It’s always fun speculating on future classics — I got to thinking about it in some pretty convoluted ways after spotting a stocky little Fiat Panda 100HP fly past recently. There’s one, a guaranteed future classic, or cult classic at least. The super rare and fantastic to drive Suzuki Ignis Sport is another one. The left-hand-drive only Renault Twingo, another sure bet if you’re a betting-and-losing man.
It seems it takes about 25 to 30 years for nostalgia to kick in. It’s no wonder cars from the Eighties and early Nineties are so hot right now. I just saw a Renault 5 going for the price of a new Clio. I saw a twin-cam, 4AGE-engined (from the infamous Hachi-Roku) beige-as Corolla saloon going for the price of a 2017.
Wistfulness opens pockets. If you haven’t already bought a trans-axle Porsche, well forget it, it’s too late now, they’ve already started to go crazy. Dh150,000 for a 924? But I thought you all said it was just a Volkswagen? Speaking of which the best Mk1 Golfs are right up there too.
The fourth-generation Golf GTI, meanwhile, has the unfortunate distinction of being an almost universally unloved GTI — it followed the mega-hits of the Eighties, the Mk1 and Mk2, and couldn’t redeem the famous nameplate after the lacklustre Mk3.
But then something crazy happened, and Volkswagen was allowed to finally let its hair down. Like, business in the front, party at the back, down. In 2002 Volkswagen released the Golf R32, the original precursor to today’s adored Golf R. The R32 was what happened when VW took the most boring hatch on the market, gave it all-wheel drive and a 240bhp V6 to make one of the greatest hot hatchbacks of all time.
Since it came out in something of a transitory era, the original R32 is the product of an industry that at the time was finding its feet with electronics and digitalisation while still remaining firmly mechanical in practice. The cars still had proper hydraulic steering and naturally-aspirated engines and a lack of high-end kit meant lower weights, and the R32’s super-narrow-angle V6 (with just one cylinder head for both ‘banks’ of threes) was just an iron block motor. What that means is that the R32 is a nice car to drive fast, and a great car to drive daily slow — being simple enough to be fun and modern enough to make sense.
What’s more, as a wild AWD, V6-engined hot hatch with distinctive, beefy bodywork and unique styling touches all around, it’s destined for greatness in the classic car world of the future.
The blessing in disguise with the 2002 R32 is also that most have been modified, badly and not tastefully. That means that factory stock cars are rarer than ever, which only elevates their potential classic status, although it will make your search for the right one harder.
But put in the effort and you’ll be rewarded since no one else has really discovered them yet, so buy it before it rises to the costs of a brand new Golf R, and, oh, darn it, we’ve just looked at the classifieds and they’ve already crossed the Dh100,000 mark… How about that Twingo though?