The Driven fantasy garage challenge
It’s a dinner party favourite: you have a budget of $500,000, so what cars would you have in your fantasy garage? Not only does the game reveal a lot about your dinner companions’ taste in vehicles but it can also be a psychology test – as you’ll see from the answers in the following pages. I asked Driven writers David Linklater, Mathieu Day and Damien O’Carroll for their fantasy garage picks. But there were a few rules, including one stipulating that the budget of $500,000 had to cover new vehicles available in New Zealand. Then I felt generous and gave them a limitless budget to buy one vehicle – but despite the name “fantasy garage”, it had to be a real vehicle, so no KITT or Millennium Falcon.
Go to our Facebook page DrivenNZ and tell us what vehicles you’d have in your fantasy garage.
Liz Dobson's fantasy garage
Although I’m often asked what vehicle I’d buy (answer: whatever my bank manager would allow me), the fantasy garage decisions are tough.
Originally I picked the Aston Martin Vanquish but as my favoured model cost $468,001, I had to revise my line-up to avoid having a very small fantasy garage.
So in prime position is the BMW i8 ($278,000), a vehicle I’ve coveted since I first saw it in Munich. Not only is the vehicle visually stunning (so much so that I’d probably have it sitting in the lounge of my fantasy mansion), but also it’s fabulous to drive – and despite having seen it and driven it a few times now, it still turns my head.
To drive to my fantasy bach I’d pick the Porsche Macan ($156,000) turbo, of course, to tow my fantasy boat. Again, it’s a visually stunning vehicle and the luxury SUV is the right size for my needs.
The Porsche Macan
One of these years my teenage kids will get their learners’ licences so I’ll need a car for them to learn in. I’ve picked the Mazda2 GSX ($24,245).
It is in the fantasy garage because of its impressive array of safety features, such as blind spot monitoring, that my learners will need when navigating Auckland’s frantic roads.
The rest of the budget will cover an electric charger for my i8 and driving lessons for my teens – because even in fantasy land, I don’t have the patience (or nerves) to teach them to drive.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster
It was tempting to pick the Vanquish (or even the “James Bond” Aston Martin DB5), but instead I’ve picked a 1950s Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster.
I know, I know the Gullwing is the sensible choice (especially with the prices the rare sports car is fetching at auctions), but I love roadsters and this model is one of the most beautiful classic cars.
Mathieu Day's fantasy garage
For me a couple of cars in the garage just won’t be enough. Specialised vehicles just have a joy to them that you can’t get from a Jack-of-all-trades type vehicle. So my method instead of going for a few expensive vehicles was to go for multiple affordable ones. More is always better after all.
When it comes to a family workhorse the Ford Ranger Wildtrak ($65,140 for the manual transmission) is an eye catcher. Practical and good looking, NZ’s top selling ute of 2014 definitely would take a spot in the driveway, if not the garage.
Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The dream garage would also need something special for my fiancee. The Mazda CX-3 diesel Limited ($42,595) would give her plenty of modern features such as parking sensors and five-star safety in an easy-to-drive package. Soul Red paint adds an extra $250 but is worth far more than that. She loves the colour, too, which is always a plus. Add to that all-wheel drive, diesel economy and nicely appointed interior and she’ll be well sorted.
For personal commuting duties I would enlist the Yamaha R3 motorbike ($7999) for the task. With a 320cc parallel twin engine and excellent chassis it would be the perfect fun daily commuter cum back-road bandit when the mood strikes.
Starting off the fun side of the garage would be the Jaguar F-Type R convertible ($200,000). Every garage needs a convertible and while the Jag looks better in coupe form you just can’t beat the soundtrack of the V8 powered F-Type.
Jaguar F-Type R convertible
Next up in the fun stakes is the Kawasaki H2 superbike ($37,500). With a supercharged 1000cc engine this insane road-legal monster is the perfect track-day weapon.
Mathieu tested the Indian Scout at the New Zealand launch last year and was highly impressed.
The rest of the fun side would be exclusively populated by bikes of a less mental nature. The Indian Scout ($19,995) and Roadmaster ($39,995) would be included for style and comfortable touring ability, while the Harley-Davidson 48 ($19,750) would have a corner as you can’t have a bike collection without at least one Harley!
Even with all the above there is still cash left over in the $500k budget. So naturally that would be blown after leafing through a few accessory catalogues.
Mathieu Day's dream car is a 1997 Subaru Forester (pictured).
If I had an unlimited amount of cash to find my dream car I would do something a little unorthodox. I’d go in search of my long lost, and in all probability scrapped, second car.
As a car-mad teen I found a freshly imported Japanese 1997 Subaru Forester and I loved it to bits. Over the years I poured a lot of blood, sweat, and a few tears into that car to make it my perfect vehicle. STI engine parts, new suspension, you name it - I worked it in to my Forester.
Then along came university and with it crippling student debt and it was sold to a young chap from Tauranga. The last I saw of it, it was for sale online with a blown engine and gearbox.
So if I had an unlimited budget, I’d go in search of that 1997 Subaru Forester T/TB painted green on silver, chassis number SF5007411, and rebuild it again.
David Linklater's fantasy garage
It’s amazing what a great fantasy garage you can buy for half a million dollars — even when one of your cars costs $275,000.
I’m a Porsche 911 tragic and as Driven is paying, I’m going for what is almost the ultimate version: the GT3. It’s an inspiring car to drive both on road and track, and substantially different to any other 911. The 3.8-litre engine, steering and suspension have all been reworked to make this the most hard-core 911 on sale.
