Vlad just landed an adult job, so he is looking to spend adult money on a car. But he’s a young guy and he doesn’t want to be too mature about it. He is looking for something nice but flashy, with enough power to lay down some rubber in a straight line. What car should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
I’m young, dumb, and have recently started working in an actual office job with an actual salary that allows me to spend money on actual real things that I want, like a car. I’ve driven a few cars over the years, Including a Jetta SportWagen which I loved because wagon, and a Toyota Camry L (the taxicab model only sold in 2012).
I currently drive a 2011 Lexus GS350, which I honestly love. The miles are adding up through and I would like a little more grunt. Unfortunately, the Lexus 3.5L doesn’t really have any avenues to add easy bolt-on power, or I would probably just do that and keep the car.
1. It needs to be fast. I live in Houston so every road I drive on is a million lanes wide and purely straight, so I want something that might send me to jail when I step on the throttle.
2. I would LIKE for it to be relatively comfortable. I don’t really care about cornering performance or anything like that because even the back roads here are all STRAIGHT LINES, so I would like something that makes the bumpy ass Houston roads bearable.
3. $35,000 is the absolute top of my budget, so the more expensive the car the more reliable it needs to be. If I were to buy a $35,000 M5 for example, it would just function as a very expensive non-moving tent for me to live out of when it eventually breaks.
4. I would also like something flashy and sporty because I am still young and I would like to have something crazy at the age where people don’t immediately assume I’m going through a midlife crisis.
Budget: up to $35,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Houston, TX
Wants: Flashy, Fast, Somewhat Reliable
Doesn’t want: Anything that can’t do a good burnout
Vlad, I’ll be honest I was just going to tell you to get the fastest Challenger you can for $35,000 and call it a day. However, as nice of a cruiser as the Chally is, it is not what you would call “fancy.” So I got a bit more creative for this case.
While I’m sure I’ll get skewered in the comments for this, I’m going to say you need to find yourself a Mercedes C63 AMG. Yes, it’s an out of warranty AMG, the maintenance is also expensive, and finding a quality example will be a challenge.
But what you will get is an upscale German coupe that still looks mean, with a 450 horsepower naturally-aspirated V8 that not only can lay down some rubber but also sounds fantastic when it does it.
Here is a 2012 example not far from you with fewer than 50,00 miles, it has a red interior, which is not for everyone, though it’s kind of perfect for your goals. The best news is that it is listed for under, $27,000 which means you can purchase a nice extended warranty and toss the Benz before your coverage expires.
Normally I would tell you to buy something old and stupid, like this tubbed pro-street 1958 Ford, or this pro-street 1939 Ford with a blower sticking out the hood, or this Bentley Turbo R for $20,000. But today feels different. Something is in the air.
It’s my undying love for the eternally overlooked Lexus IS-F, the first one, with the very dumb fake exhausts.
It’s not an M3, but it’s one of the best-driving sports sedan/burnout machines that the overbuilt empire Toyota built, and you can find them between 30 and 40 grand. Here’s one in Dallas asking $42,000 and here’s one a nice road trip away in Sacramento for $30,000. Fly out to it and drive it home through west Texas and you’ll fall in love. Take Highway 160 down the Sacramento delta while you’re on your way, too.
Vlad, I’ve been where you are. The same week I got my first big-boy reporter job, I ran to a car lot and bought the cheapest, shadiest Subaru WRX I could find in Travis County. While it wasn’t a burnout machine—Subaru’s AWD precludes that—it was bright blue, loud, flashy, and it kept a lot of area public utilities and schools thriving with all the speeding tickets it racked up.
My advice to you, as a guy who’s had to learn things the hard way too many times, is to rethink how you define “flashy.” How about something that looks pretty boring to most people, but will instantly register you as a real enthusiast to the folks who know?
I think you need a Chevrolet SS. With a naturally aspirated V8 pumping out 415 horsepower, surprisingly good handling and an understated but sinister appearance, you actually won’t stand out—except to fellow gearheads like yourself. And burnouts?
Brother, you’re gonna be going through rear tires the way most people go through toothpaste and razor blades.
Manual examples of these are crazy hard to find, but the automatic is decent too. And in your price range. Here’s a 2015 near you for $33,200, with only 34,067 miles. That’s almost a brand new car.
Look up. At the photo. The one with the extraordinarily handsome fellow. Right here. Surrounded by all the tire smoke. If you needed proof that a Chevy Camaro SS 1LE can do a burnout, then the proof is in the picture.
The burnout I was doing there happened to be in a 2014 Camaro SS 1LE, but contrary to popular belief, Chevrolet has continued to make a car known as the “Camaro” right up until this very day. And while you can probably pick up a 2014 model for quite cheap, your budget allows the newer one. And when it comes to muscle cars, I really can’t recommend a Camaro with the 1LE package enough. I know you’ve got plenty of straight roads around you, but ticking the 1LE box means getting a Camaro that is both comfortable and can handle well. What a concept, I know.
The 1LE package adds larger sway bars, specially tuned dampers, and stiffer subframe bushings among a whole host of other suspension goodies. Not to mention this thing rumbles enough to cover yourself entirely in body hair. “That poor boy,” people will say. “He must have some sort of horrible endocrine condition.”
But no, you will simply have a Camaro SS 1LE. It’s a fantastic car, it does fantastic burnouts, and your life will be more fantastic for it.
They will ask what tires ever did to you, but it does not matter, for you will scorch the earth with them.
Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.