My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?

Illustration for article titled My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?
Photo: Rob

Rob had two very cool cars, a 1996 Dodge Viper and a 2012 Subaru WRX STI. That was until the Viper caught fire, burned down the garage and took the Subaru with it. He is looking for a fast and practical car to replace both, and he has a pretty healthy budget. What car should he buy?


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Here is the scenario:

My 1996 Dodge Viper unfortunately caught on fire after a nice evening joy ride. It caught fire in my garage and my 2012 Subaru WRX STI hatchback was an innocent bystander. They are both totaled and now I need to find something to replace them. I’m going to take the insurance money and buy a replacement, but I don’t want a sports car this time. I am looking for an all-wheel-drive daily driver that is fast and practical. I would love to have a manual but that isn’t required. I can spend up to $120,000

Quick Facts:

Budget: Up to $120,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Wants: Fast, Practical, AWD

Doesn’t want: Another sports car

Expert 1: Tom McParland - It’s Wagon Time

Illustration for article titled My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?

Wow, Rob, that is a terrible turn of events, but at least you and your family are OK. Cars can be replaced. My thinking is that you want to combine the best aspects of each of your previous cars and crank up the comfort a bit since this will be a daily driver. That means we need the all-weather capability of the STI with the thrill of the Viper.

Normally my gut would say to go with either the Mercedes E63 wagon or the Audi RS6. But as capable as those wagons are, they both feel like big cars. I would have you consider the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo. Porsche knows how to inject some kind of witchcraft to make these large cars feel smaller when you drive them hard.

Sure, the longroof Sport Turismo falls short as a wagon — it has limited cargo space compared with the Audi and Mercedes. But it has other strengths. I was fortunate enough to experience this car firsthand as both a driver and passenger at a local racetrack during a Porsche driving event. While my lap times weren’t anything special, when I rode shotgun with a Porsche driving instructor it was amazing how easily the big Panamera could hustle around corners at high speed.


There aren’t many Sport Turismo Turbos available locally, but here is a 2018 with low miles and a color combo that should keep you under the radar.

Expert 2: Adam Ismail - A Coupe In Name Only

Illustration for article titled My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?

Gotta love Vipers, dying as they live in the most dramatic way possible. Glad to hear the cars were the only loss in this incident, Rob. The question now is what single vehicle could best replace them both.

This one really stumped me. Despite the generous budget, the requirements narrow down the field considerably. I have to be honest — Tom took the choice I would’ve made. Damn that guy. It’s almost like he does this for a living.


Because agreement is not the spirit of this exercise, my recommendation is the Mercedes-AMG GT’s larger, more practical sibling: the GT 4-Door Coupe. The GT not-really-a Coupe evokes the impracticality of Mercedes’ true flagship supercar but has two more doors and all-wheel drive. It also has mountains of power, which makes it the proper heir to the Viper’s throne in your garage.

You could go two different ways here. The GT 53 fits comfortably in your budget, starting at $99,950 and offering 429 horsepower from its turbocharged inline-six, coupled with Merc’s EQ Boost integrated starter generator. But that’s not the version I picture you with — no, that would be the 577 HP, twin-turbo V8-powered GT 63. Unfortunately, new examples of those start at a rather steep $140,600, though I found a pre-owned 2019 car outside Columbus that’s merely $2,000 over your budget.


Expert 3: Raphael Orlove - Speed Is Relative


What is it to be a “fast” car? Certainly you could buy a Mitsubishi Evo and boost it to infinity. Or you could definitely buy a big German cruiser or a GT-R and blitz from 0 to 60 in around three seconds. But I think there’s something more that you want. I think you want excitement. And I am here to tell you, driving a forward-control offroader at 40 mph is as exciting as driving a GT-R at 140. I’ve done both, and it’s the creaky, rattly off-roader that I’d go back to. Consider something like this Jeep FC. Take it for a test drive. Go as fast as your heart will stand. Then ask yourself again if you really want to return to a life of 305-section rear tires.

Expert 4: José Rodríguez - Look Light Years Ahead

Illustration for article titled My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?
Photo: Tesla

Rob, here’s the thing: your Viper and WRX cannot be replaced. No one car can fill that void. The loss of just one of these would wreck me; I would eat nothing but Ben & Jerry’s for a week. And to think you lost both! I mean, those two models are car royalty. You can’t replace them.

Don’t look back; look forward. Move ahead. And do it in a Tesla Model X. Trust me, I never thought I’d recommend a Tesla, but you mentioned you need a fast, practical daily driver with AWD. And you don’t want a sports car. That fits the Model X. The X is a nice car, big enough to feel appreciably more spacious than your older cars but it’s still got some speed on tap.


Even the high-end Plaid trim is within your budget, at a hair over $119,000 new. Not only will it satisfy the requirements you’ve outlined, but it will also cut down on your running and maintenance costs. You won’t have to pay for 93 octane anymore, and you can forget about routine maintenance for your high-performance cars. Rob, welcome to the new age.

Expert 5: Mercedes Streeter - Clown Shoe

Illustration for article titled My Dodge Viper Caught Fire And Burned Down My Garage! What Car Should I Buy?
Photo: Bring A Trailer (Other)

It’s sad that two great cars were lost, but at least that means that you can get some new toys to play with. I see that you like fast cars that aren’t exactly normal, so let’s keep that trend going with a BMW M Coupe. It’s missing the AWD requirement, but hear me out.

This car is affectionately known as the clown shoe, and there are few cars on the road like it. To make the clown shoe, BMW basically welded a roof to the Z3 roadster, giving it some quirky looks. Under the hood resides the inline-six engine from an E36 M3, and it’s bolted to a five-speed manual transmission. These cars are quick. And just check out that wide rear end.


This model is getting rarer as time goes on, but you can still get one for well-within your price range. Plus, with the money you have left over you can get a second fun car to play with!

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Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (


Richard Dawson's Ghost

Okay but am I the only person who thinks this sounds like insurance fraud?