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  #1  
Old 01-11-2009, 06:45 AM
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Best car ever...

I've recently read "May on Motors", a book by James May (of Top Gear fame). The book is basically a compilation of his articles in newspapers/magazines usually ranting/making observations about mostly car-related stuff.

I want you to read this article through and tell me what you think at the end of it. It's worth reading through, it's quite witty and will get you thinking.

Quote:
Welcome, readers, to the 100th column I've written for Telegraph Motoring. Obviously I've put up some balloons in my office and there will be a collectors limited edition bound in Morocco leather, but in the meantime I thought I should use this momentous occasion to address a very serious topic.

So - what's the best car I've ever driven? As "that other bloke off Top Gear" I'm sometimes approached in pubs and assailed with this very question - usually after a short preamble during which I'm asked where Jezza is (as id I live with him and shouldn't be allowed out on my own) or if I realise that I look a bit like that other bloke off Top Gear. And this 'best car' enquiry has always left me stumped up to now.

It would be easy to nominate, say, the Bentley Continental R, one of my favourite cars of all time. But I'm not sure I could universally recommend one. Parking it is an issue, and because it's an aristocrat is has a bit of a drink problem.

I've even driven a Ferrari Enzo, and was suprirsed how much I liked it. But is it really the best? Not if you're on a budget, wearing a short skirt or wanting to buy some timber from B&Q. Then it's pretty much the worst.

And so it goes on. Best luxury car or best supercar is easy, but what is the unqualified best car I've ever driven? What is the best I've laid hands on in over a decade of trying out cars, all things considered? I spent several hours thinking about this and making lists, and I've finally come up with an answer.

What's more, I've tried the theory out on a group of merchant bankers I was talking to last week. These were intelligent people, with a fearsome grasp of economic theory and global politics. As merchant bankers they all drove Ferraris and Astons and the like. In short, we're not talking here of the sort of car enthusiasts who just shout 'Subaru' regardless of the question.

I suggested to them that the best car I've ever driven, all things considered, was the Citroen AX GT of 1991. Nobody argued, despite being eminently qualified for the job, so I may be onto something.

I admit the AX GT (not, you will note, the later AX GTi, in which Citroen overdid things a bit) is not terribly promising. Constructed from old biscuit tins, powered by a rudimentary 1.4-litre engine and not exactly eye-catching, it would probably kill you in a crash. It was built in France, so was presumably the work of communists.

Then again, if you assume every attribute by which we judge cars is important, it comes out rather well. In 1991 it was cheap at under £9,000 (cars were, you may remember, more expensive then). It reached 60 mph from rest in 9.0 seconds, which was quick enough to amusing, and could attaint 107mph, which is fast enough to land you in danger. Yet on a long run it could easily return over 40 mpg. Wasn't actually ugly either.

The more I analyse this, the more sense it makes. The AX was short and had small overhangs, so it was wieldy and easy to park. Yet because no one was too worried about what happened if you drove into a lamp-post, it was also space efficient and could carry four in reasonable comfort. Entry and egress were easy for the infirm and there was even some space for bags.

It was very light too, and long before other makers started banging on about weight-saving. Lightness made it fun to drive; it was perky and the responses were immediate, like they are in a really small sports car. Yet this quality was lost on po-faced actuarial types, so it was cheap to ensure.

Because it was light, the suspension didn't need to be firm in order to keep the body motion in check. So despite the firm handling the ride was pretty good. Low weight and low inertia also meant the tyres could be small, which led to that surfeit of 'power' over grip that makes an old Mini so entertaining. Small tyres were also cheaper to replace.

And so it goes on. Pick any other car, and the AX GT will be better than it at something, while remaining plenty good enough at everything else. If Top Trumps could be redesigned to deal with qualitatives as well as the purely quantitative attributes of cars, the AX GT would be the card that meant you would win. Since my meeting with the bankers I've tried this theory on a number of colleagues and friends, and no one has yet defeated me in a straight fight.

Try me.
So come on fellas, what do you say? Can you think of anything better now this article is a few years old?
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Last edited by Vaigra; 01-11-2009 at 06:52 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2009, 07:29 AM
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BMW 335i.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicFromLA View Post
BMW 335i.
Of the cars I've driven, definitely. Makes the M3 seem a bit pointless.

But of all time I have to go with the Citroën DS. I can only see two drawbacks with it, it is complex and the engine isn't exactly top of the class (even then). But an original DS19 from the 50's is perhaps the greatest car ever made. The combination of styling and technology was unrivalled in the 50's and even arguably today. There hasn't been anything like it since and there probably won't be anything like that in the future.

It's like if a fashoin designer and a scientist had gotten together to design a car. It's style and substance like no other. It was so far ahead of a time... that it actually never came.

Brilliant car.
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2009, 08:33 AM
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i have two AX's and i can confirm that they are excellent cars. i am so happy i have stumbeled upon this well deserved praise for the wee AX.

