By on September 10, 2018

Guilty pleasures. Look, we’ve all got ’em. No, not those. I’m talking about cars and trucks we like … that we’re not supposed to like.

Oddballs? Weirdos? Flat-out strange? Let me give you an example.

As a youth of the ’80s and ’90s, there were no shortage of GM products in our rural town. In fact, one could probably count the number of import nameplates on both hands until the super-affordable but fast-rusting Hyundai Pony appeared at the Hyundai store in Gander.

So it’s natural that my mind is (and remains) filled with American-branded machinery from that era. Great ones did exist. Not-so-great ones abounded. The guiltiest pleasure of them all, though? All those overwrought GM sedans.

That Bonneville SSEi up top is a perfect example. Plenty of plastic, body cladding galore, and some pretty impractical styling decisions. I recall the natty deep-in-a-bucket fog lamps quickly becoming useless once their wells filled with slush in winter months. Those side windows could not be opened just a crack for fresh air since their leading edge would also immediately open an equal amount thanks to that fixed quarter window. This resulted in rain (it perpetually precipitated on our island) flicking in on the driver at highway speed. And let’s not even mention the nine-button power seats that had no memory function. Oy.

Didn’t matter. Still doesn’t. Cars like that Bonneville are my guiltiest of pleasures. I’ll toss in the Grand Prix of that era for good measure. How about you?

[Image: General Motors]

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134 Comments on “QOTD: Guilty Pleasures?...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Late 80s’ / early 90’s Pontiac Sunbird GT (The Sun Turd).

    Basically everything from the Malaise era.

    The Zimmer.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    GM A-bodies, the Pontiac 6000, Chevy Celebrity, Olds Ciera, Buick Century. Sold tons (a #1 best seller for awhile), still a few left driving around today.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Add me to the secret A-body admirers club. They’re the middle-American analogs of all the boxy ladas that middle-Russia drives. Love the 60deg rasp, high clearance, and interior design.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here, loved my 6000-STE though!

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      Worked on a 93 Cutlass Ciera at our church this past Saturday. Changed the oil and filter for an elderly lady. This one had the Buick 90 degree engine. 3300 I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      My first car was an ’84 Ciera (obtained in Summer ’87 with 73k miles, my dad and I both thought it seemed to be in great condition and it appeared to be a very good deal), but I have less than zero nostalgia for it. Damn thing was so ambivalently/hatefully/cheaply built that it didn’t even have any backlighting in the radio/cassette, my dad’s riding lawnmower at the time had a better engine, the paint prematurely failed, and I think I could have probably accelerated faster and experienced better handling on a bicycle. I pulled the head unit thinking it simply needed the bulbs replaced, and when I opened it I discovered there were none – no bulbs, no sockets, and no blank solder pads for leaded/pigtail bulbs on the front panel PCB!

      I do still see A-bodies from time to time, so perhaps I just ended up a particularly bad one (though it’s hard for me to believe any of them were actually “good” – my friend had an ’85 6000 which was about as dismal as the Ciera).

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      I rented a well-optioned 1986 Celebrity Eurosport wagon (black with red interior) for a few months while on assignment in New Jersey. Considering that I owned a Honda, I ended up being pretty impressed with the Chevy. I know GM quality was a major crapshoot, but a good A-body properly equipped could be a fairly satisfactory ride.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        What has long been true for GM in general is “you have to know which options to order”. It has no effect on build quality etc but it can have an impact on your perception of the vehicle when driving it.

        (i.e. – there’s a big difference between a 2.5 ltr 4 cyl Acadia and a V6 version. A “driver confidence package” not only gets you safety equipment but a 4 way lumbar making a huge difference in seat comfort. GM being GM.)

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The lines of the Chevy Celebrity has aged so well. There is just something o nice about the proportions of the sedan and the wagon.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I’m gonna go put on my flame suit first, but…

    I have a soft spot in my heart for the PT Cruiser. Pre-facelift, manual transmission. I still say it was a great, cheap, decently fun to drive hatchback. The slushbox that gave the car its reputation is another story. Sadly, that’s all most people that criticize the car have ever driven.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      You could get the PT Cruiser with the Neon SRT-4 engine. Even back then FCA was hotrodding everything.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        GT Cruiser I can get behind. I’d go full tacky on one and add a woody kit, baby moon hubcaps, wide whitewalls – crank up the boost and go embarrass kids in backwards baseball caps with fart can mufflers on their stanced compacts.

        • 0 avatar
          FerrariLaFerrariFace

          @PrincipalDan:
          A GT with a real manual is really hard to find. Most have that dreadful auto-stick. Same one Chrysler saddled the Prowler with. So far, every manual GT I’ve ever seen has been a convertible. That’s a deal breaker for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I thought the convertible was cool looking, and almost went for one when I decided to go ahead and get a Saab convertible off-lease. But I was tempted based on the style, the turbo, and the tremendous price difference…

  • avatar
    gtem

    Guilty pleasure: modern crossovers. Thoroughly enjoyed my Edge Titanium rental last month, and just returned a CX5 Grand Touring (?) this morning that I drove home from JFK last night. The latest (at least in full lux trim like mine) CX5s are remarkably refined, but have gotten so nice and smooth and luxurious that the 2.5L feels truly overburdened at this point. On the plus side I got 31mpg combined with some cut and thrust NYC driving and predominantly slower highway driving to Ithaca NY. The car felt very well suited to quick driving on wet and irregular pavement in NYC, cushy and safe.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Gtem, I left you a message on the Hyundai article yesterday, but anyway, I’ll just tell you here since I’m sure you’ll check for replies on this thread.

