By Pedro F.
About 6 or 7 years ago when AV was still just a personal blog and without a lot of the cares we have today, just for fun I ended up publishing a couple of articles called “The List”. For those, I came up with a series of 40 cars that were on my “to own” list (hence the name). There was some pretty expensive stuff in there, as well as cars which at the time were okay price wise, but that have since skyrocketed far beyond the reach of any regular, non super rich person. Funny enough though, when I went back to look those articles over the other day, first I cringed at my terrible writing skills – which I’m not sure have improved at all since – but then I noticed that not only I’m still into pretty much the exact same models today as I was 6 or 7 years ago, but that I’ve grown especially fond of the relatively cheaper stuff, the cars regular folks can still aspire to with the help of some hard work, loan begging at the bank and maybe some sort of illicit moonlighting gig.
Today I’m going back to list making in order to present (and defend) 5 of my favorite cars, stuff I’d love to own – think any enthusiast would – and that is still, with some effort, a semi realistic option for the trust fund impaired among us.
First Gen. Viper
It stole my heart when it first came out and it’s still the ultimate ambition today. Sure, you may not get locks or windows or a roof, the panel gaps and assembly are mildly atrocious and it will try to murder you every single time you get in it, but the original Viper is one of the most focused, most beautiful and most exciting cars ever made. A modern interpretation of the Cobra, the RT/10 has a big engine, some wheels, a stunning lightweight body…and that’s pretty much it. The big V10 was developed with help from Lamborghini, putting out about 400 hp which doesn’t sound like a lot today but the Viper is still good for a 0 to 60 of just over 4 seconds and if that doesn’t impress you, we just can’t be friends. One of the last of its kind, the original Viper is one of the few obtainable options left for the iconic sexy looks/big power combo. It’s tricky to handle at speed, it’s unpredictable and, unlike most modern sports cars, it’s anything but idiot proof. What it is though is a true dream car, something which came out actually looking almost exactly like the concept presented to the public, an instantly recognizable icon that just happens to be affordable enough to be enjoyed. If the Viper had come – exactly as is style and power wise, just with slightly better construction techniques and in lower numbers – from a small manufacturer like Lamborghini or Ferrari instead of Chrysler, I see no reason why it wouldn’t be a 200k car today.
69 Fastback Mustang
The 69 Mustang fastback is probably the most financially responsible option of this very short list because A) it’s easy to maintain with hundreds of thousands of aftermarket parts readily available at relatively low prices; B) It’s unlikely that it will go down in value if you treat in even marginally well during ownership; and C) It’s a more desirable option than the extremely similar ’70 model just because of some very minor changes in appearance, so somebody will always want to buy your Fastback if your in a selling mood. The Mustang is one of the most popular and well loved cars ever made, with the 69 fastback arguably being the peak form of style for Ford’s prolific little pony. There’s just something about it, everything works and flows so beautifully. The proportions are spot on and you can’t help but love it to death. Precisely because it is so recognizable and well loved, other than for hard cold resale value purposes, what you have from the factory in one of these becomes kind of secondary. For instance, personally, I’m a sucker for the Mach 1 trim with a 390, some people love the big 428s, but if I were to buy a 69 shell and just make the best build of it you possibly could, make it your own custom spec, more power to you. Mustangs are the ultimate expressions of self in the car world and even the perfect 69 fastbacks are open to a little change; while originality is great and I’m a big, big fan of it, with these there’s always room for something a little unorthodox because the killer looks are there no matter what and that’s what really matters on these.
Jaguar X308 / 100 XJR
Beware, the dangers of British manufacturing have arrived! Well objectively speaking now, the X308 is one of the best – reliability wise – of the XJ family. That’s not saying much, it’s kind of like stating that being shot in the leg isn’t as bad as being shot in the chest; still painful, just not as deadly. The X308 series was still built under Ford rule so a lot of the issues which traditionally plagued Jags of the past were addressed. However, the big XJ is never going to be trouble free. But no car is and despite this, the XJR (the belle of the X308 ball) is hands down one of the greatest rides to ever come out of England. It’s big, it’s powerful, it looks amazing, it handles fairly well and for a really menacing looking car, it’s just so damn charming at the same time as well. Yet, people are still sleeping on the XJR and every year it becomes more difficult to find a properly good example. Sometime in the future, almost overnight, these things will start getting the recognition they deserve and by then it will be way too late to look for bargains. Any XJR is cool. That’s just a fact. You could pick up a supercharged 6 from the previous generation (X300) and it would still be fantastic, but the best options for the XJR are the last model years, especially cars with the elusive R1 performance option, something also available in the limited 100 series. Both R1 XJRs and X100 XJRs were fitted with special, alluring options like big Brembos and BBS rims. The X308 XJRs pack a big 4.0L supercharged V8 and are the ultimate matchup of power and good old timey Jag charm.
Speaking of old timey Jag charm, this is gonna be a tough sell, but here goes: the original XJs are amazing. I mean they are terrible, so very…VERY terrible…but they are amazing cars. It’s truly difficult to explain why an old XJ feels special, it’s something which has to be experienced. Yes, it will dissolve itself into dust if you’re not extremely careful and yes, the electrics are an unmitigated disaster and impossible to deal with, but just look at the thing. Stunning! Old XJs are what most people think of when you say “Jaguar” and with good reason. It’s such a timeless, accomplished design. Plus, you sit in one and it just makes you feel so very special. Then you start it and it sounds glorious. They just seem to glide so effortlessly down the road. Maybe my vision of these things is clouded by the really good examples I’ve been in contact with over the years (even those, packed with “eccentricities”) but there’s such a unique, classy vibe to them. If you’re on the market for an XJ6 – Heavens help you – you can pick between a Series I, II or III. III is undeniably the best and most sorted, but the safety standards messed up the looks. Series 1 very nice, but a little too sober for my taste. Series 2 however is just right. Try to find a bad angle on these things, a poorly though out line or feature. It’s impossible. You could get a stylish coupe and you could even get a V12 as well, but I’m partial to the 4.2 straight six. It’s lighter and seems to have more than enough oomph. Plus, if you want to go fast on one of these you’re a madman. The classic XJ is so problematic and such an unbelievable headache to own that it currently sits at number 1 on my purchase wishlist.
Aston Martin DB9
You need a Grand Tourer in your life. You just do. Everyone has the right to be a little selfish sometimes, buy something nice, isolate yourself from the rest of the world, have a comfortable and inviting space to relax, ponder life. With a GT, that wonderful place just happens to be on wheels. Right now there are a few GTs which seem ideal for the folks who wouldn’t be able to get in this segment with more recent stuff; some pricier, others more affordable but the one which definitely stands out of the crowd is the DB9. No, it will not be dirt cheap to maintain but they’re solid cars when treated properly. A lot of people go into this kind of ride seduced by the low values of multiple owners, high mileage, murky maintenance records examples and then they get stuck with worthless lumps of metal and plastic because they’ve been neglected to a point in which the fix is worth more than the actual car…but pic a solid, well treated middle/late production car and you should be alright. Like the XJR we talked about earlier, people are still sleeping on the DB9 and there will come a time when their value will hold a lot better. After that, it will start to climb back up again. These are some of the sexiest, most charismatic, most beautiful cars Aston ever made. They kept improving with the DBS but the original DB9s are still so very lust worthy. I’ve personally loved them since they came out way back when in ’04 and honestly, they still look as factory fresh today as they did 14 years ago. Current Astons are so busy and so worried about being dramatic enough to compete with other exotics that the natural dignity of the DB9 just stands out even more. It’s the kind of car that doesn’t shout “look at me”, but people do anyway because they know it’s something special.
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