Home » For Three Days In California, This Once-Forbidden Renault Twingo Was The Best Car On Earth

For Three Days In California, This Once-Forbidden Renault Twingo Was The Best Car On Earth

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I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend in the past four years: the cost of every hobby I’ve ever had has skyrocketed in price, regardless of the subculture. Film cameras, vinyl records, vintage fashion, old hi-fis, even Hot Wheels—everything I’ve ever gotten into as a means to have fun on the cheap becomes an investment opportunity or a status symbol.

Nowhere has this been more intense than in the automotive world; the combination of pandemic vehicle shortages drying up normal used car supplies, intense investor focus on previously-despised cars, the average American car on the road getting older than ever, and rising new car prices thanks to general economic weirdness have all created a deeply weird and inaccessible moment for many people who love to drive. I knew that the cars of my youth wouldn’t stay cheap forever, but I didn’t expect cheap cars to disappear entirely.

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[Editor’s Note: Welcome Victoria Scott, who has written for a number of automotive outlets, including The Drive. I personally remember her from her pieces on her amazing Toyota Hiace adventure. -DT].

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Even if I somehow didn’t need to sweat the ever-rising cost (and trust me, I do), the sudden spike in car values still visibly shifted the dynamic of the hobby. Welding your differential and drifting until the tires blow off is no big deal in a $3,000 car—I’d argue it was a crucial rite of passage for me—but it becomes a vastly different proposition when the exact same vehicle is suddenly worth $15,000. Unless you’ve got money to burn, using that old JDM rear-drive coupe to shred feels a lot more irresponsible than it did a few years ago. 

For me, it’s caused a noticeable change in tone in the automotive world. The enthusiast oddballs daily-driving valueless cheap “classics” have become harder to spot in the increasingly dense sea of v-neck-tee-and-a-Rollie hard parkers who increasingly treat their cars like investments because they are investments. 

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Lately, I’ve felt weirdly out of place in a world I once was so at home in I made a career out of it. I’d dissociated–observing something I loved that remained so familiar, and yet had become so markedly different—and I needed some sort of antidote to escape it.

The cure appeared in the form of a little teal pill.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

The 1994 Renault Twingo

This little teal pill is a first-generation Renault Twingo. It is a city runabout designed by Frenchmen, built by Brazilians, and driven by any European on a budget who needed a car. While it has somewhat of a legendary presence on the internet due to its smug visage—Twingo plushies abound—there seem to be precious few people who’ve ever bothered importing one to the U.S. Exact numbers are difficult to confirm, but I’ve heard rumors this is only the fourth or fifth one to make landfall in the States, and since they only hit the legal 25-year mark in 2019, this seems plausible. 

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Photo: Victoria Scott

A closer look reveals it’s understandable why the humble Twingo has avoided the hypebeast fate of, say, the Nissan Skyline. Its 1.2-liter eight-valve four-cylinder boasts all of 55 horsepower and offers the idle qualities of a 1950s tractor engine on a cold start; top speed arrives at about 80 miles an hour. It has a five-speed manual whose gearshift wobble could make a Weeble blush

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Its standard amenities list, especially in its first years of production (including 1994, when this car was made) basically begins and ends with “seats and four wheels”; ABS, airbags, electronic locks, power anything, an automatic transmission, and even an internal trunk release wouldn’t even be offered as options until much later in the model’s life. (The top-trim Wind package installed on this car did feature the mild suggestion of air conditioning and a cassette deck, both of which no longer work.) 

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Unlike other de-contented cheap classic hatches from Europe, the Twingo never achieved any sort of motorsports stardom despite its 1,700-pound curb weight. A racing homologation version was built as a concept, but it never saw actual track time, and a cursory glance of European amateur rally and hillclimb videos shows that most grassroots-level drivers rarely bother campaigning them.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

On top of all this, first-gen Twingos are also absurdly common, with over 2.6 million produced during its nearly twenty-year-long production run. Ultimately, this means that old Twingos are basically worthless in Europe; this example, remarkably clean aside from a rocker-panel dent and some paint scuffs, was about $1,200. Shipping one to the U.S. is significantly more than that. As investments go, it’s a pretty damn stupid one.

