Ah, land yachts. There’s a certain joy in driving the nautical. I got to drive one of the cruise ships last month. A 1976 Lincoln Continental. 460ci V8, 3 speed slushbox. Wallowed into every turn and sounded like a muscle car due to a noticeable exhaust leak. Yet it put a massive smile on my face despite my personal favorite car out of my fleet being my 1st gen Dodge Neon, which is the opposite. Small, light, nimble, and somewhat stiff.
Many people tend to underrate the 2004-06 Pontiac GTO, probably because it looked and felt too European for anything bearing the hallowed badge, ignoring the fact that it was considerably faster, nimbler, more comfortable, better equipped and easier to live with than any of its predecessors, which explains why I consider it to be the best GTO ever made (or which could ever have been made, for that matter). This was even truer of the LS2-engined model introduced in 2005, which added 50 more horsepower over the preceding LS1. It was, in fact, an Australian import with an American nameplate - which at least partly explains why I love it so much.
Not helping matters were its late introduction to the US market, coinciding with a strong Australian dollar; it did not debut until the fourth quarter of 2003 (as a 2004 model) - a full two years after Australian-spec Monaros began rolling out of the Holden production line in Elizabeth, South Australia. The fact that the more American-looking fifth-gen Mustang and reborn Dodge Charger came out soon after the GTO returned to the price lists only made it an even harder sell than it should have been. In fact, the new Monaro was a two-door coupe version of the 2000 VX Commodore (itself an updated version of the VT Commodore, introduced way back in 1997), which would be facelifted twice - first as the VY and then as the VZ - so it was already starting to show its age by the time it entered the 2006 model year, which turned out to be its last.
Whatever Pontiac did to improve the GTO’s fortunes later in its lifespan, it was too little, too late - when the Monaro went out of production at the end of 2005, the GTO died with it a few months later. The real tragedy is that its lack of success turned out to be one of several nails in Holden’s coffin as a manufacturer in its own right, ultimately leading to its relegation to mere importer status by the end of 2017. In fact, the Monaro was the last two-door coupe (not counting utes) ever made in Australia until the 2018 Brabham BT62.
Want more proof that the final Pontiac GTO may well be the best one they could ever have made? Here it is:
ａ ｒ ｅ ｙ ｏ ｕ ｏ ｋ ａ ｙ
I’m OK - I just got the words confused for a while.
Speaking of Holdens, I actually like the new ZB Commodore, having finally accepted that it’s not a replacement for the VF, but a competitor to the Ford Mondeo, VW Arteon and other mid-sized sedans. It’s quite a looker, and fairly comfortable, even though it no longer appeals to the muscle-car set like its RWD predecessor did - the Camaro now fills that niche in Holden’s lineup.
I know that it’s actually a Vauxhall/Opel Insignia (as shown above), but the Holden version has one engine option not found in the Euro versions - a 3.6-litre V6, as does the US-market equivalent, the Buick Regal. You can’t get a V6 of any kind in a Mondeo or new-gen Accord these days, so at least there’s still a reason to plump for the ZB.
This is sold as the Buick Regal in the United States, as I’m sure y’all are aware. It’s a good successor to that car in my opinion. I sat in a Regal TourX when I went to the Detroit Auto Show back in January, and wasn’t super impressed, honestly. But I still really like it! Other than that it’s a wagon, and it was light blue with tan. So, obviously nut.
It’s a Buick. Buick is supposed to be a luxury brand, and are known for comfortable cruisers. Interior quality was fine, but it wasn’t on the same level as a Chrysler or a Volkswagen. (I also wish the seats were more comfy.) It was more Chevy level materials and build quality, which is just fine, but not for luxury car. And they’re not cheap.
However, I think it looks stunning, very unique, which is hard to do in modern day. And the interior, while not to the most luxurious quality, certainly looks the part. It’s very cohesive and I like the design a LOT and it’s actually pretty ergonomic as well.
And I think that this is the only midsize sedan I would buy, though I might consider a Passat or an ES350 as well. I absolutely love the fact that you can get the 3.6L DOHC Direct-Injection V6. 310 horsepower coupled to a very smooth and crisply-tuned 9-speed going through all four wheels is an absolute dream. My stepmom has a 2012 Impala with largely the same engine, and that thing weighs more and has 3 less gears and it’s downright fast. I like it!
