Friday, 26 March 2010
Forgive me for being a little self indulgent but here I present my top ten favourite Grand touring cars. Before I dive into the list I suppose I had better define what I consider a Grand Touring car to be.
For me a Grand Touring car must be a good looking front engined two door coupe with sufficient storage space for a long weekend away. Oh and a big multi cylinder engine. So without further ado here in reverse order are my ten favourite Grand Tourers (zero prizes for guessing which is number 1)
10. Maserati Gran Turismo S
Beautiful, cleverly designed to give decent accomodation for four (unlike an Aston DB9 or Jaguar XKR), and compared with many of its rivals competitively priced, the Gran Turismo should have it all. So why do I not put the Gran Turismo higher up the list. Trouble is it in my opinion suffers from what should be known as Cayman Syndrome, where there is a slight feeling that it has deliberately been made not quite as good as it coould be. Maserati use a lot of hand me down parts from their sister company, Ferrari and as a result it can't be allowed to be quite as good as the much more expensive prancing horses.
9. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
Objectively the best car here. Certainly the most powerful and the fastest. Why does the 599 finish a lowly ninth. Firstly I don't think it works that well in the UK as it is just too big for British roads, and secondly (and more importantly) it is just a little bit too clinical and lacks some of the soul that makes a Ferrari special.
8. BMW M635CSI
Like many children I often nagged my Dad as to which car he should buy. He has seldom listened to me because he always thinks he knows best (and annoyingly more often than not he is right). One car I wished he had brought is BMW's M635CSI. One of the coolest cars BMW has produced with it's race bred multi valve straight six and subtle but at the same time tough looking body, the eighties 6 is a much more desirable car than the modern (and underwhelming) 6 Series.
7. Lamborghini Espada
The Espada looks like it is a product of a sixities or seventies science fiction movie rather than an actual GT car you could buy. More comodious than you would imagine, the Espada like most front engined Lambo's doesn't set the publics imagination on fire like the mad mid-engined Lambo Supercars. Shame.
6 Mercedes SLS AMG
Brand new the modern Gullwing is perhaps the most marginal entry here, as perhaps it is too much a sports car to be considered (I excluded out the orginal 300SL Gullwing for the same reason). It does look great however, and seems to have had mostly positive reactions from the motoring press. It also looks pretty cool as the F1 safety car too.
5. Iso Grifo
Italian looks, American mechanicals,the only thing the Grifo lacks is a recognised brand name. For me a series one (open headlights) small block car would be perfect.
4. Ferrari 330/365GTC
The 330 and later 365GTC (not to be confused with the later 365GTC4) is the Ferrari for the connoisseur. Attractive subtle looks and a big torquey 4.0 or 4.4 litre V12 offers great performance and nice handling, and while not exactly cheap they are a lot less than the 275GTB4 (which uses the same chassis). The side inlets of the 330 make the the prettier car but the more powerful 365 is better to drive and much rarer as by the time it became available the Daytona was also available. Many today regard this as the best Ferrari of the sixties.
3. Ferrari 550/575 Maranello
My favourite modern Ferrari, the 550 has the soul that the 599 somehow lacks. It does feel like a modernised Daytona. Not sure which version I would go for, the original 550 is probably the nicest to drive but the 575 looks slightly better and has more power. The toll of depreciation means that today a good 550 can be picked up for under £50,000 or less than a quarter of the price of a 599.
2. Porsche 928GT
If the 550 is a bargain in Ferrari terms, the 928 is a bargain in absolute terms. A reasonable 928 can be picked up for £6,000 and a minter maybe £15,000. The 928 uses the same layout of front engine and rear transaxle gearbox as the late sixties Ferrari Berlinettas and still used today in the modern Ferraris and Aston Martins. In many ways ahead of its time the 928 unfortunately always lived in the shadow of the 911. Most 928s sold were automatics but for me I would want one of the manual versions and the GT was a specific manual version of the 928S4 with a slightly more powerful engine. The later 928GTS may be a better car but I don't like the wider arches and the Nikasil linered engines can smoke badly. I'm toying with buying one, the biggest difficulty is finding a suitable car.
1. Ferrari 365GTB4 "Daytona"
You knew what was going to be the number one (the url of this website will give you a clue if not). Even I cannot say it is the best car here, but it is easily the most charismatic, and despite its 40 years of age (mine a late model is a youthful 36 years old) it still has more than enough performance to keep up with modern traffic. It is also the best looking car here and the most desirable to me. It's a great car for a weekend away (even if your clothes start to smell of the car after a while). It's also the very definition of a Grand Touring car.