Edric dreams about re­cap­tur­ing his (long) lost youth with a clas­sic im­port.

Torque (Singapore) - - ANALYSE THIS - EDRIC PAN

HHAVE a soft spot for old cars, and hap­pily, some in­ter­est­ing old-timers have been qui­etly trick­ling onto our roads in re­cent years, thanks to LTA’s Clas­sic Ve­hi­cle Scheme al­low­ing such cars to be im­ported. A smat­ter­ing of 1960s Mercedes sa­loons and coupes, some old 911s, a Jaguar E-Type, a 1970s Corvette, a Volvo P1800. And per­haps most imag­i­na­tively, some­one’s brought in an early-- ’70s Nis­san Sky­line GT-X, resto-mod­ded to per­fec­tion to re­sem­ble the Sky­line GT-R cult hero of its era.

You won’t see th­ese cars around much, re­stricted as they are to a max­i­mum of 45 days’ us­age per year. And hav­ing sam­pled quite a few ’60s and ’70s clas­sics my­self, I can vouch that th­ese old-timers typ­i­cally look bet­ter than they drive.

But that hasn’t stopped me dream­ing a bit my­self about what clas­sic im­ports I would fancy, had I the time and funds to source one overseas, and the com­mit­ment (and space) to main­tain and use it here.

Strangely enough, de­spite my go­ing ga-ga over the flow­ing curves, round head­lamps and chrome trim of the ’60s and ’70s cars, it’s ac­tu­ally the cars that oc­cu­pied my early-teen au­to­mo­tive con­scious­ness, the mid-’80s stuff, that I truly han­ker after. Top of my list would be an E28 M5, BMW’s first true M-car after the iconic 1978 M1. I’d al­ways loved the clas­si­cally hand­some looks of the E28 5 Se­ries, launched in 1981.

And I still re­mem­ber read­ing, in 1986, about this as­ton­ish­ing ad­di­tion to the range, sport­ing the 3.5-litre 24-valve straight-6 en­gine from the M1, de­liv­er­ing 286bhp in the days when a Mercedes 200 had 109bhp, yet look­ing al­most iden­ti­cal to the base-model 520i.

Driv­ing the E28 M5, I’m cer­tain, would leave me as smit­ten now as I was read­ing about it as a wideeyed 14-year-old. An­other 1980s hero of mine was the Peu­geot 205 GTi. To my eyes, it’s still the best-look­ing hot hatch of all time – pert, pur­pose­ful, and with­out a sin­gle bad an­gle.

Its 115bhp was im­pres­sively po­tent at the time for a 1.6-litre, and mag­a­zine re­views of the day raved about the amaz­ing agility, road­hold­ing and sheer joie de vivre of the lit­tle tyke.

Un­like with the M5, the 205 GTi is a car I’ve ac­tu­ally driven, hav­ing briefly sam­pled a used one that was up for sale in the mid-1990s. I didn’t buy it, but I should have – within the space of a few years there­after, the few GTi 205s in town seem­ingly dis­ap­peared.

The slight catch (apart from the fact that clas­sic-car col­lect­ing in­vari­ably in­volves one’s funds re­lent­lessly dis­ap­pear­ing down a black hole) is the fact that nei­ther of the cars I’ve just named would yet qual­ify for the Clas­sic Ve­hi­cle Scheme, which re­quires the car to be at least 35 years old.

The colum­nist re­grets not buy­ing a sec­ond-hand 205 GTi when he had the chance more than two decades ago.


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