Well, almost. Note I’ve eschewed the just-launched Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which is even more focused. That’s for two reasons: I think you can have a lot of fun without being silly, and with the RS estimated to cost $360,000 this would be a significantly shorter story.
Porsche 911 GT3
I’ve always thought a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz wagon would be perfect family transport and something that would age oh-so-gracefully as the decades roll by. I’m tempted by the boxy E-class but there’s an all-new model coming next year. So I’ve opted for the much more curvaceous (but I won’t hold that against it) $91,400 Mercedes-Benz C250 BlueTec estate, which has the same 2.1-litre turbo diesel as the E 250. I’d like it in brown, but that’s not a deal-breaker.
Mercedes-Benz C250 Blue Estate
Now, do I want an electric car? I do. The $83,500 BMW i3 is the perfect blend of futuristic style and technology with real-world practicality: with a range of 150km on battery you’ll never have to use the on-board petrol generator. It’s fun to drive too, brisk off the line and very capable in the corners. The perfect commuter car.
But I also need something to park in town on a Saturday night, something for the children to learn to drive in, something that’s just a little less precious than my German trio that can be used for day-to-day duties. How can you ignore a Toyota Corolla GX? It’s the best-selling passenger-car in New Zealand, a long-running legend around the globe and the ultimate in Everyman transport. My entry-level GX has the manual transmission and is $33,490.
I also have a hankering for a scooter. But as this is a real-world exercise and I don’t have a bike licence, I’m stuck with the 50cc variety.
Or am I? The Yamaha Tricity is technically New Zealand’s smallest and least expensive new car, because you can ride it on a car licence despite the traffic-beating 125cc engine.
It’s called the Tricity because it has two wheels at the front with a so-called parallelogram link that allows them to lean together around corners. So it’s still highly manoeuvrable and narrow enough to maintain the rush-hour advantages of a conventional scooter. At $4499 it’s a snip.
Does it look a bit nerdy? Well, yes. But I like that. In case you haven’t heard, nerds are hot right now. This is the Big Bang Theory of scooters.
A Porsche 356/2 at the 1951 Le Mans race
My no-limit fantasy car is another Porsche. Sorry. But bear with me.
I’d have any of the cars produced by Porsche at its first-ever factory in Gmund, Austria (they moved later to Stuttgart).
Gmund Porsches include the 356/1 (only one ever made) and 356/2. Around 50 of the latter were produced, all entirely hand-made with aluminium bodies. Jerry Seinfeld has one, you know.
But since we’re in Le Mans celebration season, I’ll take one of the three Porsche 356/2 SL (Sport Leicht) models created for the 1951 Le Mans race, using alloy bodies held over from the Gmund facility. The car won the under-1100cc class, the first international racing victory for a German car since World War II.
Damien O'Carroll's fantasy garage
Logic dictates that any “fantasy garage” will have to have at least one comfortable long-distance tourer with plenty of passenger and luggage space. That doesn’t mean it can’t also be a seriously mental performance car, so the mighty twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate (price not yet announced, but likely to be around $170,000) is my first choice. Probably as a daily driver as well ...
Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate
As Driven editor Liz Dobson’s brief insisted that the cars had to be on sale in New Zealand, that ruined my other automatic pick — a Dodge Challenger Hellcat — so the next two picks make up for that: the soon-to-be-released Ford Mustang V8 GT ($71,990 in manual, of course) and the soon-to-be-extinct HSV GTS Maloo ($104,990, again in manual form).
Ford Mustang GT V8
Why? Because the Mustang is an icon and the Maloo is the ultimate expression of two things that are about to die: the big Aussie muscle car and the classic Aussie ute. And because screw you, environment, that’s why.
HSV GTS Maloo
Next up is the workhorse. Something to drag stuff to the dump, but also capable of terrifying the elderly and small children with its roaring diesel turbo V8 (see a theme developing here?), that’s right, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series is next on my list — a manual LX double cab chassis model ($69,990). And because no one has ever paid list price for a Toyota, I would no doubt add a few choice off-road accessories into the mix as well, because every good workhorse should have a playful side too.
Toyota Land Cruiser 70
Last would be my small “pop down to the dairy” car. Not that my “pop down to the dairy car” would be in any way sensible either, so it would be the twin-turbo inline six-cylinder BMW M135i, a nana-looking five-door hatch that is just the thing for luscious RWD drifts down to the dairy.
Equus Bass 770 is a modern reinterpretation of the classic Mustang muscle car of the 1960s and 70s.
Just one car to spend the rest of my life with? Without question it would be the Equus Bass 770.
“What the hell is that?” I am pretty certain you will be saying right about now. Well, I will tell you: the Equus Bass 770 is what could be the worst thing ever, but isn’t — a modern reinterpretation of the classic muscle car.
Looking like a 60s Mustang Fastback with more than a few hints of Camaro, the hand-built Equus Bass 770 is retro done right, with the shameless knock-off body shape shrouding a thoroughly modern chassis, safety equipment, technology and a 6.2-litre supercharged LS3 Chev engine that is good for a minimum of 640kW ...
You can pick a standard one up off the rack for a mere US$290,000 ($420,500) but it goes without saying that the Bass 770 Bespoke is the way to go, with your own dedicated designer and choices that can be limited only by your budget — starting at $492,000.