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What would your three-car dream garage look like?

UPDATE: a Defender and McLaren F1 join TG's dream garage this week

  1. Tom Ford - Associate Editor

    The internet is awash with people spamming each other into unconsciousness via ‘challenges’ that resolve into a mere few minutes lobotomised diversion, and not ones to be left without at least a toe-hold in the world of pointlessness, we thought we’d get involved.

    It’s a blindingly obvious one, and something that’s been the subject of a billion-and-one pub conversations, internet slanging matches and lighthearted falling-outs since the car was invented. Or at least since it got past three manufacturers.

    The rules are simple: pick the three cars that live in your dream garage. The ones that if the clock stopped on automotive production right now, you’d be happy with until the end of your days.

    Now, with most car manufacturers in - hopefully temporary - lockdown, you see where we’re coming from. So the cars have to be ‘real’ - as in no Transformers or concept cars with fear-powered jet turbines - they have to be able to be bought with real money, right now. Albeit as much money as it would take.

    They can be specials, low-volume, rare as a hug in April. They can consist of nothing but three shades of Lamborghini Miura, be useful, stupid or a mixture - but you have to show a little of your working. So if you pick a Pagani Zonda BC, an Aventador SVJ Roadster and a Porsche GT1, we want to know which one is going to be used to go to the local re-cycling centre, and how you’re going to pick up the kids from school - that sort of thing.

    To kick us off, I’ll go first…

  2. Ford F-250 Crewcab Prerunner

    A very personal fetish, but when you’ve driven a full-on Trophy Truck, they make an impression. A pre-runner, very basically, is a TT with a proper interior. So you get 90-per cent of the performance with only 10 per cent of the back pain/deafness. Mine would be very much like this version from Griffen - a crewcab (I have children), except with a practical backbody and only one spare. But then either a Hellephant crate motor, or a tweaked V10 diesel. Ideally a 1976 Ford (the year I was born), I’d drape it in a retro livery and very practically exit roundabouts with one front wheel cocked two feet into the air while gaily oversteering. A seat of dynamic characteristics I have yet to replicate in anything else I’ve ever driven. I might even make it 4x4 - most TTs are rear-drive - but who knows? All these things have been done previously, by the way, so I’m playing by the rules. I think.

  3. Alpina D5 S Touring AWD

    A supremely practical family estate here. Except it’s not, because it is fettled by BMW gods Alpina. A five Touring with the same performance as an M5, more range and proper torque, it treads the line between fast and discreet with perfect aplomb. I’d go for the triple-turbo Euro-spec, kit it out in Alpina dark green with some subtle gold Alpina coachlines and a special long-range fuel tank. Then I’d stick it on undercover-cop-spec (but nice) steel wheels and winter tyres, and never have to worry about cross-continental drives ever again.

  4. Porsche 911 re-imagined by Singer

    I think something fettled by Singer - or at least Singerish - will appear on quite a few lists, but if you’re going to keep something forever, you might as well have it made to your exact specification. And that’s pretty much Singer’s attitude when it comes to the re-making of Porsche’s 911. My spec wouldn’t be what you’re thinking though. For me, a 911 by Singer is a lesson in understatement (hence no DLS), and ‘my’ car would be a plain colour with a reliable, streetable engine. About 350-400bhp would do the trick, and no lumpy cams or weird clutches. Much tweed for the interior, a few choice additions and I’d be quite happy to spend some time with people not really knowing if it was a Singer special or not.

    So that’s me. I now nominate Captain Rowan ‘Brain Out’ Horncastle, who’ll post his three-car dream garage next week.

    Come at me internet.

  5. Rowan Horncastle – Digital Editor at Large

    Naturally, there’ll be an air of predictability to the Top Gear staff’s choices for this three-car garage. With the majority of us not understanding the logic of SUVs, prepare for a lot of estates. And more atelier restomods than you can throw a large, blank chequebook at. But knowing that I was going after Wookie, I was mentally prepared to be thrown in the wake of some pick-up with lifted, floppy suspension and an array of retina-melting fog lights. I’m not wrong, am I? But if you know me and my love for extremism, sybaritism and a sadomasochistic driving experience (jeez, that sounds like a raunchy Tinder bio, doesn’t it?) the three cars taking up space in the imaginary, slate tiled (with a dark grey grouting) three-car garage/barn/mancavium in my brain is equally predictable.

