Time capsule cars | Six of the Best

One day, you'll wake up and new combustion cars will be outlawed – what would you like to have in the garage?

By PH Staff / Saturday, 14 January 2023 / Loading comments

BMW M3 (E92), 2008, 58k, £24,995

In any decade previous to this one, the idea of buying a car as a time capsule might’ve seemed peculiar. The temptation to lock something special away has always existed, of course – but typically great expense or anticipation of rising prices would’ve been the motivation for doing it. Now, with a hybrid-only 2030 looming (and worse to come) there are valid reasons for preserving something fiery that has nothing whatsoever to do with money. Who wouldn’t want to creak the garage doors open in an EV-only era to see a gleaming, mint-condition E92 M3 leering back at you? That sound and feel of its V8 when everything around you is noiseless and emotionally vapid? Fugetaboutit. And sure, combustion engines will linger for a long time after the axe falls on brand-new stuff, but how much of it will be of the cherished sort? Not much is the answer. Accordingly, like Richard Bacon stumbling into the Blue Peter garden with a shovel, we’ve selected half a dozen to preserve for prosperity. Starting with this delectable Melbourne Red M3 from Munich Legends. 

Alpine A110, 2018, 18k, £44,995

The way things are heading, lightweight cars will be few and far between in years to come. Unless there’s a mightily significant development in battery technology, it’s unlikely that the current trend of weighing cars down with lithium-ion dumbbells is changing soon. Beyond the usual suspects from Lotus, the antidote to heavy cars – of today and the future – has to be the featherweight Alpine A110. Tiny, low and weighing just a tonne – well, ish – it’s going to feel even more special than it does today. And if you’ve ever driven an A110, you’ll know they feel pretty special already. It’s not just the weight alone, but also the springing. The trend for stiffly sprung cars hasn’t just arrived with electric offerings. It’s been around for a while, and having a car that breathes with the road and even rolls gently in the corners like the A110 does (yes, body roll, in a sports car), is another of life’s great pleasures. The little A110 may have only been around a few years, but its approach is as retro as they come.

Porsche 911 Carrera S (991), 2012, 20k, £58,990

It would be wrong – probably criminal – to leave Porsche off this list. After all, the unfettered rasp of a flat-six will surely be one of the noises we’ll be missing the most. And I say ‘unfettered’ because a 991.1 was the last of the naturally aspirated brigade – unless you’re thinking about venturing to the wallet-crushing territory of GT3s. I am not saying this C2 will give you quite the same rawness as one of those, but it still has a sense of purity about it. Not just thanks to its atmospheric breathing but also a manual gearbox and just two driven wheels. For all those that say, ‘It’s just a 911,’ that’s true, it is. And when the 911s of the future are whizzing around silently, even you will be ruing the days when cars like this were rife. What’s more, it’s yours for less than £60,000 with sensible mileage, too. It might be the everyday sports car, but this 911 is anything but boring.

Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, 6k, £34,148

When I was at the launch of the Civic Type R this week, I got talking to another journalist whose writing you’ll most likely have read. He’s been around an awfully long time, written for all the top mags and papers, and he’s one of the respected ones. Anyway, I always enjoy talking to him because he’s old school and always has a view that I enjoy listening to, even if I don’t always agree with it. What’s this got to do with the GR Yaris? Well, after bemoaning electric cars because they offer zero excitement in equal measure to their emissions, and saying he had been struggling to get excited about modern machinery in general, he suddenly perked up. “But I had a GR Yaris the other week,” he said, “and I absolutely love that car. Reminds me of a modern-day Integrale”. It does me, too, come to think of it, in the way it’s small and surefooted enough to absolutely demolish a B road. For that reason, it definitely deserves a place on this list.

Bentley Brooklands, 2008, 8k, £136,950

There are cars with bigger engines, but not much bigger. And there are cars with more cylinders, of course. Yet there’s something about the hand-built Brooklands, with its hand-assembled 6.75-litre L Series pushrod V8, that seems to exemplify the non-hybrid era. Basically, it’s big in size, big in capacity and has a big thirst. Above all, though, it’s big on charm. I can very much imagine this would feel like a lovely throwback to look forward to in the post-2030 apocalypse. It’s not only its size and engine, though. Think about its interior for a moment. It’s festooned with buttons – real ones, rather than icons. There is an infotainment screen, but as that motors out of the leather-trimmed top roll and displays its fuzzy, Commadore 64 graphics, it’ll seem like a far cry from the all-encompassing IMAX screens of 2030. Bloody good job, too. It’s also a reminder of the days when big Bentleys or Rolls-Royces, could deliver the on-road presence of a 36-tonne Mack truck, while being beautifully elegant with it. 

Ferrari 599 GTB, 2009, 18k, £99,950

It’s a total coincidence, this. A list that just happens to include three, four, six, eight and now twelve cylinders. Almost the complete boxset of internal combustion. Well, maybe that’s not quite true – there was an element of wanting certain engines, and one of them was certainly a V12. And not just any old V12. The Godfocker of V12s: one made by Ferrari with a crackled red finish on top. That’s twelve cylinders, arranged in a 65-degree vee, displacing 6.0 litres, and revving out to 8,400rpm. A little before that crescendo it would hit 620hp, which at the time made it the most powerful series production engine in Ferrari’s history. It also produced over 100hp per litre without forced induction, and if you need a pin-up that encapsulates the fabulousness of internal combustion, at or near its peak, then this Tipo F140 motor is it. As a bonus, it’s wrapped up in a dazzling Pininfarina body, with that classic long-bonnet, short-back stance that can only mean one thing: no electric motors, just a colossal engine up front. And all for less than six figures, too. 

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