Luckily, I know a guy who really likes making stupid investments.

Why We Do These Things to Ourselves

 

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That guy—an old friend who has an eclectic collection of older cars—happened to travel to Europe last year. He drove this Twingo, fell in love with it, and decided to bring it home mostly because he wanted to (and it could serve as a daily driver with a bit more room than his current around-town car, a 1992 Honda Beat.) His friend who’d accompanied him had also decided to import an exceedingly teal and green Mercedes Benz W124. 

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Three months later, both cars arrived at a port in Benicia, California, and needed to reach their final homes in the Seattle area. My friend called, inviting me to drive the Twingo home with him. I agreed immediately. 

We headed for California Route 1, one of my favorite stretches of road in America and certainly one of the most beautiful places on the continent, and drove on toward Seattle. 

We Go In The Twingo

On Route 1, I found that the Twingo is actually remarkably comfortable on long drives. Its interior, aptly described by another friend of mine as “a Bop-It turned inside out”, is spartan but its seats are more pleasant than most modern cars, with utterly phenomenal back support. 

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Despite my six-foot-one stature, I had plenty of head and leg room, and never got sore. We stashed two suitcases, two camera bags, and a lot of cheap California booze in the trunk without any issue; at another point, we got four people comfortably seated inside. Diminutive as it is, the Twingo’s wheelbase is as long as its dimensions will physically allow, and so it soaks up bumps well. It’s no Cadillac, but it’s a lot less punishing than almost anything I’ve driven at its price point of dirt cheap. 

Beyond cruising, it’s a bit less enticing. The transmission… shifts gears. Do not expect a Honda-like, mechanically-precise throw. Its powerband, if it can be called that, does not encourage high-RPM antics; it’s quick enough to pull away from stop lights, but aerodynamics have a diminishing effect on speeds above 40 mph. I found myself desperately plotting my lane changes as I headed into uphill stretches to keep the 1.2-liter four-banger moving us at the speed limit. Any poorly-planned braking on a grade meant that 40 mph was about all you’d receive.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

The real reason the Twingo never achieved motorsports success became more obvious on the many, many turns of Route 1. Wrung out as a maximum-momentum car, the Twingo scrubs speed in even the slightest corner long before understeer can actually be induced; its low power means you can forget about adding speed mid-corner to try and push it toward its limits.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Its standard brakes do not need ABS because they are not strong enough to lock, and so they refuse to contribute to any kind of lift-off oversteer. Its steering is manual-rack communicative, yes, but the Twingo will simply go where you aim it, and slowly. Despite its impish looks, it’s actually boringly responsible on the roads. 

Collector Culture and The Experience

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Photo: Victoria Scott

If it sounds like I was disappointed, I wasn’t. The Twingo was indeed the medicine I needed to cure my dissociation. I didn’t need high-stakes speed or razor-edge handling or lavish appointments to evoke fond memories of why I enjoy cars; I needed to experience an experience. 

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It is my staunch belief that the final perversion of collector culture is to turn useful objects into assets, thereby destroying their utility. The minute that rock chips and door-dings become an existential threat to a car’s worth, the car loses its original purpose; simply put, investments cannot be useful objects. 

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Photo: Victoria Scott

This stands in direct opposition to everything that made me fall in love with cars to begin with. Automotive museums have their place, but the highest aspiration of my hobby was never to walk around my own personal Petersen Museum, watching the cars I’d dreamt of collect dust as they stored value for me; I want to experience them. I want to drive. 

Ultimately, I think this has been the root of my disconnect from the automotive world around me. I can only gawk at “clean examples” for so long before I find myself wondering what they could have accomplished, what stories they could have told if the odometer had been allowed to roll a little bit further. 

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Therein lies why the Twingo was the perfect car to rekindle the joy I’d been missing for so long. It is not an exceptionally quick car—not even slow-car-fast—and it isn’t inherently exciting to drive.

