Cars I should have purchased by Geoff Wheatley

Cars I should have purchased, never did, but wish I had!
never did, but wish I had! by Geoff Wheatley.
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 10/10/2013

2CV Image by Rick Feibusch


In 1949 the French Motor Company "Citroën" decided that there was a market for a cheap, ugly and totally different car for the French Driver. No one in the company had any idea that this vehicle would become a collectors must! Named the "Tin Snail" by the motoring press with a forecast that it would die on the showroom floor within six months the Citroën 2 CV saw the light of day at the 1950 Paris Motor Show. By any standards it was certainly different with canvas seats that you could take out and use in the back garden when visitors came. Offered at $1650 for the basic model, of course the extras were limited to a fitted radio and two floor mats for another $45.00. Performance hovered around sixty miles an hour with a gas consumption of between thirty to thirty five miles a gallon. To reach the top speed took thirty six seconds assuming that the road was flat of course. The car did feature a sun roof that consisted of a roll back cloth cover that doubt ever kept out much rain even standing still.

To prove how wrong the motoring experts can be the Citroën 2CV was in continuous production from 1949 through to 1990 and today a decent example can fetch five figures.

1985 Citroën 2CV


I did get close to owning one in the 1970's when the going sales price for a new example had increased to about $2,250.00 but a second hand Mini Cooper took the space in the garage and that was that! Some of you may recall that the 2 CV was featured in a chase sequence in the James Bond Movie "For Your Eyes Only". I often wondered what they did to get the extra performance out of this car. Many years later I found out that they fitted a larger power unit that was originally in the Citroën GS. The only problem was that they took a lot longer to stop and at least one did not!

Please don't think that I am a total fan of French Cars but another car that I could have wanted but never got was the Citroën DS. The famous car that saved General de Gaulle's life when a bunch of terrorists attempted to kill the man and shot out the car's tires on a mountain road. However the hydro pneumatic suspension saved the day and compensated for the damage enabling his driver to escape with his VIP sitting on the rear floor all six foot five of him! Launched in 1955 the car was light years ahead of any car produced at that time.

1972 Citroën DS21 Pallas

Citroën DS21 Pallas  1972

Top speed over 120 MPH... With a 248 Break Horse Power under the hood. Zero to sixty in under ten seconds. (Remember this was a family designed vehicle.) Automatic gear box, power steering and breaks with a single spoke steering wheel. Even today some sixty years after the car was launched the style and design stands out as both unique and beautiful. The launch price was close to $3,600.00 rather high for 1955 but the car sold well and continued in production until 1975. Why did I never own one? Simple in 1955 I might have been able to buy the spare tire which also increased in value every year of production. By the 1970's a decent used version was in the range of $4,000.00, and a new one close to $7,000 As our first home cost about twice that figure I am sure you can see why my wife would not be keen on the car rather than a roof over our head. Such is life!

1980 Triumph TR-8
(With a V8 engine the TR7 became the TR8)

Triumph TR-8 1980

The car that killed the MG was never on my dream list but just a few months ago I drove a Triumph TR7 better known as the Wedge Car and have to say I was impressed despite the poor image it has/had. The two liter engine with a five speed box made the car both fast and maneuverable. Lots of space inside but you are instantly aware that your rear end is about ten inches from the road as you climb, and I mean climbed into the driver's seat. To be honest it took me a few moments to work out how to get in as the car sits so low on the ground. After three attempts and a little direction from the owner I dropped into place with all the necessary requirements like steering wheel and gear shift easily at hand. When the car was launched in the late 70's it was presented as the sports car of the future. Leyland put every cent they had in their marketing budget to promote this car and turned their back on the cry from MG for a new design to replace the 18 year old MGB that was certainly showing its age. As you know MG went out of business until Rover sold out to BMW who put a new style MG in the market that was not a success. (Another story for another time). The Dual Zenith- Stromberg carburetors are not my favorite items on any British engines but they are part of the car. Why anyone would fit these things is beyond me when a couple of S.U's would have been a better choice.

This was apparent when fast acceleration was needed but otherwise they functioned quite well remembering that the total dry weight of the vehicle was in excess two thousand five hundred pounds. The best I could get out of the four cylinder engine was around ninety five MPH which was a tad better than the popular but then totally out of date MGB. I agree that we are talking about a larger engine but not that much larger! Vision was excellent even in the rain, with the handling equally impressive. The last TR7 to leave the factory was over thirty years ago yet the appearance still seems to hold its own in today's vogue of styling. I drove the car for about six hours through sunshine and a few summer showers. At the end of the experience I had to admit that like others my objection to the car was more of a grudge re MG than any real professional evaluation. The nice part is that today you can pick up a Triumph Wedge in decent condition for around four thousand dollars which certainly has a financial attraction if you yearn for a British Sports Car with a pedigree name.

1958 Edsel Citation Convertible
John Quilter Photo

Edsel Citation Convertible 1958

In 1958 the Ford Motor Company in a blaze of publicity launched the EDSEL. Originally produced the fill the gap between the Expensive, top of the line Lincoln and the more modest Mercury range. Named after Fords only son Edsel Ford, why is anyone's guess and I am sure that Edsel had little to say about the choice. Production lasted through to 1960 when, after a loss of over $300 million 1960 dollars the range was withdrawn. The whole car was fill of trinkets such as the pushbutton transmission control in the steering wheel hub, or the automatic selection of stations in the radio that was driven by a mechanical power drive that you could hear outside the car. The horse collar center piece on the front grill was, to say the least, controversial!

Take a look at any picture and you will see what I mean. In 1960 this design was dropped in favor of something that Pontiac would dream up. Most of the shinny bits were stainless steel which were expensive to replace as if and when. Having said all that I only wish I had purchased one a few years after the production was halted and the Ford division faded away. The second hand market for these vehicles was extremely limited and you could pick up a decent example for around two thousand dollars give or take a few bucks.

I did consider doing that until I measured the size of the car and realized that I would need to build at least one large garage adjacent to my standard one simply to house the monster. I also noted that the engine size was in excess of 6000 cc with eight large cylinders just waiting for the gas tank to be refilled...Again. Many years later I was told by an owner of several examples that he average about eight miles to the gallon on a long journey! If I saw one today on the market I would seriously think about buying one but don't tell my other half that I said this as I think such a purchase would put a serious strain on our relationship. P.S. The 1960 model had a very limited life with only 2846 being made which makes it a rare bird!!

2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata 2008

My last but certainly not least "Should Have Been" is the Mazda Miata that we first saw at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989. The once famous British inexpensive sports cars had had their day as far as the US concerned. Export production has stopped some eight years earlier and the choice of a sporty little two seater roadster came to the market just at the right time. Nice design, decent performance and the price was right! However for me it's staggering to remember that this car has been around for over twenty one years and yet is still as attractive as the first day it hit the American Market. (We thought the MGB was an antique at 18 years). I certainly decided that I would buy one sometime in 1990 but found that the waiting time for delivery was anything between three to four months.

For some that might be acceptable but I am not one of those people so I purchased a Second Hand, Alfa Romeo Boat Tail... Great car as long as you treated it like a girl friend that requires special attention every time you take her out. I have driven a Miata in fact I hired one for a month when I the Alfa was going through yet another emotional breakdown! Liked the feel of the car despite the fact it seems small for American roads and American Trucks! I know that there is a decent supply of these cars in the "Nearly New" second hand market but as yet I am still a would be owner. If I eventually change my mind and buy one you will be the first to know!

These are a few of the cars that I should have owned since I got a driving license, next time I will tell you about the cars I did buy and wish I had not!
Geoff Wheatley

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