I’m a 32-year-old red-blooded male, life-long car enthusiast and hopeful to be raising a few future enthusiasts in the foreseeable future. I can smell which way the wind is blowing and know that the car market is going to look very different in the future. I’m excited about electric cars, but also want a “timepiece” that’s tasteful, fun, and a bit irrational to cherish for the indefinite future.
Two requirements: no torque converters, and it must be able to accommodate my 95-pound rottweiler mix, future miniature-sized humans, and my wife. So no Boxsters, unfortunately. I’m not interested in four-cylinder cars; I already daily a FoST.
My train of thought is divided between a less-expensive-to-acquire BMW — like an E39 M5, E46 M3, or E90 335 — or a less-expensive to maintain Mustang GT or Camaro SS.
What car would you be proudest to step out of in 20 years at your kid’s baseball game?
Oof. That last sentence made this a hell of a question for your friendly advice columnist: I have a son, and I know exactly the emotion you’re describing here. Of course, in 20 years, my son will be 28 years old, so he better be playing second base for the Oakland A’s and making at least 10 million a year if I’m going to his baseball game, at which point he better be buying dear old Dad whatever car I want.
But, before I answer the question, let’s take a moment to reflect upon one of the greatest car songs of all time.
Ah, Red Barchetta — what a great song! Inspired by Richard Foster’s story, “A Nice Morning Drive” in the November 1973 issue of Road and Track, it — in turn — inspired me to write “The Controller” here on our pages. Let us hope, for dear Greg’s sake — and for all of us — that both Foster and I were wrong about the future of the automobile in Oceania, er, America.
But there’s no denying that CAFE and other regulations will undoubtedly change how cars are made in the future. While it’s equally undeniable that great acceleration can be had in an electric vehicle, there’s nothing quite like the roar of a real combustion engine.
I don’t know what the world will be like 20 years from now, but I do know that we live in the greatest era yet for performance cars — everything from your daily-driver FoST to the aforementioned pony cars deliver performance unlike anything I could have dreamed of when I was growing up in the post-Carter era. I think we still have a little bit of time before we’re all forced into Modern Safety Vehicles, but maybe you’re right to think that this is the Golden Era over which we’ll all fondly reminisce.
There’s no doubt that you’ve come up with a fantastic list of cars. The E39 M5 is an iconic car, to be sure, but the E46 M3 is probably the least worthy of its nameplate (from a historical standpoint), and the N54 335i of that era can be troublesome to maintain. I’m never going to tell somebody not to buy a Mustang GT. I haven’t personally driven the new Camaro SS, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. If you didn’t have that “no torque converter” requirement, I’d tell you to buy a Charger 392 Scat Pack and call it a day. But since you did say that, there’s really only one great option left.
Hear me out. There are endless Camaros and Mustangs on the road. I’m guessing that most of those BMWs will have found their way to junkyards in 20 years, the victims of one expensive repair too many. But the SS could end up being an cult classic. Limited production, especially with the manual transmission, could mean it will keep a higher value than any Mustang GT will. They’re also available at incredibly reasonable prices now. No, the looks of it don’t scream pure sex like the pony cars do. But maybe in 20 years, as you’re safely in middle age, that won’t be such a bad thing. Most importantly, you’ll be able to easily get yourself in and out of it then, too.
While my heart might tell you to go get a Mustang, my head tells me you’ll be happiest with the SS.