It does, however, have very big windows, and it is defiantly opposed to collecting value. It is meant to be driven.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

And so we drove it, and I stared out those big windows as the beautiful world rolled by, and that was all I needed to rekindle my passion. The Twingo, with its frugal ethos and minimal accessories, reduces the mathematical equation of what a car is down to its simplest terms. With all the complicating variables removed, the experience took center stage.

Simply put: the odometer ticked up, and I got a story to tell.  

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Photo: Victoria Scott

The Twingo is a comfortable little city car; I’m sure my friend will get great use out of it in Seattle. More importantly though: it will be used and driven. The mileage will keep climbing, and it will keep having stories to tell. 

The best car is the one you drive. For three days in California, a ’94 Renault Twingo was the best car in the entire world.

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Photo: Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is an automotive writer and photographer whose work has appeared in The Drive, Jalopnik and many other places. Her book, Postcards From the End of the World, is on sale now. 

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SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
11 months ago

Excellent piece, Victoria, and reminded me of the extreme gobsmackery of the Twingo’s reveal in Paris, where it sucked the oxygen out of the motor show for all other makers.
The design is almost perfect for what it is, every element inside and out made to do the most work possible within limited cost constraints.
Unfortunately, I have only ever driven one with the foul clutchless manual transmission, which I couldn’t get out of fast enough. It did have the lovely cloud pattern seats, though.
Once saw one near Stuttgart, lowered on even smaller diameter tyres. It looked brilliant, like a slot-racer ready to go (although probably horrible for Autobahn driving).

alwaysbroke
alwaysbroke
1 year ago

Great article simplicity is a virtue. I’ve really enjoyed your writing on various sites hope to see more here

Peter d
Peter d
1 year ago

Victoria, it is our pleasure to have you here. David is right the Hiace story was awesome, as was the Rebelle Rally story.

Maybe I am in too comfortable a place but EBay and Craigslist still had some nice HiFi stuff at somewhat reasonable rates -as long as you are not shooting for esoteric stuff like McIntosh or Mark Levinson. I sent my old Luxman separates to my brother last year because the going rates on EBay were so low.

The twingo at 1,700 hundred pounds is a bit of an anachronism- gosh I wish I could get a fun car that comes in under 3,700 pounds today – I miss lightweight cars!

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

Victoria.
You are not supposed to tell me of all people why the Twingo is awful. I am the one person on this site who could bring them over by the very literal boatload.
And the only person insane enough to go “hey wait a second.” Then immediately check the physical dimensions and electrical architecture of another Renault engine which can be sourced in quantity, and cheaply.

Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain the really good engine won’t fit (and is hard to source.) So who wants to learn who Gordini is and what a Twingo will do with double the horsepower? 😉

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

OK wait wait wait. You’ve got a hookup for importing Euro shitboxes and you’re holding out? I’ve been perusing German classifieds for Twingos for years and always run into the issue that it’s a giant pain in the ass to actually get the things stateside, given the lack of infrastructure (relative to the JDM side) for doing that.

667
667
11 months ago

Stop looking at german market, watch for france, spain and portugal (last one for japaneses with LHD) you’ll get better cars overall. Avoid anything from NL, it’s always beautiful from far. Cheap from Belgium or germany means dead.
Also, avoid restored/respray, buy original condition.
Also, you can ask locals for Ppi and help to ship, i do that sometimes (for money).

StayPutReachJump
StayPutReachJump
1 year ago

Yay! You’re here! I was wondering where you’d end up when you left The Drive! So glad you landed here!

Love the article, and I agree with your outlook completely! I own a 1980 BMW 320i, which is one of the least desirable BMW 3 series ever produced, the E21. This car has been in my family since new, and I took over ownership of it in 2014. When I did, I had to drive to Port Townsend, WA with a truck and flat bed trailer to go ‘rescue’ it from my aunt’s yard. It took me a few months to get it mechanically sorted out, but now, my wife and I have been enjoying its sprightly, nimble handling ever since.

