Nick’s gotten his posts up, so I’m going to show you what I think. Four and a half million dollars. I”m going to say that again. FOUR AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS. I can’t even imagine that amount of cash fitting in a standard sized suitcase. The Veneno’s nice and all, and it is a tantalizing machine…but I can’t justify that price. It’s got the Aventador’s engine and a body kit (I know I’m oversimplifying things here). That’s enough for a house and a good number of very nice cars. However, this is about just cars, and the 24 cars listed below will do the trick perfectly for me. There’s a lot of overlap and a few of these cars are probably better off as trailer queens, but I plan on driving what I picked, whether it be to the grocery store, the track, or to work. There’s 24 cars here, and I’ve got a reason for choosing each of them. Here we go!
1. 1987 Buick GNX: $72,995
It’s tough to ignore a car when Car and Driver says “Vader, you car has arrived.” And this is a serious, serious set of wheels. Buick was determined to not let the turbocharged Regal go away quietly, and they succeeded in spades. The GNX is a fly-by-night, evil, menacing personal coupe with a low production count and a fantastic stance. It was faster than the Corvette of the time, but GM didn’t want anyone to really know about that. It had the credentials of a serious bruiser, even as the RWD era came to a regretful end. These have shot up in value but they’re not going to stop going up. The sky may be the limit for the GNX, over the next few years.
2. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 396 Convertible: $115,000
The Camaro is an American pony car classic, and I do not like the new one very much—it’s too big, too heavy, and has blind spots that make driving one a chore. I’ll be happy to spend a lot more, especially on this budget, on a 1969 model, the inspiration for the current car. This convertible is finished in a gorgeous maroon and has all the classic touches a ’69 needs—the RS front end with hidden lamps, the SS package, and a thumping 396 cubic inch plant with 375 brake horsepower, and it’s backed up by a 4-speed Muncie manual transmission. It’s for posing, it’s for showing, and it’s all about having a good time at the nanny state’s expense. Why say no?
3. 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2: $63,282
The 4-4-2 is a legend in GM lore. A four-barrel carburetor, four forward gears, and two exhausts—that’s the formula. Of course, one has to add in a 455-cubic inch monster motor. This 1970 model is gold and has the right fastback look, complete with classic Magnum 500s and black striping. The Oldsmobile muscle cars had a certain air of mature insanity around them, and that’s a big reason why I’ve been more interested in them in recent years—and so has everyone else. This is a great car to drive around at night, since the paint job seems to beckon the lack of any sort of lighting. Uncork the exhausts, dump the clutch, and spin some tires—that’s what these are here to do.
4. 1970 Plymouth Superbird: $179,000
It’s difficult to insult a car with a wing that’s taller than anything else ever made, a massive nose cone, and a soundtrack that can make most humans go deaf. The Superbird, despite its racing credentials, never found a lot of buyers and was considered ugly in its day. Today, it’s very valuable and it’s not surprising to see good ones go for over $150K. This one’s an example of that but includes a 440 Six Pack and the four speed manual. I’m not a big fan of that color, but I think I can live with it.
5. 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner: $41,998
I am taking a second example of the same year car, but this time, it’s not a wing car. I accept the fact that I can’t really drive the Superbird every day—it’s a highly collectible muscle car and I don’t want to risk someone doing something to it, so this blue 440+6 with a custom 5-speed gearbox will do the trick, thanks to that extra gear and the lack of collectibility compared to the wing car. The extra cog will do wonders for this old-school hot rod on the highway and it looks fantastic since the exterior is stock. I’d spend a few more bucks on tires to drag race this, too—no cage so I’m stuck in a stock class but that’s fine, I just want to drag this.
6. 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium: $48,085
Ford has a new one out this year and I am game to give this a shot. It’s a great sunny-day daily driver with a strong warranty and plenty of toys, I loaded mine up and painted it bright yellow, since I fell in love with it at the New York Auto Show. I can’t get a coupe for a car as cool as this—even though it’s not as fast, it’s still just as fun without that pesky roof in the way.
7. 1988 Ford Bronco 5.8L 4×4: $6,000
I want to get into off-roading and I don’t care what truck I get, but I think it’s fitting to grab a late-Eighties Bronco. These things are as tough as nails, and if the later one was good enough for O.J. Simpson, the earlier one should be good enough for a guy like me. This one is immaculate and is a great starting point for a snow truck, and has been treated well. It’s even got the fuel-injected 351 pounding away under the hood—-bad for gas mileage but great for torque.