MY 1.0 only weighs about 620 kg and is great fun to drive even with just 50 bhp on tap.

the 1.5 diesel is very economical and has good performance. it has 58 bhp which is only 10 bhp less than the more modern 1.9 lump found in the Peugeot 206.

my plans are to keep the diesel as it is and fit the 120 bhp Tu5 16v engine from a 106 GTI to the 1 litre AX.

In 1989 a naturally aspirated diesel AX, using the 1360 cc all aluminium alloy TUD engine, managed a figure of 2.7 litres per 100 kilometres (100 mpg-imp; 87 mpg-US),

totalling over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) from Dover to Barcelona.
This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 imp gal (45.5 L; 12.0 US gal) of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car.
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  #5  
Old 01-11-2009, 08:57 AM
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I looked on UCP for a thread like this and found similar ones but the ones I found were all what's your favourite car, or some variance on that. Is your favourite the best car? What is a best car? How do you weigh your options? Is the best car your favourite car? It is all subjective but I suppose there could be a bit of fun in people's answers if they give indepth reasons as to why they chose their selection. Ahem Nic.

I dunno what the best car is frankly or even if there can be such a thing.

Edit: Here are some of the your favourite car threads. Note it matters whether you spell it favourite of favorite (sic). There are many variants, favourite American, British, Japanese, probably German, Italian, I recall the top ten dream garage, the recent realistic dream car, how many of these have been done and yet I couldn't find a best car one as apparently best is too short a word to search for. Anyways some of those are fun, you see some one timers and very rare posters that post their list for all to show although they do nothing else in UCP - their greatest and sometimes only contribution was letting the regular members know what their top ten cars are which is something they coulda written in notepad. People change their picks form thread to thread, their is some really dumb crap, it is good.

Apparently, Karrmann/Prius's favourite car is/was a Mercury Marauder. Now you know. Karrmann also appears to be expunged from the members list. Why exactly was he banned permanently?

Last edited by Kitdy; 01-11-2009 at 09:32 AM.
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  #6  
Old 01-11-2009, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
Apparently, Karrmann/Prius's favourite car is/was a Mercury Marauder. Now you know. Karrmann also appears to be expunged from the members list. Why exactly was he banned permanently?
he was an obnoxious, substance free, excessive poster. think kennyknoxville that would post 20-30/day. he also had a horrible taste in cars. he also really liked the Taurus SHO.
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  #7  
Old 01-11-2009, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcpokey View Post
he was an obnoxious, substance free, excessive poster. think kennyknoxville that would post 20-30/day. he also had a horrible taste in cars. he also really liked the Taurus SHO.
Yeah but I think you gotta do worse than that I think to get permabanned. Did he attack people back when he was presumably attacked for this?

The Taurus SHO holds a special place in the hearts of the editors of Jalopnik and Autoblog I might add.

Ok so I did a bit of digging - the forums were really garbage back in the day based on what I've seen. The quality of posts and sheer number of idiots was high. Karrmann was frankly an immature little kid based on the things I read but his legend lives on.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:26 PM
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in some areas they were worse, some they were better. but on the whole, things are better here today than they were back in 04. but an immature little kid is a good start. he was also not especially liked by the mods, and his attitude was poor and abusive.
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  #9  
Old 01-11-2009, 01:44 PM
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Where the whiner in the recliner is..
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Originally Posted by cmcpokey View Post
and his attitude was poor and abusive.


Keep him banned
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  #10  
Old 01-11-2009, 01:51 PM
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Any more talk of Prius/Karmann and I'll start banning you lot
Well, if not banning, at least deleting too many errand posts.
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  #11  
Old 01-11-2009, 02:32 PM
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i dont understand what everyone is going on about. surely this thread should be recognised as a tale of a giant killer.

the cheap but very capable AX.

Was the AX ever sold in the U.S?.

i would love to drive my 1.5d across america
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
I looked on UCP for a thread like this and found similar ones but the ones I found were all what's your favourite car, or some variance on that. Is your favourite the best car? What is a best car? How do you weigh your options? Is the best car your favourite car? It is all subjective but I suppose there could be a bit of fun in people's answers if they give indepth reasons as to why they chose their selection. Ahem Nic.
I think that this is a similar case to the COTY awards, where personal preference obviously plays a part but shouldn't be definitive.

My perfect car should have a straight six and be front engined and rear wheel drive. The DS has none of those, but desite all of that I acknowledge it's importance (and of couse despite that I like it too).
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:41 PM
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I think as a side note, it would be courtious for moderators to send a pm to the individual whos post gets deleted.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:44 PM
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I vote for a second hand BMW 323i. Great to drive, cheap to buy nowadays, good on fuel if you get the manual, bulletproof reliability, comfy, the works. It probably is beaten by the AX on some grounds though...
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  #15  
Old 01-11-2009, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicFromLA View Post
BMW 335i.
I think AX would beat it on price by a small margin
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