By on June 3, 2013


In my rant about the Holden Ute, I qualified my cynicism with a caveat; my tastes are not representative of the broader market, or what makes good business sense for an auto maker. Some of you suggested that I should start injecting more of my own opinions/enthusiasm into these sorts of articles. I am reluctant to mix business with my own automotive fantasyland (after all, everyone with access to a keyboard does just that that), but this post isn’t supposed to be informative or insightful, just pure fun. I am limiting myself to new cars on sale outside the United States and Canada, as there are far too many used cars out there that I’d love to own.


Daily Driver – Holden Calais V:

Why the lesser known Calais V over the more popular, sporting Commodore SS or HSV models, both of which are available with a 6-speed manual? Simple. I don’t want to drive a car that looks like it’s been painted with Freezies and black magic markers. Since this is my fantasy garage, I have plenty of other opportunities for belligerently loud sports cars with bowel-jarring ride quality and performance envelopes far beyond my capabilities.

The Calais still has a 6.0L small block V8, but it’s not embarrassing to pull up to a valet stand in one (unlike a new HSV Commodore. Glossy black wheels are for drug dealers and pimps). I imagine it’s totally isolating from the road but still has reasonable handling dynamics – what a Panther should be – and the 6.0L V8, even in neutered automatic trim, can probably lay waste to whatever crappy 500-treadwear all-season tires it comes on. GM, please, this should be the new Buick Park Avenue. Unlike the Ute, it will sell.


Euro Hot Hatch – Renaultsport Megane 265:

Ok, I lied. The Holden would be my daily driver for any trip that involved the highway, or taking an impromptu blast to Montreal to go get a smoked meat sandwich for lunch. But this is what I’d drive around town to do my errands. I was always captivated by photos in Evo magazine of the diminutive Clio 182 cup lifting its inside wheel somewhere in Wales, coming dangerously close to the rear bumper of whatever supercar they decided was worthy of their hilariously hyperbolic prose. Most of what you read in British magazines is complete fantasy, whether it’s declaring the Jaguar X-Type a “genuine 3-Series rival” or talking about their driving heroics. But I’ve been assured by none other than Jack Baruth that this latest Megane 265 is one of the best cars – in the wuuurrrlld.  Make mine GT3 RS green (yes, I know that’s a Clio).


Authentic Off-Roader – Toyota Land Cruiser 70:

The Land Rover Defender might get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to grey market SUVs, but I am much more intrigued by the idea of buying a brand new version of a decades old Land Cruiser. Toyota Australia will still sell you one of these, in three-door, five-door and pickup truck configurations. I really have no use for a body-on-frame work truck like this, but neither does anybody who buys a Ford SVT Raptor. The Troop Carrier GXL is my pick, since it looks like it’s just one Ma Deuce away from being put into service by bloodthristy janjaweed.


Wagon of Choice – Mercedes C63 AMG:

This was a tough choice. The Audi RS4 and RS6 have all-wheel drive, which means four-season shenanigans for this Canadian. But the C63 won out in the end. I prefer the purity of the naturally aspirated V8, even if it is a little slower on paper. Since I have a thing for Q-Cars, mine would be painted in the most banal shade of tan and fully debadged. Of course, I’d fit the Performance Pack and a Tubi exhaust, just to scare the hell out of the yappy little bichon frises tied up outside my local espresso bar when I stopped in for my morning cup.


Death Warrant – Caterham Seven CSR260: 

Jack had a bad experience with his Caterham, but I’m undeterred. If the 260 horsepower Duratec doesn’t kill me, then I’m bound to be maimed by a distracted parent in a Sequoia trying to silence their insolent children while reaching for their third Ativan. Better go draft my will…

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37 Comments on “Derek’s Grey Market Fantasy Garage...”

  • avatar

    I’ll take a Mazda 323F. 5 door hatch with a 2.0L V6 and stick. But I’m the guy who swapped the 1.8L V6 for a 2.5L V6 in my MX-3, so there’s that…

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Nice choice with the Calais. How hardcore would you.go with the Renault? Cup chassis? Stripped of luxuries?

