Hi all, let me introduce myself.
My current car and circumstances
I am a thirty-something family man with a passion for cars. Right now I'm in a current model (E91) BMW 320d Touring (ducks to avoid the thrown eggs from the Alfisti), which is an amazing drivers car but somewhat common these days.
With a second baby on the way and the wife now having swapped her supermini for a Renault Scenic, I am now free to buy whatever I want so long as it has 4 seats and a reasonable boot - however with a somewhat lower budget (~£18k as opposed to ~£23k). I won't be changing for a while yet as I'd lose a fortune on the Beemer, but the cars I am looking at are:
Alfa 159 (why else would I be here!) - utterly gorgeous, great value and goes back to my roots in terms of owning Italian cars. My only worries are the dealers, which are what turned me away from Italian cars in the first place, and reliability.
Lexus IS250 - A little off the beaten track, reliable, well specced, and a nice V6 engine. However, at the back of my mind will be the thought that it is a Toyota, and it is a little pricey.
BMW 3-series - Great car, but I wouldn't buy the same car twice as I just get bored too quickly
Audi A4 - New one too expensive, old one obsolete and showing its age
Merc C-Class - Ditto the Audi A4 really. I like the new W204 C-Class, but am unlikely to get a decent one for the money.
So there you have it, I've got the feelers out for my next car, and some time in 2008 will buy one. The 159 2.2JTS looks nice, as I'm a bit of a petrolhead really, but it faces fairly strong competition from the Lexus IS - a very different car.
My car history shows a gradual shift from Italian to German:
Fiat 127 - great first car but needed a clutch cable every 9000 miles (I used to carry one in the boot and could predict its demise a few minutes ahead of time and change it in 15 minutes). My sister piled that into a Ford Escort.
Fiat Regata - dull but worthy, nuff said
Alfasud 1.3SC - this was stunning. 6k miles from new and had been holed up in a garage for 10 years after it's owner had died. Absolutely spotless with no rust. I knew I would've wrecked it with the miles I do and lack of garage, so after 3k miles I sold it for twice what I bought it for
Lancia Dedra 2.0ie - Probably my favourite car I have ever owned, despite it being clocked, I think, and needing a new gearbox at a reported 50k miles. Dealer refused to honour the warranty even though they admitted the fault had probably been there from new. Put me off Fiat dealers bigtime, leading to a big battle with Lancia UK, which I won but still ended up paying nearly a grand. Lovely engine and great alcantara seats.
Fiat Punto (Mk1) 1.1EL 6-spd - Needed to save money after the Lancia money pit. Nice little motor, in hindsight
Fiat Bravo 1.8HLX - nice car which served me well, but ultimately superceded by an impulse purchase. I also drove an early 156 at this time, which I thought was good but not that much better than the Bravo (at least not enough to justify buying one).
Peugeot 306 Cabrio - gorgeous Pininfarina design bowled me over, so I just bought it and posed for a couple of years. Reasonable drivers car too for a drop-top.
VW Golf GTI - My first brand new car, and I quite enjoyed it, but it cost a lot in the end with heavier than expected depreciation.
BMW 318Ci coupe - Also bought new in 2002. Lovely car which I enjoyed every minute of (sorry!). Could've done with more power though.
Volvo S40 2.4i - Current generation model, which spent more time at the dealers than all my previous cars put together, and had an awful auto gearbox that just couldn't decide what gear to be in. Bit of a Friday afternoon/pre-production model I think as it was the earliest S40 I've seen.
BMW 320d SE - Current generation and a brilliant drive. Lovely engine, apart from the tractor-like noise. Bought on the fond memories of my coupe and bad experience with the Volvo. Runflat tyres are absolutely awful though - terrible ride, skittish in the wet, and tyres only last 12k miles if you are lucky.