So says Forbes, an odd list:
“Some cars look best in photos, and some make a splashy first impression before their impact dissipates, but some get better the more you look at them,” he said, adding that it looks quite better in person than in photos. “The [Jaguar] F-Type falls decidedly into the third group.”
The $92,000 V8 S version of this roadster has a 5.0-liter, 495-hp engine and will hit 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. But those dashing good looks remain its most notable characteristic, which is why it made our list of the year’s most beautiful cars.
I’m not a car critic, nor am I a car fanatic. That said, I have a specific interest in cars in that I look at thousands of them every year, and I have a specific taste in cars in that I do not mistake brand and price for taste. I have an affinity for inexpensive compact types, for big trucks with lift kits and V8s, and for not-exotic-looking exotic cars that bring the fun.
Currently, I drive a Nissan Versa S (2012), one of the most difficult-to-find cars on any American car lot. Is it because it’s exotic? In a way, yes, but not for why you might think. The 2012 Nissan Versa S was, at the time, the most inexpensive production vehicle one could buy new in the USA and it’s sub-$11K pricetag was intended to lure buyers onto the lot, the proper thinking being anyone willing to pay $11K for a Versa S could be convinced to by a $14K Versa SE. I hit five Nissan dealers before I found one in Tulsa that was willing to find the thing and get it for me, so long as I would buy it. I bought it 15 months ago, and it has 2500 miles on it – this is how much I use a personal car (due to job, usually in a rental). It’s a sedan, it’s a 5-speed manual, it has manual locks and windows, three cup-holders and when provoked by my mongo-clutching, it runs like a bat out of hell. I’ve run it to 122 on a turnpike, but I’ve not gone faster out of, I dunno, self-preservation.
Before the Nissan Versa S, I drove a 2010 Toyota Yaris three-door (I’m the big dude who likes small cars). I loved the YarCar, but never used it due to travel, so ditched it for a Mercedes ML430, which was a huge mistake (nope, not getting into that here). FWIW, the YarCar, was the fastest I’ve ever spun the wheels – on a cold February day, my girlfriend either concerned or thrilled, got to experience the joy of the center-mounted speedometer top 130 in-between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
It’s not advisable to not have children, but such a thing is liberating if you like to drive really fucking fast in really small cars.
Cars I like? In order of how I like them, not price or my ability to pay for them or even how good a vehicle they actually might be, I’d choose a Ford Raptor, an Aston Martin Vanquish, a Mercedes G550 or a Toyota Scion FRS manual. I test drove the latter recently – tens of thousands less than the Raptor, more than $100K less than the G550, more than $250K less than the Vanquish – and I loved it. I don’t need a car, I rarely use one for personal reasons, but I told the Toyota salesman that if one in the gunmetal color with manual transmission and the enhanced video-audio package came along, he should call me. During the brief test-drive of the model with manual transmission but without the preferred audio package, I range the tac into the low 7s while the salesman … didn’t … sell. The FRS has a tiny backseat (“for insurance” the guy told me, the only useful info he provided on the test drive), but the FRS provided just rough enough a drive for me to enjoy the fact I was driving a high school kid’s sports car (granted, a $27K high school kid car). The car didn’t rattle, but I could feel the road – I like this. The FRS is the lower-cost option for the kind of guy who’d buy a Nissan GTR or, well, a Vanquish. Long, slender body, crazy engine, and a lot of fun.
This was two weeks ago. He never called me, but a gal named Melody did. She informed me that an automatic in my preferred color with my preferred audio package came in. I thanked her for the call, and advised her that I don’t drive automatic transmission – if I’m buying a $30K rice-burner, I’ll damn-sure be shifting the gears when I choose. She gave me a giggle, said they had six on the lot, and if I liked, she’d go check out each one to see if transmission+audio+color happened to be there.
“Get to it,” I said.
She called me back in a half-hour, and sure enough, the car I was interested in was on the lot. Manual. Enhanced Pioneer Audio. Dat Screen. Gunmetal, or whatever that color is.
“I’m in Montana, but I’ll be home in two weeks. Call me on 8/31, and if the mood strikes, I’ll buy it if it’s still there. No promises, though.”
If money were no object, I’d buy the Vanquish or the Merc AMG G550, though the latter is turning into the preferred sled of Soccer Moms with Money. The former runs shy of $300K, the latter about $150K, The former would have to go four hours away for proper service, the latter could be serviced in Tulsa, where I occasionally live.
Then, there’s the Raptor. It’s a $50K truck (give/take) which in the crazy world of factory trucks is expensive, but not pricey. A fully-loaded Ford F250 Platinum with a few add-ons can run more than $70K, and I say this not because it’s what I want, just because I’ve seen a few. As a guy who admittedly likes smaller cars, I hate living in a land where I’m constantly column’d in by SUVs and giant pickups.
The Raptor is, for lack of a better term, a luxury car for rednecks. It’s wheel-base is huge – a dealer told me that were it a couple inches wider, Ford would’ve had to build a new plant to produce them. The Raptor has a wide body (a big ass, in girl terms), a nice lift, a huge V8 and is the kind of truck that says of the owner one of two things: He has more money than sense, or he really likes fucking college girls of the Southern persuasion. The truck is manufactured to welcome a lift kit, and aftermarket doohickeys are as nutty as the Velociraptor Package, basically turning your factory Raptor into an Escalade raped by Mercedes on Crystal Meth (for a six-figure fee, of course).
The only thing comparable, off the production line at least, that I know of is Toyota’s TRS series, which is pricier and less effective than the Raptor.
It’s actually a fun time for cars. Emission-and-safety standards have ruined some of the better brand models, but that ruination, that soccermomization of some classic-ish models (Explorer, Cherokee, 4Runner etc) have resulted in an almost retro look to certain other models – Jeep Wranglers and their myriad off-spring are, to me, wildly overpriced, but the Sahara and the weird video-game co-brands are pretty cool (I wouldn’t by a Modern Warfare-branded Jeep, but it’s cool, has 90-degree angles throughout, and isn’t soccermom’d). Sad for some, not for others, the cool shit in cars right now is … cars. I lust the FRS, but passenger cars and to a smaller degree, pickups, is where the fun is right now. SUVs are a lost cause, dammit, a Pathfinder looking like an Explorer looking like an odd version of a minivan.
My take, granted.