Bump for Embiggening Day.
Every year for the last several years, I’ve compiled a photo dump of all the coolest cars I saw during that year. Those posts have consisted of well over 100 photos, with pictures from everywhere from dealers to museums to shows. This year, I didn’t really go to many museums or dealers and gave up on fighting the herds of my peers with DSLRs and Instagram accounts to take pictures at shows. I’ve always loved the thrill of the chase, and for me, happening across one cool car in the wild is better than seeing twenty at a show.
This post does not have any cars that were on display. All of these cars were parked or driving on public roads or parking lots. And for the sake of being trendy and getting those ever-important clicks, I’ve kept the number to a nice even hundred and ranked them in order of my favorites. Never before in any shitpost or hot take has their been more of a chance for disagreement. Before you drop down into the comments and tell me what an idiot I am for placing Car X above Car Y, know that today I will defend my decision to the death. Tomorrow, I will probably change my mind and switch things around entirely.
Enough gabbing. Time for pictures. Also, if you’re reading this at a Christmas/New Year’s party, you can make a drinking game out of how many times I use the word “cool”.
#100 - Chevrolet Tahoe HPE500 Supercharged by Hennessey
As themanwithsauce pointed out, this is the official SUV of the high school jock all grown up. Still, screwing a blower onto a family SUV to get it up to more than 500 horsepower is pretty cool.
#99 - Nissan March
For anyone who lives in a market where the Nissan March, aka Micra, is sold, it’s about as far from a cool car as it’s possible to get. But the Micra isn’t sold in Nebraska, or anywhere near here for that matter. I like seeing cars that you can’t buy here, and I like the fact that basically nobody else would notice that about this little car. Bonus points for the “JESUS ES EL SEÑOR” plate frame.
#98 - Ford F-150 Raptor “Hennessey Veliciraptor”
Take everything I said about the Tahoe HPE500 and give it some actual off-road capability and a cooler name. There you have it.
#97 - Porsche 911 50th Anniversary
It may not actually be an old 911, but the 991 50th Anniversary combines all the best bits of the luxury and livability from the current 911 with some delightful retro touches from 911s gone by. This is my second favorite 991, after the insane 911R. Notice how neither of them have enormous wings.
#96 - Porsche 924
Base model 924s were never that durable or desirable, so seeing one as well-preserved and original as this one was a rare treat.
#95 - Honda Accord Hatchback
Take everything I said about the 924 and add the tendency to rust to the point of dissolving at even the mention of a Midwestern winter and you’ve got the first generation Honda accord. This one certainly showed signs of age and there was rust to be found, but considering that it appeared to be a street parked DD in the Midwest it was in pretty good shape.
#94 - Ford Mustang Mach 1
Although perhaps less desirable than a Boss or a Shelby, the 2nd generation Mach 1 was nevertheless one of the last great Mustangs before the models rapid decline in mid-70s. It also starred in Diamonds are Forever and Gone in 60 Seconds, adding to its cool factor.
#93 - Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG
The first of many Mercedes models on the list, the GL63 may be the car that most rich suburban families end up with when they ask the Mercedes dealer to see their biggest SUV and then ask for whatever the top trim level of that is, but it’s still a three row school bus with 557 horsepower. 0-60 in under 5 seconds means that anyone who starts the journey in the 2nd row will likely find themselves in what my brother and I called the “way-back row”.
#92 - AC/Shelby Cobra 427 Recreation
An actual Shelby 427 Cobra would be number one on this list without question. This example, while certainly a high-quality reproduction/continuation (as opposed to some Factory Five kit car) and while signed by Carroll Shelby on the glove box, is still not the real deal. I’m generally not a fan of replicas, and as good as this one may be, it goes no higher.
