Top Ten: First Date Cars
First impressions count for a lot, and especially when it comes to the car that you use to collect a potential new life partner for that all important first date.
There are plenty of relationships that have blossomed or stalled thanks to a choice of vehicle so it's something you'll want to get right. Here are the ten cars we reckon will help you get a second date, or at least not be the reason you never get an answer to those calls...
10. Mazda MX-5 – £1,500
Such a low budget means you'll struggle to find much that will impress and still get you to your date, but we reckon Mazda's MX-5 is the best bet.It may have a slight reputation of being a hairdressers' car, but this is unfair and the MX-5 is a true drivers' car. It will appeal to the date that appreciates a fine rear-wheel drive sports car, and to the one that sees it as a nippy little drop top.
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9. Volkswagen Beetle – £3,000
Everyone recognises the VW Beetle, and its classic looks and the 'Herbie' films are just two of the reasons why many people think of it fondly.
However, make sure it is the original you turn up in and not the modern re-bodied Golf as that is a much more risky choice – the flower on the dashboard is unlikely to impress anyone. Finally, give the whole thing a thorough clean and polish inside and out so you don't look like a student.
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8. Mercedes SL – £6,000
The SL might seem like an odd choice for these shores, but there's a lot of old-school, quirky charm left in the big German cabrio.
Any car that looks good under the Miami sunshine is going to bring a little glamour to a wet Wednesday night in Leicester, and a decent SL repays your investment with a sense of well-worn eighties panache that cannot be found in contemporary Mercs. Try to find a V8 model from the mid eighties and a date who likes shoulder pads.
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7. Jaguar XK8 – £8,000
Whisper it quietly, but the mid-nineties XK8 is a Valentine's Day performance bargain. For the price of an i10 you get a silky 4.0-litre V8 cloaked in a wonderfully sleek big cat body, and a very British badge at the end of a very long bonnet.
The Jaguar might have a slightly more mature customer than some of the other cars on this list, but power and beauty are two assets which never lose their sex appeal.
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6. Volkswagen Golf – £10,000
What is there in the boxy and slightly dull Golf to impress a first date we hear you cry? Well, not much, but there is not much to put them off either.
The Golf is so ubiquitous and inoffensive that hardly anyone would bat an eyelid when confronted by one as the evening's chariot. It is not so flashy that you look like you are in your dad's car, nor is it so grungy that you look like a cheap student that will ask to split the cost of the meal later. It is perfectly understated.
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5. Mini Cooper – £15,000
This might be a divisive choice, thanks to hundreds of Mini Coopers zipping around London with estate agents' signs on the outside, but the Mini's funky and chunky interior styling will win the heart of many an evening companion.
It is the perfect blend of retro and modern and is cute without being cheesy.
The only downside is there is not much room in the cabin for leaning over for that goodnight kiss should the date go well...
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4. Austin Healey – £20,000
The romance of open-top motoring is written into English DNA. There's no need to explain to a girl why the svelte shape of the Austin is special; she'll understand it in her bones. It also doesn't really matter which Healey you choose (though the 3000 MkIII's from the 1960s were the most luxurious) because they all emanate with old-fashioned, cinematic charm.
It's a bit blustery in the tiny cabin, but if the sun's out she'll feel like Grace Kelly.
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3. Alfa Romeo Brera – £30,000
There had to be an Alfa Romeo somewhere on this list. There also had to be something designed by Pininfarina. We chose the Brera.
It isn't a great car by any means, but it's so good looking that you'll date will need a catwalk outside the front door just to compete with the sheer presence of the Italian stallion. The £30,000 budget even buys you a brand new model with a sonorous 3.2-litre V6 engine. Just don't expect the Brera's performance to match its appearance.
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2. Maserati GranTurismo – £80,000
Though there was little question about which car should ultimately top this list, there was much discussion about what should be runner-up. Porsche and Ferrari were both in the running, but in the end we opted for the Maserati.
This was partly based on the GranTurismo's muscular mix of luxury, comfort, looks and 4.2-litre V8 pace, but mostly the Maserati triumphed on the strength of its exotic badge kudos. Whisper the name after two bottles of wine and it sounds like a proposition.
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1. Aston Martin DB5 – £200,000
That legendary lothario James Bond famously drove a DB5, and if it works for him... Actually there is a danger of looking painfully cheesy if you turn up in a DB5 and full black tie, but it would be a great way to make a first impression.
And if your date isn't impressed, then you are still guaranteed to be taking home a curvaceous and classic English beauty home with you at the end of the night.
Search for Aston Martin DB5s on Auto Trader