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DRIVEN TO
DISTRACTION

Missing out on the Toyota GR 86 has Craig reminiscing about other missed motoring opportunities

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ike many of you, I got swept up in the fever for the Toyota GR 86. Like many of you, I missed the boat, and I’m frankly still a little bit flabbergasted by the fact the car sold out its entire two year production run in less than 90 minutes. That’s the sort of turnaround usually reserved for a Justin Bieber concert.

It got me thinking. Not just about the other missed opportunities littered throughout my car ownership history, but of the cars that could’ve been direct from manufacturers. Toyota has proven that if you build them, the enthusiasts will come. The likes of the BMW M3 touring, which BMW has finally relented upon, only to garnish it with its newfound fascination with twerking kidney grills. But what if the company had productionised its famed one-off E46 M3 touring concept? Or perhaps the E36 M Compact? The M Division could probably fill this entire column with secret projects from their skunkworks, so I need to move on quickly before I mention the stillborn M8 or M5 CSL. Drat. Don’t even get me started on the potential of some of their Hommage tributes either.

 

The easiest target is my current steed, a Renault Clio 200. Already rated as one of the sharpest hot hatches of all time, I believe there is still some untapped potential lurking within, so I present to you the prospect of a 200.R inspired by the Megane R26.R I adored driving for issue 001. Simply apply the same philosophy - carbon bonnet, plexiglass the windows, rip out the back seats and replace with a roll cage, fit over the top bucket seats with six-point harness, semi-slick tyres, a limited-slip differential and back the spring rates off to suit. The temptation to create such a project with my own car is strong so I must move on before I succumb to the lure of BTT Motorsport’s shiny website.

 

Back to the Bavarians if you will allow me a moment. Picture a pared-back E92 M3 “Club Sport” - no, not a CS in the guise of the current range of M CS models with lashings of carbon and grossly inflated price tags, but an entry-level model in the guise of the Porsche 968 Club Sport featured in this issues’ Buying Power. (Yet another lightweight special - see a theme developing here?). Cloth seats with manual adjustment, 318i spec dashboard sans i-drive, no sound deadening, thinner glass, fixed-rate dampers, 18” alloys and manual gearbox only. No flashy paints, just solid white with the option of M tricolour stripes, take it or leave it. 50kg lighter, 5k off the list price please. Perfection. One of those with a fruity exhaust and an Eventuri CSL-style carbon intake could be my perfect car.

 

Let's take a step away from my inclination towards the less is more philosophy, and indulge in the more is more. How about a V12 Range Rover to show the Rolls Royce Cullinan how luxury 4x4s should be done? Then there is the huge untapped potential of Aston Martin's Lagonda sidekick. AML could create an entirely new hyper limo category based upon an EV powertrain - a Tesla with all the trimmings. The thought of a Taraf with battery power has huge appeal. Aston Martin is a brand with such rock-solid brand credentials I believe there is now also room for a new entry-level model to seriously boost sales. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a model, just a derivative - I suggest for your consideration a six-cylinder powered Vantage. Ideally, this would be a straight-six, but with the Mercedes tie-in, a vee is far more likely, perhaps from the C43 AMG. In order to protect the hierarchy and cement junior status, Aston Martin could even call it a DB-Six, complete with a few subtle styling tweaks. They wouldn’t be able to sell enough of them based on the strength of the badge alone.

 

Bouncing back to the real world again, the Fiat 124 Spider was a huge missed opportunity. I know Fiat has a long history with two-seater roadsters, but to then garnish an MX-5 with such a drab body did that heritage no justice. Although the Abarth version went a long way towards addressing the problem, I highly recommend you take a moment to google the 2012 Pininfarina Alfa Spider concept, and imagine the Alfa made it into production instead of the Fiat.

 

Lastly, there is one untapped market awaiting exploitation - the affordable restomod. The likes of Mk2 Escorts are proving these fabulous devices are becoming more attainable, but you still need six figures plus a donor car. Whilst the Rocketeer MX-5 is a fabulous thing, switch your mind's eye to a mk1 Porsche Boxster S. Haven't you always wished it looked like the original concept car and could be noisier, with proper hip-hugging bucket seats trimmed in a licious hide? It would be just as sought after as a GR 86.

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