While the E21 has been derided compared to the 2002 it replaced and the E30 that succeeded it, its still a damn enjoyable drive! I think as a new car, the criticism was warranted, but as a 40 year old clunker, its fantastic. My car even looks like crap too, but it drives so well! I’d hate to drive it long distance on an Interstate, but doing the highways would be a blast.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago

Oh this is a freelance piece, I’m still bouncing around a bunch of outlets (although I do genuinely hope this is the first of many pieces here at The Autopian!)

I adore the E21, they’re so overlooked but everyone I’ve ever met that drove one actually says it drives really fun despite the fact the 2002 gets way more credit! Honestly, “looks like crap” is my favorite kind of car; those are road scars, and I dig scars lol

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
1 year ago

Great piece, and the pics of your trip are awesome! I love that drive up Hwy 1 through Mendocino and Humboldt.

Kody Dagley
Kody Dagley
1 year ago

Awesome article Victoria! More people need to appreciate cheap, basic little cars with character! I fear cheap cars with character are slowly going to disappear as EVs and Crossovers evolve the automotive landscape into a vastly similar pile of sameness 🙁

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Kody Dagley

I worry about accessibility more than I do similarity; I grew up with 80s Japanese cars that were all somewhat interchangable (especially hondas, where they used the same engines in nearly everything!) and the thing that kept me engaged was that I could easily work on most of them. EVs really only scare me because it’s extremely difficult to service most of them as a home mechanic (same with more complicated, less-right-to-repair modern ICE cars, tbh).

Either way, I hope the hobby stays vibrant for many more years. Thanks so much for reading!

Jb996
Jb996
1 year ago

Your photography is excellent, and it really lifts this story to a higher level then the text alone.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Jb996

thank you so much, I appreciate it a lot because the photos are half the fun for me!

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
1 year ago

Thanks for a great story.
This make me think of the car auctions on TV. I love watching the cars roll by and it’s fun watching the bidding wars. But I always feel sad knowing that these cars will never be driven. I’m more excited by the “good quality drivers.” BTW, I would have to name that little car Johnny Twingo or The Twingo Kid.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Iwannadrive637

Doc Holliday: “Look dahlin’, it’s Johnny Twingo.” 🙂

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Iwannadrive637

You’d be surprised sometimes. I know of at least one car that came home from whatever auction was in Scottsdale recently through the big Texas ice storm. Forget waiting for transport—the owner just drove it back.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 year ago

Great to see you here, Victoria! But I must say, having your own Petersen Museum is fantastic. The trick is to just have a few cars and the last name Petersen. We have a 7 car Petersen Museum thanks to convenient last name spelling. You’re welcome to stop by The Petersen Interactive Automotive Museum any time, if you book a ticket 30 minutes or more in advance I’ll even set the MR2 seat to the tall setting!

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago

alright well I’ll admit, having a museum where you can drive the exhibits sounds like EXACTLY my kinda vibe 😀 thank you so much, when winter passes and I can travel easier I will extremely take you up on that!!!

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Mi casa es su casa once the snow melts!

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

I was previously unfamiliar with your work, Victoria, but I’m pleased to add you to my list of Favored Automotive Writers (top of list, Peter Egan).

As for the topic at hand, I’m absolutely in love with “the essence of car”. Except, because I live in Las Vegas, A/C is non-negotiable. As I’ve written before, my DD is a fleet-spec ’02 Silverado. It sits in a sweet spot of having all I need (FI, ABS, A/C) and nothing I don’t (manual windows/locks, no carpet, vinyl bench seat).

Welcome to The Autopian.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Thank you so much, that means a lot to me!

I used to live in Houston, TX, so trust me I understand not negotiating on A/C lol. Summers there made me fear Hell. That’s a fantastic spec truck; my partner has a fleet-spec 4WD ’00 F150 and I love it for the same reasons! Bench seats are the best

David Smith
David Smith
1 year ago

The photo of the Twingo on the beach (with the sunset behind) looked too much like Shrek for me not to mention it.
It’s got layers, like an onion.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago

I spent like…. a lot of money getting my 95 S6 Avant repainted, wet sanded, polished, new headlight glass, etc. Then I drove it daily in the winter, and blasted across the states on ski trips, through blizzards, up mountain passes with cars throwing rocks everywhere. Someone once asked me why I would bother getting a car painted and then thrashing it, and I had no answer other than because I can. Would it be worth more on paper with less miles and rock chips? Sure. But everything is temporary. Drive shit or sell it.

