Hurrah, it’s Shed Of The Year time again! It hardly seems like a year since we were last poring over 2021’s most popular Sheds of the Week, a ranking established not by the number of nice things you said about them but by a more scientific method: counting page views.
In last year’s (2021) SOTY ten best list we had two representatives from UK manufacturers (one Jag, one MG), two from Germany (one BMW, one Merc) and one from the Czech Republic, sort of, bearing in mind that Skoda has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen since 2000. The other five in that 2021 SOTY list all came from Sweden. That wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, Volvos and Saabs have traditionally dominated the cheap shelves here in the UK because they offer a tempting combination of power, comfort, and low pricing. The reality of owning a mega-mileage Geartronic Volvo or a DIC-equipped Saab wasn’t always quite as sweet as you might have liked, but that’s another story. Or several stories a year, if you’re Shed.
The 2022 SOTY is different, though. This year, Great Britain has proudly overtaken Sweden as the country of choice when it comes to the birthplace of your favourite heaps. It was a close-run thing, and this ‘victory’ is partly down to Shed counting a gen-three Mondeo as a UK car because he thinks Mondeos are intrinsically British and nothing you say will alter his view on that.
Are we becoming less tolerant of cheap road-legal Swedish cars or more tolerant of cheap road-legal British cars? You might have a theory on that. Don’t bother to send it in to Shed though because he neither knows nor cares. Plus, he’s hiding from the PH bosses. They wanted him to quote the prices of the ten cars that appear below but unfortunately he lost the bus ticket that he’d written them on so he’s not sure if he’s got all the prices right from what passes for his memory. They’re all between £1,000 and £1,500, though.
E39 BMW 5 Series saloons used to be as common as muck in Shed’s column. Nowadays these gen-fours are all either too horrible or too expensive to appear here. The Bangle-designed gen-five E60 hasn’t really stepped up to take the E39’s place in Shed’s under £1,500 bracket, but this straight six petrol 530i auto bucked the trend by popping up in February. It had only done 107,000 miles and ran with the less troublesome indirect injection, but its handsome grey flanks could have concealed who knew how many CAN Bus-related electrical quirks, any one of which would have had you smiling indulgently as you rang up the AA for roadside collection. ‘Buttery smooth powertrain’, cooed TheOctaneAddict. ’As council as a trampoline in your garden, the Toby Carvery and vaping’, hissed Stickleback.
2021’s SOTY line-up didn’t include a single Italian car, so it was nice to see this rather swish Alfa 159 come on board in May ‘22, by which point it had racked up a far from huge 110,000 miles. OK, so it wasn’t a petrol Busso, or a petrol anything come to that, because it was a 1.9 diesel, but for a cash-strapped buyer looking for a stylish family motor, the numbers – 150hp, 236lb ft, 47.1mpg and 130mph – looked fine. So did the classic red leather interior and the cool grey paint, as long as you looked away from the bootlid which had sustained some very odd damage. ‘Yes, yes and again yes’, trilled Tyre Smoke. ‘Rep mobile’, sniffed Rastapasta.
The header pic of this ancient Volvo wagon was not encouraging. The front end looked like it had been shotblasted, the entire interior seemed to have been carefully sprayed with powdered dirt, the leather was as desiccated as a camel’s backside and the mileage was a couple of Continental jaunts short of 200k. Oh yes, and the bonnet was blue. What was wrong with that? Well, the rest of the car was silver. This car’s secret? At £895 it was, by a very long way, the cheapest roadworthy gen-one V70 T5 on sale in the UK. It came with a 240hp, 243lb ft turbo five and a refreshingly straightforward appraisal by the vendor. PH posters weren’t sure.
‘Shame to see an awesome car in such poor shape’, lamented MD835. ‘Rougher than Kerry Katona, Daniella Westbrook and Katie Price put together’, spat Blue Haddock. Others thought they saw an honest and well-maintained vehicle underneath all the detritus. All we can say is that one month after appearing in SOTW it sauntered through its MOT test with no advisories.
DSC SYSTEM FAULT. Would you buy any car with this error message on its dash, let alone an old Jaguar S-type? On Jags, DSC stood (and maybe still stands) for Dynamic Stability Control. Shed reckoned the error message on this low-mileage 3.0 petrol S-type in British Racing Green could be sorted out by a five-minute/£20 ABS recalibration at a Jaguar dealership. Some posters thought it could be down a fritzing wheel speed sensor, which if correct would be another cheap fix.
Others had mixed feelings. ‘You can smell the pipe tobacco on this one, ripe for a jolly hard Geralding’, noted Portfofino, cryptically. ‘Lovely old smoker to cruise about in’, quoth COM31E, whose PH handle was inspired by the personal reg on his own rather spiffy 3.0 S-type. Turned out the doubters were right, sort of. Two months after its appearance in SOTW, an MOT test revealed rusty sills, rusty coil springs and a rusty subframes. It still passed, but you wouldn’t put much money on it doing the same next year.
In at number six of our ten best sheds of ’22 list was another Alfa, a GT, only the second one of those to achieve transient fame in Shed of the Week. There was a sad story attached to these cars in that the cabriolet concept for which Bertone was hoping to get the green light from Fiat ended up on the cutting room floor, or the automotive equivalent of that, a decision that (some say) contributed to Bertone’s bankruptcy. PHers wondered if buying this rare and highly-specced JTS Blackline with a slightly rotten front subframe mounting might hasten their own financial ruin.
‘Not without risk, but a great shed’, opined yme402. ‘For £1,500 you can’t really complain’, ventured Court_S, who was clearly not a regular reader of SOTW, where complaining is the name of the game. KaraK probably was though. He thought the GT was ‘about as attractive as dog’s dinner post-eating.’ The MOT tester didn’t get a chance to comment on that in 2022 as the Alfa’s ticket expired on the very day that we were going to press.
