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.
MITSUBISHI 3000 GTO
‘ 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.’