      1st, welcome back to the U.S. and I’m glad you had a safe trip.

      2Nd, on Saturday, I bought a fairly unique pickup: 2004 GMC Sonoma SLS crew cab 4×4. It has four real (front hinged) doors and a back seat that is more comfortable than my cousin’s 2014 Silverado extended cab, lol.

      The truck isn’t perfect, but given what I plan to use it for (and the pittance I paid for it), its great.

      I figured its a vehicle you’d find interesting, heheh, I sure like it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        That’d be a terrific truck for my girlfriend’s kid, who’s an aspiring farmer. If I might ask, what did you pay for it?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Less than a grand lol. I mean the clear coat is flaking, but no rust. Mechanical bits aren’t too bad, but will require some love from yours truly. SLS is well equipped with power everything, factory CD + tape player, overhead console with temp and compass, etc.

          169K, trans shifts, 4wd works, etc, etc. The basics are there, just like my 1995 Taurus when I bought it. Its just up to me to tie up the loose ends and make it all come together. I enjoy doing it this way, if I’m honest. Especially when I have the time. I know most people would rather buy it and begin using it as-is, but there’s something to be said for doing some work your self and saving a few grand in the process (the Sonoma books pretty high, even in poor conditon).

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, s**t. That sounds like it’d fit the bill for our aspiring urban farmer. We’ve been looking into pickups for him, but the prices on anything that’s even remotely new are absolutely Looney Tunes. Saw a seven-year-old Ranger with over 100,000 miles not too long ago that the dealer was asking a straight-faced eleven grand for. Just sick.

            Ten-year-old F150s aren’t all that bad, though.

            Mechanically, the kid’s clueless as it stands, but I have a feeling he could learn to do some auto repair on his own – he has a basic aptitude for stuff like that.

          • 0 avatar

            This sounds like the basis of a QOTD for next week.

            Going on a search for good value in the used truck market.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Re: F-150 Yes, by the 2004 redesign, safety had improved considerably, the spark plug ejection issues were sorted, and the general build quality had improved. Still, avoid the V-6 if you see one (I think Ford went back and forth with its availability), the 4.6L gets about the same MPG and yet is more powerful and reliable. Cam phasers are an issue, a fixable one, but I’ve also seen people continue to drive the trucks for years with the ticking.

            GM full size trucks are reliable, but I would avoid Dodge. I see them with fairly low miles and in decent condition, yet with major mechanical failure. GM and Ford trucks are far less likely to be found in such a situation. I’d say a 4.3L GM full-size truck is a bargain reliable workhorse. Much easier to work on than the smaller trucks like mine due to the sheer volume of room under the hood. The 4.3L in my Sonoma is pretty tight, almost as tight as the 3.0L V-6 in a Tempo, lol.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Congrats on the Sonoma John. $1k and no rust makes it an instant win by midwestern standards. Those S10s rot like no tomorrow up here unfortunately. I walked away from a57k mile regular cab long bed v6 4wd S10 myself this spring. Decent truck but for $5k asking not what I personally was looking for.

            Mike for medium duty hauling I can’t recommend an older 90s ranger enough. Dumb simple, cheap parts, hold up great even with high miles. Having said that, if regular heavier hauling is on the list of needs, I’d step right up to a GMT400, 4.3 with a 5spd is my personal favorite. 92-96 F150s are sturdy old things but just a bit too crude on road IMO. Jellybean F150s can rack up some serious miles but I’m personally not a huge fan of the mod motors. Yes they can rack up miles, but usually in totally dilapidated shape.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Thanks man, I figured you of all people would appreciate it.

            I was planning on getting an Explorer 4 door, 4×4 with the OHV 4.0L, but this crew cab truck fits the requirements I had when looking at such, plus it isn’t as common, so its more unique.

            (Btw, I am not a fan of the Explorer Sport Trac, the only other smaller 4 door truck I’d consider is the first gen Nissan Frontier, leaving aside current and future midsize trucks for the sake of argument.)

            I was surprised that this truck is rust free. Even my old Isuzu Hombre had rotted cab corners, as does my friends 01 S10, both trucks were sold new and lived their entire lives in Alabama (well, that goes for the Isuzu until I bought it).

            Back to the Sonoma, I do plan to liberally spray it with undercoating to prevent rust. I’m tempted to use the stuff on the entire lower body, and spray the upper body flat black. For what I intend on doing with it (camping, hauling, light towing, off-road, etc), I’m certainly not trying to make it into a beauty queen. I intend to pull all my tools out of the Taurus and continue with my restoration on it, now made easier by the fact that I have something to drive when I take it apart during the process.

            The people I worked for on this last job were impressed with my work ethic, and so they have said I will be going on future jobs. The next one is on the 19th in Arkansas, so I have some time to tinker with the truck before I go. The company is a subsidiary of Brown & Root, and I really like working for them. They pay decently and seem like good people so far, as they take excellent care of their workers (speaking in terms beyond the wages they pay).