  6. 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 2.1 Turbo

    Kicking off proceedings is what I believe to be the best Porsche of all time. Yes, it’s a race car, but no one said that things had to be road-legal. And this isn’t just any race car, but a proper wedge of Porsche history: a big-winged, boosty, behemoth of a 911 that changed the game. It is, of course, the 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 2.1 Turbo.

    The RSR was a milestone moment for Porsche. It was the first turbocharged racing 911, one that took part in the FIA’s Group 5 category for the 1974 World Championship for Makes and came 2nd overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the hands (and sizeable cojones) of Herbert Müller and Gijs van Lennep. It also looks flipping fantastic. Mainly because it looks like a mutant 911. A 911 with a monster rear wing (apparently painted black to be less imposing), rudimentary aerodynamics (NACA ducts gauged out of the bodywork with the dexterity of spooning a knob of butter out of a tub) and a booze brand’s livery. It’s wonderfully bonkers. Risible, in fact. It’s also the muse for a lot of modern-day tuning companies. That wide-arch look RWB has claimed rights for over the years, plus those bonkers 911 turbo upgrades from Bisimoto? You have the RSR to thank for that.

  7. Bentley Flying Spur Estate

    Alright, alright. This might be a slight technicality within the framework of the rules, but hear me out. Obviously, this isn’t the work of Bentley, rather a fictitious mock-ups by pixel wizards on the internet. But that doesn’t mean that this car isn’t an impossibility. Money is what makes the world go round, and when you’ve got enough of the stuff, you can get car manufacturers to build whatever the hell you like, Sultan of Brunei style.

    And this Flying Spur Estate is exactly what I’d like. SUVs are the current flag-bearers for luxurious, practical transportation, but anyone with 1) an interest in cars, 2) half a brain cell or 3) kids knows that a practical estate ticks all the boxes (and more) that an SUV does but in a less offensive way. That’s exactly why this hyper-luxury load-lugger is going in my garage. Just look at it! It’s purposeful and majestic. And has a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 producing 626bhp and 664lb ft – numbers good enough to achieve 0-62mph in 3.8secs and a wonderfully pointless 207mph top speed, too. Now imagine putting the kids and hounds in that. Or going skiing. Or fitting some mountain bikes to the back. Summer holidays and school runs would never be so unnecessarily fast and ritzy. Plus, with Bentley now officially getting back into coachbuilding with the Mulliner Bacalar, this isn’t actually as wild a prospect as you may have first thought.

  8. Caterham 620S

    People like Fearne Cotton talk about their ‘Happy Place’ a lot. For some, it’s being in a four-figure thread count bed, or in the arms of their loved ones. Mine is being strapped into a narrow-body Caterham 620S and giving it the beans. Nothing fills me with such exhilaration or joy as when my right eardrum is close to detonating from an open-pipe side exhaust, my tear ducts are waving a white flag having spent a day drenched in overly rich fuel and my anus’ sphicnter is clenched so tight it could crack a walnut. As a sensory driving experience, nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to an overly-powered Caterham. Over the years I have been lucky enough to drive LMP race cars, hypercars and every zinging hot hatch in the land, but nothing leaves me beaming with a smile like a Caterham. And amazed that I’m still alive. OK, it’s not practical, reliable or in vogue with the current holier than thou zeitgeist. But it’s the first car I’d choose to go and drive if I thought the world was ending tomorrow. Which isn’t an impossibility nowadays. 

    It’s also a car that I know Jack ‘Roadman’ (he’s from Streatham) Rix will never, ever pick. So over to him for his choices. Like I said, prepare for estates and restomods. What ya got, Jacky boy?

