Automakers are always trying to convince you that their vehicles can do anything. Conquer any mountain, tackle any racetrack, and haul shitloads of lumber. But the truth is you’re always compromising. Many aspects of vehicle design are at odds with each other. It’s hard to have good ground clearance and good handling. Seating for seven is always going to mean a larger, less efficient vehicle.
I know we’re all waiting for automakers to give us the 700 horsepower electric minivan, but in the interim, there is another solution: Opposite cars. Two cars that are at opposite ends of a capability spectrum.
I’ve mostly owned at least two vehicles at any given time in my adult life, and they’re often pretty different from each other. Different enough to be called opposite cars. My first set of opposite cars consisted of the two best vehicles to ever come from an Auburn Hills engineering office: A Chrysler minivan and a Dodge Viper.
The Viper cost me $25k. About ten grand less than the average new car, but still a bit pricey considering that it was a salvage title piece of shit. The minivan cost me $3500 and was maybe the best automotive money I’ve ever spent. The Viper was the fun car, the fast car. The “look at me while I lose control and slide sideways into the median,” car. It did things the minivan never did, like overheat its brakes and blow a coolant hose at Willow Springs.
The minivan, on the other hand, was the practical car. The “haul people and things and drive around living inside of it like a small house,” car. It got decent gas mileage, could haul all sorts of people and things, and only broke down when it was relatively convenient.
My current set of opposite cars includes a lifted Toyota 4Runner and a tiny motorcycle powered roadster. The 4Runner is capable and comfortable. It will drive over large things, traverse the desert at irresponsible speeds, and do it all with ice-cold A/C or comfy heated seats.
The roadster is as exciting and engaging as any car could be. You can feel the transmission gears engage through the shifter. The brakes and steering are manual and directly connected to your hands and feet. You can feel, smell, and hear everything around you, which is fun for a little while, but you should really wear hearing protection.
They cover the spectrum pretty well, but I’m sure there are better opposite cars. I wonder, what is the best pair of cars to own that will cover the largest spectrum of use cases. What are the best opposite cars?