Every car fan has played this game. Close your eyes and image that you are walking towards a building with five closed garage doors. It can be any building, old or new, but the important thing is that it is yours and, as such, the contents of said garage is also yours. Five doors, five cars. So, with price or availability not in the equation, which cars would you have hidden behind each door?
In this new series, each member of the CAR team will take you on a tour of their ultimate fantasy garage. Each to their own, as they say, but the beauty of this thing we call the car game is that no two garages are likely to be the same and everyone loves a particular car for a different reason.
It’s the turn of associate editor Sudhir Matai to walk you around his five-car fantasy garage. To date we’ve featured Hannes Oosthuizen, Mike Fourie, Peter Palm, Wilhelm Lutjeharms, Kelly Lodewyks, Terence Steenkamp and Kyle Kock.
Mercedes-Benz Uhlenhaut Coupe
The car that never was… As much as I love the shape of original 300SL – considering it the most beautiful of all time – this Uhlenhaut Coupe is really one to fantasise over. The brainchild of then Mercedes motorsport boss (and therefore named after him) this was an amalgamation of the all-conquering 300 SLR road racer and the original Gullwing. Over 230 kW was on tap from the eight-cylinder motor, which meant that the Uhlenhaut Coupe could reputedly reach 290 km/h, remember this was in the late 1950s… Mercedes bosses thought the better of unleashing a car with this level of performance on the motoring world and therefore only the two prototypes are said to exist.
This the first true hypercar and one that I have lusted after since the first time saw it. Built to celebrate 40 years of the Prancing Horse (hence the name) F40 set the benchmark as the first series production car that could top 200 mph (322 km/h). Powered by a force-fed V8 that cranked out over 350 kW and with no driver aids to speak of, not even ABS or power steering, the F40 requires a talented pilot to drive it really quickly. It has a simple Pinifarina penned body and is shorn of almost all luxuries, including door handles and floor mats. Not only is beautiful, well in my eyes anyway, but it also has a pedigree that even even excites one of my driving heroes.
I am quite surprised that none of my colleagues have yet included this in their lists. The McLaren F1 is what happens when you let a former Formula One designer build the ultimate road car. Ex-McLaren man and local-lad Gordon Murray benchmarked the best in the business including the F40 (above) and then set about beating every single performance criterion achieved by the, until then, best in the business. F1′s carbon fibre monocoque housed a BMW-built naturally aspirated V12 that developed in excess of 460 kW, which is impressive by today’s standards let alone 1992. The performance figures are astounding and nothing of the era could touch it, few today can match it. It is in a word: breathtaking.
My fantasy garage would have to possess at least one mental rally car and it does not get more crazy than the ECV (for experimental composite vehicle). This is where Group B rallying would have progressed to in 1987 if the class had not been outlawed in 1986. Engineers from the Italian firm’s rally outfit saw the benefits of employing carbon-fibre panels and wheels to keep overall mass low; as a result the S4-based ECV1 weighed a scant 930 kg. High-tech continued under the engine cover where two turbochargers were used, first in sequence then in parallel, to boost power of the 1,8-litre four to 450 kW… (I’ll give you a second to calculate the power to mass…). The in-line motor also featured crossed over exhaust valves placing one blower on either side of the head. Of two prototypes one was loving rebuilt by a privateer and (re)debuted to the world in 2010.
This is the high watermark of automotive production, of that there can be very little doubt. With increasing pressure from the eco-mentalists there is not likely to be a car that drips excess in the same way that the Big Bugg does. Supposedly built on the whim of an egotistical leader, Veyron had an incredibly long gestation period. An even 1 000 hp (736 kW) and a top speed of over 400 km/h means that it should be an inclusion on any petrolheads must-have list.