8. 2015 Ford F-450 Platinum Crew: $75,480
Some of you might be asking “Why?” I’ll tell you—those classic cars may not be cars I want to drive 500 miles to a show, so I’d be happy to pick up a trailer and tow it across the country if necessary. Also, this is a great vehicle to get a trailer for and see the nation without flying. It’s not at all efficient despite the giant diesel engine and I haven’t had a lot of experience with these trucks, but they see a lot of use for good reason—few other heavy-duty trucks will match this mix of leather, brawn, and balls.
9. 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: $72,525
Cadillac’s going to stop making these at the end of the calendar year and they barely sell any. I want to help them out, and I want something that’s fun to drive in the summer to get the kids to football practice, with their gear, and not look like every other schmuck in the parking lot who shows up in yet another Mercedes GL or Chevy Tahoe. This, with a supercharged V8 and all the subtlety of a brick through a plate-glass window, will do what I want.
10. 2015 BMW M235i Coupe: $52,825
Nick took this out for a drive a few months ago and found it to be exhalirating, and I had the opportunity to check another one out in Jacksonville, FL a few months back. BMW took a small car, dumped a big straight six turbo in it, and added a license plate bracket. When I can’t drive the Mustang because it’s raining and I can still take a RWD car out, this will be a fine choice. Plus, it should get better mileage than the ‘Stang. Why not?
11: 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium: $34,940
One of the early reviews I wrote for this site was for the new (at the time) Passat TDI. After winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 2012, I felt it only fair to take one out for a drive, and I was pleasantly surprised at the diesel engine’s smoothness and the prompt response. This is a great car for not a lot of money and VW deserves much kudos for building it in Tennessee and not back in Germany—they made a clear attempt to appeal to American tastes and the attempt has been a big hit for car guys. It’s unassuming, the styling is simple and clean, and it flies under the radar—it’s just a commuter car, but it’s a nicely built car and will do everything I want it to, including 700 miles on a tank, thanks to 40MPG and a massive fuel tank.
12. 2014 Range Rover Autobiography: $142,215
I already grabbed the Bronco for 4WD and SUVs but that’s not a car I want to drive every day during a snowstorm. This is refined, comfortable, and supremely capable, packing a leather-lined supercharged V8 sucker punch and immaculate interior trimmings. It’s a lot for a Range Rover but this will have everything you could ever want, and it is everything I want. Why not?
13. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Convertible: $270,754
This is stupid expensive for an SLS. But, they will stop making them soon and since my biggest gripe about the SLS was the fact that it never feels quite as buttoned-down as most other cars are with the same power. Finally, Mercedes fixed it by giveng the SLS more power and a handling setup that wasn’t as insane. Also, as a short guy, I can’t reach the doors on the coupe, so the roadster will do the trick fairly well. I could use this when I need to get somewhere quickly, with some style, but I need to show off a carbon fiber hood for no apparent reason. I’m comfortable with that.
14. 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S Roadster: $108,180
I originally picked, to represent a classy British roadster, an E-Type and a Triumph TR-6. However, I realized I don’t know how to fix those cars and I don’t want something that will be broken in my garage when I want to drive it. So, I went with a new one, and having driven one very close to this, I can say from personal experience that the sound is reason enough to chase after one. As far as I’m concerned, enough said.
15. Porsche 918 Spyder: $953,400
The 918 has become a favorite here at Mind over Motor. There’s a laundry list of reasons, so I don’t really have space to go over them. Nick and I both picked this very car, except I went with orange accents and he went after black. This one’s got every option possible and I was intent on burning a lot of cash. I’d treat this as a track car and as a high-class, high-dollar car to ship to Monaco and use to get to the casino. Or, if I can’t make it to Monaco, a track day at the Las Vegas Speedway and primo parking at the Bellagio will do perfectly before I hit the poker tables.
16. 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante: $313,810
Aston Martin’s having some difficulties right now. Thanks to the onslaught of fuel economy corporate average laws all over the earth, Aston Martin is having issues making money because they have to pay fees, since they are independent and have no cars that make for anything resembling decent gas mileage. However, that’s besides the point. The new Vanquish has made waves for its beauty and the fact that it’s still available with a V12 and a manual gearbox. I wish that this one was but I can get over that. Aston Martin finally made a convertible version of it, and in this unique bright red hue, this is a sweet supercar that would look great with me in it, enjoying a nice long trip to the Pine Barrens on my way to gambling in Atlantic City.
