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A midlife crisis "What would you do?" Thread


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Watching @dollywobbler rag his Matiz around the Evo triangle last week got me think I would love to do the Scottish North Coast 500 next year, Mrs FL shares my enthusiasm for such an escapade, two options are presenting themselves at the mo:-

1) Get a cheap camper and meander our way through stopping where the fancy takes us, having booked some stops and winging others.

2) Get a cheap convertible and stop in Airbnb's, camping pods and the like.. (part 2 which convertible tempted by MX5, MR2 or Mgf but a bit more space also appeals so Volvo C70,  CLK, Saab, A4 or Pug 306 Cab..)

What would you do?

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Do you like driving? Don't go all the way wishing you were in a sports car.

 

Mrs L1 and I did it before it was a thing as her intensive driving practice before her test,wild camping in a Micra.  You don't need a lot of stuff.

If you aren't camping (or if you camp light) an MX5 is more than enough.  We managed a fortnight camping in an MX5 no bother.    

 

I wouldn't recommend a land barge like a 306, you would be happier in a smaller coupé or hot hatch if you want more space than a 2 seater.

 

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Depends how long you're going for, did 4 days around Scotland in a 7 seater, sleeping on a mattress. Any longer and you might want at least one night where there's a shower. Did similar tours around Wales and Cornwall too, usually there's so much beautiful scenery you won't be worrying about driving fast.

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Many years ago I did a round trip from Glasgow across to the east coast, up past Peterhead, Fraserburgh, onto Wick and Thurso before coming back down through the west coast, Ullapool, Fort William etc, staying at little B&Bs all the way. It was one of the best holidays I've ever had, glorious roads and unusually nice weather. I don't know if I'd risk a convertible, you might be driving it with the roof up most of the time, so your Volvo might as well be a V70 which would haul all your camping gear in.

I did it in the car I happened to have at the time and had a ball.

BMW 4.jpg

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7 hours ago, Floatylight said:

Watching @dollywobbler rag his Matiz around the Evo triangle last week got me think I would love to do the Scottish North Coast 500 next year, Mrs FL shares my enthusiasm for such an escapade, two options are presenting themselves at the mo:-

1) Get a cheap camper and meander our way through stopping where the fancy takes us, having booked some stops and winging others.

2) Get a cheap convertible and stop in Airbnb's, camping pods and the like.. (part 2 which convertible tempted by MX5, MR2 or Mgf but a bit more space also appeals so Volvo C70,  CLK, Saab, A4 or Pug 306 Cab..)

What would you do?

There are no cheap campers these days, buy a convertible and AB&B/pod it, I was supposed to be doing the NC500 with a friend on our bikes in may this year, it didn't happen, so myself and the wife are going to do it in her 308CC early next year, we will have the roof down all the time unless its raining, using a camper wears thin when you are shitting in a bucket and you want a comfy bed and hot shower.

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I cycled it instead of driving it but my thought after I finished was that if I were to drive it I would go for something with sensible ground clearance and a comfortable ride.   A van would be good for the views but a wafty cabrio could be quite nice too I’d think! Something with a bit of a sense of occasion but not too frantic. If you get an mx5 I’d check that the suspension hasn’t been changed for anything too low - there are some faster, smoother roads but a lot of twisty single carriageway for miles and miles,  with bumps and gravelly passing places.

 

 

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I'd probably buy 40 year old car, probably a Porsche 924, then realise I don't have the skills, time or money to do it justice.

I'd probably also buy the dad version of my childhood favourite my of car, so a BMW E46 estate, 6 cylinder, say the 2.5 petrol, and use the fact that it's useful and comfortable to justify it.

Oh, wait a minute...

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Volvo C70 Mk. 1 is superb on long journeys and is a GT, not to be confused with a sports car like the MX5. I did a mid-pandemic Switzerland trip as fast as legally possible: out on day 1, return on day 3. Cruise Control set to match maximum legally allowable speed on GPS. I seem to remember this was ofter a Back to the Future-ingly satisfying  88mph on the dial, equating to 140kph. 12 hours door to door non-stop each way except Eurotunnel, fuel (lots and lots at this speed and 26MPG!) and a quick bite to eat on the return.

The 2.4 Turbo is superb for this!  2.0T is too slow but would have been fine once wound up to speed. 2.3T is faster technically but bigger turbo makes it laggy so no fast across the rev range. A case of an engine available with two different turbos: one catching the headlines and the other giving power all the time so being just fantastic.

The boot does not get smaller when the boot is in it. Its not 1970 (sorry shitters!) so no stupid designs with the roof just plonking in the boot.  The roof goes in to a designated box in the boot area so you know the size of your boot at all times. Admittidly it is smaller than a S70 as you loose the top half of it. The boot is deep and there are always back seats. My wife and I have made use of the boot and back seats for extended cruisies around the UK. It is probably one of the most comfortable cruisers you can get for the money and if equiped with the SC-901 and centre surroud speaker is the most sonically perfect car I've ever been in.

Oh.... and it needs to be sold as project 480 and Avantime are done soon because who doesn't need unobtainium only powered cars to rely on daily?