Asked to estimate the mileage of this sparkling first-year example of the new-for-2003 V70 Cross Country, the average Joe in the street would probably say 50,000 miles or less. In fact, it had gone past the 200,000 mark three years before it came to Shed’s fleeting attention in March ’22, and looked set to do the same amount all over again if of the legendary D5 diesel had any say in it. It really was a credit to its owner and to the valeter. ‘It’s got a fish on the back, that thing has been nannied’, said Devnull.
Readers couldn’t see the reg number as it was covered by those annoying dealer plates that stop you looking up the MOT history, but the postmistress in Shed’s village had a hot DVSA contact who was able to provide him with the news that it had passed its test in August ’21 with no advisories. ‘Real men buy on condition and history!’ ejaculated Filibuster. ‘Shed of the year so far’, chanced Arsecati, a fair shout even though there were another nine months to go in the year. He was wrong, as it turned out.
Shed can’t be bothered to verify this but he’s fairly sure that every SOTY list he’s been involved with has had at least one Saab on it. This year’s Scandidate was a 210hp 9-3 Aero convertible, leggy at 160,000 miles and not primped and prepped for sale. That is normally guaranteed to generate much gnashing of teeth on the forum, but this fresh-off-the-streets Aero had an appealing honesty about it. The vendor assured us that the ragtop worked. Even so, Shed was expecting to get an online kicking for yet another Saab and a pricey one at that, just three quid under his top limit. It didn’t happen, though.
Most posters gave it a guardedly warm welcome. ‘Not the most tidy car I’ve ever seen but I find myself strangely attracted to it for the price… could definitely be worth a punt for a bit of drop top summer fun’, vouchsafed cerb4.5lee. ‘The inner door handles, gearknob and seats for this model were the first things I ever did as a CAD modeller, Trollhättan 2001 it was!’ reminisced Pereldh, interestingly. We’ve got all sorts on here.
That’s right, not one but two S-Type Jags this year. Aren’t they supposed to be minging old men’s’ cars? What does this say about the PH membership? Shed loves S-types, they’re one of his weaknesses, but having been in the motor trade for so long has made him a naturally cautious, not to say cynical person, so even he was suspicious when this 119,000-mile 2.5 V6 example came up for just £900 especially as it was rocking a set of BBS wheels that on their own were worth at least half the asking price. Was Shed’s cynicism justified? Well, no, as it happens. This Jag appeared in SOTW in March. Despite WhiteBaron’s nose-tapping ‘I’d suggest it’s the chronically rusty underside that scraped through the last MOT that kills it at the next test’ (and he wasn’t the only one to predict that), six months later it passed the inspection with just a few advisories, none of them serious.
Four corroded coil springs appeared in that list, but they were probably the only underbody parts that hadn’t been sorted out in what had been, by the looks of it, a serious de-rusting exercise in 2021. GRM 944 listed a few other minuses for our shed, however. ‘This one loses points for missing its Panama hat/tissue box on the parcel shelf. The vendor has also failed to detail whether the metal tin of travel sweets has been correctly installed in the glove box. There is also a frankly unnerving lack of a Tartan rug anywhere within the vehicle.’
A 2.0 diesel Ford estate finishing in SOTY runner-up spot? Seriously, what is the world coming to? ‘Its senses’ might be one answer. Featuring in April and sporting a brand new, spangly clean MOT pass, this Zetec estate might not have set the world on fire if you were describing it on a piece of paper, but it presented very nicely in black with turbine alloys (hated by many on the forum before someone pointed out they were off a Mk 2 Focus RS) and had a usefully low mileage. M C Bodge described this model of Mondeo as a ‘a big car that rode and drove far better than one might have expected’, and Glasgowrob showed us a picture of his Mondy dash with 340,000 miles on it.
Actually, though, most of the forum was given over to questioning Shed’s sanity. Shed’s annual deliberate mistake was to be found in this write-up, where he said that the Cortina was Britain’s first monocoque car. A few hundred of you spotted it, one 1948 Morris Minor-owning farmer tractoring all the way from Essex to Shed’s house in the west country to make a dirty protest with his slurry tank. There was actually another mistake in the story, namely the reference to Arthur C Clarke’s sci-fi classic ‘2001 A Sapce Odyssey’, but sadly nobody reported that one, so the prize of a week’s all-expenses-paid vacation to Maranello with your daily choice of any Ferrari to drive went unclaimed.
Well, there it is: three Jags in this year’s top ten most viewed SOTW pages, and topping the lot was this very clean looking 2.5 V6 X-Type that popped up in May. It was going to be sold with a fresh MOT and a 3-month parts and labour warranty, so what could go wrong? Quite a few of you came onto the thread to talk about that. ‘Horrible in every way’, wailed Ddom. ‘Lots of comfort, acceptable acceleration and handling for basically b*****-all money’, countered dunnoreally.
‘Despite the Farage-like connotations, I like these’, agreed Limpet. WilliamP bunged up a pic of Her Late Majesty The Queen driving a lovely green Estate. Wonder where that one is now? We might never know, but there was a happy ending to the story of our Shed. It was put through the test in June and failed on sill rot (both sides), which just goes to show how important it is to take a bodywork prodder with you whenever you go to look at a Jag of this vintage. It didn’t matter in this case though because four days after the fail it was mended sufficiently thoroughly for it to be given a clean pass and is therefore presumably being cruised about the country even as we speak. If you see YB03 TTF on your travels give it a wave and tell the owner the good news about SOTY. They’re bound to be pleased.
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