By on January 14, 2009

Had a knock down, dragout IM fight with Berkowitz today. What about? Obviously something real important like the escalating insanity in Gaza or hiking the Federal gas tax, right? Wrong, wrong wrong! No, we were fighting about the Volkswagen Phaeton and if it really is, “the best car in the world.” I happen to think so. Jack Baruth certainly does. Even Mr. anti-brand betrayal himself Farago thinks the uberest VeeDub is mighty sweet. Justin? He says hell no. Calls it lardy and dull. Underpowered, too. We went back (he called me a fan of Sharper Image) and forth (I said horrible things about his genetic makeup) for a bit, until he brought out the big guns. Justin reminded me that the Citroen DS is also the best car ever made. And the Mercedes-Benz 6.9. Ooooh… how do you argue with that? You don’t. My point, I think there are several best cars ever made, it just depends on where you mentally position yourself in the 4th dimension. My question? Pick a year (or three) and talk about that point in time’s greatest car. Fun, no?

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100 Comments on “Question of the Day: Best Car Ever?...”


  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Best car ever? No question, the Mercedes-Benz W123.

    It is 30 years old, yet it is more in touch with what Americans need today than just about any new car. It is simple, comfortable, easy to repair, economical (The Diesel can run on Vegetable oil), and on top of that it is probably one of the most durable cars ever built. There is a reason why the biggest majority of them are still on the road and they are omnipresent on the road in third-world countries.

  • avatar
    threeer

    +1 on the W123. Those things are still ueber-Panzers. Wish I had kept my 1985 300TD. Sure, it was a tad, um, slow…but talk about bulletproof. I felt as safe in that thing as I ever did riding around in M113s!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Either the 1996 Nissan 240SX or the McLaren F1. Once the IMS problem is solved (I think next year) the Cayman S. With an Ariel Atom also. And a Bentley Brooklands. And a Toyota Century for cruising. And a Dodge Viper for a convertible. And a Honda Beat to cover one of Soichiro’s creations and the Kei class.

    But these cars, except for the McLaren, are not very historically significant. They are only cars that I would want to own/drive.

    Historically the best car is possibly the Tatra T77. It, along with its Tatra contemporaries, was the basis for everything that Ferdinand Porsche did, and it killed more Nazis than the Polish and French armies combined. It also has a central mounted tail fin, is powered by a rear engined V8, is more aerodynamic than a Prius, and is not French.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    W123…whether it be a sedan, wagon, coupe. I-6, V-8, gas or diesel… one of the best cars ever made! Better than either my 244 or 760 Volvo(s).

    Mercedes will never build them like this again.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    For the best car in the world, my vote is on the Caterham Levante RS Supercharged. A 500-hp cruise missile with TWICE the power-to-weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron, Caterham handling, extremely simple, back-to-basics equipment (or lack thereof), and exclusivity. Not to mention that you’ll want to buy some seat covers because I’m sure driving it will make you crap your pants!

  • avatar

    NO The best car ever is the BUGGATI VEYRON.

    The best family of cars ever is the S-class.

    FTW !

  • avatar
    npbheights

    1989 Toyota Camry. I loved my V6 LE version. Bulletproof as well. Beat the hell out of it offroad. Over 250K miles. Sold in 1 hour on the side of the road.

    Still a desirable car. And still highly prized by car theives.

    http://www.intellichoice.com/top10/Top_List/list/Most%20Stolen%20Vehicles

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    My neighbor who is like 80 years old has had a W123 Diesel and they’ve had it since before I was born. It’s still running really nicely, and it’s in mint condition.

    It’s beautiful.

    A best car ever in my limited experience is either the 2004 LS430 with ML audio, or in terms of styling, the Jag XK 1997-2006. The XK is timeless, and with the right wheels, breathtaking.

    Seriously. 2004 XK, limited edition Gunmetal (I think) color with factory chrome wheels. SEX ON WHEELS. Not the best to drive ever, and the convertible flexes over big bumps and stuff. Coupe is sex.

    http://a720.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/90/l_aba42dfcd34de4f2c212ba368a063fd7.jpg

    Here’s a pic…

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Mercedes W115 Diesel. The last of the beautiful Benzes.

  • avatar
    autonut

    Citroen DS 21. 65 year old car is being copied shamelessly today. Front wheel drive, aerodynamic, fuel efficient, suspension, it had some kind of handling (for the times)

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Haha….

    I thought I’d be first to mention the W123. Silly me… In my point of view, the W123 represents the absolute zenith of automobile manufacturing. it has never been as good since.

    Runners up:

    Volvo 240
    Jeep Cherokee XJ
    Citroen DS

  • avatar

    Luxury car: M-B W123 (another ditto)
    Sportscar: E-type Jaguar (Series 1, before Leyland & smog)
    Truck: Toyota Hilux
    Economy Car: Honda Civic
    Family Sedan/Wagon: Volvo 240
    People Mover: Volkswagen Bus/Vanagon

    –chuck

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Volvo 240.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Uh…. WHAT?

