A year ago to the day, possibly, depending on when you’re reading this, a question was asked: what was on Shed’s wish list for 2019?
One of them was a hypnotherapy session to make him believe that Mrs Shed didn’t really look like Biffa Bacon’s mum. Sadly, that wish didn’t come true. Well, it did, but not in the right way. She now looks like Biffa’s angry grandma, someone Shed never expected to see come within grasping distance of his column. His other 2019 hope didn’t materialise either, in that no owners of immaculate Civic Type Rs, AMG Mercs or TVRs chose to advertise their cars on PH for the Shed-qualifying sum of £1,500 or less.
Still, our top ten of most-viewed Sheds in 2019 was a nicely international selection with two representatives from Japan, three from Italy, one each from Germany and Sweden, and, if you take a traditional rather than a corporate view on geographical marque locations, three from Great Britain – hurray! Unlike last year’s top ten which featured precisely no diesels, this year’s list has two oil-burners. Shed isn’t sure about the significance of that, but he has said that he will eat his greasy old hat if an electrified car ever makes it into Shed of the Week.
Right, with a pint glass of Lidl port in one hand and a budget mince pie in the other, let’s get on with the 2019 Sheds Of The Year, counting down from number ten and proceeding thereafter in a non-forwardly direction. Please give yourself a suitably annoying TV-style pause between each one. Thank you.
Many chastise Fiats as flimsily-built things that melt away like tears in rain, as Roy Batty said in Blade Runner, but surely only a well-built car would survive the bone-hard suspension that Fiat put in its Panda 100HP? Our late ’06 specimen with under 100k miles wasn’t perfect but looked good value at £1,300. “Epic”, said Billy Whizzzz. “Hilarious fun,” said davyvee. “I’ve got a 220,000 mile one,” said Monge, who presumably owns many shares in a rubber ring company.
Despite their advanced years, old XJs pop up in Shed of the Week with the same comfortable dog-eared regularity as copies of Razzle in the PH toilets. This London-based 3.2 Sport in BRG came with a rust-free MOT history and the benefit of being a late X300, making it arguably the best six-pot Jag saloon ever. Instead of arguing about that though, why not go to the PH Classifieds (where it still was at the time of writing) and try to think of something that gives you more amounts of car for £900. “Experience it before they all disappear,” said J4CKO. “A whole lot of waft for under £2k,” said alorotom.
Nissans of a certain age have been likened to automotive cockroaches. That feeling of bombproof durability is often accompanied by a perception of terminal dullness, but the P11 Primera GT – chassis-tuned by famed Ringmeister and porn-name-inspirer Dirk Schoysman – couldn't be accused of that. Our Shed had been hammered around various UK tracks and was clearly up for lots more of the same. “A good attempt to sell a bland box… you almost had me convinced,” said Gareth9702. “Ever driven one?” riposted Jon_S_Rally, sagely. Whoever owns it now has just MOT’d it for another year, by the way. Welcome, insect overlords.
Despite the rare appearance of a 164 3.0 V6 Busso in Shedland this year, the one Alfa that actually made it into the top ten was this lovely Blu Vela GTV at £1,375. To ease your buying concerns, it came with a video walkaround and grovelunder by one-man specialist outlet Italia Autos, pointing out where things might go wrong. No, it wasn’t a three-hour film. Properly looked after, these GTVs are a safe(ish) bet. “Classic material the day the first prototype rolled out of the workshop,” said CDP. “What a glorious old car,” said LexyLex.
There was a fair bit of eye-rubbing when an XC90 popped up in SOTW for the first time in September. Once the initial shouts of disbelief had died down, the PH massive set about its normal duties of setting out exactly why such a big, modern and frankly posh car might have descended to the £1,500 level. Those with actual XC experience reckoned there might be a bargain lurking under the film of grime, but others feared its bill-throwing potential based on the slightly scary looking MOT history. “Really cheap XC90s with no warranty would require brave pills for me,” said Bitcrusher. “Mine was far more trouble than my TVR,” claimed Qbee, dubiously.
Another Shed debutant, and another Fiat, this £1,150 Stilo Abarth aroused more than a little interest, if only because of its left-fieldness. Previous owners of this car obviously felt that not quite enough attention was being drawn to the Abarth connection, giving rise to a deal of PH moanage about excess badgery and Halfordisation. At heart it was a 2.4-litre five-pot Stilo, which put August Windsock in mind of “a Latin version of a Golf V5.” Nickbrapp remembered his Schumacher limited edition version with fondness, praising its “fantastic quality” – another poke in the eye for Fiat doubters.
The Prince Andrew of motoring, Mazda’s rotary-engined RX-8 has amassed more negative column inches than just about any other modern car. But if you can get around fuel consumption in the teens and oil consumption not far behind that, and you could get it to restart reliably when warm, the RX is a peach. Our Shed had somehow done 58,000 miles and looked amazing for £1,450. “Best car I’ve ever driven, but ruinously expensive,” said shortar53 (see what he did there). “Some cars are cheap for a reason,” said GTEYE. “But I still want one,” said Cambs_Stuart. Precisely.
The last MG saloons might have looked like a nailed-on pensioner’s dream, but there was no whiff of Zimmer frame about the ZS 180. Underneath its charity-shop clothing was a honed, lightfooted chassis and a spirited 2.5-litre V6. This blue one was due for a timing belt change, knocking the backside out of its value somewhat, but only if you chose to have the work done. “Much rather have this than a 328,” said miken2k8, dangerously. “There goes my plan to get Shed Of The Week by listing mine cheap,” wailed InitialDave. “I own the bumper off Anthony Reid’s BTCC car,” boasted BMR.
Making a late run for SOTY glory was this very honest-looking Golf GT TDI 150 Mk4. Cue plenty of claims that the 1.9 diesel was the best engine ever made, and about as many saying that it was a hateful old dog. You had to admire its toughness, especially when PHer jonwm put up some pics of his mate’s horribly mangled-up six-month-old one (“did an asteroid hit it?” inquired thiscocks) and then announced that it had somehow been mended and put back on the road. Thankfully, CP03 ECV failed its MOT – fourteen years later. Arrgh. “Worst emitting diesels ever in passenger cars,” martin12345 ventured, thought-cities for years,” smirked dan98. “Great useable performance,” said bassett.
Topping the 2019 polls for most looked at Shed was this bright as a button Fiesta ST150. For a 2005 example of a car that was more or less designed to be hacked about and generally abused by uncaring youngsters, this ST was in remarkable nick. There wasn’t much love for the red paintwork or the white wheels, and more generically there was a bit of negatory mumbling about the seat catches on these, which are renowned for failing. There was also a whole heap of argy-bargy about the definition of Mk 4 and Mk 5 Fiestas. In many ways it was a perfect PH thread. Most were agreed, however, that this was not only a great first car for someone young and in possession of perfectly coiffed eyebrows, but also a perfectly good twenty-first one for someone who has to wear big underpants to contain unruly grey pubes.
It seems wrong to end any story with the word pubes, so let’s change that right now by wishing all Shedmen and potential Mrs Sheds a peaceful end to 2019 and a totally bangertastic 2020 to come.