    • 0 avatar

      Cup chassis and a set of Nokian snow tires so I can left foot brake my way from December-April.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Sounds tasty. I don’t have your off-road enthusiasm, so I think I could make do with a Clio RS and a Fit Shuttle (for when the Clio was being too French).

        • 0 avatar

          The Renault Sport cars are made in a different factory and are very, very well nailed together. No need for the Fit.

          • 0 avatar

            I wouldn’t be too quick to say that, my brother was keen on a 2005 Renault Megane Sport (225hp), with about 30k miles on it, and they’re pretty desirable for the money, but the service records listed so many expensive things fixed outside warranty, from way back til right up to sale, that he ran away scared. Might be a lemon, but I’d say you’d want to own one of these inside warranty.

          • 0 avatar

            I tell no lies, my comments can be verified using that old friend Google. Anyway the 2005 Megan was the previous model to the one discussed.

  • avatar

    My tastes are a bit simpler. A relatively poverty-spec 530d 5-series wagon with manual please for road trips. NOT in brown, thank you very much, but with the cloth interior. Otherwise, not much I can think of that I can’t have here anyway. Maybe a Fiat 500 TwinAir to keep my Abarth company (our Abarth is better than the Euro one already)? Or better yet, a PANDA TwinAir – yes, that would be the ticket for running errands. I have enough sports cars already. Oh, and I guess I would have to get one of the last Land Rover Defender 110 TDs just because.

  • avatar

    +1 on the Megan or the Clio.

  • avatar

    I didn’t know they still sell Toyota Land Cruiser 70. That’s a nice find. This truck is a true third world hero. I have lived in Central America and I have seen a lot of these with diesel engines. Very tough machines. People use them as utility vehicles, to get to remote farms and such. Once I was driven on a tour to a remote shrimp farm on one of these.

  • avatar

    LR Defender double cab.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Solid choices there Derek.

    Spot on the Calais. They’re lavish inside. I don’t remember if you can get the FE3 suspension on these (I think they come with FE2), but even so, they’re good handlers. You may also want to consider the G6E Turbo, which while missing the latest gadgetry from VF, still has a gorgeous interior… and the turbo I6 can be tweaked to make some serious power.

    The C63 sounds AWESOME. It even backfires on deceleration. However, as a family car, it is on the small side.

    I saw a couple of Megane RSwhatevs being prepped for a rally competition down here, and one of the guys working here has one. I liked the suspension layout, you get “super struts” in the front and the engine is PFI (not DI) which opens the door for further power tuning. The interior is nice (I am surprised at how nice are the interiors on Euro mainstream cars nowadays). But somehow, European hot hatches are not my cup of tea. If that is absolutely necessary, it is Astra OPC for me, in yellow or orange.

    You can get the Troopie lavishly trimmed, with 4 door configuration. and that diesel V8, OMG…

    You’re on your own with the 7.

    We can have cars from other countries, as long as they get the steering transferred to the wrong side… which is expen$ive.

    From the US I’d have:

    P’up: Silverado. Those have plenty of space underneath to hold a couple of LPG tanks to go around the petrol price issue. A Ram would be tasty too. Or is it better to have the duramax/allison combo?

    SUV: Tahoe, Yukon or Escalade.

    Coupe: Mustang or Challenger.

    Sedan: Charger. We get the 300C, but it lacks the sheer aggression of the Dodge. And also the super cool tail lamps.

  • avatar

    EASY. E46 CSL.

    Any other car I want is here already.

  • avatar

    Buick Park Avenue from China (I’ll be fine with a V6).

    Fiat Strada Trekking from Brazil.

    Alfa Romeo Giulietta from Europe.

    Toyota Century from Japan.

  • avatar

    Of cars not officially imported here:

    Ford Mustang, probably the Bullit version
    Dodge Challenger, in orange.
    Fiat 500 Abarth (sans stripes)

    To be honest, that’d be about it, though I also salute your fine taste Derek. I too would love a Clio or Megane Renaultsport.