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    The McLaren F1. The rest of the cars mentioned in this thread aren’t even close

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I had a W123, and I hated it. Not the best car in the world — not the best car I ever owned. Almost the worst car I ever owned, sorry to say. If you need a really fine, up-to-date Mercedes built long ago, why not follow Niedermeyer and go for the W124?

    We need to define best car. The most advanced driving experience for its time: then you guys have a point with the Phaeton. But it’s vulgar inside. The best all-round package: I’d say the 3-series, even though I hate BMWs.

    Historically, I am with the DS, the first-gen XJ, all 1960s Bristols, certain Imperials and Cadillacs, the Fiats 124 and 128. I’m in agreeance with the 350SE 6.9, but I also like the W126 and W220. All hydropneumatic Citroens have a certain nobility, which I why I drive one, so I’d include the CX and XM too, but only in precisely defined configurations. (The versions of the Xantia that had non-lean, active suspension were so far ahead of their time we’ll be talking about them in, say, 2016). Of course, pre-war Bentleys were something unsurpassed for decades, and while we’re at it, we might as well talk Bugatti.

    “Most forward-looking” as a definition of best car: I’d include the Audi A2, knowing well that nobody agrees with me. Most timeless concept: believe me, the NSU Ro80 still turns heads, and the Citroen GS would too, if they weren’t all junk by now.

  • avatar
    findude

    I don’t know about best, but these are some cars that were very good (not necessarily problem free) in their eras:

    1960s: Porsche 356; VW Beetle (until fuel injection); Mercury Cougar; Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser; Buick Wildcat; Lotus Elan; and, yes, the Corvair Turbo

    1970s: Mercedes W123; Mercedes 6.9; BMW 2002; Chevrolet pickups (full size); Datsun 1200; deTomaso Pantera; Porsche 914

    1980s: Toyota Corolla; Ford F150 pickup; Volvo 240; Buick Grand National;

    1990s: Chevrolet Suburban; Ford F150 pickup; Volvo 850/S70/V70; Toyota Landcruiser; W124 Mercedes; Mazda Miata; Chevrolet Corvette

    2000s: Honda Odyssey; MINI Cooper S; Toyota Prius; Lincoln Towncar; Ford Crown Vic; Cadillac ; Lotus Elise

  • avatar
    baba_gamp

    The first generation Lexus LS400 (1990-1992)gets my vote for the best car ever. These vehicles came with a 32 valve V-8 engine mated to a four speed automatic transmission. Best part is you still get 20 MPG average even after 200K miles.
    The options on these vehicles were limited but nice; leather, moonroof, 6 disc changer, Nakamichi premium sound.
    Let’s not forget that this is the vehicle that sent the German Engineers back to the drawing board.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    findude: the Volvo 200-series could theoretically be in the 60s (as it was an evolution of the 100-series), 70s, 80s, and 90s! While they are amazing cars and very sturdy…I’ve enjoyed my 760 so much more and it has been equally reliable and tough. While being a bit more pleasant to drive and look at!

  • avatar
    minion444

    The best car, I ever owned? No doubt 94′ Honda Civic Si Hatch.

    The best car ever built? Well it needs to do everything, look timeless and be easy to care for. Also, it needs to influence other designs. any mid 80′s M-B 300 sedan

    THe car that influenced the world? Model T

  • avatar
    meefer

    I would take the question to mean “If you could only own one car, what would it be?” Veyron, easily. Mclaren would be a close second, but it’s WAY more focused IMO.

  • avatar
    carguy622

    Some very practical choices here…but my pick:

    The year is 2004 and Porsche releases the Carerra GT. It’s not practical, it’s expensive, and I’m sure it breaks down a lot and costs a lot to fix… but WOW!

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    To continue the deliciously counter-intuitive “Citroen Is The Best Car Ever” line, we’d have to give it up for the DS’s predecessor, the Traction Avant.

    Unibody, FWD and 24mpg, all with the fine french look of 1934.

    Also consider that in 1934 Detroit Electric EVs were getting over 200 mile per charge and topping out at 20mph. That’s only five mph slower than current LSV laws allow the GEM and Miles ZX40 to “change the game.” Oh yeah, DE was also basically broke by 1934. And never got bailed out.

  • avatar
    kansei

    early 90s – 2005: Mazda Miata. Yes I’m biased, I just bought a Mazdaspeed MX-5 last week. But seriously, to come out of left field with the best “british” sports car, then go on to sell such a ludicrous number of them.. bravo Mazda.

    It’s just such an excellent car. Cheap, reliable, ridiculously fun to drive, extremely competent as a race car. If you aren’t a huge american and can fit in one, and don’t mind having just two seats, it’s even a perfectly comfortable daily driver (unless you live where it snows, then it’s a less than ideal but still fathomable daily driver).

    Other than that I’d have to say the Volvo 240 or the W123

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Wow, did it really take this long? It was the first comment in the “replace the Mazda3″ thread: E39 M5.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    The 1980s were rough time for decent cars. The 16v GTI and GLI were pretty cool. Acura Legend and Integra. At the tail end of the decade, the first Lexus LS and the Miata were game changers.

