PHIL’S PICKS

UNCLE PHIL CAME BACK FROM MONTEREY EMPTYHANDED AND WEIGHED DOWN WITH A GUTFUL OF JACK CHEESE. HERE ARE THE CARS THAT HAVE CAUGHT HIS EYE A BIT CLOSER TO HOME

Don’t get me wrong, Monterey was great. It always is and if you’re a car guy, you owe it to yourself to get out to Car Week at least once in your life. I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Thing is, it’s easy to get a bit glazed over by all the million dollar metal, so this month, we’re keeping it real and limiting ourselves to a forty grand budget. Here are the bargains on Tradeuniquecars.com.au this month.

Alternatively just point your smartphone at the QR codes, whatever they are.

2003 JAGUAR XJR

I LOVE THESE aluminium-bodied X350-model Jaguar XJRs. They were even lighter than the smaller S-Types of the time and they drive really well. In fact, at 1,665kg, they weigh less than most modern Commodores. The 4.2-litre supercharged V8 delivers 298kW of power and 553Nm of torque, and will get to 100km/h from standstill in a blink over five seconds. The air suspension with adaptive dampers gives it a brilliant ride quality and this Platinum Silver car features sat nav and dark piano wood inlays. I’m not 100 percent sold on the interior colour combo but this is still a whole lot of car for your money.

Download the QR Code Reader from the Apple App Store or Google Play

1989 LOTUS ESPRIT TURBO

IF YOU WANT a quick, low-slung sports coupe, $40k’s not going to stretch very far in the new car market. A Peugeot RCZ starts at nearly sixty grand, and something rear-wheel drive like a Porsche Cayman is well into six figures. If I was spending my money I’d blow both of those cars off in favour of this 1989 Esprit Turbo. Yes, the ownership experience is undoubtedly going to be a little more involving, but the owner of this Esprit has tastefully upgraded his vehicle with later Esprit bits, ironing out a lot of the car’s irritating idiosyncrasies along the way. It even features the four round Ferrari-style tail lights that were seen on the last of the post-2002 Esprits. This one has real rock star charisma and is priced to sell.

1974 CHRYSLER CHARGER K10

IF BLOWING FORTY large on a plastic wedge from Norfolk doesn’t appeal, here’s a home-grown hero that packs a couple of extra pistons and a big dose of attitude. While prices for E55 VJ Chargers are stepping up pretty sharply, there’s far less commotion around the junior engine in the range, the sweet 265ci Hemi lump, at the time one of the world’s most powerful production sixes. This one’s a tidy-looking example in a nice colour with the sought-after police pack. These K10 cars were built for the NSW Police Department and featured upgraded engines, suspension, wheels, brakes and tyres. l

1992 PORSCHE 968 TIPTRONIC

YES, I KNOW. This Porsche 968 has the ‘wrong’ transmission.

You really want one of these with a stick and a clutch, but then if you wanted a manual 968 in this sort of condition, you might well be paying another ten or fifteen grand. For that sort of saving, I might well be able to forgo a bit of dancing on the pedals in favour of the smoothness of this Tiptronic version. The four-speed auto can be shifted manually but it’s nowhere near as quick as the manual, getting to 100km/h in eight seconds as opposed to six. Thinking about my commute to work through the Melbourne traffic, I might even prefer this auto model. I must be getting sensible.

1980 HONDA PRELUDE MK1

THE PRELUDE HAS always been the thinking man’s Japanese compact coupe. The legendary British motoring scribe L.J.K.

Setright swore by the things and although I’ve never owned one, I could easily be tempted by the pretty little Mk 1 version. It’s not what you’d call rapid but this Mk1 was light and it handled well. This one looks quite well kept with new Contis all round and a timing belt change recently undertaken. These Preludes did rust but this one’s largely escaped the metal-moth with just a few superficial blebs around the windscreen. The factory sunroof even works which is something you wouldn’t bank on with a 1980 Holden.