Ask Jack: Buying a Bruiser for the Autobahn?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
I spent a fair amount of time on the Autobahn this summer, including several hundred miles on the unrestricted sections. I can’t say that I went all that fast — I think I saw 260 km/h once, trying to get to a Pizza Hut near the border with Belgium that was about to close. Other than that I rarely went above 200 km/h. The only excuse I have for this is that I’m old and tired and I had a bunch of broken ribs at the time.There’s also the inconvenient fact that the freeways are just as crowded over there as they are here, and the lane discipline hasn’t been so good in recent years due to demographic and educational changes in Germany. Still, once in awhile you can find yourself in those oh-so-stereotypically Deutsch situations of which you dreamed as a child. There was a particularly memorable afternoon where I relaxed in the passenger seat of an E43 wagon and watched my co-driver chase a Swiss-plated Phantom for over an hour at sustained triple-digit speeds. I was working my way through a bag of those Babybel cheese things. Good times.My long-time correspondent and pal Luigi knows all about those kind of good times. He’s been around the world working different gigs. Now he’s considering settling down for a while in der Vaterland and buying a big, thirsty car for big, fast cross-Continental commutes.Luigi writes:I’m considering a career change which would require twice-weekly drives of about 600 km each. The fastest route includes long, unrestricted sections of the Autobahn for much of the distance. Fuel would be paid for by my potential employer, but insurance and maintenance would not. Cargo-hauling capacity and more than two seats wouldn’t strictly be required.Which automobiles should I consider purchasing for this über-commute? I don’t want to spend much over 15,000 Euros.I’ve put the important section in bold because in Europe that makes a BIG difference. It’s no real trick to spend a dollar a mile on fuel when you are hustling on the Autobahn. In fact, to do any better than fifty cents a mile you’d need something that returns 20 mpg at major throttle openings, which is pretty much nothing outside a 600cc sportbike.Knowing that the fuel is being covered, we are free to stretch the imagination a bit. I think it would be a real shame to just buy another Me-Too Iguana Benz or Bimmer. No, for this purpose we require a combination of spirit and style, with a dash of reliability thrown in. So, my first suggestion is one of the aluminum-bodied Jaguar XK coupes. They’re gorgeous, the engines run to 200k miles with no trouble, the electronics are actually pretty okay, and they just love running wide-open at high speeds. It would be a miracle to get more than eight miles per gallon above 100 mph, but remember that Luigi doesn’t need to worry about that.Yes, I think a Jag-you-are is just the ticket. If the XK coupe seems too thrusty and old-man-ish, there’s always the XJ8 sedan. I’d stay away from the supercharged versions because they cost more money to buy and run, but I wouldn’t begrudge any man the pleasure of buying a British Racing Green XKR coupe and blowing by the diesel BMW sedans hard enough to make them wobble in his wake.What say you, dear readers? How would you live your unrestricted dreams on a relatively restricted budget?[Image: Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.5)]
Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • ED I don't know what GM is thinking.I have a 2020 one nice vehicle.Got rid of Camaro and was going to buy one.Probably won't buy another GM product.Get rid of all the head honchos at GM.This company is a bunch of cheapskates building junk that no one wants.
  • Lostjr Sedans have been made less practical, with low rooflines and steeply raked A pillars. It makes them harder to get in and out of. Probably harder to put a kid in a child seat. Sedans used to be more family oriented.
  • Bob Funny how Oldsmobile was offering a GPS system to help if you were lost, yet GM as a company was very lost. Not really sure that they are not still lost. They make hideous looking trucks, Cadillac is a crappy Chevy pretending to be fancy. To be honest, I would never step in a GM show room now or ever. Boring, cheap ugly and bad resale why bother. I get enough of GM when i rent on trips from airports. I have to say, does anybody at GM ever drive what everyone else drives? Do they ever then look at what crap they put out in style fit and finish? Come on, for real, do they? Cadillac updated slogan should be " sub standard of the 3rd world", or " almost as good as Tata motors". Enough said.
  • Sam Jacobs I want a sedan. When a buy a car or even rent one, I don’t want to ride up high. I don’t want a 5-door. I want a trunk to keep my stuff out of sight. It’s quieter, cars handle better, I don’t need to be at the same height as a truck. I have a 2022 Subaru Legacy Touring XT, best car ever, equipped as a luxury sedan, so quick and quiet. I don’t understand automakers’ decisions to take away sedans or simply stop updating them — giving up the competition. The Camry and Accord should not be our only choices. Impala and Fusion were beautiful when they were axed.
  • Spamvw I think you need to remember WHY the big 2 and 1/2 got out of the car business. Without going political, the CAFE standards signed into law meant unless you had a higher gas mileage fleet, you couldn't meet the standards.The Irony is that, the law made sedans so small with low roof lines, that normal people migrated to SUV's and Trucks. Now we get worse mileage than before.