UNCLE PHILíS PICKS

CHRISTMAS CAN BE SLOW FOR VEHICLE SALES BUT CLASSIC CAR GURU UNCLE PHIL KNOWS THAT FOR THE SMART BUYER ITíS THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

PHIL WALKER

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Top PickTop Pick O F T H E M O N T H U N C L E P H I L í S

1969 PONTIAC GTO $54,900

DeLoreanís finest moment.

I CANíT RESIST a bit of American muscle and Iím not talking about guys in budgie smugglers on Venice Beach.

Back in January, we ran a comparo of all the greats from the golden era of muscle cars, pitting the Dodge Charger, Chevy Chevelle, Plymouth Superbird, Ford Torino GT and Pontiac GTO against each other and the decision was pretty much unanimous: GTO wins. Therefore, the $54,900 being asked for this GTO seems wholly reasonable given that youíre buying one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time. Developed under the stewardship of one John Zachary DeLorean, the GTO doesnít need a flux capacitor to send you back in time. Just key the ignition, listen to that lumpy idle and start fat-arming it along at little more than tickover to be instantly transported back to the summer of í69. A genuine muscle car with lots more horses than handling, this GTO is showing just over 64,000 miles and is physically landed here in Oz. Stuff this one in my stocking and weíre all good.

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1961 FORD THUNDERBIRD $29,450

YOU WILL find shinier Ford Thunderbirds than this and you might also find some that are in better mechanical fettle, but one thingís for sure. You wonít find too many cars that create such a visual impact for less than thirty grand.

Thatís less than youíd pay for a Kia Cerato, which hammers home the point. No youíre not going to get a seven-year warranty with this T-bird but who cares? The paint looks agreeably lustrous, the chromework appears to be in good nick and the rare twin antennae are sure to pique the interest of Thunderbird fans. Lifeís too short to add one more domestic appliance to your list so if you stand against the Camryfication of Australia, you know what to do.

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1987 PEUGEOT 205 GTI $4900

UNLEASH THE ditch-seeking missile! No, seriously, itís hard to see how $5000 can buy you much more fun than this and itís a modern(ish) classic in the making so youíre not going to lose.

The 205 GTI reminds us how great Eighties hot hatches really were, with feelsome steering, vocal engines and virtually inertia-free handling. If you think modern performance cars have lost their grin factor, give this a whirl. It might require a little more TLC than a new car and some of the French build integrity falls into the comedy category but this example looks honest and refreshingly unmolested.

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2001 BENTLEY ARNAGE $89,900

LETíS GET one thing clear. The 4.4-litre V8 BMW engine that the Bentley Arnage was launched with was better than the old 6.75-litre Rolls-Royce V8. But hereís the thing. It never felt as special and the Arnage was always a car that touched on the intangibles. Itís one of those cars that you probably need to drive in order to understand why enthusiasts treasure it as a life-affirming event and, say, a modern Conti Flying Spur just isnít.

This Red Label had the 6.75-litre engine fitted once again as Volkswagen purchased Bentley and couldnít face a rivalís engine in the Arnage. Once sampled, nothing else will quite do.

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1988 VOLKSWAGEN ILTIS $27,500

BELIEVE IT or not, this boxy-looking utility was the car that spawned the Audi Quattro nearly 40 years ago. No, really. Audi engineer Jorg Bensinger spotted the Iltis making light work of snowy roads while on assignment in Finland. This vehicle, developed for the Germany Army and for forestry, was so brilliant in the snow that Bensinger came home and developed an Audi 80 variant with Iltis underpinnings. Management took notice and Audiís star was born. The princely sum of $27,500 seems a modest price for such a pivotal and distinctive vehicle and this staff car would make a delightful alternative to the usual Vee-Dub beach buggies.

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