            After the next job, the Sonoma is getting a new set of all terrains for sure, and likely a full tune up/fluids/filters service (as in whatever I don’t get done before I leave). I have considered a modest suspension lift, maybe 2″ or so. I’m excited, haha, its such a fun little truck I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out if. I don’t regret passing up the 1984 Escort and spending a bit more than I planned for a “beater”, I believe the truck is well worth it. I’ve already had a couple people offer to buy it as-is for more than I paid, but I refused lol.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    The 1983-5 Pontiac 6000 STE with six headlights and a whopping 135 HP. Yee haw!

  • avatar
    Boff

    I have a soft spot for any Volvo wagon ever made. Plus when I think of them I think of blasting ABBA (my other guilty pleasure) on the stereo.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Chevy Cavalier Z24 3.1L with a 5 speed. Fun cars.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    And I should add Plymouth Duster with the Mitsubishi 3.0L V6 and a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Any survivor car. I don’t care who made it or what it is. The care and perseverance needed to keep a car 20+ years is something I don’t possess. Well, the care part, but not the keep part. Pristine Plymouth Horizon? Iron Duke-powered Celebrity? Perhaps it’s because these were cars of my youth, everywhere in Pittsburgh and now they are mostly gone. But a clean, old car, truck or even van that’s lived well past its line-mates always has me thinking “I’d drive it for a bit, where’s my checkbook?”.

    I grew up in a family of serial car traders, so it’s not in my nature to keep a car long term. Our 08 Mazda 5 was an outlier at 10 years and I only truly got rid of it because the rust was getting worse. But I wanted something new too.

    4-place convertibles of most stripes too. I’ve never owned a droptop and want one, even just a cheap one. I love the FIAT Abarth 500c, the Fox-body Mustang LX V8 from my youth, all the way to a tiny BHPH lot 5 minutes from my house that has a clean (from a distance) late “aero” Lebaron convertible and an Eclipse convertible. Even the square “woody” Lebaron droptop is interesting to me, though a non-woody one would be preferred. Though I don’t have much love for a PT Cruiser convertible, generally if the roof drops, I like it.

    • 0 avatar
      boozysmurf

      Tangentially, I’ve suddenly noteiced a ton of Eclipse Convertibles around. I wonder if they just went from “Garage toys” to “BHPH daily drivers” in the last year or two?

      Only convertible I really ever coveted was a ’70’s Edorado convertible. That’s a “made for mission” car. If I had room, I would definitely add one to the fleet just for occasional driving.

    • 0 avatar
      boozysmurf

      Tangentially, all of a sudden I’m seeing tons of Eclipse Convertibles around. Maybe they’ve just hit the BHPH daily-driver set, rather than the garage-it-until-a-sunny-day second car set? Dunno. But this summer, I’ve seen one every time I turn around.

      When it comes to convertibles, an Eldorado is the only one for me. Totally a “made for mission” car for drivin’ slow.

    • 0 avatar
      bking12762

      +1 gearhead. At the risk of sounding sexist, nice old cars are like well preserved women. Sure they look good when they new/young (anyone with money can go buy one), but there is something very special about an old model that has been maintained/loved all along. I guess my age is showing or that I’m really proud of my hot old lady…

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      This. I can’t believe how happy it makes me to see pristine examples of otherwise mundane ’80s and ’90s vehicles.

      As far as guilty pleasures, I strongly suspect one day I’ll wind up buying a well-preserved Imperial, Fifth Avenue, TC or similar example of Kraptastic K-Car “luxury.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Definitely malaise-era luxury barges. And the 1980 Turbo Trans Am. Yes, I know it was garbage. Hell, I even walked one in my old ’75 Custom Cruiser wagon. Doesn’t matter – it was my high school dream car.

    • 0 avatar

      Mmm, ’71 Marquis.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        The ’71-’72 Marquis was probably Mercury’s last attempt to make a true luxury car. These Mercs were priced in Buick Electra and Olds 98 territory and visually shared very little with the lower priced Monterey, even to the point of having their own dashboard. Dad had a ’72 Marquis Brougham sedan (navy blue with a white vinyl roof – quite fetching) and I put in quite a bit of wheel time in it as a teenager. Damn nice car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      “Definitely malaise-era luxury barges.”

      I’ll take a ’75-’77 Cordoba, 400 V8, Corinthian leather interior with an 8-track and console shift. I will then install Magnum 500 wheels wrapped in BFG white letter radials, Cherry Bomb glasspacks, and 35 “Royal Pine” little tree air fresheners to give the interior the right funk.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Give me the last of the BIG BLOCK luxury cars, I don’t even care how smog choked they were.

        70s Lincoln with 460 V8? Yes please.

        Imperial or New Yorker Brougham with 440? Daddy likes.

        Cadillac right up until the last of the V4-6-8 monsters? Ya Buddy. That system is easily defeated anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Good stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            My history of PLC’s, each with the largest available engine.
            Cordoba (the original, with the Corinthian leather bucket seats, and console shifter), Gran Torino Elite, Grand Prix SJ, Thunderbird, and I will also count the Cutlass.

            The ‘creme de la creme’ being the Mark IV.

  • avatar

    The 80’s Shelby Dodge cars…my favorite 1986 Shelby Omni GLHS.
    K-car Station wagon…because I like wagons.

    BEST….Consulier GTP. My favorite is the targa version!