John Hower
John Hower
1 year ago

Good to see you here, Victoria! You have a fantastic story-telling knack, and I hope to read more of it on The Autopian.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  John Hower

Thank you so much! I hope to have many more stories to tell here 🙂

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

Autopian has entered the Victorian Age. Look forward to seeing your byline more often.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Next article: How to heel-toe downshift in a hoop skirt

Dalton
Dalton
1 year ago

I love Victoria’s writing and this was so great!

I found the quote regarding collector thing becoming assets especially great.

Here’s to going out and driving, and experiencing.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dalton

Thank you so much!!

Doug Kretzmann
Doug Kretzmann
1 year ago

used to drive a Renault 5, which in 1980s got about 45mpg.. never really seen the need for more car than that. I’d drive that or a Twingo now if I could find one..

Drove a Twingo for two weeks on a Greek island. It carried the family of four and luggage contentedly over the mountains. Sure it could have been faster up the hills, but I was driving in the mountains on a Greek island, slow made it last longer, that was fine by me.

Counterpoint on the vinyl – there are new turntables that are inexpensive and good, I can buy quite a lot of new releases on vinyl, and find replacement cartridges etc easily. Old records are getting a bit unaffordable but often a Goodwill run will work..

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Kretzmann

Twingo in Greece sounds like the perfect vacation!

And that’s a fair counterpoint; I guess I would make it easier on myself if I didn’t try to thrift all my audio gear, lol

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 year ago

I really gotta get one of these while they remain cheap in my neck of the woods. I’ve lost some incredible deals in the last few years; I almost pulled the trigger on a mint condition, sub-100.000km Vert Coriandre ’93 with an asking price of €450 negotiable a few years back. Ended up feeling like we couldn’t justify owning a third car, but I secretly regret not buying it to this day.

You can still find them at that price but they’ll be far from mint condition. But there’s lots of sub-€1K in great condition, and older ones are normally on the cheaper end of the price spectrum, despite being equipped with nearly-indestructible Cléon-Fonte engines (older ones tend to look a bit more rough, but I’d be fine with that).

SLM
SLM
1 year ago

Hère in French guiana, you won’t fond a first gen twingo. They are so valuable that an old beater would cost you more than 1k€. Confortable on the road, at ease on dirt roads, easy to repair. The people who still got one won’t sell it…

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
11 months ago
Reply to  SLM

That’s the smartest thing, really. Here in Portugal they sold in huge numbers, and most owners didn’t take the best care of their Twingos, but that also means people are only now getting attached to them because of nostalgia. That will no doubt send prices up, hopefully it won’t happen too soon. For a while I secretly hoped out ’98 VW Polo would just die so it would make sense to get a decent-looking early Twingo. We could probably get a better looking car in as decent mechanical shape as the Polo for about €600 (our Polo is the kind of beater that looks the part, dings and scratches all around, sagging headliner, the boot lid in a slightly different shade from the rest of the car – because it was replaced – and the interior plastics are breaking left and right; the famous crayon-smelling VW plastic does not hold up very well).

Oh well, the Polo refuses to die, so for now we don’t need a replacement. But I’m behind on my timing belt maintenance schedule, who knows what may happen in the near future ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ronan McGrath
Ronan McGrath
1 year ago

Ever car is meant to be driven; your point is bang on.

I understand that if a car is just bought for investment then that car is a financial instrument and not a driving instrument. This is a different world.

I have a number of cars and they are indeed driven – each has had adventures and each has a story to tell. Some are expensive, some cheap but all have been driven properly.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 year ago

“cursory glance of European amateur rally and hillclimb videos shows that most grassroots-level drivers rarely bother campaigning them.”

