A few weeks ago, Steve told me, “I know, let’s shoot a video about what our €50,000 garage would look like.”
I agreed right away. Why not? Futile exercises in imagination are a forte of mine, I would have you know, so I took the challenge right away, and started mentally compiling.
We agreed that we’d do it our own way with zero interference or discussion with the other, and then, we’d meet, and shoot the video candidly, so our reactions wouldn’t seem rehearsed.
I don’t think we could have anticipated just how differently we tackled the challenge, or indeed, just how huge the differences between our choices would be.
Steve's €50,000 Dream Garage
The challenge: spend €50,000 Euro and get your perfect garage.
I opted to go the sensible route, aiming to tick as many boxes as possible and give myself the best all around garage for my money. I’ve also steered away from cars that needed to be imported and looked for specific vehicles that are available to buy right here, right now, in Malta.
Vehicle 1: The Wife’s Car
I wanted something small and easy to park that my wife could use on a daily basis, but would also be fun and engaging for me to drive on the occasions that I needed to use the car. So there was only one choice.
2007 Mini Cooper S €6,500 (black)
1.6 litre, 175 bhp, 7.1 secs, 140 mph
I’ve opted for the later turbo version over the early supercharged version that had multiple problems (rattles, electrical failures, radiator, suspension etc). This model has much improved reliability over the previous generation.
This particular car has the all important Chilli Pack. Without it you’ll find limited equipment inside the car. Believe it or not, A/C was not standard on pre 2009 models!
This particular car has air conditioning, front fog lights, part leather seats, xenon headlights, upgraded 10 speaker sound system, rain sensing wipers, 17” wheels and climate control.
Vehicle 2: The Weekend Car
For my weekend wheels I wanted to be able to drop the roof and cruise down the coast road. So I wanted a car that would be nice to look at, fun to drive and a carry a little more prestige than a Mazda MX-5 or Honda S2000. Enter the Porsche Boxster. (Editor’s note – If you manage to find an S2000 in good nick for €14,000, buy it on the spot.)
Sure it’s the baby of the Porsche group and in an ideal world, it’s the Porsche I’d least want to own. But at the end of the day, it’s still a Porsche! So hand over the keys and let me take it for a spin.
2005 Porsche Boxster €14,000 (black)
2.7 litre, 240 bhp, 6.2 secs, 160 mph
43,000 miles (high mileage not an issue with Porsche), black rims, multi layered hood
The Boxster also comes with a 3.2 litre engine churning out 285bhp and of course there’s also the Boxster S. This version is more than enough power though for my uses and anything quicker would have have been costlier and prevented me getting my next car.
Of note, Porsche engines can cover serious mileage, so I could easily keep and maintain this car for many years to come.
Vehicle 3: The Family Car
We regularly have friends and family coming to visit us in Malta. This means airport pick ups and tours of Malta and Gozo with two adults and a dog in the rear of the car.
So I need something big enough to fit everybody and their luggage and comfortable enough to spend all day sat inside whilst touring the Maltese Islands.
In the UK, I’d opt for a BMW X5 all day long. But this isn’t the UK, so I don’t want a car as big as the X5, so I’ll opt for its little brother instead.
This is the facelift model that came with improved efficiency and performance as well as bluetooth, satellite navigation and heated front seats all standard.
The X3 has a high standard of build quality, the previous generation proved reliable and there have been no recalls since the launch of this generation in 2011. The styling is much improved with the facelift as the car looks more like a baby X5 than a big X1.
I also considered an Audi Q5 but they were out of my price range and I really like the Mercedes GLC (not the weird coupe looking version) but can’t find any in Malta.
Vehicle 4: The Wildcard
I’ve spent my money wisely and I have €3,000 left in my pocket. I don’t need another car, but I would like another toy. One of my favourites things to do is hire a motorbike and explore Gozo. So I’m going to take the need to hire out of the equation and buy a toy all of my own.
Yamaha YZ €2,000
125cc, 2 stroke
There’s not much to say about this really. A simple machine, with Yamaha reliability and just about as much fun as you can have in any vehicle for the price. Plus I’ve got some money left over to buy a helmet and some safety kit too.
Total Spend - €49,000
Mark's €50,000 Dream Garage
Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon 1.9 JTD / 2.4 JTD
The Alfa Romeo 159 is my favourite looking wagon.
I actually have a 156 wagon, 17 years old. It’s a little beat up but still going strong, and, for a 17 year old diesel Alfa, it is astoundingly frugal on fuel.
The 2.4 JTD engine offered on this 159 is the same torquey beast I have in my 156, though I’ve been told the 1.9 is actually better.
Good ones can be bought for around £3500 or €4000, but they’re rarely found in Malta, so I’m not factoring in the cost of registering this specific one. But if you have a 159 for sale in Malta, you know you have an easy sale in me.
Ferrari 348 TS
High strung 3.4 L Italian V8? Why not?
I’d happily blow the rest of the €50K budget with this and stick with a garage of Italian horses in the Alfa and this Ferrari. Might not be a Testarossa, but it looks great!
Audi RS4 4.2 FSI Quattro
This is my second favourite wagon, and only because I prefer the looks of the Alfa 159.
The RS4 is a serious car and I’d gladly have it as my daily for around €35,000, but the cost of registering a 4.2L here is likely to be astronomical.
Toyota MR2 SW20 2.0 Turbo
The MR2. Mid engined fun for the whole family, if your family consists of you and a very patient partner.
What do you get? Toyota dependability and ruggedness. Ample speed and power. A very handsome car that’s aged super well. And a fantastic driver’s car that rewards you, or punishes you, depending on its whimsy on the day. Actually, untrue, just, never go full power unless the wheels are straight.
A really good MR2 might set you back around €10,000, even more for concourse winning matching numbers low mileage specimens, but it’s a lot of car and a lot of fun for the money.
Ferrari 360 Modena
So, basically, the third option involves blowing the entire budget on one car, except for chump change for coffee and a quick bite at Pret a Manger before I head down for the long drive back to Malta.
Not included is the estimated €139,571.00 you’ll need to somehow cough up to register the car here on this little island.
Bad choice? Definitely. Good choice, astoundingly, also yes.
BMW 3 Series 330 D
For around €17000, a workhorse of a wagon with good fuel economy, pretty good, solid, BMW styling, and all the dependability you’d expect of the zee Germans.
Nowhere as sexy as the 159, but it’s rear wheel drive, and all the switches are likely to work 3 years in.
Jaguar XE 3.0 V6 Supercharged
This, this is the last word in top notch sports saloons. Would set me back around €32,0000 on the second hand market, but look at it! Look at it!
And it’s not super typical and common, has super sexy wheels, an exhaust note that’s pretty sweet, and it’s a Jag man. Arriving and leaving in style and with panache.