/ Motoring

What car do you want for Christmas?

father christmas with car keys

Let’s forget about reality for a moment. Say you could have a car for Christmas – putting aside budget and practicality – what would you want to see parked outside your home on Christmas morning?

When I normally buy a new car, I have to think about squeezing in the family and dog, shopping, random pairs of wellies for muddy walks, be equally at home in the city and on the motorway, and be able to park on a sixpence in busy London streets.

But if it came down to being gifted a second car, just for me, then we’re talking about a runaround that handles like a dream.

Dream car

The car I grew up loving from afar was the Lotus Elan S3, driven by Emma Peel in The Avengers. But, used to modern cars, I’m sure I’d find it a bind when driving around town.

Similarly, someone in my street owns a Morris Minor 1000. I’ve always admired it as it’s absolutely beautiful, but reckon I’d find it a hassle to drive.

When it comes to which modern cars have impressed me, then I’d have to say the Audi TT has good handling. But the engine lets out a roar like a hippo stubbing its toe when you start it up, and I do want to keep on good relations with my neighbours.

The Audi A5 Cabriolet is the car that’s most made me smile. Driving around town with the roof down in summer as the sun’s setting is really something else. Although I think I’m not your typical Audi convertible driver – I gave way to another car and the driver stalled, in shock.

The lack of room in the back can be an issue. Even kids need to duck when you’re putting the roof up or down. Plus, it’s a soft top and I’d worry about being broken in to.

So, for me, the car I’d most like in my figurative Christmas stocking is the Mazda MX-RF. It handles like a go-cart, is a hard-top convertible, and ticks all my boxes for being as at home in the city as in the countryside. And it isn’t so flashy that I’d get burgled for my car keys.

What about you? What’s your dream car that you’d love to get this Christmas? Or is there a car you once owned that you’d love to own again?


Alfa’s Alfa has disappeared. 😱 I thought that they had finally sorted the reliability issues with the brand. 🙂

Wherefore art thou, Romeo? The purple flying alfatar still appears on my Convo.

My first Christmas car was a Bentley – a dinky one! More recently we bought a lovely Mercedes SLK 320 for my wife. Not too practical, except for the folding roof, but real fun.

Her Jaguar Xtype in gold with pale tan interior is delightful to sit in with all that leather and wood.

As for me, my Discovery IIs (TD5) keep a smile on my face.

A ’93 Mercedes 500 SE was lovely inside, and totally reliable. I did 150 mph in it twice.

Porsche 944 with the engine in the right place was a dream to drive at speed.

A Mazda MX5 would be nice?

I always hankered after a Triumph Renown with the distinctive razor-edge styling and I would have one today. Failing that it would have to be a Sunbeam Talbot 90. I rate comfort over speed these days.

My first car was a dark blue “convertible” Renault 4. Great wee car. Classic. I’d have it again, although I’m not sure how much I would enjoy lack of comfort nowadays.

Other than that I would have a Porsche Boxter and a Tesla Model S, both in snazzy colours inside and out, and with leather seats and steering wheel cover, because that’s what counts ;0).

Those three cars would be parked in my big garage beside my custom-designed, solar-and-wind-powered campervan, Ford Transit-size, not fussed about the make, just about the interior comfort and look, and how easy it would be to drive.

None of these would ever break down or bear a scratch, even when used frequently.

Have a great Christmas, everybody!!!

I bought my first car this year and I don’t think I would trade it in. I think it’s the ‘first car effect’.

I would like to own the car that I learned to drive in, simply because it was exciting to drive for the first time. Unfortunately, my father’s Austin A40 Farina Mk 1 will have been scrapped many years ago and no substitute would suffice. I often wonder what happened to my Honda motorcycle that disappeared one day but no doubt it was dismantled and sold for spares.

It might be interesting to go for a Model T Ford because it would save having to choose the colour, but I believe that production has stopped.

I like practical, so i’d have a white van with extra seats.
I started learning on a Morris Minor but ended up in an A40 Farina like you, wavechange, because it had more leg room. You can still buy secondhand (10th?) Model Ts; a few years ago a garage near us had 3 for sale. I went to a local car show recently and a Model T was on display. I chatted to the owner and it turned out he had bought one of those same three cars; he used it daily for local journeys.The control are unusual (compared to now); it has three pedals – the left allows free wheel when in the centre, gives low speed when fully forward, top speed when fully back; the middle pedal brings reverse into action, and the right hand pedal is the main brake.

Having driven a friend’s Morris 8 and done an ’emergency slow’ (intentional, to evaluate the braking performance), maybe vintage cars are not for me, though I find them interesting to look at and chat with their owners. I always wanted to drive a Sinclair C5 and might have a chance next year, thanks to getting to know someone who has one, and also a Morris Minor.

It’s fascinating how the controls of cars have changed over the years. My father talked of using a manual advance/r****d for the ignition and though I have seen this I have not driven a car with this feature.

I miss my old neighbour who had various vintage cars (one at a time) and took them to shows. Like a growing number of vintage car enthusiasts he was not very technical and always appreciated help. I must drop in with a Christmas card.

