In my rant about the Holden Ute, I qualified my cynicism with a caveat; my tastes are not representative of the broader market, or what makes good business sense for an auto maker. Some of you suggested that I should start injecting more of my own opinions/enthusiasm into these sorts of articles. I am reluctant to mix business with my own automotive fantasyland (after all, everyone with access to a keyboard does just that that), but this post isn’t supposed to be informative or insightful, just pure fun. I am limiting myself to new cars on sale outside the United States and Canada, as there are far too many used cars out there that I’d love to own.
Daily Driver – Holden Calais V:
Why the lesser known Calais V over the more popular, sporting Commodore SS or HSV models, both of which are available with a 6-speed manual? Simple. I don’t want to drive a car that looks like it’s been painted with Freezies and black magic markers. Since this is my fantasy garage, I have plenty of other opportunities for belligerently loud sports cars with bowel-jarring ride quality and performance envelopes far beyond my capabilities.
The Calais still has a 6.0L small block V8, but it’s not embarrassing to pull up to a valet stand in one (unlike a new HSV Commodore. Glossy black wheels are for drug dealers and pimps). I imagine it’s totally isolating from the road but still has reasonable handling dynamics – what a Panther should be – and the 6.0L V8, even in neutered automatic trim, can probably lay waste to whatever crappy 500-treadwear all-season tires it comes on. GM, please, this should be the new Buick Park Avenue. Unlike the Ute, it will sell.
Euro Hot Hatch – Renaultsport Megane 265:
Ok, I lied. The Holden would be my daily driver for any trip that involved the highway, or taking an impromptu blast to Montreal to go get a smoked meat sandwich for lunch. But this is what I’d drive around town to do my errands. I was always captivated by photos in Evo magazine of the diminutive Clio 182 cup lifting its inside wheel somewhere in Wales, coming dangerously close to the rear bumper of whatever supercar they decided was worthy of their hilariously hyperbolic prose. Most of what you read in British magazines is complete fantasy, whether it’s declaring the Jaguar X-Type a “genuine 3-Series rival” or talking about their driving heroics. But I’ve been assured by none other than Jack Baruth that this latest Megane 265 is one of the best cars - in the wuuurrrlld. Make mine GT3 RS green (yes, I know that’s a Clio).
Authentic Off-Roader – Toyota Land Cruiser 70:
The Land Rover Defender might get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to grey market SUVs, but I am much more intrigued by the idea of buying a brand new version of a decades old Land Cruiser. Toyota Australia will still sell you one of these, in three-door, five-door and pickup truck configurations. I really have no use for a body-on-frame work truck like this, but neither does anybody who buys a Ford SVT Raptor. The Troop Carrier GXL is my pick, since it looks like it’s just one Ma Deuce away from being put into service by bloodthristy janjaweed.
Wagon of Choice – Mercedes C63 AMG:
This was a tough choice. The Audi RS4 and RS6 have all-wheel drive, which means four-season shenanigans for this Canadian. But the C63 won out in the end. I prefer the purity of the naturally aspirated V8, even if it is a little slower on paper. Since I have a thing for Q-Cars, mine would be painted in the most banal shade of tan and fully debadged. Of course, I’d fit the Performance Pack and a Tubi exhaust, just to scare the hell out of the yappy little bichon frises tied up outside my local espresso bar when I stopped in for my morning cup.
Death Warrant – Caterham Seven CSR260:
Jack had a bad experience with his Caterham, but I’m undeterred. If the 260 horsepower Duratec doesn’t kill me, then I’m bound to be maimed by a distracted parent in a Sequoia trying to silence their insolent children while reaching for their third Ativan. Better go draft my will…