  9. Jack Rix – Deputy Editor

    Fair play, Roman Horncasovic. Something for all occasions there: trips to the polo, trips to the Le Mans Classic, trips to the nearest lamppost – your average weekend basically. Superb use of the unlimited budget, too. But you forget I’ve experienced your exuberant, devil-may-care driving style, which means two of those three are going to try and kill you and the third, whilst majestic on a screen, is a car that was never designed to be an estate in the first place. In fact, I’m fairly sure it doesn’t even exist, which means its success is entirely down to the welding skills of whoever you rope into turning a render you found on Google images into reality. OK, secretly I’m quite jealous. Perhaps we could sort out some sort of garage time sharescheme, swapping keys for one week a month? No? Hopefully you’ll be more inclined when I reveal my quite brilliant selection below… 


  10. Ferrari F40

    Ferrari F40

    Starting with the big guns. Had to have a Ferrari, for me they just possess some special sauce that the others don’t. I toyed with a 355 Spider – a car I’ve been hopelessly infatuated with since I was a spotty 15-year old, but with no budget cap I settled on something… more. This is the supercar slot in my garage so it needs to tantalise parked up, and the F40’s angles just do it for me, every time. A 288 GTO is a close second in the trouser-tent department, but the later Maranello specials not so much. I also want something that’s going peel my eyes back and slap me round the face – an actual challenge to drive, every journey a grapple between joy and fiery death. The F40 has that, apparently. I’ve never actually driven one but that’ll just make things more interesting, right? 


  11. Alfaholics GTA-R 290

    Drove one of these a couple of years ago and life has never really been the same since. Everything stems from the fact that it weighs 830kg – carbon doors, bonnet and bootlid (although they’ll do you a full carbon body now if you ask nicely), interior stripped down to the essentials and a dinky 50-year old donor car all to be thanked for that figure. The rush comes from Alfa’s Twin Spark 2.0-litre, bored to 2.3-litres, 240bhp and with a hard-on for revs, it’s easily the best-sounding, angriest, most-responsive four-cylinder you’ll find anywhere. What it offers is a hardcore driving experience underpinned by such delicacy and accuracy that it brings a tear to your eye. A thing of beauty, inside and out, top to bottom, on road or track – who’d have thought the perfect Italian coupe would be built in the West Country? 


  12. Audi RS4

    A distinct lack of space for small people and things in my first two picks, so for my third wish I’ll have an estate, obviously. A fast one, of course. An RS4 that went on sale 14 years ago – one that’s £12k for something leggy, and ‘only’ £20k for a good one – probably not what you were expecting. Let me explain: this is the family wheels that’ll need to do school runs and holidays, so I want a wagon that’s fast and unflappable (I’ve got the other two to tit around in, after all). A four-wheel drive Audi it is. The B7 ticks my preference for analogue - 414bhp, naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8, manual gearbox - and there’s a personal bond with particular model. Back when I was an aspiring motoring journalist (still am, to be fair) making tea in the Autocar office, I was assigned to drive one of these without supervision to Marbella and back for an E90 M3 twin test. Armed with nothing but a credit card, an AA map of Europe (I hadn’t spotted you had to switch the country in the sat-nav once you left the UK) and a promise to do a full launch away from every toll booth, I nailed it in two days each way and fell in love in the process. A reunion is long overdue…   

    Anyway, Dream Garage? Completed it. Next up I’d like to nominate Top Gear’s Sultan of sideways, Duke of tyre degradation, the Maharaja of marmalising rubber himself… Ollie Marriage. Take it way Ollie.

    Come back next Tuesday for Ollie’s choices…

  13. Ollie Marriage - Motoring Editor

    This was agony. It’s made worse when you see what your colleagues have included. I know it’s funnier to slag them off, but some of their choices are on point. The Alfaholics GTA-R speaks to me in special ways, so too the 911-by-Singer or whatever we have to call it; I’m not sure what I’d do with a pre-runner round my way, but I know I want one, and the 1974 Porsche 911 RSR. Utter yes.

    That was on my long list. Which was very long, and when I stood back and admired it, consisted almost entirely of period Le Mans cars and Group B rally cars. And the Porsche 917/30 Can-Am. How could I not have that, and the 1978 Alpine A442, the Lancia Delta S4, Porsche’s 935 Moby Dick, the Ferrari P4, a Dauer Porsche 962…? So I had to be tough with myself: one competition car, one special road car, one everyday car. Why is the latter the most difficult? Because you know it’s actually the one you’ll be using all the time. But even then I only nailed it when I – ahem – accessorised it. The question of use is fundamental to me – I wanted cars I knew I’d do stuff with, that would feel special no matter what they were doing.