    In the 1990s – 300ZX Turbo and last gen RX-7: both still classics.

    The 911 is and will always be timeless – unless you happen to hate the liquid cooled cars.

  • avatar
    carguy

    +1 on seoultrain‘s E39 M5 nomination.

  • avatar
    volvo

    1st W108 V8
    2nd W116
    3d Volvo 240 (1988-1992)

    The post 1972 Mercedes were technically superior to the W108 but IMO build quality was poorer. Thinner metal, more welds with less bolts and screws, chrome minimized, lower grade leather and wood.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @ seoultrain: while it may be great, it’s far from the best. Being blinded by BMW and the rather attractive E39-series, especially with any V8 and 6MT does not make it the best! Especially when reliability and ease of ownership are considered.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Change of pace. Best car ever: 67-68 Chrysler Newport. 383 V8, Torqueflite transmission. Roomy, simple and practically bulletproof. The torsion bar suspensions guaranteed that it would outhandle anything else even approaching its size. Not the most beautiful car (that would be another thread) but, IMHO, the zenith of the big practical American sedan. I owned one of these as recently as the mid 90s and I think it may have been my favorite car ever (out of over 25).

  • avatar
    akitadog

    The Ford Model T, without question. Not because the car did anything exceptionally well. But because it was the first car that brought the automobile to the masses, changing the auto’s role from rich man’s toy, to a new paradigm of personal mobility.

  • avatar

    Just think, Jonny, if you and Berkowitz had been born two centuries ago the two of you would have been scholars arguing over the Talmud. But you need to sharpen your approach.

    The best car? Would one of you two scholars like to define that for us? Or maybe you should have asked that question first: what are the characteristics that would define the world’s best car? And then after we argued that one, we could argue about which car meets the criteria.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    I need to fix my above comment, it should be the Tatra T87, although that was based on the T77:

    Historically the best car is possibly the Tatra T87. It, along with its Tatra contemporaries, was the basis for everything that Ferdinand Porsche did, and it killed more Nazis than the Polish and French armies combined. It also has a central mounted tail fin, is powered by a rear engined V8, is more aerodynamic than a Prius, and is not French.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    If we are talking consistency through time, I would pick any S-class from any time. Isn’t the top of the line Mercedes simply the best car in any given moment?

    And, no slushbox, I would rather choose the more beautiful T77. With only a couple of hundreds built, can there be more than a handful left? I want one, anyway…

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Not in the past 2 decades.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Good Q. Tough to declare a best. Here’s some standouts……..

    67-72 Chevrolet Pickup
    84-01 Jeep Cherokee
    90-93 Honda Accord

    Common to all?
    -Just right dimensions and weight
    -Propensity to last a lot of miles and years of use
    -Bodies that held up against rust reasonably well
    -Clean styling that still looks good
    -Reasonable ease to service or cost of service

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    TEXN3, I find it weird that reliability is weighted so heavily in this thread. Yes, the W123 and Volvo 240 are bulletproof, and should be venerated for that, but best car ever? Please. Besides, the discussion started with the Phaeton, which isn’t very reliable and costs a fortune for maintenance and replacement parts.

  • avatar
    gaycorvette

    The best car ever is the first car you ever had sex in.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    @gaycorvette:

    Or the last…

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Ingvar:

    I think you’re right, the T77 is definitely better looking.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    1969 Fiat 124 Sports Coupe! 4 wheel discs,5 speed ,twin cams…And did it handle!!!
    Perfect balance.
    Awesome reliability!
    Rust not a big problem if you kept it clean.
    A simple example of why Italian cars created so many enthusiasts!
    For some of my(I`m 57) generation,the next step to an Alfa was kinda a disappointment.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The VW Phaeton may have been a good car, particularly if you wanted to spend $80,000 and have no one notice. But, the best — no way.

    Now the VW Bug has a claim on that title. Yes more Corollas have been built, but they have been very different cars. And the Model T.

    But, I think the question needs to be sharpened up. Best for what purpose, when and where, etc.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    When a buddy of mine felt his DD 86 BMW 535i was getting long in the tooth at 350 kmiles, he bought a W123 diesel. He doesnt like it as much. The E 28 has lasted quite well and is very inexpensive to maintain. the newest models are 20 yrs old and still can handle today’s driving conditions.
    The Model T and the Bug were great in their day, but are just quaint nostalgia pieces today.

  • avatar
    don1967

    The best car ever had to be the 1987 Mercury Topaz given to me as a free second car by my father-in-law, with 189,000 kilometers on it.

    It could go zero to sixty, and it cost nothing to maintain because nothing ever got maintained. A large hole in the exhaust manifold made it sound like a B-52 Stratofortress, a sensation which was further enhanced by the exhaust-induced hallucinations of flying. And when somebody dinged it a parking lot, you could just laugh to yourself and think “Good!”.

    I regret parting company with that car; a real man would have kept driving it forever.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The car I most wish I bought when I had the chance; a new 1965 Citroen DS-21 Pallas.

