Five flawed cars that we love anyway
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There are cars we love because they are excellent. Then there are cars we love in spite of the fact they are deeply and massively flawed.
They are the automotive equivalents of the ugly dog that is somehow cute or the angry, ill-tempered cat that you just love because it makes your least favourite child’s life miserable.
They are the five cars we love driving despite the fact that they will either make your life miserable or potentially end it. Deeply flawed and massively fun.
The original Mini
Okay, so by modern standards it has a grim, bouncy ride and seats you could slide right off if you took a corner to eagerly, but that utterly fantastic front-drive chassis is an absolute blast to throw along a winding road. The massive steering wheel chatters away in your hands telling you about everything that goes under the tyres and even the tiny, skinny little tyres are a source of huge amusement.
The original Mini is so much fun to drive that you almost forget that you are in a car with paper-thin doors with no side impact protection and a steering column that would just as happily punch its way through your head as it would provide incredible precision and feedback.
Still, it is worth it. Every bit of it. Even when some vital part will inevitably fall off it, simply because it is British.
Peugeot 205 GTi
The utterly delightful handling, almost telepathic steering and lazy (comparatively) big engine stuffed into a tiny, tiny body mean that the 205 GTi is two things - massive fun and an untimely death waiting to happen.
Spectacular handling right up to the limit is tempered by massive and unpredictable oversteer as soon as you step over the limit, only you are never too sure where that is because it sure doesn’t tell you. And it changes those limits depending on the weather, time of day or what is playing on the stereo.
The electrics are dodgy at best, but the 205 is incredibly reliable. Until it suddenly breaks down for no obvious reason.
But the obscenely huge amount of fun you can have in even a short drive in one is worth all of that and more. You can even deal with it being French.
Any American muscle car from the ‘60s and ‘70s
But who cares? They look sensational, sound even better and can do epic burnouts. Isn’t that what really matters?
Okay, so modern technology means that can be made to go around corners, but that was never really the point of a proper muscle car. They were meant to go fast in a straight line and, more importantly, make a noise like Satan himself had a sudden attack of thunderous flatulence whilst crouching in front of a live microphone attached to a wall of Marshall amplifiers. Or something like that.
And most of them were extremely ergonomically silly as well. But nothing - literally nothing - beats the feeling of driving one of these things. Even when that first corner comes up way too fast and you wobble to a messy end deep in the undergrowth a long way from the side of the road.
Ford Falcon XR8
An utterly ancient, flogged out platform has been tweaked to within an inch of its abilities and then a bit beyond, while a ridiculously powerful supercharged V8 (left over from the now extinct FPV) has been jammed into it. And it is thoroughly magnificent to drive.
It looks and feels like an old car, but the massively powerful blown V8 means it has all the charm and personality of one of those old American muscle cars we mentioned previously. Plus it can actually still go around corners well!
Quite how a mish-mash of ancient technology, left over parts and extreme power can come together in such a fun package is well beyond us, but it does. Oh, and it sounds utterly fantastic too!
Out on the open road it is possibly even worse. Describing the ride as “disgraceful” is being polite and the way that all the instruments reflect majestically in the windows at night is pretty at best, dangerously irresponsible at worst.
It is thirsty, coarse, blatantly uncomfortable and utterly fantastic.
That is because you know that it will go almost literally anywhere off the sealed stuff - and here’s the best bit - it actually gets more comfortable as the condition of the terrain worsens!
Quite how this happens is probably one of those things best left unsolved, as we are sure some form of human sacrifice of pact with the devil is involved somewhere down the line, but the result is a car that is almost unutterably awful on the road, yet thoroughly majestic off it.
Plus it looks like a big, real-life Tonka toy. So that makes it awesome regardless of how crap it may be on the road.