Ask Bark: Which Car Will Make The Best Nostalgia Machine?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Greg writes:

Hi Bark,

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.

The Chevrolet SS.

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.

Got a question for the Barkster? Send him a quick note at barkm302@gmail.com or fire up the Twitters and find him at @barkm302.

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • Suspekt Suspekt on Feb 24, 2016

    I'd go 2005 MB E55.... just a beast.... skip the M5... they are cheap with a ton of aftermarket support....

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Feb 25, 2016

    How about a Honduh Accord Hybrid. It's so good... to be towed home by a F-150 with ecoboost. Ah, the nostalgia!

  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern
  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM "Research" labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He had no objection from GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. (basically he goofed off two entire afternoons out of the five) He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!
  • 3-On-The-Tree I only buy Toyota cars. But if the Chinese cars are cheap people will buy them. They don’t care about the above issues that were stated in this forum.
  • Tassos Ford models are like dumb Hollywood movies. The original is far better than their god damned sequels. This was true of the Mustang vs the II, AND the Capri vs its second gen, and their BEV PORKER atrocities many decades later
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