    The best car I ever owned; a new 1984 Buick LeSabre Limited 2-door coupe, the GM, B-body, RWD, V-8 model. It stayed in the family 13-years and over 300-thousand miles with only fluid changes, tire and brake replacements, and about five water pumps.

    Worst car ever; a new 2004 Acura RL. In 27,500-miles it has cost more in non-warranty repairs than all my other cars combined. Acura has not been helpful.

  • avatar
    Howler

    1981-1984
    Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer 512i
    Everything great about the 70′s with some 80′s refinement.
    2008-2009
    Audi R8
    Nothing better at this price IMO

  • avatar
    sean362880

    I vote for Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed. It’s a Phaeton, but more so.

    W123 Merc? Are you nuts? New hotness beats old & busted any day.

    300SL Mercedes maybe. But the W123 was unremarkable in every way except for its reliability. That’s not a world’s best car, that’s just good engineering.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    Checker taxi cab. Can run for years on NYC streets and keep on going, at minimal cost. Good on gas (18MPG City)and cheap to repair. That’s real durability! Plus one of the biggest back seats I have ever seen.

    Also as a runner up: Duesenberg Model J. Quality at it’s finest! The only car built in the 30s that can keep up with modern cars.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The best car ever is the first car you ever had sex in.

    People have sex in cars??? Boy did I miss that memo in high school…..college….and beyond.

    I love classic designs
    BMW E34
    Benz W123
    Volvo Bertone

    Even America can make a few. Corvette C3, 6th generation F150, mid-70s Plymouth Valiant…even the 300C I think will age well.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    #1 – Volvo 240

    #2 – VW Bug

    3# – 67 Olds “442″ Convert(God I loved that car)

  • avatar

    I think the Audi R8 is currently the “best car in the world”. It’s a fantastic luxury car, a decent track car, and it looks fantastic.

    With that said, “best” is tough to measure and define, which does not mean that anyone should stop trying.

    Now for the rough stuff. Berkowitz! I’ll show you lardy and slow! Bring your favorite non-forced induction luxury car to VIR and see if you can hang with my Phaeton! :)

  • avatar
    meanpants555

    Porsche 911 (993)

  • avatar

    #1: BMW E30- perfect size, a touch of lux, not too bloated.

    #2: Toyota 2000GT- better looking than the E-type

    #3: Tie- Mazdaspeed 3/Nissan GT-R

  • avatar
    mtypex

    1975 Chrysler Cordoba?

    OK, top 3: Acura Integra, Honda Prelude, Nissan 240SX

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    BMW E30 for the win!

  • avatar
    postjosh

    i had a benz 240d w/ 4 speed manual. after the apocalypse, that’s definitely the way to go. still, there is a lot to be said for the volvo 240 wagon. theoretically, the citroen ds should win on design but the build quality… i wish i could say a maserati bora… or maybe the beetle but i’m going to go with… the tatra 603.

  • avatar
    pgreenberg

    My best:

    1940′s: Jeep
    1950′s: ’55-’57 Bel Air
    1960′s: E-type Jag
    1970′s: nothing (the dark ages)
    1980′s: Porsche 959
    1990′s: E39 5 series BMW

  • avatar

    As long as it’s meticulously restored, fastidiously garaged and constantly maintained, the Dino 246.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    BMW E30 M3 (balance balance balance)

    Lotus/Caterham 7 (if you’ve never driven one you don’t know what motoring is)

    Porsche 959 (what happens when your engineers would otherwise be certifiable)

    Audi Sport Quattro S1 Rally Car (what happens when your motorsport engineers would otherwise be certifiable)

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Okay, I KNOW I’m going to offend a lot of people with the following list… but hey… life is short.

    Please note that I’m looking at these from a long-term ‘bang for the buck’ perspective. Not in terms of performance.

    2000′s North America: Toyota Prius

    This is the first mass produced vehicle that made a non-ICE and powertrain viable. The US 2nd Gen / Japanese 3rd Gen combines the room of a Camry, the reliability of a Camry, and the fuel economy of a 3 cylinder Geo Metro. Nothing else that is affordable to the middle class comes even close from an engineering perspective.

    1990′s Lexus LS400

    These cars are designed to last 400,000 miles. Let me emphasize that…. 400,000 MILES! They have amazing comfort, wonderful stereo systems, and put cars nearly twice their price when new to absolute shame.

    Yes, I love the 240SX, Viper, Miata, 300ZX and even the 1992 – 1996 Camry. But again, from an engineering perspective this was a complete game changer.

    1980′s Toyota Celica All-Trac

    This was the best damn car of that decade because I say so. The end. Don’t give me your Preludes, 240SX, Integras, or Mercedes W one twenty whatevers. The Celica All-Trac was twice as well engineered and had the best sound system of that time. Well, not really. But they were really great cars and seldom get credit. 2nd place goes to the Lincoln Mark VI. A car good enough for Spock to be buried in.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    90 LS400, 92 Camry, and the Corolla of that era–can’t even be bothered to recall the year.