Edit: My post has been victim of the good old Which? profanity filter. What I’m referring to is a hand-operated control for the ignition timing.

I learnt on a Bedford 1962 minibus, that was eight years old, with a steering column gear shift, a battery that fell off when we cornered too quickly, sliding doors that also fell off from time to time, a horn button that would leap out for no reason, brakes that only worked one one side of the front wheels and no heating. It cost me £10.

Ah, for the days before the MoT 🙂

I don’t understand why cars made before 1977, and still on the road, are exempt from MoT. I suppose if they are defective and involved in an accident their insurance may be void and the police may well prosecute, or the victims sue, but an annual mandatory safety check should be in everyone’s interests. Most people consulted apparently were not in favour of the idea but it was pushed through anyway. I think MoTs prevented a lot of defective vehicles from being driven, until fixed, and should apply to all vehicles whatever their age.

Absolutely. Perhaps the theory is that owners of vintage cars are knowledgeable and keep them in tip-top condition. Many do but others buy them to use or to take to shows.

Back in the 50s when I was a little lad I remember my father driving at 80mph (indicated) in a Civil Service Ford car where the vacuum-operated windscreen wipers slowed down as the speed increased or when going uphill. He did explain the reason. He should have been a scientist or engineer.

I wouldn’t class a 1977 car as vintage though, it joins the accolade “classic”. I agree many will be lovingly cared for but whether they are all then “safe” is questionable There are a number of relatively inexpensive 1960-77 cars on the market – Mini, Allegro, Minor, Minx etc – that will have dubious safety if not looked after by experienced and knowledgeable people.

I drove a Ford Anglia 100E for a while and as the accelerator was depressed so the manifold vacuum decreased and the reservoir was exhausted, but so was the car – I never remember getting it above 60 and if I had, might not be here to tell the tale. But it was a useful little car at the time.

I believe the reason why pre-1977 cars are exempt from MoT exams is that there are no testing stations with the facilities and expertise to undertake them. Wavechange gave the probable answer that they are treated with TLC, never raced or rallied, and rarely run on the road usually being taken to shows and events on trailers.

I always loved two-tone cars with white-wall tyres. No style these days.

That was probably a Ford. What rubbish those wipers were – they were actuated by the vaccuum in the inlet manifold I seem to remember. Cheaper than providing an electric motor I guess.

Although I love old cars I completely disagree with them being exempt from MOT. Most don’t get used all that much and it is quite possible that the owners will not bother to rectify faults that should be done, simply because it is not worth the effort for only a few miles each year. I am also against extending the first MOT from 3 to 4 years for new cars but that is another matter.

I agree with both your points. It’s worth having a look at the MOT history of cars, using their registration number: https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history

I didn’t realise pre-1977 cars were now exempt from an MoT.

That means my first 2 rust-buckets could legally be on the road now. 😱

In the days before pc thought/guilt/mind control, we knew a local garage that would MoT anything, so why go anywhere else?

Your Ford went faster than my Ford malcolm, with a top speed of 50mph. It also ran on fresh air most of the time so I became an expert in changing the fuel pump that got clogged up with rust from the fuel tank. I carried a spare from the scrap yard cleaned and ready to use and got quite adept at changing it at the side of the road.

I had an equally skint flat-mate with a similar rust-bucket and between us and the scrap yard, we learned a lot about car mechanics and keeping our cars going. I always had legal tyres though and never remoulds as I didn’t trust them.

These days, I am glad to say I can afford to belong to the AA, get someone else to service my car and have 4 matching tyres. 🙂🙃🙂🙃🙂

Anyone driving a car that is defective could be prosecuted, so that would apply to a two year old car with worn tyres and a little used vintage car with seized brakes.

Good job you did not have an 70s Lancia, Alfa. I remember tales of engines falling out because of rust. 🙁

MoT is valuable in that it forces people to have an annual inspection.Subsequent maintenance is still, of course, required. I’d rather see safe cars on the road than rely on prosecuting those who neglect them – if they are ever caught, which might only be after an accident. Too late then.

Notwithstanding the exemption from an MoT exam, Alfa, it remains a legal requirement for any road vehicle to be entirely roadworthy and to comply with all relevant regulations. This means your two first rust-buckets could only “legally be on the road now” if they were maintained in proper mechanical condition. I would guess that they would be beyond economical repair by now unless a small fortune had been spent on them over the years. And they would still be uncomfortable. Such was her affection for it my sister ran an old Morris Minor [with trafficators on the B body pillars] for many years after it was really costing far too much to keep going.

Even with the MOT, many don’t keep their cars roadworthy. Just looking at the MOT history of a few cars will show that many have failed MOTs for bald tyres, faulty lights and other problems that every driver should check for. An annual check is simply not enough.

Insurance (if they have any) is also likely to be invalid if the car is not kept in a roadworthy condition. An MoT should detect failures that require immediate attention (worn ball joint, defective exhaust, brake pads on the limit perhaps) but will also give “advisories” – matters you should attend to sooner not later to prevent a problem – discs getting worn, brake pipes with a deteriorating outer say. But in the end it is up to the owner to look after their vehicle – and be responsible if it goes sub–standard.