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I did it last year with @Fraz and our partners. Whilst some of the roads are fantastic it's not 500 miles of flat out driving, more cruising and taking in the amazing scenery. It can be tiring though, especially on some of the single track bits. A comfy GT of some sort with a bit of poke would be ideal-V70 coupe/convertible isn't a bad shout actually.

We did it in April, weather was surprisingly good and traffic not too bad. Do it in the summer and it'll be rammed. 

 

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Mx5 with a boot rack if 2 soft bags aren't enough, the boot is bigger than it seems

 

we flew to aberdeen in 2017 , bought a MX5 then spent 4 nights in the highlands, drove to inverness then down loch ness to fort william, then glasgow then home , it was spectacular, but , late april so no midges, weather was great, it snowed, a bit, and was pretty chilly

 

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Outwith covid considerations if you really want to celebrate a mid life crisis then I'd sack off the idea of the NW500 and head to the Alps/Dolomites/Pyrenees or if you really want to have your mind blown by the scenery and roads then push the boat out and go to Norway. They're all magnitudes better in the scenery department and I say that as a life long scotsman.

That said with covid still hanging around planning the NW500 is a good shout as it should at least be an achievable goal for next year. As @domepoints out you've got to try and hit the sweet spot of good spring weather and empty roads. It get's really busy in the summer and the driving experience can be sub-optimal if you're constantly in a line of traffic stuck behind grandma doing 30mph.

I'd 100% say GT/Ragtop and air B&B. Big camper = misery on single track roads, small camper = misery in wet weather (still better than a tent though). Having done the campervan experience in the past I don't think there is such a thing as a cheap camper. Not if you want something reliable and watertight that is. Campsites aren't as cheap as you'd think either compared to air B&B either so all in car + B&B could well work out cheaper. Lot's of B&B in Scotland but book in advance if you're going in the holiday season.

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17 minutes ago, blackboilersuit said:

Outwith covid considerations if you really want to celebrate a mid life crisis then I'd sack off the idea of the NW500 and head to the Alps/Dolomites/Pyrenees or if you really want to have your mind blown by the scenery and roads then push the boat out and go to Norway. They're all magnitudes better in the scenery department and I say that as a life long scotsman.

I'm planning on doing the NW500 as a shakedown for the Lada once it's done, so that I can do apres skiing in Switzerland while taking in Nice, Monaco and Le Mans. So I'm already with you on that suggestion!

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17 minutes ago, blackboilersuit said:

Outwith covid considerations if you really want to celebrate a mid life crisis then I'd sack off the idea of the NW500 and head to the Alps/Dolomites/Pyrenees or if you really want to have your mind blown by the scenery and roads then push the boat out and go to Norway. They're all magnitudes better in the scenery department and I say that as a life long scotsman.

 

I'd agree with that ,apart from anyone who's never been further north than Manchester will be blown away by the highlands , not saying floatylight has never been north of Manchester but for those that never have it's pretty spectacular

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I'm thinking about doing the NC500 or something similar with MrsREB when she's over, she studied here for 5 years and hardly left St Andrews! In an ideal world I'd be doing it in the pug, I've driven around the Highlands in it a couple of times and it's a surprisingly pleasant experience and it's got a decent sized boot for camping tat. I like the sound of C70 too though!

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Get yourself a couple of water proof chairs and a sturdy water proof gazebo.

Set the chairs just outside the Gazebo and plonk your big flatscreen TV under it to keep it dry

Then do some of that Phone-Casting trickery on to the screen and hey presto you can see all the good bits while getting rained on for the extra 3D experience.

 

https://www.grumpycamel.com/virtual-tours-of-scotland/

This way you can sack it off and have a cuppa any time it gets too bleak without pitching a tent in the rain.

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20201119_144939.thumb.jpg.68daed8e81f3e0d159218ce1bf58612a.jpg

My favourite trip to The highlands involved staying in the finest establishments in the Land.  Yes.  SYHA 

10 days running it in (after an engine rebuild)  From Redditch to Syke and back.  I travelled light. One panier had waterproofs and footwear.   The other 2 stroke oil and food. And the bag, clothes. 

20201119_144948.thumb.jpg.815e5f0171caaa5167c9e7b35be5c276.jpg

 

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Thanks for all the responses so far, I think April ish with B&B's /Airbnb is the way to go, not really bothered about hooning it everywhere, so more of a GT kind of cabrio sounds appealing.. 

Any more thoughts / suggestions / recommendations for Stop overs etc welcomed!

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Every two years I make the Christmas trip home from where I live now in Essex to the famille home in South Yorkshire, taking in Lands End and John O'Groats on the way (man maths). It's become tradition. What also has become tradition is to make it a little different each time.

2011 - inaugural (DNF, Porsche exploded), 2014 - Unfinished business, two year tradition had not established (MR2), 2016 - Motorways were boring, avoid all motorways (944), 2018 - Roof down all the way (GTV Spider, frozen), 2020 - take in the NC500! (Volvo 480, still not MOT'd with a month to go...). I'm hoping to go this December but for 2020's attempt I might have to get a bit liberal with the traditional December dates given what's going on across the country.

Category of choice: always a sports* car.

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