    How sad.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Jack Baruth :
    Now for the rough stuff. Berkowitz! I’ll show you lardy and slow! Bring your favorite non-forced induction luxury car to VIR and see if you can hang with my Phaeton! :)

    Does the M Coupe in front of my house count as a “luxury” car?

  • avatar
    eh_political

    Agree fully Mr. Lang. Difficult to wax nostalgic about Toyotas, but there you have it.

  • avatar
    mistrernee

    4th Generation Camaro with the iron LT1 and a 6 speed.

    I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by political correctness, a well built interior, or delusions of class.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    Without a doubt…early 70′s Chevrolet Kingswood station wagons with the multi-position rear gate feature. It’s a favorite of demolition derbies all over North America and in a head to head battle in the demo-derby world, they are rarely beaten.

    Those big ol’ wagons would slaughter any other aforementioned car…

  • avatar
    thoots

    1968 Toyota Corona:

    http://autocollections.com/index.cfm?key=3627&action=details&tab=inventory&cartable=

    This is where the ball started rolling.

    After the Big 2.8 are broke, dead, and buried….

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I’ll be a weirdo and say Benz 190E. The W123 is rock solid, but so is the 190 series. My friend had a 5-speed 190D non-turbo for a while, it had 412,000 miles on it and started EVERY DAMN TIME. It was as reliable as death and taxes, but didn’t feel ponderous and floaty like the W123′s do.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Well, the Corolla is the most popular, but I’d have to go with the Benz Gullwing. Nothing else has such presence.

  • avatar
    black turbo

    I say first generation Saab 900 Turbo, the one before it got bastardized by GM platform sharing in ’94. Goes through snow like no other car I’ve ever driven, and in the summer it’s a blast to drive. On top of all that, it’s also stone cold reliable, will swollow almost anything with the hatchback and folding seats, and gets very respectable mileage.

  • avatar
    pbr

    @pgreenberg :
    >> …
    >> 1970’s: nothing (the dark ages)

    911 RS?

    (My “best” vote: BMW e46. I like to drive, and occasionally I’d like to carry more than one other person.)

  • avatar

    Mr. Berkowitz,

    On a wet day, I’ll run you heads-up around VIR’s Full Course, me in the Phaeton, you in the M Koop. In the dry, I’ll need you to spot me twelve seconds, Pinks-style. :)

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Hmmm, best for what?

    Best cheap and cheerful fun? Maybe the Fiat X1/9.

    Best car at not pretending it is anything but a car: The Volvo 240.

    Best cheap gas era full size American sedan? The 1972 Chevrolet Caprice Classic I drove back and forth across the US in the mid 1980s would be hard to beat.

    Best looking sedan ever made? Probably the Series II XJ6 in non-US mega-bumper form. Or, maybe the Citroen DS.

    Best car to take on a date? Certainly the original Jaguar E-type.

    Best automotive answer to a non-existent market demand? The VW Phaeton, if not the Passat W8! Two of the most foolhardy moves a German automaker ever made.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    No question, there is only one vehicle that can be defined as the best ever, in fact, the term car was created with this vehicle in mind..

    The BMW E36 M3.

  • avatar
    357Sig

    I’ve owned a lot of the cars mentioned above. My favorites, in the order I acquired them: Mercedes Benz W115 (1972 220D). It was a very elegant and impressive car in its right, that is if you don’t mind 0-60 times in the 25 second range (on a good day). Still my first Benz and it holds a special place in my heart.

    1975 Volvo 164E, think of it as a 240 with a bad nose job. Utterly bulletproof, except for the weak Borg-Warner transmission. Had power windows, but only for the front seat passengers. That always struck me as wrong somehow.

    Mercedes Benz W123 (1977 280E), rock solid took a hard hit to the front, but still drove fine. Body repair on a Silver car is hard to color-match, and it never quite did.

    Volvo V70XC (Essentially a 850 Turbo Wagon with AWD). Another great car, went anywhere you pointed it. Not particularly roomy inside.

    2005 Volkswagen Phaeton. Currently my daily driver. My heart still skips a beat every time I lay eyes on it. Need I say more. Big, heavy, fast (yes, even the V8) and thus far, very reliable. It loves BP Ultimate Gasoline, and a lot of it. This car truly does drive like a dream. The stereo is breathtaking, and even the steering wheel is heated.

    All of my clients who would feel the need to comment on a Mercedes S500, BMW 745i, Corvette Convertible, Jag XKE, Escalade EXT, Denali or DeVille DTS don’t even notice an $80,000 VW in front of my office. Kind of funny when you think of it that way.

    To those of you who like to go around Phaeton hating. You need to check your facts: While it is true that in the USA the Phaeton didn’t make it, the car is selling well in the rest of the world, especially with the V6 and V10 Turbo Diesel engines.

    Oh yeah, one last thing, I owned a 1975 Fiat X 1/9 and a 1977 Peogeot 604 SL, and they were both “interesting” cars as well.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    W124 Mercedes. Diesels are best, but even the gas engines are 250K or more with routine maintenance.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    The 8th and 9th Gen Corolla. Will easily go out to 200k. Best transportation appliance ever. Jury is still out on the current model.