    All American made.

    I still own this one…

    http://www.consuliergtp.com/photos/gtps.jpg

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Buick Lucerne, especially in top-trim CXS or Lucerne Super variant. Even though most people saw it as an old-fogey snooze-mobile. I always enjoyed its sleeper cred. I thought that its styling – while definitely understated – was nicely designed for the vehicle it was wrapping around.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Yup. I still like these cars.

      Back when they debuted Buick commissioned a few custom versions that appeared at SEMA and in some print adds. It felt like a huge reach and probably resulted in more laughs than sales, but I secretly dug the “CXX Luxury Liner” and “VIP” variants.

      https://www.autoblog.com/2006/10/30/gm-sema-showcase-3-the-buicks/

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My father in law loved his Lucernes and was disappointed when they stopped making them. I thought it was a a good looking car too, much better than the early 2000’s Lesabres he had previously. He claims the 98 Lesabre was his favorite, but he always bought low-spec cars too and put 25k a year on them doing local sales.

  • avatar
    ajla

    2012+ VW Beetle. Doesn’t fit my style at all, but I really like it.

    Runner up is the 2011+ Scion tC.

  • avatar

    Les’see:

    Chrysler Cordoba [later version, square lights]
    M-body Fifth Avenue
    Imperial Frank Sinatra
    Malaise Barges like an Imperial or Marquis
    Nissan Axxess
    Thunderbird TurboCoupe
    Chrysler LHS
    OG Mercury Sable
    Mercury Sable 08-09
    C-body Park Avenue
    C-body DTS
    Audi V8 Quattro
    Merkur Scorpio
    Sterling 827
    Subaru SVX
    Volvo 960

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Scorpio gets me too. Childhood friend’s father was an executive for Ford and had one briefly, I might have rode in it once. But I remember it being very different than anything else he’d had and smitten with it.

      My Dad had an 88 Ranger with that 2.9 V6 and a 5 speed. It was a strong engine for the time and must have been fun in that car.

      The oval Taurus/Sable wagons are unique and fairly clean designs, even if the ovoid theme went a bit far. The squared up later versions are not as unique but still good looking cars,IMHO.

      Though I’m sure they’re all gone now, the little brother to the Turbocoupe T-bird, the Escort GT around 87-90 was a good looking little car. The Mazda based car after it wasn’t awful looking and had better performance, but I like the late 80’s aero Fords.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      OK, there was the Audi 5000 thing, and you lust after a Sterling.

      I feel like this is verging towards masochism.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Corey: the square headlight Cordoba was an abomination. The original Cordoba was a ‘looker’. A very unique headlight/running light set-up which stood out from its competition.

      • 0 avatar

        I like the square one because I find the earlier ones too baroque, trying too hard. The square lamps give the whole car a nice slab-sided look.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          A Cordoba can never be too baroque. Baroque was the entire reason for a Cordoba to exist. From the plastic ‘doubloon’ ornaments on the dashboard, interior door, fenders and hood ornament to the Corinthian leather.

          The round different sized front lights was just the icing on the cake.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Northstar powered GM Cars.

    I know the engine is crap but damn the sound that engine makes!

    I was in the parking lot of my daughter’s elementary school a few weeks ago and heard a rather oddly ethereal exhaust note. It was a pearl white DTS with big chrome tips sticking out from under the bumper and windows tinted to a level that would make the FBI proud. Typical GM gave that engine to the 1st owners who were likely to never rev it out enough to know what a gem they had under their right foot.

    Wagon anything. The rare times I’ve seen a Jaguar X-type wagon in the wild I dang near broke my neck looking because… WAGON.

    Any B-body wagon? Love it.

    The rare Panther wagon? Much lust – loved Al’s on “Home Improvement”.

    My mind keeps wandering to the Buick TourX. Why? – WAGON.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My folks bought an 94 Deville Concours(!) and that Northstar sounded great. It started to develop leaks in the exhaust before they traded around 2000 on a 95 S320. That made it sound even better.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Dan, if you liked the TourX, you’ll have a wagon-gasm over this bad boy, which I saw yesterday:

      https://www.mcdonaldvolvo.com/new/Volvo/2018-Volvo-V90-2ff0fa320a0e0ae870b92524669e9112.htm

      Now, I have no idea if the V90 is crap or not. The idea of a turbocharged AND supercharged four makes me think this baby’s a lease-only proposition.

      But wow, is it sexy, and it looks even better in person. And those suede sport seats…pure sex. This could well be the best looking wagon ever made.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I do love the V90 but do also worry about 4 cyl with boost cranked up “to 11” as Spinal Tap would say.

        The V60 isn’t bad looking either and Volvo has a long CPO warranty… but no just no.

        When I drive my 67 Mustang people want to roll their windows down and shout positive things at me. When I see a nicely kept wagon (even if it’s a 4th gen Jetta) I want to do the same thing to that driver.

        “NICE WAGON, GREAT CHOICE!”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          If I were doing a contemporary Volvo, it’d be a lease-only proposition, with the car returning to Volvo with extreme prejudice.

          That particular V90 is mighty nice to look at, though.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Oh, you reminded me, 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora.

  • avatar
    hshields

    How about those GM era Saabs? The 2006 Saab 9-3 anyone? Wagon format (i.e. SportCombi)! It was well built (aside from some electrical), great seats, turbo 2.0L and weird cupholders and an “ESP” button that did nothing!

