QOTD: A Car Only YOU Could Love?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd a car only you could love

There’s no shortage of people choosing to signal their offbeat, nonconformist nature via their daily driver. As build configurations shrink and niche products dry up, this is becoming increasingly hard; still, it’s a thing, and if it means reaching into the past for a defunct nameplate, many are up for the challenge.

A buddy of mine did it with a certain low-volume Isuzu. Car Twitter is littered with childless Millennials who advocate the purchase of impractical, less-loved models as their preferred transportation choice. More power to them; just don’t react with confused horror when people with a mortgage and growing brood opt for a GMC Acadia or Toyota Highlander as their main driveway denizen.

With oddball vehicles now more numerous in our past then our present, which unlikely model do you harbor a secret desire for?

To be clear, we’re not talking about some sort of foreign, right-hand-drive exotic that just cleared the 25-year import period. We’re talking about a model that was sold here, bought here, and marketed here. It’s possibly, nay, likely, that this certain model also disappeared after a short run due to lack of consumer interest.

At the time of purchase, this automobile was just as avant-garde as it is today, telegraphing to the world that the person behind the wheel was an onion, a vessel of undiscovered truths and limitless mystery. You know, like a Nissan Cube driver.

While an upwelling of irony in the middle part of this decade brought new luster to the once derived Pontiac Aztek, I’m not someone who wants to sit in a plastic-fantastic GM cabin with a so-ugly-it’s-cool body. I’ve driven enough GM in my time. As for things like the Cube, I consider that particular model a rolling horror — and a potential tip-off that the driver’s Google search history might be seriously NSFW.

Never mind practicality or reliability. Looks alone deep-sixes that choice.

As for other oddities (like the Suzuki X-90, say, or maybe a Saturn Sky), livability has to factor into the buy. The vehicle still has to function as a more-or-less normal vehicle, serving most of my needs in a glorious, virus-free future.

Which brings me to a vehicle spurned by the U.S. buying public, but one that I’ve always liked the look of. Never driven one, to be clear, but it possesses enough appeal to float it to the forefront of my consciousness.

The Acura ZDX. Built in very small numbers from model years 2010 to 2013, the ZDX was a near-exact realization of the brand’s early sketches — and the heavy beast’s limited cargo volume reflected that. Just 7,191 were sold in the U.S.

While Acura’s long-gone shield grille always turned me off, the feature works better on the ZDX. The model doesn’t want for power, either, what with its 300-horse 3.7-liter V6, and all-wheel drive boosts its all-weather capability immensely. As I don’t care about the comfort of rear-seat passengers, nor do I carry much gear anywhere, the sloping roofline concerns me little. Let it do its thing as a styling flourish.

A crossover coupe before they were “cool,” the ZDX fits the bill for being rare, striking, and very, very dead. What’s your pick?

[Images: Nissan, Acura]

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  • Sigfried Sigfried on Apr 08, 2020

    I've wanted a VW Karmann Ghia ever since high school. My brother had a 58 rustbucket with two inch open rust slots behind the headlights. He offered to sell it to me for $125 but Dad nixed the deal, telling me it was a death trap. He didn't like the idea that the gas tank sat on top of your lap. I've wanted one ever since. I think the appearance of a VW Bug that somebody stomped on looks cool. More recently I saw an Isuzu VehiCROSS and thought, "Now THAT looks cool." Though nowadays the farthest from the beaten track that I'm likely to get is a Kia Sedona instead of the ubiquitous Grand Caravan.

  • Sigfried Sigfried on Apr 08, 2020

    Back in the 80's I got to own several unique vehicles, mostly purchased on their last legs and junked within a year or so. 72 Gremlin 252 3-speed manual 73 Capri with manual sunroof & v6 74 Opel 2-door sedan (Kadett style, not Manta) 66 Galaxie 4-door hardtop 81 Ford EXP (2-seat Escort) 82 AMC Concord Two different 76 Plymouth Fury 2-doors, one with 360 auto and console in between the bucket seats (looked nice but ran horrible) and one strippo version with slant six and three in the tree, bench seat and no a/c (looked horrible but ran nice).

  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004