    The TJ 1995-2006 Jeep Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle ever. Proven toque rich 4.0L engine. The 2004+ Unlimited Rubicon is the best of the bunch.

    While not fuel efficient the engine is reliable with great low end torque. My step moms XJ with the same drive train was still running ok when donated to charity in 2004. My college roommate has a 2001 with ~110k on it with no problems.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Wow. Lots of choices….

    Quality Sedan: MB W108 280SEL 6.3

    Sports Sedan: E28 M5
    (later M5s are to big)

    Sports Car: Lotus 7(or quality derivative)

    Supercar: Spyker C8 Spyder

    Daily Driver: E28 535is

    Best Big Coupe: current Bentley Brooklands

    I often like older cars because they have much better outward vision. A surprising number of otherwise excellent new cars have the driving experience ruined because they make me feel like I’m sitting low in a bathtub peering through a little slit of glass.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    well, at the risk of coming across far too ego-centric, i feel the best cars in the world are the two currently parked in my garage. they’re certainly best as far as i am concerned, which is why i chose to buy em in the first place and why – at almost 60 – i’m hell-bent on keeping them, for the rest of my life.

    they both look great and drive even better. they’re in excellent condition and have been practically trouble-free. they always make me feel good about myself and my good fortune whenever i’m behind the wheel. and they’re completely paid for.

    my 1997 boxster and my 2007 cayman. [both in arctic silver, of course]

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    The best road car is the McLaren F1. The best anything else, who knows. The McLaren’s the only one where the choice is clear.

  • avatar
    pista

    +1 for Westbound, Ingvar, Schwoerer, postjosh and autonut [and a slight minus for Niedermeyer thinking them perverse]. The best car ever has chevrons on the front whether it’s a Light 11, a DS, a GS or even a 2CV.

    Freedom fries for all!

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @TEXN3 :
    W123…whether it be a sedan, wagon, coupe. I-6, V-8, gas or diesel… one of the best cars ever made!

    There were no V8 W123s from the factory… although it was possible to swap one in. Not the mighty M100, though.
    W123s were 4- 5- and 6-cylinders.

    One of my friends inherited his grandparents’ frog green 81 230 coupe in 2001, with about 80,000 km on the clock and looking like new.
    I nearly punched him in the face when he sold it a few weeks later.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Hands down, the 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S Twin Cam 16. Long name, small hatchback, big oomph from the 1.6 litre screamer.
    Close second is the 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R. 140 hp moving 2200 lbs. My neck is still not recovered.
    Cars don’t have to be only for the rich and famous to be the best.
    And both were relatively trouble-free.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    What the heck…Lancia Stratos. Love the way they look. WOuld be a blast to drive.

    Sounds right at the moment.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    War era Willy’s Jeep.

    Hopefully the French (Renault) will buy the Jeep brand and return the favor to the vehicle that saved France 60 years ago.

  • avatar
    John R

    1989 R32 Skyline GT-R.

    Let’s put this into perspective, the year 1989. The E30 M3 was making, what? 230hp. The Corvette? Didn’t start making 300hp until 1992. Porsche 911 (964)? 247hp, the turbo was making 355hp.

    The R32 GT-R was officially making 276hp, but we all know about the “gentleman’s agreement” among the Japanese automakers. In reality, the car was making closer to 330hp from its 2.6 liter straight 6. In 1989.

    Couple that with the ATTESA all-wheel drive system and a chassis able to handle 500-600hp easy from the factory. You pretty much had the closest thing to a 2007 LAN-EVO IX…in 1989.

    So long Corvette. M3? Your arms are too short to box with this. 964 911 turbo, the R32 GT-R is Ryu to your Ken.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Wow, what a question! What nostalgia here!

    I’d say that today, the best car available in the world is the Lexus LS600h. That vehicle is the pinnacle of luxury, efficiency, technology, and reliability. It is expensive and looks it. It averages 20mpg or better. It has every option you’d ever want in a car. It has the hybrid drive system.

    If we had to show one car only as the crowning achievement of our learned knowledge, I’d say that this car encapsulates that knowledge pretty well.

    I also read what some folks said here about the S Class of any era being the best car available at that time. This was probably true until the feminine ’99 bodystyle came out with its smaller proportions and terrible reliability. I’d say that arguably the LS600h is the world standard today.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    It’s not the Volvo 240. I had two of them and even in the “hot dipped galvanized” body state, the body would outlast the transmission, and the transmission would outlast the wiring harness. It’s not the best car ever. Best body ever, but not the best car.

    My dad had a 123 that he gave to my brother who gave to his wife. It rusted before its time, and that was in a climate free of road salt.

    My candidate for best car, ever, is the first generation Mazda Miata. It took 90 years to perfect a sports car that’s durable, fun to drive and cheap to keep. These cars live for ever as daily drivers and are then ressurrected for life everylasting on the racetrack. Fortunately, they have a timeless design. They are the modern day embodiment of Count Zborovski’s Chittys, only you don’t have to be a deep pocketed count to own and race one.