Everyone likes to wax lyrical about the Ferrari F355 and the Porsche 993, and for good reason - these were, and still are, regarded as some of the best driver’s cars ever made. However, I secretly admit to liking their respective successors, the 360 Modena and 996-series 911, even more, though not by much, because they might be - whisper it - even more significant than the cars they replaced. So now I’ll explain why I like them so much.
I’ll start with the 360. It’s easy to overlook that the 355, for all its sublime excellence, was actually based on the much-maligned 348 - the 360 was a clean-sheet design, and in a first for the brand, was built on an aluminum chassis for improved strength and rigidity. It was also easier to live with as well - unlike the 355, the engine in a 360 can be serviced in situ, without having to be removed and then reinstalled. As for the exterior styling, I think it’s even sleeker than the 355, with tauter curves, fewer large intakes and a more dynamic appearance overall.
That might explain why, unlike some later mid-engined Ferraris, it actually looks even better in more subdued metallic colors such as Blu Tour de France (as shown above) or Argento Nurburgring than bright solid shades like Rosso Corsa or Giallo Modena. And, of course, it served as the basis for the hardcore Challenge Stradale, which came out in 2003 and really made the most of the car’s potential. As for the base model, driving a manual-gearbox example feels like stepping back in time, before the introduction of the manettino allowed one to select from one of five drive modes - but in a good way. For that reason, the 360 is not only one of the last few truly analog Ferraris, but also remains one of my favorites to this day.
As for the 996, it represented a huge break from tradition, not least because it was mass-produced on an unprecedented scale (by Porsche standards) and, unlike every previous 911, was powered by a water-cooled engine. Despite initial complaints about interior quality, strange-looking fried-egg headlights, and exaggerated reports of intermediate shaft bearing failures (which are easily fixed, thankfully), I would still park a regular 996 in my garage, not least because said engine made the 996 easier to maintain and live with than the air-cooled 993.
Moreover, in contrast to the 993, which is almost too exclusive given how rapidly resale values are increasing even for base-model examples, the 996 is more plentiful and hence affordable. And despite sharing many components inside and out (especially the headlights) with the 986 Boxster, it still looks svelte today. Of course, the 996 went on to spawn a whole host of high-performance variants - the all-wheel-drive Turbo, the mental GT2 and the lighter, more focused GT3 RS (itself a derivative of the wonderful GT3) among the highlights - but these were all powered by variations of the Mezger flat-six (which didn’t share the base engine’s IMS problems). The GT3 and GT2 are much rarer, though, and the Turbo may well appreciate considerably in the future - but the standard car is much more common (and hence attainable), so it might make sense to get one while prices for those stay relatively low. It is, however, best experienced with a manual gearbox, as all 911s (except some of the most recent ones) should be.
It’s a sad fact of life (and progress) that not only is it impossible to buy a new Ferrari with a manual gearbox or a naturally aspirated V8 - a combination once regarded as one of motoring’s greatest pleasures - you no longer have a chance of buying a new base 911 with a normally aspirated flat-six either; every 911 since 2016, with the exception of the GT3, GT3 RS and R, has been powered by a turbocharged engine, which means that another one of the finest treasures in motoring has also been (mostly) relegated to the history books. Which means that one day, when the epitaph for the internal combustion engine is finally written, the sounds of naturally aspirated Ferrari V8s or Porsche flat-sixes will be regarded among the greatest ever to have been heard by human beings.
More in line with what this thread is meant to be about, there’s a part of me that really wants a Mitsubishi Montero Sport/Challenger/Pajero Sport and I’m not 100% sure why (but I’ve talked about it plenty on the Discord )
Rather than supercars, I much prefer jack-of-all-trades, high-performance hypersedans and hyperestates (e.g. E63, RS6, M5). No offence, there’s a ton of supercars I do like (heck, my username is actually called F12 of Maranello for some reason) but they are not useful, sometimes have a tons of problems (practically and reliability).
My all-time perfect car will be an E-segment RWD/AWD 4-door sedan, with a powerful V8/V10 that drives and handles great, equipped with good automatic or DCT (I much rather have those on a luxury performance sedan over a manual) and it has a high-quality interior with the best creature comforts possible.
I like sleeper versions of midsize family cars more, much like my own manual V6 Camry, or the Ford Taurus SHO or J30/A32 Nissan Maxima SE.
Lots of people hate on the Camry Solara, but honestly if it’s a hardtop with the 3.3L V6, I’d totally own one.