My cousin had a 1938 Ford eight and if the rod operated breaks were not adjusted every few days you had to stop it by dragging your feet on the road through the hole on the floor The first part is true but it was reluctant to stop if not done my spelling ??

PhillM says:
24 December 2017

And I think the heater was an option on my Mum’s 1958 100E Ford Anglia. Just a few years younger than me!

Heaters were extras on many cars then !

Hillman Minx, the lovely shiny black saloon with front and back red leather bench seats I learnt to drive and pass my test at the first attempt in. My late father-in-law was the Chief Superintendent responsible for the nations fleet of AA Patrols who found this little second hand gem for us in tip top condition. It was a joy to drive.

Steering column gear-change had a whole different meaning in those pre-automatic days. A triumph of engineering, however. The Hillman Minx was quite a roomy vehicle and fairly reliable [in the sense that it wouldn’t start every day in the winter].

I used to drive vans in my holidays for a neighbour, who had a wholesale grocery business, to small shops all round a very hilly city. He always overloaded them and this played havoc with the column gear change on an Austin J2 (if I remember the model correctly). The load distorted the body and made selecting gear quite an art.

J2s gear change was fine until the linkage got a little worn then getting the gear you wanted was a matter of luck I have driven several of them and found the only certain gear was first

For me, my dream second car would be the Ariel Nomad – but with the caveat I would need somewhere to drive it off road! I’ve not had the chance to drive to drive the Atom or the Nomad (not quite the cars we cover at Which? – go figure) but it looks like fun on wheels.

That looks like fun, Adrian. As with a motorcycle, you are more in touch with your environment than in a car.

I admit it appeals a lot to my inner child – and I grew up racing go-karts. I don’t think I’ll be getting behind the wheel of one anytime soon though, but I can dream!

Well Adrian…….. you could visit Alton Towers for less money and just as much fun 🙂

Some years ago now, I was at an outdoor event (“in muddy fields”) where they had set up a circuit for Honda Pilot buggies and that turned out to be great fun.

@beryl – plus I’d actually come back in one piece!

Tough choice… I always wanted a Caterham when I was younger… 😎😎😎


Mary F says:
23 December 2017

I bought my Christmas present dream car 2 years ago, the new Mazda MX-5 convertible, and I know why it was an award winner. Great fun to drive, the first time I have owned a car that turned heads!

My first car was the original mini 1000 and I loved it. As in other comments I think your first car is always special.

Not in my case – I first started driving on a Fordson Major tractor with rather rudimentary controls, no comfort, and not much protection. I was too young to drive it on the roads though so I had to ride on the mudguard with the dog. Happy days!

I was once loaned a new tractor and 10 tonne trailer by a local farmer. He told me all about the controls but forgot to mention that it was a good idea to press both brake pedals together. How was I to know that the left and right wheels had independent brakes? I learned that day.

I wonder why gear lever positions have never been standardised? Reverse appears all over the place. The same as stalk switches on columns; sometimes wipers are on the left, sometimes on the right…….I see a safety standard required.

What happened to common sense and cooperation?

Blame the computer everything today is decided by computer By the way have you ever driven a vehicle with a Chinese gear change I do not suppose you have even heard of them

I too started driving on a Fordson major or rather I was put on the seat and told to steer over the rows of newly cut grass I progressed to starting and stopping a short time later There was no need to learn how to change gear as gears could not be changed when moving on tractors then I was about 9 years old

Computers do not have any common sense

Sadly, neither do many people…

For me and my motoring logistics, the new Nissan Leaf would be fantastic. I would revel in it’s silent efficiency.

Tesla. Has to be the future. Failing that, a reasonably sized (i.e. not Mitsubishi Outlander) clean & fuel efficient (Euro 6 diesel or better) 4×4 with good ground clearance. Boring, but Scottish roads punish anything else!

Morris Minor converted to electric.
Built in safety sensors and cameras.
Stop, start ignition. Smart cruise control and speed limiter.
Info display on the windscreen.
Follow me lights. Semi autonomous.

You wouldn’t need the speed limiter, Elisa, honest.

Must admit I absolutely love my wife’s Toyota Rav4 AWD. Its very comfortable, performance from the 2.0 diesel is adequate and with AWD drive it’s very sure footed even on Icy roads, but when push comes to shove I would take a R-type Civic. Drove one of these beautys round Knockhill. Proper manual gearbox, with the gear stick perfectly positioned, handles well with no nasty surprises,. Practical as well with 5 doors and seating for 4/5. Loved it.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta any Xmas!

The future is a Tesla S or X. Nothing comes close to it on the road today. My first car was a Mini – like a go kart – fabulous. Greatest fun had to be my red Alfa 33 Veloce, but my current MB E300 Estate Hybrid is hugely impressive – love the stealth mode when running electric only. Next step will be that Tesla tho’.