Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we've again reached that point: the week is over, Friday is here, and that means it's time for this week's Letters to Doug, wherein you ask me a series of highly exciting automotive-related questions and I ignore almost all of them.
This week's letter is extra special, because it comes to us from a real-life celebrity who's looking for car advice: Pat Wilson, drummer for the popular rock band Weezer. Pat is the most exciting celebrity I've encountered since I started this whole writing thing, unless you count that time I met Jay Leno at Pebble Beach, and I was nervous, and excited, and shaky, and I walked up to him and blurted out: "Hey, Mr. Show! I love your Leno!"
Well, I've decided to play it cool with Pat Wilson and keep it straight to cars. But I also bought a couple of Weezer CDs, and I've been playing them nonstop as I drive around, thinking to myself: This is so cool! I know the guy who's playing those drums!!!! And then I realize that a lot of teenage girls probably say the very same thing when Justin Bieber replies to one of their Tweets.
Anyway, Pat's letter says:
My name is Patrick Wilson and I play drums for the band Weezer. I so very much enjoy your writing, it's right in line with how I think and feel about car ownership. We need a functional back seat and decent trunk space, we have 2 boys who play sports. Also, infrequent freeway commutes on the 405. Wife has 2015 X5.
Here's some cars on my list in no particular order:
1. 2015 Challenger Scat Pack or SRT - Must be SubLime and 8 speed auto. I can't stop looking at pictures of it, sat as a passenger and even though it's essentially the same car as the 2009 R/T I sold it felt even larger. May require KW coilovers and more tire. Might be a POS in 5 years. Wife rolls eyes and wonders about me. Boys into it.
2. 2012 E63 AMG wagon, 24k, 1 of 1 in Matte White, owned by a pal. Very powerful, still somehow reminded me of an E60 M5 that I sold, you don't feel how powerful it is and then you notice how fast you're going. Extended warranty would be 5-6k to 100k. Might be a POS in 5 years. Wife suspiciously approves. Boys into it.
3. 2015 WRX, owned by same pal (who also makes Kartboy parts for Subaru, talented engineer) tuned for E85. Is already kind of a POS but cheap enough not to care. Wife semi-disappointed. Boys into it.
4. Ford Flex EcoBoost, always admired the long roof style, would probably be a hoot with a tune, extremely practical, may be a POS. Wife gets physically ill and objects most vociferously. Boys into it.
I will search now for any of your impressions of owning the Merc.
So I think we've established two very important things here: number one, Pat has a bizarre, hilarious, and admirable taste in automobiles. And number two: Pat likes my writing. This is a huge deal to me because even I have heard of Weezer, and my musical knowledge primarily consists of a) Jimmy Eat World, and b) whatever noises I can make by banging on various desktop items instead of writing my column.
But back to cars. What the hell do you suggest to a guy who is considering both a Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon and a Ford Flex? A WRX and a Challenger? This one will be difficult, and demanding, and taxing, but fortunately I'm very good at spending other peoples' money, so I've come up with a few ideas.
Number one: as I've told Pat in several subsequent e-mails, the best suggestion is by far the E63 AMG Wagon. Oh, sure, it's the most expensive to buy. It's also the most expensive to own, the most expensive to run, the most expensive to fuel, and the most expensive to insure. It'll depreciate the fastest, fail the most, and leave you convinced that "German engineering" is just "Chinese engineering" with some extra umlauts.
But by God, it's a 500-horsepower station wagon with rear-facing seats. Isn't that just amazingly cool? Wildly exciting? Stunningly awesome? You'd show up to soccer practice in this thing and your kids would be the talk of the team, largely because they would get out of the car and immediately vomit everywhere.
Unfortunately, I think Pat's other choices have to be eliminated. The Challenger is cool, but after about four days of folding the front seats forward to stick your kids in the back, I suspect you'd be willing to trade it out for any other vehicle, including a Charger, a minivan, a tandem bicycle, a Razor scooter family four-pack, etc. The WRX is fun, but hardly luxurious. And while everyone who owns a Flex seems to love it, can you really get past the styling? Or the wife's disapproval?
So I've come up with a few other choices for Pat, in case he doesn't end up going the E63 AMG route.
Number one is the Mercedes GL63 AMG. I'm obsessed with these right now, because I truly believe this is perhaps the most ultimate automobile currently on sale. Think about it: this is essentially a Chevy Suburban with a supercar engine. This is three rows of seats and 557 horsepower. This is the absolute most obscene, over-the-top, unnecessary automobile in the history of obscene, over-the-top, unnecessary automobiles. It's what we all thought we'd grow up to create when we were adults, until we learned that you can't actually put a supercar engine in a Chevy Suburban, or else you'll burn down your garage. But here, Mercedes-Benz has actually done this for us, and from the factory. For this we must a) shower them with praise, and b) consider buying one from CarMax in approximately six years.
Number two: the Chevrolet SS. In a later e-mail, Pat told me that he also owns a classic Malibu and an Impala wagon, which suggests that he fits perfectly into the SS's demographic: someone who likes General Motors, loves cars, has some money, and wants a performance vehicle that can carry the whole family. Unfortunately, this demographic consists of exactly seven people, four of whom are members of Bob Lutz's family, so GM is desperate for buyers like Pat.
And my third choice for Pat: a Porsche Panamera. Yes, it's big, and it's ugly, and it's unwieldy. But I had a Panamera GTS until I smashed it into a 1990s Ford Explorer with roughly the velocity of a bowling ball hitting a prairie dog, and let me tell you this: the Panamera is tons of fun to drive. (Literally tons; just ask the guy in the Explorer.) It's fast, it's quick, it's flat in the corners, PDK is impressive, there's lots of room, and then there's maybe the biggest benefit of all: when you're sitting inside the Panamera, you don't have to look at it.
So these are my suggestions for Pat, and now you should feel free to provide some of your own. Bonus points if your suggestions don't include the words "Weezer" or the phrase "big enough for a drum kit." We're trying to play it cool, remember?!
Don't forget: you can always send me your letters at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, or Tweet me at @DougDeMuro. And although I can't promise to include your letter in next week's column, I can promise that if you are a rock star, I will read it and consider publishing it, depending on how much I like your music.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.