That lay be true for rally BUT there’s a whole freaking championship for raced up Twingos: the Twincup!

You’ve gotta look this up! The idea is, you buy yourself a beater Twingo for a song, drop a 130hp Mégane engine in it and voila! You’ve got yourself a race car! Some ready to race examples can be had for 5000€!

It’s the perfect remedy to your blues! You should see the guys and gals racing these like lunatics, they aren’t afraid of bent sheet metal!

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago

we gotta get a whole ship’s worth of ’em over here, this sounds like my new hobby, lol

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Here is the first one you can buy:
https://www.leboncoin.fr/voitures/2186554935.htm

And that’s the racing series page:
https://www.twincup-sprint.fr/

I can’t wait to read about you bringing this state side 😉

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

alternately: Hot Girl Import Twingo Lemons Squad

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

How long before we see your byline here?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

I’ve had a couple! Always down for others. https://www.theautopian.com/author/autopianuser20/

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Count me in for one! I gotta get back into importing stuff, maybe from somewhere else than Japan. lol

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

Oh, wow. I’ve never really wanted a Twingo, but darn it if they don’t keep coming up in my sub-€500 “what’s the cheapest car in .de?” search.

I…may have to look at them anyway now that I know folks track-prep the darn things. Hmm. HMMMMMMM.

667
667
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Stop mobile .de and get on leboncoin or vibbo (the french and spanish ones). Cars from Germany are tweaked pieces of rust.
You can still find very good condition cars with maintenance files for less than 1k in less prone to rust countries.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Honestly I’m really tempted to buy one as they are dirt cheap to race, unlike my bummer whose 500€ brake pads last 4 track days at best. The only hiccup is that I’d have to get something to tow it, making this a bit more complicated that driving at the track with the Z4, putting the top up and the helmet on and banging on the thing.

The twincup kinda drive like an OG mini, the good drivers are always sliding them into the curves. That looks like an awesome time.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
11 months ago

This is why a lot of guys fall back on racing CRXs and whatnot. Parts are cheap, tires last a whole season, etc.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
11 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Light and cheap is the way

Cameron Showers
Cameron Showers
1 year ago

I’ve been so tempted to bring over a twingo just to talk to my old gtav semi realistic handling server and tell em about it

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 year ago

It is depressing what the cool used car market has become, everything is up 3-10x, and I struggle to comprehend that there’s that much money and fools paying these prices on BaT. There is no $500-1500 beater anymore, and cars people couldn’t give away are hot. We all know a Ferrari Mondial that prolly sat in someone’s yard for years at $15k, worst Ferrari ever but now they are selling like hotcakes at $60k+.

I feel like its a US problem and not the same in Europe. Too bad you didn’t have a Twingo RS, shame we never had all the great hot hatches from overseas.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I just quit looking at BaT. Unless you’re forwarding me a frickin’ tank, the world’s most perfect wizard ‘shroom van, a Tatra monster truck, or something else that’s so extremely absurd that I’m not going to see it come up all that often elsewhere, I just don’t click.

That gottdang website overpays for Cayennes that have had RUBBING all-terrains swapped on for the ‘gram. STILL RUBBING. Like hardly any effort to do anything more than look cool for pics. You know how I know you don’t drive yer damn purchases and just ruin the cheap-parsh market for the rest of us? Eat turds, I’m not gonna click.

667
667
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Same in france/europe, auctions companies started to car about popular mass produced cars -looking- pristine (but not maintained) about 10years ago and killed the market for us all, now all the stupids thinks their shit cars are worth gold…
Looking at you, artcurial, aguttes, r&m and bonhams, f u all very deep.

667
667
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

It is, sadly, the same in europe, but you can still find very rare cheap cool birds.

Bhtooefr
Bhtooefr
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

One element that I suspect inflates used car values in the US: in the vast majority of the US, a car is an absolute necessity, due to how our infrastructure has been set up. That means that there’s a lot more of the population who need a used car, and therefore more demand, than in many European countries.

