Spring is nearly here and that means one thing: scrounging up all your cash that hasn't gone to your weed budget and buying a shitbox of a car. So now let's pick the best — for thrashing, for offroading, for drifting, for even commuting to your new gig at that coffee shop next to the sneakers hut.
So in the proud tradition of 2012's March Muscle Car Madness, let me announce the Jalopnik March Madness Beat-Off, where 64 cars will enter bracket competition to be crowned the best half-rusted turdbox that even your little brother could buy. There are some real classics, there are some unappreciated wonders, and there are some horrendous abominations that will be immediately voted off, so help us all.
Here's how it'll work, as explained by my good colleague Jason Torchinsky in the old Muscle Car Madness series.
Here's how it'll work. We've picked 64
muscle carsbeaters, and divided them into four regions. We'll use the bracket down below for the pairings, and the "games" themselves will be handled via polls. Most votes in the poll wins the match, with the winner going on to next round. When it's all over, we'll have one triumphant muscle car winner, and, more importantly, the fans of 63 muscle carsbeaters — backfiring and leaking bittersweet coolant on the rug — as angry, bitter losers.
Since you're probably going to want to start doing your intense research, the full list, by region, is below, along with a picture of all of them, useful for wrapping paper!
Matches start this Thursday at noon with online polls, so fill in your brackets for your illegal pools today!
And here are all the cars sorted alphabetically by region:
Bachelor's Sports Mobiles
Ford Mustang (Fox Body)
Mazda RX-7 (FC)
VW Jetta (Mk III)
Ford Crown Victoria
Lincoln Mk VII
Chevy S-10 Blazer
Ford Bronco (4th Gen)
Honda Civic AWD Wagon
Jeep Cherokee XJ
Jeep Grand Cherokee Zj
Nissan Pathfinder (1st Gen)
Toyota Pickup (Pre-Tacoma)
VW Baja Bug
Now, you might be asking yourself what, precisely, a beater is. Basically, it's a crap car you buy without really having to care what kind of shape it ends up in. It's a car to thrash without worrying about the paint, about curbing the wheels. A truck you can jump in a field without worrying if the suspension gets shot. A car you can park by feel in the office lot. Ideally, it's a car that's so dirt cheap you don't mind leaving it in bad neighborhoods with the doors unlocked and the windows down. It's a car to beat on, hence the name.
And speaking of names, it was Gawker head honcho Nick Denton who inadvertently coined the term "bachelor's sports mobile" in his Playboy interview. It's just too perfect not to use.
Wondering how did the cars for this list got chosen? My proud Texan colleague Patrick George explains.
Your Jalopnik staff spent about 30 minutes compiling this list of beaters — and then we spent hours arguing over it. Chairs were thrown, blood was spilled, interns started crying, and Matt threatened to have the Foxtrot Alpha guy call in an air strike on our homes. But in the end, after several cases of Brefass Scotch and some awkwardly intense man-hugs, we settled on the chart you see here.
I should say that there are two cars notable for their absence here: the BMW E30 and the NA Mazda Miata. And there are good reasons why those two cars aren't in this challenge.
First of all, let me say that everyone knows both the NA Miata and the E30 are excellent low-cost cars. They drive great, they look great, they make you feel good owning them, and they're (reasonably) reliable. The problem is that everyone knows how good the E30 and NA Miata are. Maybe five or six years ago you could get a nice E30 for five hundred bucks and enter it in the 24 Hours of LeMons or Rally Mexico or whatever.
But now if you own a halfway decent E30, you can expect strangers to shove four grand in your face every time you pull up to an auto parts store. Both the E30 and the NA Miata are going to owners who are nice people, people who will follow strict maintenance protocols and wax the paint, and restore them. This means these late '80s/early '90s wonders just aren't beaters anymore. They're simply nice old cars. They great, but they just don't belong in the running.
That and all you fartsniffers would only vote for them and they would win the contest no matter what. So that's no fun.
Top Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove