Aug 4, 2010

Eye-Catching Cars

With apologies to JayG, this post came to me while I was driving to and from New England this weekend.

Top Ten Eye-Catching Cars

These are the cars that make you turn your head and watch them in the mirror as they go the other way, or that you'll walk over a row in the parking lot to look closer. All of these are cars that I have seen in the wild at one point or another; no show queens here.

10) Ford Mustang. Any vintage, with a subtle thumbing of the nose to the boxy semi-hatchbacks of the 80s. The current iteration - and if you're getting one, it needs to be a GT - is a wonderful homage to the muscle-car fastback 'stangs of the late 60s and early 70s.

9) Chevrolet Corvette. All except the C4 style, which was an abomination in the eyes of Me. The current model is a sexy beast. I had an opportunity to drive one of the C5 generation while I sold cars, and it was definitely an experience.

8) Chevrolet Camaro. Much like Ford did with the Mustang, Chevy made an honest effort to get back to the original style with the new model. And it still works. The new Camaros turn my head right around. Attitude with power, and I like it!

7) Diesel pickups. Three-quarter and full-ton pickups with the loud diesel rumble get my attention. Too bad many of them are never used like they were designed - to pull BIG loads easily. It's easy to say, "Yeah, this baby will pull a trailer three times its size," but it's kind of silly to brag about that when there's no stinking hitch on the truck.

6) Jeep Wranglers. Ideally soft-top or no-top, and preferably door-less. One of the few vehicles out there that has numerous factory accessories to make it a true off-road machine. Rather impractical for anything other than playtime, they are a vehicle that makes no excuses about what they're for. (Or didn't, until the four-door "Wranglers" showed up.)

5) Q-cars. Sleepers. You probably won't see these in the other lane, and if they're in front of you, all you should expect to see is taillights. They look like daily drivers, but what's under the hood is a whole new game. Some of them are factory products (usually German, particularly Audi's S-badge, Bimmer's M-shop, and Me/Be's AMG-works) and some are home made. In my car days, the one I wanted was an Audi S4 Avant. A rather small wagon, all-wheel-drive, with a 2.7L twin-turbo under the hood. Off the showroom floor it would run 0-60 in 5.5. Aside from minor styling cues (17" wheels and an "S" badge on the hatch), it looked like a stock A4 wagon.

4) Custom muscle cars. Detroit iron. Chain steering wheels. Big fat rear wheels and tiny fronts. Mad Max-esque blowers sticking through the hood. Flame paint jobs and chrome. Exhaust that you FEEL before you hear. They make me giggle like a schoolgirl.

3) Properly-tuned rice rockets. Any jackass can dump a couple thousand into bolt-on body crap from Imports-R-Us and slap a fart can and a NOS sticker on their ricer. None of that makes it go faster. I'd MUCH rather see someone dump that money into engine tuning and suspension work, get their car into the 10- or 11-second range, THEN start worrying about ground effect and stupid lighting and so forth. (See above: Q-cars.)

2) Italian finery. Ferrari and Lamborghini. I've seen a few prancing stallions in the wild, and ONE Lambo. Very few things can compare with Italian sports cars when it comes to luxury and performance in one package.

1) Honda Prelude. Don't laugh. My first car was a '90 Prelude Si. A short-geared 145hp motor in a 2,400lb car has some serious ass. I detest the mid-90s "jellybean" style Preludes, but around '97 the styling improved dramatically, and so did power. I drove a '99 Prelude with VTEC once, and it was pretty bizarre.

I revved it up, dropped the clutch around 3,000, and it jumped, but not as hard as I'd expected. I shifted it through and kept it up in what I assumed to be the power band. The guy sitting next to me (a salesman for the local Honda shop and former co-worker from my shop) told me to try again, but this time, hold off the shifts until it was getting towards redline (around 8k, I believe). Around 5,500rpm, the VTEC cams clicked in, and suddenly I was thrown back in my seat with a face-splitting grin plastered on. Keeping the revs above the VTEC line proved easy, and the thing was a ROCKET.

So, there it is. My top-ten head-turners in no particular order. Tell me why I'm wrong!


Weer'd Beard said...

Heh, the Fox Body mustangs sure were ugly, but they were light and fast, and borderline sleepers.

I always wanted to buy a mid-90s T-Bird with shit body and paint, and mod the fuck out of the drivetrain wheels and brakes to make a super fast car that looked like grandma was heading to the bingo parlor.

From the factory tho, the sleepiest car out there was pre-scoops Pontiac GTO (The Holden Car)

Great list!

SordidPanda said...

My two trucks, both 3/4 ton, have trailer hitches. I need to add electronic brake control to the diesel though.