Life Motoring

Thursday 18 September 2014

No Rollers in our dream car garage

Published 11/11/2012 | 05:00

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We asked four well-known petrol heads about their ultimate set of wheels. Their answers threw up a few surprises.

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IF your Euromillions numbers came up, what five cars would tempt you? We asked Anton Savage, Rosemary Smith, PJ Gallagher and Suzanne Sheridan to share their ultimate dream garage.

ANTON SAVAGE is presenter of Savage Sunday on TodayFM and MD of The Communications Clinic. He's also a Formula Sheane racing driver with the Sheane Cars factory team and motoring correspondent with The Last Word on TodayFM.

1990 Mercedes 560 SEL -- The choice of dictators and mob bosses. Nine inches longer than the huge S-class, it's massive on the inside, has electric everything and is powered (if you get the right one) by a 300+ horsepower V8. In my view, there is no better classic luxury express (I have one).

Ford F450 Platinum -- The 'F' series truck has long been the most popular truck in the US (in many years it's the most popular vehicle of all types). And the 450 version is the Clydesdale in the line-up. 6.7 litre turbo-diesel power going to a twin axle means it can tow seven tonnes and carry another three-and-a-half. I don't need to do either. But I'd love to know that I could.

VW California -- The modern version of the Kombi micro-bus so beloved of hippies and festival-goers. But things have come a long way since the Sixties -- this comes with built-in kitchen, central heating, two beds and double-glazing.

Ford 'Shelby' Cobra 427 -- In the Sixties a Texan racing driver and chicken farmer named Carroll Shelby wrote to AC cars in Thames Ditton and asked if their delicate little sports car, the AC Ace, could be modified to take a big American V8 engine. It could. It was. And a legend was born.

By the end of its development the little Ace, now called the Cobra, was equipped with a 427-inch Ford engine giving more than 400 horsepower and performance that wouldn't be surpassed for 20 years.

The car came with no ABS brakes, no traction control, no power steering, no power brakes, no stability control. Just massive power, four wheels and you. They don't make 'em like that any more.

1990 Mazda Mx-5 -- It's one of the best-handling cars ever made. It's got the engine up front and the power at the back, it's crisp, predictable and gives tonnes of feedback.

There is no greater joy in life than an MX-5 and a wet roundabout. I think you also have to prove you're a girl before they sell you one, because you almost never see a guy driving the little Mazda.

ROSEMARY SMITH is an international rally and racing driver. She currently runs a driving school for transition year students in Goffs, Co Kildare, and is a former model and dress designer.

Ford Mondeo -- I have had a long association with Ford, driving the London- Sydney rally in a Ford Lotus Cortina, racing in the British Rally Championship for three years and winning the British Saloon Car Championship in an Escort. Ford Ireland very kindly support my school so my everyday car is a Fiesta which I love driving. But If I want to go somewhere in style I'd love to go in a Mondeo.

Jaguar XF -- I never really wanted a big flash car. People act jealously around you, and you can't drive them over the ramps we have on our roads. There are so many wonderful cars today -- beautiful Mercedes, the new Audis, which are gorgeous -- but the Jaguar XF is a most elegant and sophisticated car so I could find space for one.

Hillman Imp -- The Imp was a little tin box on wheels, and I won lots of events in it. I still have my original car that I won the Tulip Rally in all those years ago. It's totally restored and I still bring it out on short events and exhibition drives. This would have to take pride of place in my dream garage.

Lancia Fulvia Coupe -- The Lancia was the cutest little two-seater which was very good in the snow and ice as I found out when I did the Monte Carlo rally in it. I wouldn't mind having one now.

Porsche 911 -- I was given the Porsche to drive in Geneva. We were lying second overall in the 911 and catching Tuyvenen for the lead when the rear shock absorber went. The engine behind me dropped and severed the brake pipes -- so we went careering down the mountain pass with no brakes at 3am in the dark.

A shame really, as I think we could have won it. So for only time's sake, a 911 would complete my dream garage.

PJ GALLAGHER is one of Ireland's best-loved comedians and appears regularly on TV, radio and the comedy circuit. More of a bike person than a car man, he admits he has never seen, heard, sat in, ridden or driven anything with an engine that can't be fun in one way or another.

Ford Capri -- The world's first wannabe sports car. I remember seeing Terry drive one in the TV show Minder. There's something about that long bonnet and the black vinyl roof on the white Capri that still looks deadly today.

My Da's mate Paddy used to drive one, and even though he was only going 30mph through Fairview I felt like we were doing 100mph in a spy movie. No traction control, ABS, flashing lights or air con. It would be nice to just drive a flipping Capri and listen to 1980s tunes on a cassette tape.

Suzuki Hayabusa -- Definitely one of the bikes every biker must ride once. 200mph out of the box before you even change the end can. That's Supercar performance for the price of a used Punto.

I know this is a dream list and price shouldn't matter, but that's good bragging rights no matter how you look at it. I also know that Kawasaki, Honda and the others now have hyperbikes that are probably just as fast if not a tiny bit faster, but at that end of the scale you really are splitting hairs. It's got a Marmite love-it or hate-it look and I love it.

1992 Honda FireBlade -- Every sports bike made from 1992 onward owes its DNA to the first FireBlade. It's the mobile phone of motorbikes, the one that makes you wonder what we did before it existed.

It made every bike made before that depreciate so hard they should have sold them with parachutes. I think the next bike that even came close was the R1 in 1998. I could be wrong about that date, but I'll never forget the arrival of the FireBlade.

K12 Suzuki GSXR 1000 Racebike -- I know I could pick a GP bike for this list, but ultimately I'd want something I can race myself. After a year of injury, blown-up engines and a large pain in the ass from missing days in Mondello, I spend a lot of time dreaming about riding a big Suzuki in 2013. I'm pretty sure that's going to happen, so it's my top-rated bike.

For me the Suzuki is the perfect bike: it looks new, classic, it's fast, it handles and I want one more than any other thing. It's not as exclusive as a Ducati, but there's a reason for that. Dream bike!

Ford Transit Sportvan -- What's so exciting about a van? Well, it can carry two Superbikes for a start, and mad as it sounds I just love it. From the leather seats and cruise control to the two go-faster stripes running front to back. Seriously, a van with alloy wheels, twin exhaust and 130Bhp? Only a mad man wouldn't want this van. In blue.

I drive my own Transit these days, anyway, so why not swap for the best?

SUZANNE SHERIDAN is press officer for the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

Range Rover Evoque -- In white. I really like the Evoque's sporty design; it's quite a change from previous Range Rover models. It's big, but not too big. I'm noticing more of them on the roads lately, probably because I'm green with envy.

Audi R8 -- I pass the Audi Centre every day on my way to work and I see the R8. I haven't had the pleasure of driving one, but it's just stunning. I'd love one in Matt Black (my Twitter followers know my obsession with Matt Black).

Ferarri 458 Italia -- I have driven this (in Las Vegas) and I was blown away by its speed and acceleration. It took me a lap or two to get used to the gears, but when I got going the adrenaline was unreal.

Mercedes SLS AMG GT -- I might not drive this to the local Spar, but I have been in love with this car for years.

Bugatti Veyron -- I had the pleasure of seeing this car up close at the Monaco GP, and it is a thing of beauty. The fastest street-legal car in the world, it can go 430kmh. It's my dream to one day drive this.

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