The Youngtimer concept comes from Germany where certain car lovers began to drive recent, ‘futur’ classics, to feed their passion as inexpensively as possible : getting cars too young to be considered classics and too old to be just ‘used cars’. At first the Youngtimer notion meant a daily driver that gave some emotion and a notion of nostalgia. These cars weren’t categorisable in terms of either time periods (like from 1979 to 1999) or set types, such as sportiness or rarity. Youngtimers were cars from our childhood or adolescence whose attractiveness represented diverse reasons: a famille car, or dream car, or the symbol of memories from youthful romances. Placed at the heart of our memories, the Youngtimer is the automotive heirloom that we would like to leave for our children. Here is a list of candidates that we could will to our kids for completely subjective reasons.
The Citroën CX
Young people see it today as a tacky, old-fashioned car, something however that it has never been. To the contrary, its Turbo versions (both 1 and 2) made us dream of a time when speed cameras were not yet invented. Even the underpowered version flew over the road: with the turbocharger, it became a missile. How many of us remember the time records set on the ride home from a family weekend getaway in the country or from our summer holiday?
Drawn by Robert Opron, the CX was inspired by its older sister, the DS, without actually copying it: to the contrary, its a very unique styling setting it apart from any other and thus making it one of the most modern cars of its time. Unfortunately, as for the choice of engine, things were limited to using the DS20 and the DSuper motors instead of a trirotor or birotor engine, that had been under development. Even once under Peugeot’s control, this great Citroën never got access to the V6 PRV, reserved exclusively for the Lion’s privilege. No matter, that would be missing the point: its looks, its aerodynamics and its hydraulic suspensions were enough to make it car unlike any other.
Not everybody reacts the same in front of a Citroën: some ride them like a flying carpet while others get carsick because of the suspensions. My son is in the later category but I have reason to believe that once he is of age to get his driving license and he gets behind the wheel, he will appreciate how it drives and its very unusual Direction-Rappel-Asservi (DIRAVI). With prices ranging between 2,000 and 9,000 euros depending on the model and condition, the CX GTI Turbo offers performance at a very affordable price.
The Peugeot 309 GTI-16
The 205 GTI now holds the attention of car collectors in the ‘day late and a dollar short’ category. Even if I have many fond memories in this car, it has become too expensive for such a commun ride. For someone looking for a small sporty car from the same period, why not take a look at the 309 GTI-16, a car that, when new, was considered to be the best that Peugeot had to offer.
You have to overlook its design compared to its little sister: though not horribly ugly, the 309 never won any beauty contests. However with the GTI accessory she looks good enough and can seem even sporty in certain colour options (especially in Miami blue). The basic 309 GTI was not bad at all with its 1.9 litre engine from the 205, producing 130 horsepower. But the ultimate version of the 1.9 power plant, using the 16 valve-set-up, borrowed from the 405 Mi16, earned it 30 hp more (with a feather light weight of 989 kg).
For a short while, just before the 309 GTI-16, Peugeot had tried to propose a sporty version by adding a turbo to its 309 to get 165 horsepower. After producing just a few of these, this adventure was abandoned in favour of the GTI-16 which was much easier to drive and didn’t have the violent turbo lag. The final product was a well balanced, road handling, distinctly sporty coupe, enough so to be named the sports coupe car of the year in 1990.
LVA* quotes a price of around 4,500 euros in 2018: the best examples have become rare, not surprising since the original production was a very modest 5,895 units. Prices will likely be going higher but they seem to be staying in a reachable zone (at least for now).
In conclusion: a super sports coupe at a relatively small price.
The Talbot Tagora SX
Let’s go back, back to the day when Talbot still existed and when its large sedan had the most powerful PRV engine of all the French manufacturers. Back when its square look still looked modern. This was the time when I dreamed of this unlikely car which became one of the biggest French car flops in the history of high-end luxury vehicles, only to be dethroned eventually by the Citroën C6.
With 1,083 examples sold, the Tagora SX, with its V6 PRV and its carburettors boosting its power out put to 165 hp, is without a shadow of a doubt the model to buy despite its rarity. Of course do not expect raisonnable fuel economy, but what a pleasure to say that no other car at the time, neither the Renault 30 nor the Peugeot 604, gave so much power. Particularly well equipped, its attractiveness today is due to its undeniably ‘kitsch’ styling.
Its design seems a little wobbly, sitting on the undercarriage borrowed from the Peugeot 505 for reasons of economies of scale (giving the impression that frame and body are too big!), but for some of us, this is part of its charm.
With a price estimate of around 3,600 euros (LVA* 2018) the Tagora SX is a footnote of French automobile history for a small price.
Renault 25 V6 Turbo
At its introduction in 1984, the Renault 25 offered for its most luxurious version the naturally aspirated V6 PRV engine with 12 valves and only 144 horsepower (and then its ‘displaced’ or ‘split’ crankpins version of 160 horsepower), a little weak for such a car. Renault, who was the leader in turbocharging since their beginnings in Formula 1 and also through the development of the Renault 5 Turbos launched in 1980, decided to add some muscle to its V6 with a 2.5 litre, turbocharged version. When the motor gained the split crankpins and the turbocharger, it also gained 40 additional horsepower, making 184 hp in total and becoming a legitimate rival to some of its German competitors at the time..
Renault didn’t stop there. In 1990 they came out with a new evolution of the PRV turbo engine, incorporating the new generation Garrett T3 turbcharger. This car’s peak power of 205 horsepower could take it to a top speed of 236 km/h. Available in a Baccara luxury version, the Renault 25 V6 Turbo could now rub elbows with the best in its category for performance as well as confort and finish.
The dynamic, nicely re-styled, mid-series version of the Renault 25 V6 Turbo Baccara is still a desirable car today. The ’25’ has always been a thing of French pride, with more than 200 horsepower in a sedan, and Renault’s obsession with quality control at the time, it maintains all of its qualities that made it so desirable back then. The LVA* (2018) price quote ranges starting at 2,500 euros (for the 184 hp version) to more than 3,000 euros (for a 205 hp version. In reality we find it at more varied prices depending on condition and the rare Baccara option.
But what’s not to like about this classy sedan, knowing that my son will also appreciate the metallic voice of “the car that speaks”.
Some people would be surprised to find an Opel in this short list. However this is a very interesting automobile that gave a young twist to a brand that is more famous for its traditional models, such as its large Omega et Senator sedans, than for anything unconventional.
The Calibra, launched in 1990, had remarkably good looks, benefiting from wind tunnel studies and testing.
Everything about its line evokes air penetration, giving it a very sporty allure with seats for 4 adults. One thing for sure, the design of this large coupé is still quite modern even in today’s trafic.
Opel offered a wide range of engine choices, from the well-behaved 4 cylindre, 8 valve motor producing 115 hp, to the fiery hot 2 litre 16 valve turbo with 204 horsepower, not to mention the generous 2.5 litre 170 hp V6.
The most sought after models today are the V6 (LVA* estimate = 6,000 euros) and the turbo (8,000 euros). A good performance package in a good looking coupé, these cars are reasonably priced but are becoming increasingly rare due to age, accidents, scrapping car premiums, and even wild tuning. But once I find the diamond in the ruff, my son will be able to ride the strip in a singular 90s coupé.