Kevin won a bet with his wife, and while the details of the wager are a mystery, the important part is that he is now going to spend some $200,000 to $300,000 on a seriously fast car. But he’s not sure which direction to go. What car should he buy?
Here is the scenario:
I find myself in a wonderful conundrum. Having won a friendly wager with my wife, I am now allowed to buy, and I quote, “Any car I want.” The possibilities are endless. I’m stuck in a loop of analysis paralysis. I stay up some nights just watching car videos and driving myself crazy. My budget is $200,000-300,000 and I’m looking for something totally impractical and special. My current summer car is a Jaguar F-Type V8 convertible. It is a special car. I want more of that special feel from the next car. I’m keeping the Jag, by the way. I’m thinking Lambo or Ferrari or maybe McLaren. I like European cars. Perhaps my focus has been too narrow. What am I missing out there in the realm of the supercar? I lobbied for the F-Type with the angle that a convertible is two cars for the price of one. The same logic worked this time around, so stick with what wins. Convertible isn’t mandatory, though. I’d do a really cool coupe if the right thing came along. Also, since I’m a crazy workaholic I’d prefer something above average in the mechanical and reliability department.
Budget: up to $300,000
Daily Driver: No, a crazy fun car.
Location: South Dakota
Wants: Fast, Special, Reliable
Doesn’t want: Anything that resembles an SUV
So I have a confession to make: every week I look through the WCSYB entries and I scan the column for “price range” hoping to spot those magic words “above $80,000” and then I think, oh boy, this is going to be fun. Not that it isn’t fun suggesting cheaper cars, but who doesn’t enjoy telling other people how to spend a boatload of money?
This particular case is interesting for two reasons. 1) You are in South Dakota and I don’t imagine there are a bunch of supercar mechanics nearby and 2) You brought up a keyword, which is “special.” You can get any number of Ferraris, Lambos, McLarens or bonkers fast Porsches, but those are kind of predictable choices. Many of them will be ridiculously fast and all of them will cost serious money to maintain.
From my expert brain opinion, here is what you need: a manual transmission, exotic car looks, and relatively easy to service. All that adds up to one of greatest performance cars to be made by an American carmaker, the Ford GT.
I’m not talking about the current turbo V6 car which is good and fast but requires a mountain of paperwork and two million Instagram followers to acquire. I mean the 2005-2006 model that is a better translation of the LeMans winning collaboration between Ford and Carroll Shelby.
Values for these cars have gone up in recent years, and due to their limited production run, the GT should retain value down the road. The same can’t be said for most Italian exotics in your price range. This is an analog 200 mph, supercar. No hybrid tech, no flappy paddles, none of that nonsense where the car makes you a better driver. They don’t make them like this anymore. Prices can be all over the map for the GT with the Gulf-liveried “Heritage Editions” pushing $500,000, but you can score some nice examples like this white with blue stripes and fewer than 3000 miles for just under your max budget.
It may not have a fancy badge, but that is part of the beauty of it. It’s a Ford, while you may have to find the right dealer with the know-how to maintain this thing, that should be a lot easier than sourcing European exotic tech.
Hey friend, you said you wanted a “Lambo” or a “really cool coupe.” You seem like the sort of person with refined, classic tastes, free of ostentation or any desire to show off.
You need a Lamborghini Countach.
You’ve surely worked hard for (inherited?) your hundreds of thousands of dollars in disposable income, and it’s time you make the ultimate flex move. The ultimate flex move, contrary to the ideas of the peasants, is not to get a “nice” car. It’s not to get a “comfortable” or even a “good” car. It’s to get a car that clearly establishes that you, having reached the financial pinnacle of humanity, have achieved so much in your life that you need a source of automotive misery just to know what it feels like to be a person again.
The only car that can provide that, short of a Dodge Viper, is a Lamborghini Countach. If you want to know what I’m talking about, just watch James May drive one:
He says you need a hammer to change the gears, and that you need a friend to help you depress the clutch. He actually says that driving it is “hard work.” It is, truly, awful.
But all the snide remarks aside, the Countach is one of those dismally few cars that never, EVER ceased to be cool. It was cool in 1987, it was cool in 1997, and it is achingly, heartbreakingly cool now.
Get the Lambo. You won’t regret it. Until you do.
Here’s one for sale asking $249,000. Go for it.
Sure, you could get a typical supercar like a Lamborghini or a Ford GT—with their big and powerful reciprocating engines—and be just like all the other well-to-do folks at the country club.
Or you could switch it up, and own the only supercar with an engine displacement under one liter. Yes, the Mazda Cosmo is powered by a 982 cc twin-rotor Wankel engine sending its 130-ish horsepower and roughly 100 lb-ft of torque through a five speed manual to the rear wheels.
No, the power numbers aren’t going to impress anyone, nor is the relatively modest $85,000 market price for the one shown above, but the vehicle’s aesthetic beauty, its historical importance, and its soul make it arguably among the best value supercars out there.
Damn, to have your problem! At least you’re doing us proud and spending all that skril on cars.
Under the subheading of “no shit” we can say there are a whole lot of amazing cars to be had for $300,000. Though looking for “something totally impractical and special...” and “something above average in the mechanical and reliability department” is, uh, narrowing that band somewhat.
My first thought was Acura NSX. Hell, with your budget, you could have two. People aren’t buying them for the same reasons they didn’t buy the first one–An Acura simply lacks the inherent coolness of a Ferrari or Porsche. But that just saves the swagger for you, my friend. Plus you would get your reliability.
But then I realized, hey, we’re talking about $300,000 here. Why squander this opportunity on something that only retails for half this glorious budget?
What you need is a McLaren 720S. Totally impractical? Just try opening those doors anywhere without attracting a flock of camera-wielding fans. Special? Double yes. The thing looks like it’s from another planet.
I’m not sure about reliability, but you mentioned you liked the idea of “two cars for the price of one.” The 720S gives you a unique blend of supercar and touring car that’s ridiculously fun to attack corners in, on road or on a track, but also smooth and fun to do a couple hundred highway miles in.
I did exactly that when the car first came out–playing with the variable traction control on a closed course and then cannonballing across Italy. I’ll admit that the ride’s a little ridged over cobblestone Roman streets, but the car is a mother freaking beast and will blow your mind every time you drive it. A 720S lists for about $280,000, by the way. But I bet you already knew that if you’ve been watching car videos.
Impractical and special? You want impractical and special? Friend, those are the best two words a car buyer could hear, and you follow it up with some numbers that, stuck after a dollar sign, are pretty glorious as well. That’s why I’m so delighted to be able to solve your enviable conundrum so effectively: this 1981 Renault R5 Turbo, a steal at $144,476.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the R5 Turbo, you may look at it and think, hey, isn’t that just a LeCar? Buddy, the R5 Turbo is as much a LeCar as the Hulk is Bruce Banner. The R5 Turbo was the originator of one of automobildom’s greatest bizarre traditions: take a mass-market econobox and cram the biggest, baddest engine you can somewhere in the back, give it massive hips and fun paint, and then pump it full of car-drugs and send it off into the world to tear shit up.
R5 Turbos are an absolute blast to drive, a completely engaging, unhinged experience, a constant and wonderful battle between physics and insanity. It’ll look like nothing else wherever you park it, and it’ll make people walk past boring-ass Aventadors and Porsches just to get a look at it.
Plus, if you’re not convinced, look at this interior:
We’re done here, right? Of course we are.