    But, merge onto a highway and that turbo kicked-in. It was surprisingly fun, odd, comfortable, safe, well built and massively discounted.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    ’70 Eldorado. It’s “Barge a licious”

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Dear God, that thing is hideous.

    I remember the terrible, awful commercial for that Bonneville so clearly, with Yuppie A saying to Yuppie B, “I could have spent thousands more on a BMW, but why?”

    Because it’s not a plastic trash heap whose own commercials couldn’t hide its mismatched panels, for starters.

  • avatar
    DanDotDan

    My guilty pleasure (and daily driver) is the Porsche 996 with the fried-egg headlights and the un-remediated IMS bearing. People seem to hate it but it’s been very, very good to me. The car does everything well, included the daily slog to work, long highway drives, back-road jollies, and track days.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    9th-Generation (1983-1988, Fox Chassis) Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. My friend owned an ’83 in high school – it had a fun overboost feature and would wrap the 85 MPH speedometer around the bottom of the arc into “who knows how fast we are going?” territory that nonetheless FELT fast. Later, my brother owned a 1987 that had various tunes he could call up via a discrete, dash-mounted controller. Those last two years of production are still my favorite. It’s a guilty pleasure because I doubt that anyone really took good enough care of those semi-disposable cars for them to become collectible. Besides, they made WAY too many – total 9th’gen production Thunderbird numbers (all trims) per Wikipedia was 885,745!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I went to high school in the early 90s so a classmate’s older brother had one. They were a pretty rough edged family and that Turbo Coupe nearly resulted in the older brother having a long license revocation. The Ohio Highway Patrol doesn’t usually mess around.

    • 0 avatar
      otaku

      I owned an ’86 T-Bird Turbo while in high school. It was black with bordello red terrycloth bucket seats. It was less powerful (no intercooler) than the 1987-88 version and did not possess the trick suspension, but it was probably a couple hundred lbs lighter and did not have as much front/rear overhang. It rode SO much better and was SO much more comfortable than the ’87 Mustang GT my brother drove and since the 2.3L turbo four was lighter than the 5.0, it felt much more balanced. God, despite the extra long doors and all it’s other flaws, I still love that car to this day.

  • avatar
    TR4

    British Ford Popular 103E. I used to make fun of them as a kid, but now I would like to have one:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Popular

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    This morning stopped beside a SAAB 9-7X. Wonder how many of those are left?

    My personal weekspots are generally Malaise Era PLC’s.
    However if money were no object, a 1959 Cadillac and a Mark IV Pucci Edition.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I loved me some early 1990’s super low volume metal like the Cadillac Allante, Buick Reatta, Chrysler TC.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Murano CrossCabriolet. I’m not saying they were beautifully executed, but I think now that we’re crossover-ing all the things, this convertible crossover was just a vehicle ahead of its time.

    I respect it’s effort at combining different kinds of utility, as opposed to the ridiculous utility removing style of the X6, GLC and GLE coupe thingies

  • avatar
    don1967

    This year I acted on a longstanding guilty pleasure and procured a full-size pickup truck I didn’t need, complete with V8 engine, column shifter and front bench seat.

    Next on my agenda is to leave it idling in the hybrid-only parking lot at Ikea. Life is good.

  • avatar
    bking12762

    thegamper-Ah yes, the beloved Chrysler TC By “Maserati” (as it says on the rear badge). I recently inherited one of these unicorns. Initially, I took the car as a total joke. The drive train and hardware are Chrysler bin, but the body and interior are Italian. The interior is by far one of the ninest I have ever sat in. The inside is swathed in fine leather everywhere. The coachwork is just as nice. Too bad the thing looked too much like a LeBaron and cost $30k+ when new. The car gets thumbs up and looks everywhere I go with it though. I’m thinking about getting a pair of Sansabelts for seat time.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Oh geeze, where to start? There are so many.

    Ford Tempo V-6 (1992 GLS ftmfw)
    Suzuki Esteem pre-facelift, sedan
    Pontiac 6000
    Pontiac Bonniville (fwd)
    Oldsmobile Alero coupe, 2.4L/5spd
    Oldsmobile Achieva W41 coupe, 2.3L/5spd
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais coupe, 2.3L/5spd International Series
    Kia Sportage 4×4 5spd, 1st gen
    Kia Sorento 4×4 5spd, 1st gen
    Kia Borrego 4×4
    Ford Aspire SE
    Ford Aerostar Sport
    Mercury Villager Sport
    Honda Odyssey 1st gen, prefer 1998 with a tachometer
    Honda CRZ 6spd
    Acura Vigor 5spd GS
    Infiniti J30
    Mazda Millenia S (1st gen)
    Lincoln Continental 1994, 1998-02
    Ford Taurus MT-5
    Lincoln LS V-6 5spd
    Plymouth Acclaim, either 4 cylinder/5spd or loaded V-6
    Plymouth Breeze 5spd
    Plymouth Cranbrook
    Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight coupe, early 80s
    Oldsmobile F-85
    Oldsmobile Starfire (1960s)
    GMC Sonoma Crew Cab (gee, I wonder why? Lol)
    1991-1997 Ford Explorer 4 door 4×4
    Isuzu VehiCROSS
    Isuzu Trooper, especially 2 door 5spd
    GMC Sierra C2 (early 00s)
    Mercury Cougar 1999-02
    Ford Contour SE, 1995-1997
    Ford Taurus, 1st and 2nd gen with 3.0L, also 2010-12
    GMC Jimmy 2 door 4×4 5spd, late 90s/00s
    Suzuki Jimny/Samurai
    Plymouth Sundance 3 door
    Ford Escort, 1st gen
    Scion xB 1st gen
    Toyota FJ Cruiser
    Toyota Celica, 1st gen
    Honda Prelude, 1st and last gen
    Toyota Corona, 1960s
    Toyota Stout
    Honda Z600
    Honda Acty
    Toyota Tank
    Toyota Mark X
    Ford Fiesta 3 cylinder/manual

