn_compact_styling
The P
eugeot iOn

Now, you may be thinking that the good thing about having a company car to yourself is that you can use it as freely as you like. Well Sixt have not taken this privilege away. They allow businesses to offer their cars to employees at the weekends. The employee just has to book the car in advance, then collect and drop it off at the dedicated Sixt station.

This idea is similar to GoCar, a service whereby someone can take a car from any station placed around Dublin city and use it for a fee. Corporate Car Sharing allows a company to lease a car and give it to an employee to use. Cars can be booked with Sixt online in advance.

Three cheap alternatives to the Ford Focus RS

Today was the global launch of the new Ford Focus RS. Of course the news was just SO good that pictures of the new car were leaked hours before the launch:

RS 1 RS 2 RS 3

Looks impressive, eh? It boasts 323bhp and an All Wheel Drive system. It shares the same engine that will be seen in the new Mustang, a 2.3 Ecoboost.

The Focus RS is a hardcore Hot Hatch, the previous generation had a chassis that was as fitting for the road as it was for the track. It had an engine note that could melt your heart!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-xJN87Ur7g

As we all know, us students are on a tight budget and unless the bank of daddy will allow it, we wouldn’t be able to afford a brand new car. Not even a glorified Ford Focus. But for the petrol heads among us, we have a certain ‘need’ for a car. So here is a list of warm hatches that won’t leave you surviving on €2 chicken fillet rolls until your next pay day:

Ford Focus ST170

I couldn’t have started with anything other than a Ford, so why not chose the Focus ST170. Ford used to dominate the hot hatch market with all kinds of fast Fords including the XR2 and XR3 and even some tuned by Cosworth. So when the ST170 was launched in 2002, Ford hoped it could bring back the good old glory days.

The first thing to be commended on the ST170 is the steering. This generation of Focus is said to be one of the best cars on a budget in terms of handling and steering feel. This motif is carried on in the ST, it is very responsive, communicative and predicted when pressing on.

55496_00mg

The ST is powered by a 2.0 litre straight four Cosworth tuned engine. It gives out 170bhp and achieves a 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds and is good for up to 216km/h.

The styling on the ST is quite tame and ordinary compared to its rivals but fear not, this hot hatch is definitely fit for the track. The interior is very Ford but is complete with full Recaro seats and an optional subwoofer stereo.

Fords are generally praised for reliability but there are some known issues with the ST. One being a vibrating and sticking accelerator pedal. Both can be solved with a simple cable change. However keep an eye on the throttle bodies for a build up of dirt and grime. A ‘rattle’ noise is never good and some STs suffer a from a rattling sound coming from the engine bay. The rattle noise may be heard when the engine is running and it would be more likely to be the manifold heatshield that is coming loose. Have a closer look at the area where the nuts are, you may find it has rusted away, where the heatshield come off from it easily. A replacement heatshield will fix this.

As with the other cars I have lined up, the Focus ST is a big engined sports hatch and this is exactly how insurance companies see it. Expect outrageous quotes for this little monster and be willing to part with €710 for road tax.

Audi S3

This article wouldn’t be complete without a stubborn German hatch. Queue the Audi S3, a 1.8 litre 210 or 225bhp Quattro hot hatch. The S3 was unleased to the world of motoring in 1999. It was not all new, It shared the same chassis, engine and Haldex system as the Audi TT. So what was new then you ask? Pretty much just the body and interior. This wasn’t so bad as many thought the TT had very feminine styling. Very well then S3, do your thing.

Audi-S3-001
Audi-S3-009

The later 225bhp S3 is the one to go for. The earlier 210bhp model didn’t hold up against its TT cousin. In 2003 when the 225bhp was launched, Audi had changed things for the better. Firmer springs were added, improved damper control and better balance lead to better handling and weightier steering for the car. Another thing it boasted was short gear ratios giving a 0-100km/h time of just 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 243km/h.

Inside the S3 is equipped with proper Recaro sport seats. This gives the Audi a real sporty touch, all you need now is a track underneath you and petrol in the tank and the Audi is set to go.

The S3 seems to have very generic faults:
Waterpump: Prone to failing at about causing overheating a damage
to thermostat.
Track rod ends and wishbone bushes worn.
Rear Springs; corrode and snap at the base. This seems to the worst problem on the S3. Make sure to have a good look around the suspension set up and make sure everything is still intact and there is no evidence of corrosion.

Now for the running costs. Insurance companies know all about the S3 and will come down hard on this even though its a 1.8 litre. Expect to pay a high price. Road tax on the other hand is €636 a year but only €179 per 3 months, pocket change!

Renault Clio RenaultSport 172 – Phase 1

And of course I could not have ended without a crazy French hatch. The Clio RenaultSport 172 was the successor for the Williams of the previous generation Clio. As the name suggests, it had 172bhp coming from a brutal naturally aspirated straight four 2.0 engine. All this combined with a curb weight of 1050kg made the Clio RS an absolute loon, or ‘fou’ en français. Clio 172 1

The Clio is making all the right noises so far but it did not come without its problems. As the Clio was launched back in 2000, a Phase 1 could be up to 15 years old at this stage and unless it fell into the right hands it may have had a hard life. They are cheap to buy but be careful.

One crucial thing to look out for is whether the cam belt and associated auxiliary belt and tensioners have been replaced. This needs to be changed every 72,000 miles or five years, whichever is sooner, so even a low mileage car should have this done. The belts and other parts are cheap, but a Renault dealer could charge a bomb for labour so budget for this with any car you consider.

Another important job to look out for is the Gearbox mounts. As with the engine, the gearbox is generally long-lived and tough, but can have its problems. Most notably, the gearbox mounts fail as they have a hard time coping with the beastly engine’s power and this is usually first spotted as a knocking noise in first and second gears. Replacement mounts are cheap and take two hours to fit or you can upgrade to race spec ones to cure the problem for much longer.

So, taking into to account these problems the Clio is a good shout. Plenty of power, good handling and proper French styling. But one must remember that they are taxing and insuring a 2.0 litre car. Road tax falls in at €710 a year and insurance will vary, obviously. But for under 25’s be prepared to pay a high price. A true petrolhead will suck up these crazy insurance prices though!

Price:

Ford Focus ST170 – The ST seems to be very rare on Irish roads so if you’re lucky enough to come across one for sale expect to between €3000 and €6000 for a decent car.

Audi S3 – A good S3 often comes up on Donedeal or Adverts now and then. Again, one should expect to pay around €3000-€5000 for a good car.

Clio 172 – There are tons of 172s knocking around so make sure you go for the right one. One in bad condition can be got for as little as €1000 but if you are looking for one that is in decent shape and needs minimal jobs expect to pay around €4000, anymore than that and you’re entering into Clio 182 territory.