Forced in­duc­tion and con­vert­ibles have dom­i­nated reader Alex Ch­ester’ s car choices


THERE HAVE BEEN TWO FAC­TORS that have in­flu­enced Alex’s buying habits. Firstly, his Re­nault 5 GT Turbo got him hooked on forced-in­duc­tion en­gines, which is why he fol­lowed up the French hot hatch with a trio of turbo coupes, in­clud­ing the unloved Mit­subishi 3000 GTO and the bonkers Fiat Coupe 20V.

But af­ter a hol­i­day to Cal­i­for­nia, where he hired a drop-top Mus­tang, his new pas­sion be­came con­vert­ibles and he has owned one ever since. His first was the very un-tur­bocharged Honda S2000, with its rel­a­tively tiny torque out­put and 9000rpm red line. The en­gine’s lack of twist didn’t faze Alex though, as he was smit­ten with be­ing ex­posed to the el­e­ments and the lim­it­less head­room. He’s since worked his way through hot rod­style road­sters from TVR, AMG and BMW, and on to the sharper Porsche Boxster and then some big­ger, Gt-like con­vert­ibles.


‘ This car was fan­tas­tic de­spite all the neg­a­tive re­views. Come on, it had two turbos! Mine was an im­port and had been low­ered and fit­ted with big­ger wheels. The en­gine had been mod­i­fied too. I’m not sure ex­actly what had been done but it made lots of suck­ing and whooshing noises and went very fast. I then fit­ted a very loud HKS ex­haust. The GTO is an un­der­rated car to drive, but mine proved un­re­li­able and ex­pen­sive to main­tain, at a time when deal­ers were snooty about ser­vic­ing im­ports, too.’


‘Af­ter my first drop- top, a Honda S2000, I bought a Tamora. I loved the unique looks and in­te­rior, and the per­for­mance, the sound – es­pe­cially af­ter I fit­ted a louder ex­haust – and its com­pact size. What I didn’t like was the roof mech­a­nism: the hard panel barely squeezed into the boot. The seats were also sur­pris­ingly un­sup­port­ive. But what I ab­so­lutely hated was the re­li­a­bil­ity. The Speed Six en­gine needed a ma­jor re­build soon af­ter I bought it, and then a se­cond one later. There were nu­mer­ous other small prob­lems, too.’


‘A friend took me for a ride in a 4200 Coupe and I was so im­pressed I looked for one, but in Spyder form, of course. I found one with a very loud Larini ex­haust, so I was sold on it im­me­di­ately. In the end it proved to be poorly made, un­re­li­able and ex­pen­sive to main­tain. I did love the en­gine, though. While the tech­nol­ogy be­hind it was clearly old, I found the Cam­bio­corsa trans­mis­sion a lot more en­gag­ing and in­volv­ing than Porsche’s PDK gear­box. Like the TVR, it felt like some­thing was about to fail every time you drove it or opened the roof.’

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