    More I’m forgetting I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Serious question, because I’m genuinely curious: what makes a Ford Aspire, 3-cyl Fiesta etc. a pleasure? De gustibus etc., but leaving aside matters of pure taste, I do wonder what people find intriguing in these.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Well, the Fiesta has a well-sorted chassis, its pretty fun to drive. The 3 cylinder makes it possible to basically drive it at the limit all the time without getting into too much trouble.

        The Aspire appeal to me is the fact that I don’t hate the way they drive, either, and my plan would be to swap in the 1.8L Mazda engine from a 91-6 Escort GT to make it somewhat of a sleeper. There are plenty of VW GTIs, Civic Si, Focus SVT, etc out there. Making an Aspire into a (sorta) hot hatch has its own appeal because its different and unique.

        I tend to appreciate cars that only a few others do as well, and often times, that’s part of their appeal for me. Being different, not following the crowd, etc.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Much to my surprise, the low-mileage and pristine 1994 Buick LeSabre I inherited in 2008 turned out to be a pretty fine cruiser. Maybe not the least bit sporty but it was roomy, smooth, comfortable, quiet, economical, and pretty reliable. These H-body 3800s were some of GM’s best latter-day efforts.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Mid-80s Cop-spec Dodge Diplomats…not sure why, but I love them.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Funny, the Bonneville cited was one of the first TTAC car reviews I read. It was the base model, which the reviewer said was slower than continental drift. The reviewer noted it was the last year for that model, so it could be bought for a song. The reviewer’s advice: Don’t.

    The thing is, GM engineers designed a platform drivetrain and suspension that was pretty good, but it was decontented so it could be a modest step up from the mid-size sedans. Only the SSEi approached what the engineers had put together, and things like functional vent windows were never restored.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      That sounds more like this Grand Prix review:

      thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/09/pontiac-grand-prix-review/

      Or maybe this CRV one (it has the ‘continental drift’ line):

      thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/10/honda-cr-v-2/

      I’ve been around here too long and I don’t recall TTAC ever officially reviewing any Bonneville.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        One of my wife’s elderly relatives has a last gen Grand Prix in forest green exterior and mouse fur grey interior and otherwise more or less “base”.

        Because I know it’s provenance and that likely every service ever done was done by the dealer and the preventative maintenance schedule followed to the letter I’d be interested in it at some point but that has more to do with the owner than the car.

        I’d rack up the miles on my commute mercilessly.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Don’t disagree with very many of the above.

    We were eating at Cracker Barrel yesterday, when a beautiful blue Ford Panther drove up. I saw the owner inside later; turned out it was a 2000 Mercury Marquis. It had been recently restored complete with a new paint job and looked it. He said he loved it because it was comfortable and had plenty of room for the grandkids; they don’t make them like that anymore. I told him as the owner of a 95 Taurus wagon, I understand and agree.

    I watched him get back inside later and drive off. What a beauty. Even though it was built in 2000; it still had the rounded lines of a late 1980s to 1990s Ford sedan; with a tasteful amount of chrome thrown in.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    1970s Cadillac. The bigger the better.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I already openly love everything that is obscure or weird, so for me a guilty pleasure would be some 4 banger auto 4 door sedan, like a late 90’s Camry or Passat, or even a Corolla or Golf. (I’m not exactly known to love Toyotas or VW’s) Just to own something with no soul, built solely for the purpose of not having to share a bus with strangers. Preferably a Toyota, as I prefer soulless boxes to have at least one advantage, in this case reliability. (on the other hand you can buy 3 used Golfs for the price of a used Corolla)
    Maybe even in silver grey, with steelies and hubcaps.
    And flog it to within an inch of it’s life every day with no chance of ruining it’s total lack of apperance, and with no one noticing.
    Maybe it could cure my tendency for always getting attached to my cars (I even find it hard to sell my Hondas, and almost even my Audis. )

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’d like either a E320 convertible or SC430 Pebble Beach please.

  • avatar
    bunkster

    V8 Gremlin or manual V-8 Aspen RT. Maybe v8 Aspen wagon. I know its sad but you asked.