17. Ferrari F12: $459,000
Ferraris in red are overplayed, but every automotive journalist says taht. When we went to Pebble Beach last year, Nick and I spotted a very fetching yellow F12, but I’ve become partial to grey Ferraris as time has passed. The F12 is a breathtaking machine, witha high-revving V12 that makes even angels weep as it reaches its redline. I wasn’t a fan of the FF when it launched for its styling, but the F12 with its more aggressive angles and squared jaw looks very fresh and has the power to match. It’s for sunny days, it’s for nice dinners, and it’s for blasting down the Garden State Parkway when the cops aren’t looking. Of course, I’d be happy to take it for a track day or three as well.
18. Lamborghini Aventador Roadster: $549,950
It takes serious stones to drive a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster. It’s not a car for someone with low self-esteem or for someone who wants to go under the radar. This particular example takes that theory to the logical extreme and throws the word “subtle” not only under the bus, but throws the bus in Drive and squashes it. It’s bright purple, has yellow seats, and yellow calipers. There is no getting around the loudness of this Roadster. This is a car to pose in, and then to scare the passenger with as you wind the 700hp V12 up and take off on your way to very extra-legal speeds. When it comes to showing off and making a statement, no other Lambo will do it as effectively as this one.
19. Maserati GranTurismo MC: $179,900
The GranTurismo has been with us since I started college in 2009, but it hasn’t become a bore in the automotive world. In fact, like a fine wine, the GranTurismo has gotten better with age. Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from painting them in uncharacteristically loud colors like this lime green hue. Normally I’d scoff at this, as only a Lamborghini or a Plymouth ‘Cuda deserves a color as insane as this, but since this one’s the MC model, I’m willing to give it a pass. This makes for a great GT car for a long trip, with a great engine note, comfy seats, and a big trunk.
20. Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II: $446,790
The Rolls-Royce Phantom. Because nothing, nothing at all, screams “I’m rich and you’re not” quite like one of these. I picked a subtle color combination only because this reminds me of the one I drove last year at Pebble Beach, and even if I have to hire a driver, I’ll still enjoy the ride.
21. 1957 Ford Thunderbird: $99,980
When it comes to the Ford Thunderbird, the 1957 model was the end of a very short and memorable era. For a fleeting time, Ford went and chased after the Corvette to up-end its throne. Of course, stupidity got in the way of common sense and after that year the T-Bird became a four-seater with far less sports car cred. The ’57 was the last one that had only two seats until the much-maligned 2002 relaunch hit the showrooms. This one’s a slick black finish and has the sought-after E-code configuration (twin quads) so it has more than enough power to keep up with traffic. I’d be driving this on a nice day to go for ice cream, or maybe for a nice trip to the lake.
22. 1953 Packard Caribbean: $129,900
Ask the man who owns one! My great grandfather, who passed away a long time ago, was a Packard devotee and was devastated when the company went bust in 1958. The Caribbean was the last of the greats, and the 1953 model is one that people sometimes overlook, as it lacks the tri-tone exuberance of the later models from 1955 and 1956. I’d be happy to show this at classic car events and to take it out on a cruise night every so often. This is a car that is so pretty that it would be a crime not to show it off.
23. 1989 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R: $26,316
The Skyline is a legend amongst car guys for its technology and for the fact that the US government seems to hate them. Thankfully for us, it’s now 2014 and the ’89 model is now legal to import. Someone did just that the day they became legal (January 1, 2014) and I have to respect that sort of urgency. With sophisticated AWD, a tough-as-nails RB26 inline-six, and chiseled looks, the R32 is a classic among Japanese hot rods. This one’s available for import to America, and I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want this car, especially in the classic grey color that I see on some of the Kyosho die-casts I coveted as a kid.
24. 1994 BMW 850CSi: $55,000
For this kind of money, a BMW 8-Series must be top-notch and in this case, only the CSi will do. BMW never made a real M8 in the 1990s, but this was the closest they really got. That’s not a bad thing, as the CSI variant of the famous 850I was a gem, with a huge V12, a slick six-speed manual transmission, sharklike styling, hidden headlamps, and every single option that BMW was able to offer at the time. If everything still works on this car, I’d be proud to drive it on a nice long trip. Even if stuff doesn’t work…it’s still one of the best looking cars that BMW produced in the 1990s.
In the end, that’s 24 cars right there, each picked because either I really wanted to have one, or because I saw a need and wanted to fill that need. However, note that there is an Aventador in there–if I wanted a Lamborghini roadster with 12 pistons this badly, I can more than afford one here. In fact, think of it this way–this is enough cars to drive one for each hour, every hour of the day. I’d be afraid to drive the Veneno Roadster more than 2 hours in a single day, per day. See? Isn’t that much better?
Like Nick said earlier this week, feel free to tell us in the comments below: Would you spend that 4.5M clams on the Veneno? Or, would you do what we did and basically make yourself a huge car collection?
-Albert S. Davis