'The best car ever made doesn't even exist'

The best car can't be named or driven as it is a car that simply doesn't exist, says Mike Rutherford

OPINION best car

“What’s the best car ever?” is a question I’m often asked, but don’t have an answer for – because such a vehicle doesn’t exist. After four decades driving thousands of motors, however, I’ve concluded THE best for today’s buyers is one that serves up the best of two worlds; offers a bit of both; is two (or more) cars in one.

You might think you need an urban car to commute in the week, then a separate off-roader for Saturday or Sunday fun in the country or at the beach. You don’t. What you need is a 3.5 metre-long Suzuki Jimny 4x4, at less than half the price of the cheapest Land Rover.

Best SUVs and 4x4s to buy

Similarly, if you have Champagne tastes but a tap water budget, join the masses and accept you can’t afford to buy or run that supercar you crave. So forget about the Ferrari costing hundreds of thousands and buy a used Hyundai Coupé V6 for a grand or two. It looks like, and is, a poor man’s supercar-lite. Crucially, unlike Italian dream cars, it’s great for gentle sprints to work, the shops, the tip, or wherever you fancy. 

Reckon you require a vehicle with a tin roof 300 days a year, then a rag top for the remaining 65? Wrong. You need a convertible hard-top. And why suffer all the expense and storage hassles of a classic motor in addition to a contemporary car, when you can instead go for something in between? A £10,000 used Porsche Boxster, perhaps. It’ll offer the very best of both worlds, being both a stylish modern classic, and a highly usable daily car about town. The fact the Boxster borders on supercar status is the icing on the cake.

No need to choose between a light commercial vehicle and a car, either. There are countless ‘vancars’ on sale, with my favourite being the latest version of the Peugeot Rifter/Citroen Berlingo. These are proper Swiss Army knives on wheels.

Vans or motorhomes as short-stay living quarters? Go for the former; the latter can be absurdly expensive. Then, come short holiday or three-day festival time, convert the van (preferably a VW Transporter  or Peugeot Boxer) into a makeshift motorhome simply by chucking in a sofa bed, collapsible table and chairs, portable sink, stove and wardrobe. The crude shower and portaloo are best housed outside in tall tents, though. 

And if you only need a bed for a night, or two at a push, while spending a weekend at a summer music fest, beach, Grand Prix, Goodwood or Le Mans, a large 4x4 or family estate car with its rear seats flattened can serve as a double bed (well, sort of) where occupants are able to grab some kip for a few hours. When I drove from London to Miami (via Iceland, Greenland, Canada) in a Jeep Commander a decade ago, the bulletproof 4x4 was not only my preferred mode of transport, but also my life-saving hotel room, and one far more comfortable, warmer and safer to sleep in than an exposed tent. 

Most important of all, are you torn between a pure-petrol or pure-electric car? For the next year or two at least, go petrol-electric instead. Such vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive and affordable to fund, run and refuel/recharge. Mind you, there is something better and even more flexible than a petrol-electric car, and that’s a petrol-electric van.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know what you think in the comments below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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