Nathan has some extra room in his garage, so naturally, he needs to fill that space with a cool ride. He has a six-figure budget for an exotic-type ride but he doesn’t want the usual suspects. 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 -
Hopefully this is a bit of a challenge, I really look forward to seeing what you all come up with.
My wife and I have 3 kids, the oldest of which is getting ready to graduate college, which will free up some space in my garage and I just can’t have that. I started a company a few years back and have been very fortunate and now that I have the space, I would like to treat myself. We are looking for a fun car for the weekend, not necessarily for car meets, but we may go to a few. We would also like something different than the standard look-at-me weekend car.
For what it’s worth, our daily drivers are a Model S and a 4Runner.
We would prefer a sporty car, but are open to an off-roader. Both of us can drive a manual.
We would prefer to stay away from super flashy cars and the connotation of douchebaggery that those come with. Think Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, R8's, etc. We also don’t need everyone and their brother thinking they need to sit on the hood and take a picture when we are parked.
Budget-wise, I can spend up to $125k. I know there are a lot of cars that we can get for this, but we really want something fun but different even if we don’t spend the full budget.
Budget: up to $125k
Daily Driver: No
Location: Kansas City, MO
Wants: Exotic, fun, different
Doesn’t want: Something too “common” or too flashy
Nathan, this was certainly a fun challenge, as it is pretty easy to score any number of “common” exotics at this price point. If you want to stand out and have something different you really need to expand beyond the American market and look at cars that were never sold here, but can be sourced now.
This is your chance to check off that bucket list and drive one of those “video game” cars. I would suggest something like this R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R in midnight purple with bronze Volk Racing wheels. It looks as though it was plucked right out of the screen from Gran Turismo. Of course, this car presents two challenges, the first of which is confirming that it is indeed U.S. legal—though the R33 generation cars do fall within the 25-year import rule. The second challenge is learning how to shift with your left hand, as the steering wheel is going to be on the other side.
This Nissan will likely fly under the radar of your average person as it doesn’t have the exotic “presence” like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, but real car enthusiasts will know what’s up.
Clearly, Tom has picked the best option for a fast, fun car that isn’t too flashy, and I’m sure an R33 Skyline would fill the space in your garage beautifully. So Nathan, let me talk to you about something with a bit more grunt that might also fit the bill nicely. After all, you did say you’d consider an off-roader as well.
So, with your desire for something “different” but not too common or flashy, I think I might have found the truck for you. It is, of course, the Land Rover Defender. And, to make sure that it’s exotic enough for your needs, I’ve even found one that has been given an extra flourish of color courtesy of British designer Paul Smith – I’m sure this little flash of pizazz would make it fit in well at the odd car meet you trundle along to.
This particular Defender is a 1993 V8-powered 110 model with a manual gearbox. On the outside, every body panel has been finished in a different color and there are cool little accents, like those vibrant yellow hinges. Inside, it’s all charcoal gray with signature Paul Smith stripes down each seat. Definitely “fun, but different,” without spending your entire budget.
Okay, admittedly, a Harlequin Defender is an extremely cool concept. But you want a sporty car, one that won’t attract the attention of everyone at the gas station, but that might get a nod of approval at a car meet or two. Tom almost had it with the R33, but that’s the most divisive (and heaviest, at least until the R35) GT-R in the lineup. No, you need something even cooler. You need a Kenmeri.
Now, I’ll admit, this isn’t a true Kenmeri GT-R. Nissan only made about two hundred of those and, I’m sorry, they aren’t in your budget. Trust me, though, when I say that’s a positive — it gives you more freedom to mess with what might be Nissan’s best-looking chassis ever.
This KPGC110 Skyline started life as a 2000GT trim (possibly a 2000GT-X, it’s a little unclear) but it’s been heavily modified by previous owners. GT-R style fenders and badging, genuine RS Watanabe wheels, and, oh yeah — an L28 turbocharged inline-six out of a 280ZX Turbo. The real ‘73 GT-R never got that.
If you want something unique, go all-out. Get a car few people in the U.S. have ever seen, let alone driven. Plus, just imagine that road trip back from Miami.
This, my friend, is the answer you’ve been looking for. It’s a lightly-used 2020 Lotus Evora GT. Sure, the red color of this one may be a bit shouty for your liking, but there are plenty of other, more subdued, colors available. You can get an Evora GT in either manual or automatic, bolted to the back of a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 borrowed from a Camry.
That may sound a bit dull, but you know what’s really dull? Not having your car because it’s broken down at the repair shop. You’re not gonna have that problem with this bad boy. Plus that V6 has over 400 horsepower. It’s no slouch.
Think of the Evora GT as the Porsche 718 for people who would rather not be looked at and don’t want to talk about deviated stitching. And so what if it has a Pioneer head unit? Who cares? It works, and that’s all that matters when you’re carving up some backroad in legendary British-handling bliss.
Oh yeah, it’s also super pretty.
You’ve got a nice chunk of change, you appreciate a fun drive, but you don’t want to be associated with trashy wealth or tasteless showing off. All laudable traits. To answer your query, we have to go to England, and purchase a significant chunk of ash wood.
I’m talking, of course, about the Morgan Plus Four. This is cask-strength, unfiltered, eye-watering British sports car. It’s also the most fun you can have in a nearly six-figure vehicle without looking like an asshole. At my last job, I drove a previous-gen Plus Four around Los Angeles for a week, and it was probably the greatest week of driving I’ve ever done in my life. LA is notoriously car-blind, in part because every third car is a Lamborghini stuck in 1st gear or a Tesla wrapped in NFT bullshit. The Morgan got me the most thumbs ups, waves, and curbside conversations of any car I’ve ever driven. Everybody thinks it’s cool, and by association, everybody thinks that if you’re sitting in it, you’re cool.
It’s driving pleasure without the pretentiousness. It’s purist enjoyment with no toxicity. It’s a joyous little machine that looks like it’s happy to be out in the sunshine, bounding around corners, like a puppy on a walk after a rainstorm. Morgan just undertook a massive redesign of the car, including all-new BMW drivetrains and a first-time-in-forever update to the car’s ancient chassis and suspension design, but thankfully the bodywork has barely budged an inch.
How much will you spend on a Plus Four? That’s a little harder to nail down. The most widely regarded American importer, Morgan West, has two brand-new Plus Fours listed on its website with pricing cheekily listed as “inquire.” The one I drove, which was the old design with a Ford-based 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a five-speed from a Miata, stickered around $90,000, with lots of add-ons. Spend the rest on earplugs and sunscreen and have yourself a rakish, adventuresome summer.
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