Bit by bit I have been thinning out my fleet of projects-in-waiting and I’ve now got down to the last few, and this is where I have had to make some hard choices. One of these tough decisions was what do I do with my Cherry Europe GTi? It’s a total wreck but it’s just so rare! It took me quite a while to find this car and I have long wanted a Cherry Europe but I need to be realistic. It’s not only going to be a huge amount of work, it’s also going to cost quite a lot of money. By my calculations it would need at least £4000 putting into it to make it nice again and even then there are a couple of parts missing that might be almost impossible to find. But then if I parted with it, I would never find another!
Initially I decided that maybe it was wiser to simply sell it and resign myself to the fact I’d never own a Cherry Europe. I listed it on eBay but although it attracted a number of bids, the top two bidders were both deadbeats who didn’t follow it up. Then a couple of other buyers backed out. Fate seemed to be telling me I should keep it and restore it.
But then I considered that maybe there was another way…
I was aware of the existence of another Cherry Europe GTi which I was offered back in 2011 for £2000. This was a tidy, low mileage example that had only had two owners from new. At the time, for one reason or another, the deal never happened and then it re-appeared for sale online briefly in 2012, having had quite a lot of restoration work done. This time the price had more than doubled and was way out of my budget. However, the one benefit of selling off some project cars recently is it’s made some funds available, so I figured it might be worth finding out what had become of it as this time, I might just be able to afford it.
After a little searching online I was able to get in touch with the present owner via one of the Alfa Romeo forums. The car was actually co-owned between two Alfa enthusiasts, Dave Hood and Richard Rees , who had bought it back in 2011, restored it as an Alfa Romeo Arna Ti and then entered it into the Alfa Romeo Owners club concours where it placed second! It then made an appearance at the NEC Classic Car Show early in 2012 after which it went into storage. It had then been offered for sale (back in Cherry Europe guise) but there were no serious buyers so it remained in storage in a facility full of high end cars such as Ferraris, Porsches and Maseratis until now.
Well, to cut a long story short, having discussed the car with Dave on the phone, I went to have a look at it and was impressed by what I saw. So a deal was struck and few days ago I brought this beauty home!
This car really is as good as it looks. It’s still only showing 33,000 miles on the odometer and the crazy green interior looks almost like new. Under the bonnet it’s been tidied up and has had a comprehensive rebuild with lots of new parts. It’s even been fitted with Pirelli tyres to keep it as near to original as possible. Dave has done a great job on this car and has certainly been instrumental in saving one of the rarest cars ever to wear a Nissan badge.
As far as I can tell, this car is the only other Nissan Cherry Europe GTi left aside from the rusty one I already own. Little over a thousand GTi’s were sold in the UK so they were quite rare to start with. From the dat I have, I have checked around 200 GTi registrations against the DVLA database and so far I have only found two that lasted beyond 2000, with most having been scrapped by the time they were 8 or 9 years old. It’s very fortunate for this car that it’s original owner kept it for 19 years or I’m sure it would have joined it’s siblings and been recycled into a washing machine by now.
There’s a few jobs that need doing on it and I need to MOT it as it’s been off the road a little while so I’ll post some decent pictures in a few days. My other Europe will now provide a very useful source of rare parts for this new car which is probably all it’s really fit for!