Even boredom has its crises - thankfully £5k convertibles do exist

It’s March 23rd and the first lockdown measures of their kind have been announced. I remember walking back from work that day slightly bewildered and shocked that this would be a new normal.
I very quickly had even greater appreciation for the NHS than I did before and began to become concerned at the safety of family members who are more vulnerable to the maliciousness of COVID-19.
Once the dust settled (or rather is still settling, it remains to be seen if it’ll ever settle) there was another reality that crept in during those first few weeks of lockdown. I couldn’t grasp the keys and take the car for a spin. I’ll openly admit that that statement is selfish, indulgent and very much a first world problem but for a petrol head the car is more than a mode of transport - it’s freedom at its best. It’s not about getting from A to B but how one gets there. A chance to savior the details that make cars great - the noise, steering feel, chassis dynamics, gear changes etc.

Even that magical moment of getting in, ignition on, (deep breath) all warning lights extinguish and then the engine bursts into life. Ever since I got my driving license all those years ago - and my word they’ve flown by - I still get that buzz of holding the keys and unlocking the car ready to begin another journey. This brings me to today and another realization - life is short and there are too many cars out there to not take advantage of the second hand car market. So I’ve decided to put my AutoTrader travels and travails to good use and see if there is something around £5k which I could buy, run for a bit and then sell on. You can probably see where this is going and I know that this has the possibility of ending swiftly and badly but you know hope springs eternal and all that.

Before we begin a few ground rules on the potential vehicle;

  1. Convertible (coupes will do as well)
  2. Engine cylinder count must be more than 4
  3. Manual gearbox
  4. Relatively simple - the less there is the less there is to go wrong (he says)

Since having the idea I’ve spent many nights glued to my phone searching endlessly and have come up with the all important shortlist, which I’m sure most people have had similar thoughts. I’ve laid them out below as they have slowly percolated onto the page.

1.BMW Z4
When this first came out I despised the styling, but now!? It took a fair few years but it’s grown on me, especially the Z4M. Mr Bangle my sincerest apologies that I doubted you, you were right all along.

2.BMW Z3
Yes there’s a whiff of pithy one liners from 007 Goldeneye (missiles behind the headlights and the other usual refinements) but I’ve always liked the dainty design.

3.Porsche Boxster
This was always going to be on the list wasn’t it. Flat six, mid-engined, simplicity of the controls and it’s beautifully analogue. No fumbling around with endless screens, sports buttons and driver settings which need a degree in computer science to operate.

4.Audi TT Mk1
I don’t like Audis (that’ll get me struck off a few Xmas card lists) because every time I’ve driven one I always feel disconnected, as if I am driving it but the car would rather it took over and have me as a passenger. The first TT was truly bespoke in terms of the switchgear, dials and styling. Audi threw off it’s dreary suit and put on it’s best party outfit to create it earning it a place on the list - the 3.2 V6 I’m thinking.

5.Honda S2000
A Japanese staple in car culture with that free revving VTEC engine. It breaks rule number 2 but I’ll make an exception. I also thinks it looks good even today but they do hold their value. I should probably learn something there.

Wild card - Audi S4 cabrio
“So you don’t like Audis but there is a second one on the list?” I hear you cry. That’s the thing about trawling through the second hand ads. Given prices and a 4.2 V8 up front, the petrol coursing through my veins has overridden the head on this one.

With the list dispensed with which is now signed, sealed and laminated the search will begin. This will take some time as financially this has to make some sense and life will take priority as well as core commitments. After all cars do depreciate and if it all goes Pete Tong at least I can walk away with no regrets but a heavy heart. I’ve already selected a few in budget which you can let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’m aiming to wait and buy when the weather stops impersonating the Mediterranean and returns to its normal shenanigans. The hope is that selling when the weather is better will give me at least most if not all of the initial investment back. Also let me know if this still stands or not given the turmoil the car market has been through during this period.

Just as a final note there are some good YouTube videos of people who are running some of the cars on the list with their experiences - “It’s Joel” has a 3.0 BMW Z4 which he’s been running and it’s hard not to fall for it, especially when that B30 engine opens up through the gears.