Before I started my brave new life writing here at Jalopnik, I used to do my end-of-year, cars-I've-driven reviews at Macarthur Park in Los Angeles, to a collected crowd of sleeping vagrants and loud, opinionated ducks.
This year, dear readers, I have the honor of asking you to be my urine-soaked drunks and asshole waterfowl.
I've driven a really terrific assortment of cars this year, so picking favorites was tricky. There's some amazing cars that I didn't put on this list because I want to make a generally attainable list— that's why the otherwise remarkable Porsche Panamera Turbo S isn't on here. Yes, it's an incredible car, but if you have $200 grand to throw around, you sure as hell don't give a crap about what I think. Do, you, you monocle-wearing bastards?
Alright. Let's see what I picked! I'm dying to find out!
Best: 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV
If there's any car this year I've had an actual, 14-year-old-girl crush on, it's the Alfa I drove for a classic review. I was practically practicing writing "Jason Alfa Romeo" in fancy script all over my Trapper Keeper.
This vintage gem is such a perfect, honest, and joyful litte car it makes me ache just a bit to think about it. Fun to drive, with just enough vintage car unpredictability and quirkiness. I even loved the not-pristine state of the one I drove— it's just rough enough that you can drive it, really drive it, without always being worried about it.
It's the epitome of what a good, daily-driver classic should be, and I'm unashamedly smitten.
Best: Scion FR-S
This one is probably my most predictable pick, but why fight it? This car is just a blast to drive. It's a traditional sports car with a nice flat-four with a low, low center of gravity, and it's pretty much impossible not to have a good time in it. You could be driving in it as your life partner confesses she or he has been fucking your siblings and your best friend and is really, really sorry they accidentally gave you gonads cancer, and you'd still be having at least an okay time, as long as the road you were on is sort of fun.
Best: Subaru Sambar Pick Up
I've made no secret of my tiny van and truck fetishes, so when I got to try out this little workhorse in Japan it was a genuine treat. It took constant pestering of Subaru's PR people to let me drive it, but the engineers, they understood.
"It like little 911!" exclaimed one engineer, and he was right, at least a little bit. Useful as a Swiss Army knife, surprisingly fun to drive, looks like a helpful robot. What's not to like?
BONUS BEST! Alex Roy's Citroën SM
(Matt said pick three bests and two worsts, but I'm adding in a bonus best. Because I'm so full of love. Besides, what's he gonna do, slap me again?)
Oh, man. I'm not really an Area 51 conspiracy nut, but this car is absolute proof that the French captured an alien spaceship from the planet Suave Alpha, slapped wheels on it, and sold it as an executive coupé. Driving an SM is like driving nothing else— strange, fluid, comfortable, all at once. Everything is power assisted, the ride absorbs road bumps to the degree that your back-seat champagne pyramid won't spill a drop, the steering is go-kart direct, and that big rubber button that acts as a brake is, well, like no other brake pedal.
The interior is so buttery and leathery and crisply designed it's like being in a sex fantasy directed by Stanley Kubrick on the 2001 space station sets, after hours. We pulled up to a hotel and within minutes the entire staff was surrounding the car oohing and aaahing as we pulled the lever to make the car raise and lower. Every trip is an event in this thing.
I'll have a full write up about it soon— it's worth it.
Worst: Hyundai Elantra Coupe
So after all the crap I got from my very boring review of a very boring car, I'm a little wary about this pick. Because my main beef with the car is not so much that it's a bad car, it's just that as hard as I try, I just can't make myself donate any feces about it.
I drove the Elantra Coupe on the same trip as I drove the Elantra GT and the Veloster Turbo. Savvy link-clickers will note that I reviewed both of those cars, but not the Coupe. Because I could barely remember anything about driving the Coupe.
It's mechanically basically the same as the other Elantras (and to a large degree the Veloster), but despite trying really hard it's almost invisible with its advanced boredom-based-cloaking-device-styling. I really have no idea why anyone would buy one. If you want sporty, go for the Veloster/Veloster Turbo. You want more practical, go for the GT. if you want to commit a crime and have no one remember what car you threw all those dismembered hookers into, go for the Coupe, I guess.
Worst: B&Z Electra-King
I sort of feel bad about including this one as a worst, because I really am fond of this little nut, but I have to be honest: when you feel terrified that the brakes won't stop you in a car going 11 mph, it's an issue.
The Electra-King was the only car I've ever driven where the body flexed so much the doors would actually flap while latched shut. It's the only car I've driven that can make you feel unstable at speeds where you could literally just open the door and run away from it. Plus, I usually have safety at the bottom of my list when I'm considering cars, but this thing makes a Vespa look like a Volvo.
That said, I'd rather drive an Electra-King than a Hyundai Coupe. Because at least I'd know I was alive for the few minutes before I died.