    • 0 avatar

      nice list.

      I’d take a Lancia Delta in pearl black, a Mercedes E500 Touring in dark red and a drop-top Mustang V8 in blue.

      all of them with tan leather and auto gearboxes, please.

  • avatar

    Oooo the Clio RS is a good one. But is it better than an ITR?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I really want a Volkswagen Scirocco R. But Volkswagen have already stated that it would not survive the harsh warmth of most U.S. climates, even if it met all U.S. regulations.

    • 0 avatar

      Kyree, I second and third the Scirocco. On my way back through Germany from Afghanistan, I saw a metallic blue Scirocco and I just longed for it to be available here in the States. Not. Gonna. Happen. I’m sure VeeDub is worried about cannabalizing sales from the Golf, but still. Very nice. I also have a soft spot for the VW Polo GTi, though I know it makes zero sense here.
      There was also a time when I actually rather liked the MB A-class. I rented numerous while I travelled to Germany a few years back. Yes, I tend to like small hatches…that puts me solidly in the minority here in America…

  • avatar

    TVR Tuscan Speed 6, perhaps the craziest modern car until they went bust a few years ago. Their own design engine, in line 6, 4 litre, 390bhp at 7000 rpm, no ABS, no traction control, no airbags and a reputation for biting your ass just because it could. Tame that thing, and you are probably not a bad driver. Plus it wasn’t outlandishly expensive to begin with, and looked like nothing else, inside or out.

    I want one.

  • avatar

    When I move back to Canada from Germany that will be the end of my dream of owning a Wiesmann GT MF5 Coupe. In 2010 Wiesmann was giving consideration to exporting to the US but the double whammy of exchange rates and regulatory compliance has stopped that. Incredible workmanship, wonderful retro styling and terrifying 547 hp BMW power in one unique package.

  • avatar

    Daily: ’14 Lexus IS300h F Sport
    Road tripping: BMW 550i Touring M Sport
    RWD Fun: Toyota 86
    FWD Fun: VW Scirocco
    4WD Fun: Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series 4 door cab w/ flat bed

    If we were allowed used cars, things would change up considerably… some version of an M3s that we never got in the US, some version of a first gen Impreza WRX STI.

  • avatar

    Hm ;

    Interesting choices , I’m not really into anything new but the Toyota F70 looks pretty nice , esp. if it comes with either a I6 or non V – configuration Diesel engine , Work Trucks always get the nod from me , unlike 99 % of Americans who buy tricked out pimp trucks , this is fine , I just prefer a basic work oriented truck when I’m driving my rig .

    Fantasy car ? (this means unlimited $ right ? .

    I’d prolly have either my old Mercedes Diesel Sports Coupe or my Metropolitan Nash FHC rebuilt on a rotissery (! SP !) , nothing new rings my bell .

    Thought provoking thread .


  • avatar

    5-Door hatchback BMW 128i with 6 speed stick. Simple, practical, fast enough, and a really pure driving experience. No turbos, no automatics, no iDrive, etc., etc.

  • avatar

    Lada Niva!

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I’ll never accept the occidental pronunciation; I far prefer Japan’s three syllable variation.

    And the wagon lover in me wishes their estate version would be given the Renaultsport treatment, though the 3-door would not be refused.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Daily driver: Saudi spec Crown Vic
    SUV: Jeep J8, Egyptian stripper Wrangler
    Euro hot hatch: I guess an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, never been a big fan of the segment
    Wagon: Chrysler 300c wagon

    I can have any car from another country, and I pick a bunch of American cars. I fail at this.

  • avatar

    I would love any of the Renaultsport cars, seems they make a true hard core sport hatch while VW and everyone else is focusing on “nice interior” and “comfortable ride” a-la GTI no matter how sporty they try to convince you their product is. When I was in France I saw the Gendarmes on the highways are replacing their old WRXs with the Megane 265s pretty cool to see them in the typical blue with the roof lights.

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