    Those who know me will be surprised at the absence of two cars: A current Mercedes E63 S wagon (ticks both the skids and kids boxes), and the Ariel Nomad, which I just adore. But I’ve had that ownership experience, running one for six months, so shed space goes elsewhere. So, in a very particular order, here are my three.

  14. McLaren F1

    McLaren F1

    It was always going to be this. The one, the only, the game changer. Throughout my Top Trumps and Top Gear childhood, I’d flick-flacked from Lamborghini Countach to Porsche 959 to Ferrari F40 to Bugatti EB110. Kept coming back to the Countach, especially when Clarkson straight lined it against a Golf GTI. And then McLaren launched the F1. And nothing else mattered.

    It was the purity of the engineering that struck me, not just the engine’s astonishing power, but its packaging with three seats and those clever flank lockers. I devoured information about it, intrigued by the weight, by Gordon Murray, by the Kenwood stereo. I remember Tiff Needell tipping it around Goodwood and I imagined myself in that centre seat. And it just seemed perfect. I’ve never driven one, only sat in a flank seat while it’s been trundled around in first gear, but it’s the one supercar I know would give me endless pleasure. I’d see it outside my house and know that I could drive it, and that I wouldn’t need to go fast to enjoy it. The world changed after the seminal F1. Lightweight engineering as a philosophy got lost. It was too expensive. We got the Veyron, and it’s that template we’ve followed since. Maybe the Murray T.50 can get us back on track, and retread the road the F1 paved 25 years ago.

  15. Land Rover Defender and Bruder X trailer

    Land Rover Defender and Bruder X trailer

    This was my problem. The banker. The car you hop in every day. Jack’s gone for an Audi RS4, Wook an Alpina D5, Rowan a one-off Bentley estate. I considered the E63 S, but it wasn’t quite versatile enough. I wanted something more rugged, something with a spirit of adventure, a car that not only did the everyday stuff, but was a brilliant companion for an escape, an adventure. Now I have that car at home already: a VW California. So I looked at off-road conversions, lux mods, adaptations. Not quite right. Then I remembered Rowan’s creative approach (Flying Spur estate), and shamelessly bent the rules. Land Rover Defender with a Bruder EXP-6 caravan. Yes, caravan. Fight me. There’s a rightness to the new Defender that really connects with me, that demands a long range road trip. Northern Scandanavia would be a great place to start, and the thought of that is making me as giddy with excitement as the prospect of owning either of the other two.

  16. Peugeot 205 T16

    Peugeot 205 T16

    Group B rally cars. I go on YouTube and migration occurs. I might start out researching locations, checking out car reviews, watching IOM TT onboards or ski segments, but somehow I always end up watching Tony Pond in a Metro 6R4, Rohrl pedal-tapping in an Audi quattro, flame-illuminated night stages above Monte Carlo, ‘now maximum attack’ Markku Alen in the Lancia Delta S4. I disappear down the wormhole. And culminate with this: the Peugeot 205 T16. The most perfect expression of the Group B era.

    But, if I’m honest as I watch my hero, Ari Vatanen, tearing through forests, two things strike me: the damping doesn’t look great, and it understeers more than I’d like. Now, the thing about rally cars is that they’re not precious. Track cars are. People get very exercised about authenticity and matching numbers and originality. But with rally cars anything goes. So, my 205 T16 would swap out the original dampers and diffs for those from a current WRC car. Last year I drove a Hyundai i20 WRC on a gravel stage and race track and I can happily say it is the most fun I’ve ever had driving a car. There is NOTHING else that comes close. I want that ridiculousness with a full anti-lag Group B drivetrain.

    I’m now salivating at the prospect of this, giddy with delight. I’m happy, I want for nothing in my three car garage, so next I’d like to nominate someone far more cerebral than me, someone unlikely to be swapping out dampers on a 205 T16, Mr Paul Horrell.

    Come back next Tuesday for Paul Horrell’s three-car garage…

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