PH Service History: Lemons To Le Mans

Le Mans. You've had the itch to go for a while, but now the itch has turned into a dull ache. In a fit of pique, you decide, you're going to go out and buy something epic to do the trip, and drive straight there.

Of course, the money you can commit to this wonderfully spontaneous pilgrimage is limited. £5k, give or take, let's say - ideally a figure you'll get back by selling the car on once you've had your fun with it. You need something worthy of such an epic trip, not to mention fast - but also something with at least four seats and a decent-sized boot, so you can throw a couple of mates and a bit of camping equipment in the car - there's no way you're going to find a hotel at this short notice, after all. And ideally, it needs to fly under the radar, to avoid the gaze of the gendarmerie on your rapid journey down. Well, it'll need to be if you're to make it in time for the race start, right?

So, what fits the bill? Well, I'm going to start with a Volvo, because frankly, what better way to transport people and stuff effortlessly and in comfort? Today, frankly silly money is being asked for 850 T-5Rs imported from Japan with low mileages, and that's dragging the prices of even high-mile UK examples up. So it's rather comforting to find this one, at the rather more sensible figure of four grand. Granted, it's done 155k, but so it goes with most T-5Rs - and the general consensus is that these engines can take high mileages pretty easily. As cool Le Mans transport for you and your mates, it's hard to beat.

Unless, of course, you're taking so much stuff that you need an estate, and you rather fancy a V8. Believe it or not, such requirements can be met for our £5k budget, in this rather lovely looking Audi S6 Avant. It isn't the lowest-mileage example in the world, but it's covered less ground than the Volvo, and there's a sheaf of paperwork no less than 68 pages thick. 68! The China Blue paintwork and discreet bodykit mean it won't attract unwanted attention, and yet when nobody's looking there's 340hp on tap - more than enough with which to make progress. Meanwhile, you can relax in the leather-lined interior as the miles melt away. Perfect Le Mans fodder.

But perhaps you're a bit terrified by the prospect of a big, expensive old Audi leaving you stranded at the roadside on your way down. In which case, may I introduce you to, strangely, the 'sensible' option. Fear not, though; I haven't quite gone as far as a diesel Corolla. Instead, may I suggest casting a lascivious eye over this Mitsubishi Galant VR-4? Yes, it really is an officially-imported Ralliart car - rare as the proverbial these days, which is why it's so gratifying to see it going for such sensible money. £2995 is not a lot for a 280hp, four-wheel-drive performance saloon from Japan - especially not one with such a cult following, or one which looks quite this appealing. And the sight of that schnozz approaching in the rear-view mirror should shift those Peugeot 107s dawdling in the fast lane out of your way sharpish.

So, three very tempting ways of getting to Le Mans in time for this afternoon there. But if five grand is a little too rich for your blood, fear not, for I've dug up a bit of a unicorn that should do the job brilliantly, and for no more than Shed money. It's... erm... well, it's a Renault Laguna. This Renault Laguna, to be precise, a super-rare 3.0 V6 Initiale. You simply don't see big old family wagons with saucy V6s lodged under their noses any more, so to happen across this one is a bit of a joy. No, it isn't the prettiest thing in the world, and yes, it has a few teething issues... ahem... but it's a big, fast-ish estate with a lovely V6 woofle for only a little more than a grand. And of course, you'll blend in perfectly once you're the other side of the pond. There we have it, then - perfect spontaneous Le Mans transport for peanuts. And never let it be said that we don't do useful consumer advice here on PH.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (11) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ess 17 Jun 2018

    That Gallant appears amazing value for money.
    Interior looks like a lovely place to spend time.


  • seriousrikk 17 Jun 2018

    Damn if that Galant had been an estate I would already be on my way to Wakefield!

  • Cambs_Stuart 17 Jun 2018

    Three good cars, but the gallant looks fantastic.

  • Turbobanana 18 Jun 2018

    I'd want a manual, so would probably seek out a Saab 9-5 Aero Estate.

  • Usget 18 Jun 2018

    That Galant looks lovely but I can't understand why Japanese are in love with automatic transmissions on performance cars!

    What's the thinking on these, are they really 280bhp or are they -nudge nudge wink wink- "280bhp", like a lot of Japanese cars from that era?

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