Sunday Column: Ram Kanadia’s – £15,000 Motoring Royalty

It’s nothing new that cars depreciate, and it’s definitely nothing new that you can buy some quite amazing cars for relatively little money. Most of which are deceptive in that others seem to think you are a company director of a major corporation by owning such a fine automobile.

Only a few days ago I was trawling the classifieds, as you do on a Sunday afternoon, with a drink in one hand and my iPad (other portable tablets are available) in the other. My search unearthed an array of high specification Bentley Turbo R’s; prices ranged from as little as £8,000 for something that required remedial work or one that has covered higher than average miles, to £20,000 for a car in concours condition. £15,000 would by you something in between, not a garage queen; which would mean you would have to think twice before taking it out of the garage, and not something that would require weeks of work to get it looking like a Bentley.

Bucket Wafting at Mondeo money

The Turbo R was first unveiled in 1985 and some 12 years later production ended in the year 1997; its motivation was to replace the already powerful Mulsanne Turbo, a somewhat less focused driving machine with something that offered better handling, R meaning Road-holding. Despite the intention to replace the Mulsanne Turbo, both were produced side by side for a year in 1985. Outside of the UK, the Turbo is quite a rare beast. It was only in 1988 that the Turbo R was offered in USA, Canada, Japan and Australia, largely due to their emission control regulations. Though quite a simple design and not largely modified externally, the Turbo has a unique aspect about it – something not achieved in previous versions such as the Mulsanne.

The Turbo R is almost 22 years old and yet it creates a sense of occasion when tootling around town in it – it is not as commonplace as some of the more modern cars produced by the British manufacturer, the Continental GT is almost as common as a Range Rover, every Tom, Dick and Harry owns one. They cannot be blamed however; as they are also fantastic all round cars at incredibly affordable price points but due to its popularity it does not receive the same turning of heads that the Turbo R receives. It is a matter of my opinion of course, but the latest Bentley seems to be somewhat of a mass produced car (apart from such models as the Mulsanne). Cars like the Turbo R have got character, beauty and presence, the WOW factor if you will. Older Bentley’s and Rolls Royce for that matter stop people in their tracks in a way the new cars cannot hold a candle to. However, it is not just the upfront cost that you need to worry about – the running of these cars can be expensive but not if you keep on top of things. One owner I know was once faced with a situation where his car was in need of £10,000 worth of work when the car was worth considerably less; some Bentley models had head gasket problems since they could not cope with the charged performance.  To give you an idea of how powerful the Bentley was, it has a 6750cc V8 with a three speed slush box, but in 1992 it was upgraded to a four speed gearbox.

Character, beauty and plenty of luxury

The Bentley is not the only 15k hero – for the more performance minded enthusiasts amongst you will appreciate the next car. It still has a V8, it is a lot more modern and legendary reliability status (maybe not in a good way) while still seating four depending on if your rear seat passengers would still like their legs to be attached to them after the journey. You must have guessed by now – it is in fact a TVR. The Cerbera was the third car manufactured under the leadership of Peter Wheeler who also put his name to the classic Griffith and the less popular and admired Chimaera. The Cerbera like the Turbo R received major revisions – not so much to the body work but to the inner workings during its production run from 1996 to 2003. For the first time in TVR history, they used their own engines rather than purchase the V8s from the likes of Rover – but after Rovers buy-out by German manufacturer BMW, Peter did not want to risk problems should the Germans decide to cease production of the big V8. First came the 4.2 producing a reasonable, but scary 360 horsepower. A larger version of the 4.2 V8 was offered in 4.5 form. The larger displacement offered an increase in power to 420 horsepower. Most buyers will notice that most Cerberas currently offered for sale have had some sort of modification whether that is to the ECU, induction or exhaust mainly as a result of the lack of power actually achieved from the latter engine.

The Iconic TVR Cerbera makes a lot of sense at £15000

There are other problems that you need to be aware of too; namely the handbrake does not work. This is due to a number of factors, including that you cannot get a straight pull on the lever itself because it’s almost at shoulder height, but also because the handbrake operates on a small (and I mean very small) drum at the centre of the disc. It may also not be anywhere near as refined as the Turbo R, certainly as some cars suffer from letting in a draught from poorly sealing doors or from the vents in the rear screen. Blocking the latter can cause problems too as the car can stream up since no fresh air can circulate.

Supercar hero with performance to die for

Let us not forget though that both these cars are heroes in their own right. The TVR offers supercar performance, noise and looks all wrapped in a glass-fibre body and weights just 1100kg, much less than the equivalent Ferrari. The Bentley offers wafting pace like no other, it really is as versatile as a Passat while still befitting at Wentworth or Ascot. Most importantly though, these cars provide the opportunity to live the dream for relatively little money – certainly nothing like the cost of buying and running a modern Bentley or Supercar.

Intricate details of the Cerbera interior.  Who wouldn’t say no?

What else can you spot in the classifieds? Post your finds below.


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