Costs so far have been numerous and bitty, so I won’t hazard any guesses as to the total. The largest was a £400 outlay on fixing the rear bumper and a wheel-arch dent. More tweaks are planned and I won’t be counting the costs too closely…
My concours winner: Audi A6 (Mike Duff)
In what was quite a black-heavy year for ‘our cars’, Mike’s A6 Avant caught my eye. The A6 has always to me been the essence of Audi: more spacious than the A4 yet just as neutral in its styling, no hint of ostentation and as crisp as the day it left the factory. Well bought, Mike.
Jesse Crosse: BMW X5 3.0 Sport
Over my dead body: that was my first thought just over two years ago when some mates in the trade suggested a 2005 E53-generation X5 3.0 Sport as a cheap rally service barge, tow vehicle and daily workhorse. “What about mileage?” I asked with a worried frown, as I was looking at a 100k-miler for the £6000-£7000 I wanted to spend.
“Doesn’t matter,” said my pals. “They don’t go wrong.” My first choice, a Land Rover Discovery 4, was still way too expensive and everything else of that age and size was agricultural. I had a quick word with James Ruppert, who also had a petrol X5, and my mind was made up.
At the time I was running a Kia Sportage KX-3, bought new on PCP, but it wasn’t big enough for all the rally gear I carried and I’d decided that PCP wasn’t great value for money. Because I’m happy fixing things if they break, it made sense to go back to something older and cheaper. Repayments were costing £330 a month, so in less than two years, I’d break even on an X5 if nothing went horribly wrong.
I ended up paying £6900, plus £270 having the inevitably kerbed wheels refinished back to factory spec. I managed to find one with the factory removable tow bar and fitted a reversing camera hooked up to the built-in screen for £50 as a DIY job.
Two years on I love it and have no plans to sell (although I still fancy a Disco 4). It’s powerful, refined and fun to drive, it tows 3.5 tonnes and I’ve now warmed to the lovely, timeless design. I get around 28mpg and I’ve spent about £500, including labour, on a couple of oil changes and a new condenser and dryer for the air-con system. Bargain.
My concours winner: BMW 320 (James Ruppert)
The first 3 Series I drove was the E30 generation when it was new, so seeing James’s beautiful E21 was a real treat. It has that genuine patina of a car that’s seen plenty of life while looking like it has plenty of life left in it.
The one that got away:
Ben Summerell-Youde: Volkswagen T3 Syncro
My van isn’t a new addition, having featured on these pages for the past few years, but I did more with it in 2017 than ever before. After a major refurbishment, my Syncro was put to the test on a round-France camping trip, during which it performed reliably.
I had wanted to sneak in a couple of runs up the quarter-mile at Santa Pod. Unfortunately, the clutch went just a few miles into the drive there and left me stranded. The issue was partly a legacy of a recent day of off-roading, because a small gap in the bell housing had allowed all kinds of mud and dirt to foul the clutch.