    Long Live the Mazda Miata NA. Forever, you will have a place in my garage when your predecessors from MG, Mercedes, Saab, VW, Lotus, Honda, BMW, Volvo, Fiat, Ford and Toyota won’t.

  • avatar
    jaje

    1988-1991 Honda Civic SiR 3 door hatchback – only sold in Japan and Europe with the proper 160hp b16a engine with LSD transmission (unfortunately they only would give us the 106hp sohc 1.6 liter non vtec / non LSD engine in the US). This little car would run high 14 second 1/4 miles embarrassing many “muscle cars”, haul groceries and large boxes, could transport up to 5 passengers in decent comfort, could easily get excellent gas mileage, was the epitome of reliability, was light weight and fun to drive, was a cheap car to buy, and with fwd and snow tires was a capable all weather car.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    +1 what jpcavanaugh said about 1967-68 Chryslers, except that the 1966 Chrysler has all that AND better looks.

    In my opinion, the 1966 Chrysler is the most beautiful Chrysler since the 1961 300G, and nicer than any production Mopar since. The body is stylish, and the chrome accents the lines of car nicely without being garish. It may not be a “chick magnet”, but it has incredible presence when driving down the road or when parked.

    Elwood Engel designed the 1961 Lincoln before he defected to Chrysler to replace Virgil Exner. The 1965 Chrysler was one of his first clean-sheet designs for Chrysler, and was clearly a refinement of what he had done for Lincoln.

    The 1966 Chrysler was even better. While they look similar at first glance, the subtle tweaks for ’66 entailed changes to most of the body panels, and none of the cast chrome brightwork is interchangeable either.

    The 1967-68 Chrysler styling suffered as a result of beancounter-ism, safety legislation, and a failed experiment by Engel.

    The accountants demanded cost reductions for the 1967 model. The stainless-steel and cast chrome outline moulding that ran the length of the body along the fender-tops was gone, as were the unique doorhandles that were integrated into it.

    Inside, the beautiful dashboard and instrument cluster from 1965-66 was replaced with “meh”. This is partly a result of new safety laws that required that the dashboard and steering column not injure the occupants as badly in an accident.

    At Lincoln, Engel had wanted to try an experiment with concave body sides. He had been forbidden by his superiors, with good reason: When the body panels are stamped with a convex surface on the outside, it stretches the grain of the steel and makes it naturally smooth. When the outside of the panel is concave, the opposite is true.

    At Chrysler, Engel had free reign of the design department. He went ahead and designed-in concave body sides on the 1967 Chrysler. They all came out of the factories with a paintjob that did not look shiny because the surface of the metal was rough. Additionally, there is an awkward crease stamped into the panel just ahead of the rear wheelwell that always warped because of the stresses applied to the panel. If you were ordering a 1967-68 Chrysler new, you didn’t want one in black!

    After 1968 came the “fuselage” styling for ’69. Most fueslage-era Mopars look bland to me, and build quality began to suffer at that time as well.

    Mechanically, all Chryslers of this era came standard with a bigblock. The base 383-2 bbl. is adequate, and had enough torque for trailer-towing, but quite happy running on 87 octane gas. The engine could be upgraded to a 383-4 bbl. or a 440. Obviously, today all the available aftermarket performance parts such as aluminum heads, intakes, custom cams, etc. can be used to give your Chrysler as much power as you desire.

    Most Chryslers were backed by the very reliable Torqueflite 727 3-speed auto and 2.76:1 rear gears for decent economy. A 4-speed stick was also available in 1966, but few were ordered with one.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @ Mirko Reinhardt : You’re right…I was thinking W116 for a minute there.

  • avatar
    sportsuburbangt

    1970 Plymouth Sport Fury or Sport Suburban, with 383 4 barrel carb and dual exhaust. I agree with the 383, one of the best motors ever made, plenty of power and will not kill you on gas. The build quality was there, they were very easy to fix when they broke and drove very well. I had a 71 Chrysler Town and Country from 94 till 2005, with the 383 4bbl and 727 Torqueflite drive train combo, it was a great runner I put over 100k on that car and it never let me down. It made more than 10 round trips from Long Island to Michigan in that time and was a great road car, would cruse at 75-85 all day long and give back 17mpg. The 71 T&C and the 70 Sport Suburban shared the same shell, but I liked the layout of the Plymouth better. BTW the T&C had to go when the frame rotted out. Nothing like those C body Mopars out on the highway. I prefer the early fuselage cars from 69-71 over the later fuselage cars from 72-73.
    BTW the real killer C body was the 1970 Sport Fury GT with the 440 6bbl motor. Rarest C body too only 66 were made.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    For me, it’s 2003 and I’m driving a BMW M5 E39. Even today, well maintained examples look completely appropriate when picking up Sigourney Weaver at the airport.

  • avatar
    Monty

    The best car ever?

    It’s the one in my driveway. It’s paid for, fairly fuel efficient, just over three years old with only 58,000 kilometers, suits our needs perfectly and shouldn’t need to be replaced for at least another three or four years. Perfect.

