Good Oil: 'Ugly duckling' barn finds, Audi looks upmarket, famous name returns
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Middle-of-the-road barn finds? You betcha
Barn finds still delight car fans the world over. And although there have been plenty of accusations of rigged finds enraging social media feeds, the genuine ones do still seem to surface with regularity.
Just when you think that, surely, no more Lamborghini Muiras carefully stowed away by an eccentric early collector in the 1960s could be discovered decades later as part of a deceased estate sale ... that thing that we just mentioned happens all over again.
But what about barn finds involving more ordinary cars? Increasingly, the idea of discovering low mileage Mitsubishi Mirages and Ford Telstars — the occasional Hyundai Excel perhaps — has an appeal all of its own. No, they’re not dusty discoveries in French farm buildings, unlocking millions of euros in barely driven Citroen DS majesty.
They aren’t matching Chrysler Valiant Chargers, squirreled away by some dodgy accountant-avoiding 1970s car dealer and forgotten about.
But a barn find is a barn find. Low miles mean something. As does plastic on the seats. We love this recent case-in-point from the US: a humble 1982 Chevy Cavalier.
Part of GM’s maligned J-Car phase, the Cavalier — which would have been badged a Holden Camira in our part of the world — went across the block at a Chevrolet collector auction in Nebraska.
While all manner of rare Corvettes had buyers reaching for their credit cards, this rather rough slice of unloved suburban fare sold for US$1800. Here’s the thing though: it has a genuine 23.6 miles on the clock. That’s right: this rather shabby relic from the commuter doldrums is a real-deal delivery miles car.
Autoweek, which reported on the find, suggests the exterior patina photographed worse than it was, and while other classic cars up for auction with swish leather seats hadn’t survived a multitude of summers all that well, the cloth trim in this entry-level oddity was surprisingly well-preserved.
We love an ugly duckling story. So, if anyone knows where a tidy, one-owner 1986 Mitsubishi Tredia GLS might be lurking, consider us interested.
Audi wants to take on Mercedes-Maybach with new uber-sedan
Well, at least someone’s thinking of the One Percenters. Audi has revealed that, rather than quietly shelve its big flagship, the A8, it wants to create something even more luxuriously gargantuan.
These days global uptake for the bulk of A8s is mainly restricted to China (where a long, luxurious three-box barge is still deemed utterly desirable). While the rest of the car-buying world has fallen in love with Audi’s Russian doll-like SUVs of varying sizes (and flag-waving enthusiasts still enjoy a throaty RS sports model or two, especially here in New Zealand), the big A8 has been relegated to the sidelines.
But that hasn’t stopped the German carmaker publicly voicing its wish to take the fight for your common or garden variety corporate tycoon’s last euro to the likes of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. Which does great business in the South of France. The “normal” A8 counts among its competitors the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But by and large the one with the four rings on the grille hasn’t really fired the imagination in the same way as its Teutonic competitors have managed to. Instead it has taken the big sedan template and turned the “conservative” dial up to 11.
While BMW has resisted the urge to go uber-luxo (unless you count the Range Rover-baiting X7 SUV), Benz has bent over backwards to sell more elaborate versions of its already jewel-laden top sedan. Er, and justify having revived the Maybach nameplate in the first place ...
Audi started offering the performance themed S8 not long after the A8 first surfaced in the mid-1990s. Now, stately grandeur in the form of limousine-like sumptuousness appears to be higher on the wish list.
This move does make sense when you think about it: of all the non-sports car orientated Volkswagen Group brands, Audi wears the brightest crown.
The last time Volkswagen tried to play with the oil tycoons, the car it chose to bring to the boardroom table — the Phaeton — hardly set the world alight.
In fact, it isn’t even the first time we’ve heard this rumour. The big surprise is that it’s the Audi nameplate that might set out to conquer the polo set; previous murmurings from Ingolstadt have hinted that an historic nameplate like Horch could be revived, Maybach-style, for the honour.
But, with the A8 having been updated, it might be a few years before newly recruited chauffeurs will need to learn how to deploy Audi’s multitude of driver assistance systems gracefully.
Next-gen Schumacher prototype comes of age
The pundits have been sure it would happen eventually. And now, Mick Schumacher, so of seven-times Formula 1 world champion Michael, looks to be on the verge of great things.
Last week the Ferrari Academy driver won his first Formula 2 race at the Hungaroring. The location had special significance for the 20-year-old in that the track, near Budapest, is where his father sped to victory to claim his fourth title for Ferrari. Schumacher Senior would go on to win a further three championships besides.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mick Schumacher has been tipped for an eventual future in Formula 1. He won the F3 feeder series last year, but until Hungary hadn’t finished higher than fourth in Formula 2.
Step aside Lewis Hamilton; the next generation German racing robot might just about be ready to leave the prototyping stage.