  • avatar
    jpruden

    OMG…

    71-73 Chevy Vega GT
    76-78 Ford Mustang II (4 cylinder only)
    1987 Chevy Spectrum Turbo
    Isuzu Impulse (with the Lotus suspension)
    93-97 Ford Probe GT
    B5 Audi A4

    Yes… owned all of them and despite their flaws, loved them all…

  • avatar
    ColoradoFX4

    The more oddball, the better:

    1992 Topaz XR5
    Taurus MT-5 (wagon especially)
    Thunderbird SC
    Contour SVT
    Tempo AWD
    Ranger GT
    Lincoln LS V6 manual
    1995 Sable LTS
    1987 Sable LS Monochrome Edition

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Sir, you are my hero.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I had a ’95 Contour LX V6 5 speed for 24 hours. Bit of a unicorn, since I don’t recall ever seeing another. It developed a tick on the drive home, which was bad valve or something. Taking it as an omen (and probably rightfully so) I turned it back in to the dealer, who cut me a deal on the loaded 95 Cougar V8 I then had for 3 years.

        The Contour was a fun little platform, with the V6 especially. The SVT version had lots of praise at the time. Too bad they were unloved for being a bit too small and suffered from indifferent build quality.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    1986-87 Tempo GL Sport Coupe (know that is really specific).

    Bread and butter car, but the body style was very clean, and the Tempo coupe without chrome, the moderately well hidden 5 MPH bumpers, and the halogen flush-mounted headlamps was attractive. The lines would work today, and more than one model into the 90s emulated the rounded/jelly bean look that the coupe had before the 88 redesign squared the sedan off, and the front clip on the coupe became a bit more “squinty.”

    I preferred the Gen I instrumentation and controls over the Gen II, which was more minimalist.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Keeping in cars from the 1990’s that were cool in my eyes.

    Lumina Z34. I got to drive a stick shift version in canada in the early 2000’s. Still think it was a badass looking car.

    https://bangshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/autowp.ru_chevrolet_lumina_z34_coupe_71.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      I bought my daughter a low mileage 94 Lumina Z34 automatic that she took to college. Black with beige interior. After her graduation I drove it for another couple of years. Handling was excellent as was high speed cruising. The thing always needed something, however. Intake gaskets and oil leaks were reoccurring problems. I finally sold it with about 120,000 miles at 13 years old.

  • avatar
    packardhell1

    I have 3 types of guilty pleasures:

    No kids with me: I was a fan of sportily-clad versions of certain Chevy front wheel drive coupes – namely the Lumina Z34, Cavalier Z24, and Beretta GTZ.

    All the kids with me – Buick Roadmaster wagon w/ LT1

    My wife and I on a road trip- GMC Typhoon. I really wasn’t a fan of the Syclone’s shape. The Typhoon would fit the bill nicely.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Cressida and Volvo 850 wagon. Have owned both, Cressi is amazing, but bad head gaskets. Volvo was absolute crap, want another to turn into a track-day flying-brick!

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    My ’91 LeBaron is my latest guilty pleasure.

    On nice days I take it for a spin or drive it to work with the top down. Somebody who works in my building told me that she had never seen such a ‘cute’ and small Mercedes like that”. I had no words. I get that most people aren’t car people, but there was the Pentastar emblem right smack dab in the center of my trunk lid (the original vinyl “Chrysler” and “LeBaron” appliques had to come off since I had the car repainted, I’d like to get a replacement if I can find one). She was roughly around my age (mid/late 20’s) and these cars were everywhere during our childhood. Everybody knew someone with a Chrysler LeBaron convertible.

    My other guilty pleasures:

    I drive my ’93 Concorde to work as well. Many people didn’t know what it was. It’s an old person’s car but I always loved these cars. I had a ’97 in high school. My love for the Concorde/LH began when I first saw my aunt Terry’s plum ’94 as a toddler (my ’93 is the exact same color).

    In both cases, when I drive the Concorde or the LeBaron to work, it is *the* oldest vehicle in the parking garage. And my other two vehicles, my 200 and my Ram 2500, does not fit in any better, where every single car is either an Audi A-something, BMW 3-series, Lexus IS, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen GTI, an Acura something-something or a Toyota Camry/Honda Accord. You might catch a Focus ST, a Model S Tesla or maybe a Fusion or Tahoe (probably a rental driven by someone who is visiting from HQ) as the only domestics in the parking garage.

    I’m not supposed to like my “mediocre” 2013 200 (the auto journalist’s words, not mine) but I do. It’s a nice little car for commuting and even long trips. No complaints from me at all about that car.

    I get a smirk on my face every time I turn the ignition of my ’06 Ram 2500 Cummins turbo diesel Laramie megacab. It’s stock, so it’s much quieter than your average dozered out truck, but it still has that unmistakeable sound. The idle of the old 12v Cummins is my favorite, though.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    86 Riviera, Eldorado, Seville, yes, the down-sized ones everybody hates. They’d look great next to my 86 Century T-Type.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “my 86 Century T-Type”. I’m almost too embarrassed to admit that I’m kinda jealous.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I drove one once, surprisingly quick. Makes me want to do a 3800 swap on a 6000 or Cut Ciera. I like both of those better than the Buick or Chevy versions (no offence intended, GS 455, every one has preferences and I certainly don’t fault you for yours).

  • avatar
    Steve H

    3rd gen (2001-2006?) Mitsubishi Montero (a/k/a Pajero). I drove one once. It was exactly the mushy, lumbering hulk of a truck you’d expect from that era’s SUVs. And apparently it returned well below 20 mpg. But to this day I can’t help but admire the flared fenders and nice proportions.

  • avatar
    geo

    Chevrolet S-10 Blazer/GMC Jimmy.