Additionally, there’s a huge amount of states that don’t have inspections, or only have limited inspections. A car that’s failed inspection in a place that has inspections has lost its utility, and therefore is worth a lot less to people who need it for transportation (and a car that’s close to failing inspection is less valuable, too) – at that point, the value becomes either selling it to a place that doesn’t have inspections, or scrap value. But, if you don’t have inspections, prices at the bottom of the market are higher, just because a car that’s not actually legal to drive may still be physically possible to drive, and if nobody stops you from driving it, it still has transportation value. (I’ve actually seen a strategy for getting a beater in a place without inspections that involves seeking out nearby areas that have inspections, and looking for cars that failed, because they often end up in better shape than the local cars in that price range.)

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
11 months ago
Reply to  Bhtooefr

this is an EXTREMELY good point and also one that I think is completely true! I know for sure back when I lived in Ohio (no inspections) people would pop over the border to Pennsylvania (with inspections) to pick up cheap failed cars and just keep driving them until the brake lines rotted out.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

“Its standard brakes do not need ABS because they are not strong enough to lock”

I had the same thing on a ’72 Super Beetle: once I’d swapped out the stock wheels, the OEM drums didn’t have the power to lock up the new 195/50s. 🙂

“I find myself wondering what they could have accomplished, what stories they could have told”

Counterpoint: vehicles are original only once; it’s a clichè, I know, but it’s true. The numbers will vary, of course, but just about any make/model you care to mention will have a very large percentage of well-used examples and a very small percentage of pristine originals.*

IMO the pristine originals sitting in the museums ARE serving a good and useful purpose: they are exemplars of what a given model should look like in its original state, including artifacts from the manufacturing and build processes that tend to get lost.

* This does not include new vehicles where 90% are purchased by investors who put them in mylar bags, which I think is the crux of your grumble. There is limited utility in having 200 out of a run of 250 all preserved, but a handful of something in pristine shape from 30+ years ago not being driven? I’m all right with that.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I mean, I agree about museums! That’s why I said “automotive museums have their place”, and I definitely agree – weird old cars getting saved for history’s sake always makes me happy! I just wish that there weren’t quite so many cars at quite so many meets where that original character was prized above having your own stories to tell, that’s all.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

I did see your comment about museums, but got the impression that you saw them as somewhere between ‘a necessary evil’ and ‘meh’; I see them as actively good/positive. 🙂

Apologies if I misinterpreted your words – no offense meant.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Oh none taken at all! Just wanted to be clear I definitely love museums too, I’ve visited the Lane and loved it haha

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Right on! 🙂

I’m trying to work out how to get to the Barber Vintage Festival this year (6-9 October) and want to allocate a day for their museum.

Oh, and welcome aboard 🙂

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

As bad as my on-track experience was at Barber, the museum is 10000000000% worth it. Really cool place, even if you’re browsing with a bad head injury.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

This is why I love museums like the Porsche Museum so much: things are kept in running, driving condition.

Cars are not designed to be kept stationary and even the best museums realize this.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

Wonderful piece! Like you, I’ve been frustrated by formerly-cheap hobbies being ruined by speculation and rising costs. Good thing we still have a few cheap and cheerful cars to fall back on.

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Thank you so much! Honestly, this whole journey made me think that perhaps this year I’ll just try to pick up some $2,000 Oldsmobile or something and drive it across the country, just for the hell of it. All I want are some good stories haha

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

I wholeheartedly approve of that idea. I’ve considered doing something similar myself a few times.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

AAAAAH I LOVE OLDSMOBILES SO MUCH

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
11 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

only if you document the trip in both words and your excellent photography! i would love to see a shitty Olds in brooding and beautiful landscapes!

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 year ago

Glad to see you making posts here. Loved the cross country van trip posts. Especially since you went up Mount Lemmon’s road in Tucson

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
1 year ago

Thank you so much, that was a real fun trip and I’m glad you enjoyed my story about it! I’m honored to have a byline here, too, I adore what they’ve done with the site!

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