If you absolutely must buy a new car in this hour of thanks, then we suggest you choose one of these ten. Happy turkey!
Ahh, Thanksgiving — turkey, family, angst, and burnouts. (Your holiday doesn't have burnouts? What are you, a commie?)
Also lists. We make lists every day, and on holidays, we sit around and stuff our faces full of food and make more lists. What are we thankful for this week? Turkey, that's what. We're also thankful for these ten cars — even though we can't afford some of them, we're happy that they exist. Dig in.
Because it's proof that one man can still go stark raving mad and build a world-beating car that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Makes the idea of a focus group seem like a fate worse than death. One set of its tires likely costs more than your first car did. It is yin and yang, Jalop (engineering masterwork) and anti-Jalop (heavy, unattainable). Do not try to understand it. It just is.
Photo Credit: Jason Thorgalsen / Flickr
It is an American car made by American men and women. It is like walking down the street wearing a T-shirt that says, "I'm with Penis." It is remarkably modern and wonderfully crude all at once. And for a short, glorious while, it went to Le Mans and reminded the world that Yankees could kick ass. All hail the LS7. All hail the LS9. All hail Detroit.
Photo Credit: Sam Smith
Because someone, somewhere, forgot to tell the boys in Hethel to make it fat, ugly, and boring. Because it is a real car that happens to be built out of gossamer and fiberglass. And because I once flung one sideways through Road Atlanta's Turn Twelve — not entirely on purpose, mind — at triple-digit speeds and lived to tell the tale. It made me look less than stupid. I am eternally grateful.
Photo Credit: Horgakx / Flickr
It is heavy, clublike, and run by a million computers. It is surprisingly sterile and undoubtedly better at driving itself than you are. (You get the feeling that no matter how you treat it, it is toying with you, watching you from afar.) It is on this list because it is unique. Because it is everything wrong with Japan's car industry. Because it is also everything right.
Photo Credit: Jason Thorgalsen / Flickr
Volkswagen's GTI is the ultimate automotive success story, a model that lost its way only to find it again years later. Sure, it's not the most durable thing on the planet, but that's part of its charm — it's cheap, cheerful, and faster than it seems. If you haven't embarrassed a supercar on some winding back road in one of these things, then you haven't lived. Hot hatches don't get much better.
It is very nearly the perfect automobile, but this is no surprise. The 3 Series has been exceptional for decades, and save the odd dose of corporate German hubris, it just keeps getting better. Build a better sport sedan than this 300-horse, velvet-glove monster, and the world will beat a path to your door.
Photo Credit: Fabio Aro / Flickr
Quirk, and for little reason other than satisfying a decades-old obsession on the part of its maker. Painfully slow around town. Those once-trick doors are now almost too much work, and the RX-8's Renesis rotary sucks dino juice like it's on OPEC's payroll. But the chassis is flat-out magic, the kind of magic you only discover at nine-and-a-half tenths when you're trying to eke out that last little bit of speed and you think nothing is left. It reminds you of a Spec Miata with more weight in the tail. It is the attainable sports car for people who truly understand what that phrase means.
Photo Credit: Michael Banovsky / Flickr
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Now that both Subaru and Mitsubishi have left the international rally stage, the WRX STI and the Lancer Evolution seem a bit lost. (Homologation specials need something to be homologated for, no?) Were we forced to choose between the two, we'd probably pick the Evo, but it's a tough call. It depends on the roads you're on, on how you feel that day, and on whether you have be someplace very quickly and with little drama (STI) or absolutely nowhere at all (Evo).
The STI is an amazingly talented car and arguably the better all-rounder. The Evo is the dirty, rough-edged monster that everyone thinks rally cars are supposed to be. We like them both — a lot — but only one of them feels as mean as it looks. Mitsu by a hair.
The Mustang is a rolling contradiction, equal parts modern muscle and hopeless anachronism. It is an argument for and against everything we stand for, a piece of yesterday bound up in a slightly cheesy modern wrapper. It is both much better and much worse than you expect it to be, but somehow, that's part of its charm. It is very, very difficult not to like.
Exhaust rumble. A rompy V-8. A stick axle so well-controlled, it makes the concept almost seem relevant again. These things are not the future, but we love them all the same. Were we to wake up tomorrow and drive off into the soul of America, we would do it in a Mustang.
Photo Credit: Sausyn / Flickr
One long-dead man's ridiculous dream turned reality turned company-bill-payer turned neglected relic turned reality again. Impossibly small. Sillier than almost anything else on wheels. Older than dirt. And still fantastic.
Photo Credit: Exfordy / Flickr