    I owned a ’94 and it’s always been one of my favorite vehicles I’ve ever owned. It was honest, rugged, masculine, and a good friend. Modern crossovers/SUVs seem incredibly processed and overdone, in the same way so much music tends to be. As I prefer stripped-down, simple music to overproduced, complex studio tracks, I prefer the simplicity and personality of vehicles like the Blazer.

    This makes me wonder how many buyers would agree with me. Does everyone really want the complex, expensive, over-styled, fussed-over vehicles we have today, or is there a market for a cheap, simple vehicles as there was in the sixties with the Beetle? Is it time for someone with cajones to market a bold anti-car? Would something like the Tata Nano catch on with the right marketing and price? I don’t know, and perhaps not. But something has to change — cars are getting ridiculous and expensive and it’s no wonder young people have lost interest.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’m sure many (and as I can vividly recall), people in the 90s claimed SUVs of the era were too plush and such compared to the basic stuff from the 1960s, like the first gen Bronco, the CJ, etc. Its a never ending cycle of nostalgia. 20 years from now, when we are all riding in autonomous blobs that suck the joy out of traveling, people will long for the good ole days of the Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape.

      Most people already reject basic cars like the Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa, etc, so no, I don’t think something even more crude and slow and unsafe would fair any better.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I’ll add another vote for the Bonnie, a big comfortable cruiser that actually handled pretty decently and was fast enough with the 3.8. The cladding and interior were less than stellar, but you don’t notice those while you’re driving, right?

    I’m surprised (OK, I’m not) no one has called out the Grand Am. With a V6 it was pretty quick, and almost silent when highway cruising. Horrid interior from the same folks who brought you the Bonneville, but it was pretty comfortable for a smallish car.

    And going further back…Chevy Citation. Just fast enough with a V6, good mileage, tons of interior room in such a small package. Too bad it got the GM-death-by-bean-counting treatment.

  • avatar
    Radio-Friendly Transmission Shifter

    Pontiac Vibe. Even though it’s utterly pedestrian in most ways, I would buy one before almost any other hatchback/crossover. My friend drives a silver Vibe, and it is such a great car.

  • avatar
    pale ghost

    1968-71 olds 4 door 98 LS. With 455 premium gas hipo engine, front disk brakes and pussy traction

  • avatar
    glwillia

    Mine has always been the 1974-1987 GM C/K pickups. Love the way those look.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Guilty pleasures, I have a few…

    78-81, 86-91 Buick LeSabre T-Type coupe. The 78-81 with the 3.8 Turbo, 86-91 with the 3800.
    90-91 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe/ Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan-4.9 pre Northstar they were just getting the downsized E-Body less rococo with a Euro flavor.
    71-77 Chevy Vega GT or a loaded Pontiac Astre
    80-83 Chrysler Cordoba/Dodge Mirada
    01-06 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT 2.4 Turbo
    15-17 Chrysler 200S Pentastar AWD
    89-93 Dodge Shadow convertible 2.2 Turbo
    15-16 Dodge Dart GT 2.4 Tigershark
    78-80 Ford Fiesta Ghia or Sport
    88-97 Ford Probe GT
    89-87 Ford Thunderbird SC or V8 (Own one)
    00-03 Lincoln LS V6 manual or the special option LSE V8
    88-93 Mercury Topaz AWD
    86-92 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo
    83-88 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera International FE-3 suspension pkg
    85-92 Pontiac 6000 STE
    86-08 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Yugo. Owned two, both drove well for me, no major repairs. Great on fuel, not great in crash results, though. Would like another hatchback like this, but probably not gonna happen.

    Pontiac Aztek. Owned three. They reminded me of GM G-body sedans of the 60’s & 70’s (in terms of size), and easy to park. Occasionally hated the slanted back light, but mostly worked well for our lives.

    2nd gen Toyota Prius. The Pious was the target of my ire, mostly because of the lavish benefits piled on their owners. In the intervening time, I’ve come to appreciate the styling. But that’s about all, as having driven them, there’s not much to get excited about.

    Ford Raptor, Chevy Colorado ZR2 or Ram Rebel TRX. My inner 10-year old coming to the surface…

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    “Guilty pleasure” as in car you wouldn’t admit to your friends that you liked? I can’t believe nobody else said it yet! Subaru XT6. Part airplane, part car. All kinds of electronic gizmodery.
    Actually my favourite subie from that era I can’t even remember the model name. A GL5, perhaps? 1.8L turbo, all wheel drive, with an “extra low” gear. Looked similar to the GL10, but a two door hatch.

  • avatar

    Opel GT, Pontiac Fiero and Lotus Europa.

  • avatar
    mmo1184

    I just spent a week in Northern New England (mostly Vermont) and forgot what a guilty pleasure a Saab was/is. After I spotted about 4 of the last gen 9-5s, I almost thought that they were still being made. In addition, I also spotted at least 1 9-4x amongst all the 9-3 sedans, convertibles, hatches and wagons. It truly is the land of guilty pleasures from Subarus of every generation to all the Saabs with a fair amount of mid 80s to mid 90s GM cars with a nice sprinkling of Volvos and Audis of all generations including a first generation A8.

  • avatar

    Well equipped Ford Scorpio (DE-1) with 2.9L engine. It was like a dream car for me.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    AMC Gremlin.

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