Three ways to enter a vaccinated world with a big grin on your face

By PH Staff / Sunday, February 7, 2021 / Loading comments

Ariel Nomad, 2019, 330 miles, £69,950

I'll be honest, the Nomad is not a weekly obsession. I think about it almost daily. It is a fixture in my three-car fantasy garage (three car being the one where you have to make really tough calls). It has been that way for a long time, since I first drove it in fact. This might have something to do with where I first drove it – Longcross Studios, otherwise known as Chobham proving ground, otherwise known as 300 acres of adult male playground.

This is the perfect setting for the Nomad. Because while it obviously works off-road, what you really want is loads of weirdly spacious, unmonitored tarmac to lark about on. And that's what the former MOD site provides. Of course it also helps if the Nomad you're driving comes with the optional, ridiculously expensive WRC-grade suspension and the hydraulic handbrake. Because then things get deeply, possibly even absurdly brilliant.

One of two Nomads in the classifieds has the latter, and is therefore better. It also has the supercharger for the 2.4-litre Honda motor, and while I'm not suggesting that is essential, it does make things that bit more exciting. As does access to a deserted tank testing facility. But the Nomad is still scintillating everywhere else, too. Particularly in a fantasy garage under a fantasy house. NC

Vauxhall Monaro 6.0 VXR, 2005, 13k, £19,995

In the grand scheme of things, £20,000 is not an awful lot of money for a car. It’s still about £19,800 more than I can currently afford to spend, but it feels like a reasonable amount – especially with interest rates currently so low.  

Look in certain places and it’ll seem like £20k doesn’t get much at all. Then there’s the Vauxhall Monaro. For £19,995, this is perhaps the best one in the UK: a later 6.0-litre model (but early enough for the cheaper tax), it has just 13,500 miles recorded, 16 stamps in the service book and boasts flawless Phantom Black paint. I like Monaros enough to be tempted by CV8s with intergalactic mileages and £7k price tags; this one looks a truly fantastic example. 

The Monaro’s appeal was clear enough for all to see 15 years ago: it looked good, sounded even better and didn’t cost a lot of money. Nowadays, with the genre not so much under threat as borderline extinct, the big Vauxhall seems well worth saving. As more and more performance cars need a racetrack – and a hefty options spend – to perform at their best, so the easygoing charm of a muscle car is plain enough. Especially one that costs less than a new Fiesta ST. MB

DS 3 Performance Black, 2016, 49k, £11,495

You won’t need me to tell you that the DS 3 Performance is rare in Britain. When was the last time you saw one in the wild? According to How Many Left, there are just 164 on the road in the UK, and only 51 of them are in the ‘Black’ guise you see here. But while it’s true this Citroen-turned-DS always struggled to sell, it’s also correct that the 3 Performance is a very handy hot hatch indeed. Albeit one with some questionable design features which probably did it no favours in the showroom.

I actually ran a Performance Black long termer for awhile, and while I never felt particularly proud of the gold details or chintzy dash, the chassis was great and the 208hp engine genuinely exciting. I did a track day in it and it absolutely shone, cocking an inside rear at every opportunity. So it’s fair to say I have a soft spot for the car, even though it did throw on a few dash lights now and then during my ‘ownership’. I never saw another 3 Performance on the road back then – and I haven’t since.

As such, I’ll confess to being pleasantly surprised to see one crop up in the PH classifieds. At £11,495 this 2016, 49k-mile car seems like decent value for money, as it’s a bit over half the original price. It looks tidy and dare I say it, the DS details – namely the LED lights and flash wheels – mean it doesn’t look dated at all. Barring, of course, that god awful painted dash. I’d be getting that wrapped in black straight away. Then you’d be left with an inoffensive alternative to the Fiesta ST that’s about a thousand times rarer. SS

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