So you've learned about the history of supercharging thanks to this week's PH Origins feature (and if you haven't, go and have a read
- it's a cracking tale of planes, cars and fascinating engineering). And naturally, you now fancy a taste of the instant boost and fantastic aural accompaniment that a supercharger brings to a performance car.
Well, I'm here to give you some good news: thanks to the brief resurgence in popularity that the technology enjoyed in the 1990s and early 2000s, there are quite a few supercharged cars sitting peacefully in that trough of value that occurs between shiny new object of desire and bona fide classic.
In fact, if you're not too picky, a blower can easily be yours for shed money these days. This Merc CLK
is a case in point. It's a 230 Kompressor Avantgarde, meaning you get a decent spec including leather and climate control, and it's done a relatively undisturbing 117,000 miles. Granted, the electric passenger seat doesn't move and there's a rattly heatshield, and at this price the chances are it isn't the most pristine example around. But it'll still hit 60 in 8.4 seconds (probably) and make a bit of supercharger whine, and you get a bit of history and a decent amount of MOT in the bargain, all for £800. Buy, enjoy, sell it on for spares when something expensive goes pop.
But if you're willing to spend a little more, there's some genuinely capable supercharged performance machinery out there for peanuts these days - like this Mini Cooper S. These were built with 170hp, but the 17 per cent reduction supercharger pulley fitted to this one means it should be kicking out around 190hp. The owner's also added uprated spark plugs, a useful mod combined with the pulley, but there's no mention of an uprated intercooler - the final piece of the puzzle to realise this car's full potential. Still, after you've added one, I make that a proper quick little supercharged toy that'll surprise a few people, for less than three grand. Bargain.
Of course, were I talking about cheap supercharged heroes without mentioning a Jag, I wouldn't be doing my job properly. So here are a couple to wrap your head around. First up, at the bargain end of the scale, sits this beautiful turquoise XJR
. It's a touch on the leggy side, but the ad boasts of extensive history and lots of loving care which shouldn't make that an issue. Shame about the botched interior resto, but it's just £3,500; I'd live with it.
If you've got a bit more wedge to spend, get your peepers round this S-Type R. This is an E39 M5 rival, albeit one that suffered from a standard auto box and slightly less sharp handling (though, to be fair, only by a whisker), and yet this cracking example is going for half the price you'd pay for a late M5 with similar mileage. These make a terrific noise, too, especially when loosened up with an aftermarket set of pipes.
But why have retro-inspired styling when you can have something truly retro? I've got previous with Mk1 MR2s
, but they still turn my head. There's very little I can think of this side of a Testarossa that's more redolent of the 1980s; supercharged examples are quick, great to drive, and carry the cachet of a car that few know about thanks to their import-only status. This one
looks superb on a set of split-rim cross-spokes, seems to be in excellent condition inside and out and isn't stupidly priced. Just make sure you check it thoroughly for rust first.
This being PH, though, I'm guessing you'd rather have your supercharger attached to a thumping great V8, in which case may I guide your eyes toward another Mercedes - this time, a rather lovely old CLS55 AMG? Suffice it to say that the looks of these old Mercs have proven a little controversial; I get that - I hated them when they were new. But I think they're just getting better with age, and starting to catch my eye out on the road. I find it faintly unbelievable - and delightful - that one with 476hp can be yours these days for less than ten grand. This one costs just nine, in fact, and with that you get a proper history, a tonne of maintenance work just done and a nice slug of options into the bargain. Hold me back.
My favourite supercharged tip of the moment, will cost you a little more. That said, I can't help but feel it's undervalued right now so it might make a good investment - and one that'll give you jitters each time you clap eyes on it. It's the Aston Martin DB7, and believe it or not, this very sound-looking example
can still be yours for the seemingly very reasonable sum of £24,995. It's finished in the perfect colour combination of Buckingham Green over cream leather, comes with oodles of history, and had a big-money overhaul in 2008. I wouldn't be surprised if it was getting on for twice this price in 10 years or so, so now's the time to buy. If there's a classier way to be blown (quiet at the back), I can't think of it.