I keep telling people. Never underestimate V6 Camries. As battered as mine is, it still does 0-60 in under 7 seconds (mine has the 1MZ, not the 3MZ). In a mid 90s family sedan with over 200,000 miles that I got for $400. I like the sedan’s styling better, but I get why Toyota made a coupe version
Edit: Speaking of guilty pleasures, I almost always prefer the styling of sedans to coupes. I think they’re almost always better proportioned, plus the extra practicality is always welcome.
Don’t get me wrong - the current Ford GT is an amazing machine, with its clever aero bits, chassis tech and exterior design combining to make it one of the fastest (if not the fastest) supercars ever made - not just around a track, but also on the road. However, I still like its predecessor just a little bit more - in fact, it, and not its successor, was, still is, and will always be my favorite generation of Ford GT, and here’s why.
With the current car, the powertrain is the elephant in the room. Let’s face it, 647 horsepower and 550 foot-pounds is impressive, and certainly sufficient to grant the GT true supercar status. But what raises my eyebrows is that those figures come from an Ecoboost V6 more commonly used in their full-sized trucks. And being a twin-turbo V6, it will never sound as good as any V8, V10 or V12, especially a normally-aspirated one. However, I understand why Ford used an Ecoboost V6 - it allowed them to sculpt the rest of the car very tightly around it, thereby improving its aerodynamics.
Even so, I can’t help wondering if Ford had designed it to accommodate the 700-horsepower engine from the new Shelby GT500 instead - which would have been far more fitting for what claims to be the brand’s flagship. In fact, the previous Ford GT was powered by a supercharged V8 (essentially the same one that would be used in the 2006 Shelby GT500), and was all the better for it - not just in objective terms, but also for the way it sounded. The fact that it’s 100 horsepower down on its successor seems irrelevant when the chassis it’s installed in is so well-sorted on the road, whereas the new one feels just a little bit too uncompromising in that particular environment.
As for aesthetics, while the newer car looks more extroverted (and had to if it were to have any chance of winning Le Mans, which it did), its predecessor is actually more faithful to the original GT40 inside and out, from the exterior proportions to the instrument panel. And while the old car’s combination of a big-cube blown bent-eight and a manual gearbox has timeless appeal, the dual-clutch 'box in the newer model, while fast by current standards, can’t be future-proofed as much simply because gearboxes of the future will be capable of even quicker gear changes than this one is. It’s for this reason that the 2003-06 Ford GT deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the McLaren F1, Ferrari F50 and Porsche Carrera GT, among others, as one of the all-time great analog supercars - something which the current car, due to its turbo V6/dual-clutch combination, could never have been.
Finally, while the previous Ford GT was most definitely an all-American supercar simply because it was designed and built there, this could never have been true of the new GT, since it was built by Multimatic in Canada, so it’s actually a North American supercar at best.
Still not convinced? Here’s more proof, if anyone needs it, that the Ford GT of the 2000s might well be - whisper it - the most significant high-performance car in the entire history of Ford - even more so than its successor or the original GT40:
Edit: here’s an explanation for the following:
Simply put, in terms of engine and gearbox type, the previous Ford GT was actually much more faithful to the recipe set by the original GT40 than the current car.
How is a Ford GT of any generation a guilty pleasure? I always thought the Ford GT is one of the most universally praised and appreciated cars of all time.
Chevy Astros are dope, change my mind
My dad has had two Astro cargo vans and while they’re slow and handle like jelly beans, they’re so much fun and dead reliable. My dad got his latest, a 2000, for free and has only payed for gas and maintenance for three years and it’s been great.
Just don’t mind the copious amounts of body rust.
There’s another segment you’re ignoring. Big, luxury boats like the S-Class and any car made primarily for cruising. Everybody from big wig execs and peasanty commuters can do with an efficient drive for an easy commute; but I agree that electric can fuck off from dedicated driver’s cars.
Is it tho
Regarding the topic at hand… My guilty pleasure would be NFS riced out street cars being as painfully obnoxious as possible. As far as I’m concerned they’re like a tailored suit, if it’s done right it shouldn’t fit anybody else.
You know what, I can see that! Everyone has their own style of car, and that’s one thing I love about the car community (and even the people here and how some of the better designers make cars). Not so much about loving ricers, but I can respect that.
Eh, the GT40 was a race car built to win races using the best available technology of its time that also happened to be road legal, and so is the current one. If that isnt Ford GT as fuck then nothing is.