    @Stu Sidoti :

    Without a doubt…early 70’s Chevrolet Kingswood station wagons with the multi-position rear gate feature. It’s a favorite of demolition derbies all over North America and in a head to head battle in the demo-derby world, they are rarely beaten.

    Those big ol’ wagons would slaughter any other aforementioned car…

    I owned a ’73 Pontiac Catalina wagon, strippo version, but with a 400 cid 4bbl turbo 400 trans and a trans cooler (the original owner bought it for towing a large trailer and a large family) with 290,000 miles on the odo, and when we sold it 4 years later, we had put another 130,000 miles on the odo. It was the body style with the recessed tailgate and rear window, and it was a veritable tank. I t-boned a Chevette that had pulled out into oncoming traffic and literally broke the car in half. The only damage to the Catalina was scuffed bumper rubber. The bumper actually compressed, but bounced back out with no apparent damage. I loved that car. Sadly, if rust hadn’t been present, we would have probably kept it for another few more years. I realistically believed would could have turned a 1/2 million miles on that car.

    It might have been the best ever car (I owned).

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Oh, nuts.

    I’ve been debating whether to go all professorial on you, Jonny. And now, with yet another Best or Worst (fill in the blank) poll on TTAC, I’ve gotta weigh in.

    Definition of Terms.

    You’ll remember that little phrase from the Logic and Argument class held inside the Liberal Arts building within the Philosophy Department.

    DoT (not Department of Transportation for this discussion) means that before a conversation or argument about what may be right or wrong, good or bad, best or worst, you’ve got to qualify all points of the argument for all participants going forward.

    Otherwise, you get what you have here, in this thread, and in others of similar ilk…

    Lots of noise. Lots of opinions. No real progress.

    I may feel the 1964 1/2 Mustang is the Best Car Ever. Why — it gave birth to the light-weight, affordable, better-performing pony car segment in America and created an icon in the process.

    But someone else may feel that Dr Porsche’s orginal Volkswagen Beetle is the world’s Best Car, ushering one of the first reliable, mass-produced, ultra-affordable people movers of all time, and creating an icon in the process.

    And I can yell Mustang! And you can yell Beetle! All day long we scream at each other, and yet neither of us is swayed to the others’ side.

    Why? We started with completely different interpretation of what “best” is. And our criteria for selecting “best” couldn’t be more different.

    So please, for future polls, let’s at least put some discussion parameters up for what’s best/worst.

    A Definition of Terms.

    Or better, another creative writing exercise like the Buick Tagline Poll.

    That was the best TTAC discussion thread ever. Not only fun, but collaborative. A textbook example of e-community building.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    @Monte:

    I put 650,000 miles on a 318 in a Dodge Van. That motor is still going in my fathers van.

  • avatar
    Gforce

    Shouldn’t the best car be a hearse that takes you to your final resting place?

  • avatar

    Hands down, the 1992 Toyota Camry. What a incredible piece of engineering, and beautiful sheetmetal to boot. Runner up: a tie between the Volvo 240 and the 1991 Dodge Spirit. Every teenager should be issued a 240 upon getting their license, because you simply can’t wreck the damn thing. And as for the Spirit, well that’s the first car that I “explored” the back seat it :)

  • avatar
    nolefan32

    The best car ever built for me is the wonderful little coupe takes me to and from work each day, the Gen 7.5 (2007) Honda Accord Coupe, with 3.0L, 244hp VTEC V6 engine. The interior is buttery smooth black lather wherever I shall rest my naked flesh, and the controls are simple and logical, power everything and the seats are heated, no scary big knobs to control the universe ala BMW’s iDrive here and no button-crazy space-shuttle wannabes like Honda’s been building lately. The only drawback to the interior, the touchscreen unit that houses the navigation system, HVAC and satellite radio controls shows fingerprints, especially noticeable when the system is powered down. The outside is all sleek and sexy, reminiscent of the last generation Camaro, with black pearl paint about a foot deep, dual exhaust, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a trunk big enough to hold actual luggage or groceries. It’s just an amazing, underappreciated car. I wish I could find a woman half as sexy and who would take half as good of care of me as this car does.

  • avatar
    Roger555

    I give a vote for the Acura Legend I have owned my 95 legend for over 10 years now and still love it!! The styling has held up through the years and in its time and even now the options on my car are still better then most cars these days. Heated seats, traction control, electronic tilt steering, auto closing suction doors on coupe, Navigation in 91! (honda legends), climate control, tire pressure sensors, and all in the early 90′s!! Built quality was excellent real wood interior trim and no cracks anywhere after 15 years! powerful 230HP and a bullet proof engine except for a HG seal failure that usually happens around 140,000 which unfortunately probably sent most of them to the yard :( I have 182,000 in mine and plan on driving it until I give in a buy a 3rd gen TL. Best car IMO!

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Shouldn’t this be book marked to the front page so all the idiots like me who ask “New or Used” questions can just go here first? (Forgive my obvious and constant sarcasm.)


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