#91 - Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
While not a ground-up new car like the Cobra above it, this Icon-esque FJ40 surely lacks most of its original parts. It’s neat, but I’ll take a classically restored one like this over the one pictured any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
#90 - Audi S4 Avant
Most people just see an old, grey wagon. They’ve got no idea about the big V8 under the hood. That makes this S4 not just a practical, fun car, but a great sleeper. Shame we never got an RS4 Avant.
#89 - Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas
Although not a V-12 model or one of the earlier Series I or Series I, this mint XJ Series 3 from the early-80's is still old enough and classy enough to be quite cool.
#88 - Volvo V70R
If you thought the S4 was unassuming, get a load of this traditional, lego brick family hauler. Though not fast by modern standards, the 237hp turbocharged I5 in the V70R made for a fairly swift wagon back in the day. This one was in phenomenal condition.
#87 - Porsche 911 Turbo (997)
Not the newest generation of 911, not old enough to be a classic, and not even the top trim, but this creme colored missile still has buckets of power and Fuchs-tribute black wheels. Not bad.
#86 - Audi S8
I love the Audi A8. Every generation has looked good, and no matter the (North American market) engine, it’s not gonna be slow. The S8 has always taken the speed to another level, and what this one lacks in noise found in the previous generation’s V10, it makes up for with sheer and effortless speed.
#85 - Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG
A good looking Mercedes convertible with a supercharged V8 and a great wheel/color combo. What more do you need?
#84 - SRT Viper
My two all-time favorite Vipers are the first one and the last one, the latter of which is pictured here. I don’t care how much faster a Z06 is, I’ll take the better styling, screaming V10, and sheer rarity of this now-dead snake.
#83 - Ferrari California
An ugly used Ferrari is still a Ferrari.
#82 - BMW M2
It’s not quite as rare or desirable as the 1-Series M, but it’s still generally considered to be the purest ///M car you can buy new, and it’s plenty cool in its own right.
#81 - Jaguar XKR Coupe
The most common spec for the XK seemed the be a convertible in a dark color. Seeing this stunning white XKR coupe was therefore a rare treat as I pulled up to O’Hare and prepared to go abroad.
#80 -BMW M5 (F10)
The M5 truly needs no introduction. I’ve seen plenty of these cars around in other colors. Hell, the first picture I took to try out the new phone I got a few days ago was of an F10 M5. But there’s something about this one in Monte Carlo blue that just makes it extra special.
#79 - Pontiac G8 GXP
Talk about going out with a bang. You won’t see to many of the G8 GXP out in the wild; they sold just over 1,800 of them. And with the horsepower and torque figures both sitting around 415, you’d better be on your toes if you want to see one for long if it does pass by. Unless, like me, you find one parked. The Chevy SS may have made amends with the G8's crap-tastic interior, but the baddass styling of the GXP is notably absent from its Chevrolet successor.
#78 - Audi TT RS
The newest TT RS boasts excellent styling, an ultra modern cockpit, and most importantly, a 400 horsepower turbocharged I5. Personally, I’d by highly tempted to pick this over the new 4 cylinder 718 Cayman.
#77 - Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507
The last version of the C63 to boast a big N/A V8 before the new model brought about downsizing and forced induction was this, the Edition 507 is so named for its upgraded 507 horsepower 6.2 V8. It also ditched the Germanic 155mph limiter for a top speed of 178mph. Not since the 60's have burning tires sounded so good.
#76 - Porsche 911 Turbo (996)
The unloved 996 Turbo is actually pretty darn good, and it’s almost as cheap of a way into 415 horsepower as that G8 GXP up there. It’s just a little bit more refined, and a lot more complicated to work on.
#75 - Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
Doug DeMuro tells us we shouldn’t like the G65. Even I would probably save half off and just buy a G550. But a gargantuan V12 with over 700 lb/ft of torque stuffed in an old army truck will never be uncool, no matter how much of a douchebag it makes the driver look.
#74 - Bentley Bentayga
This car wins favor with me for being stupidly fast, ridiculously comfortable and opulent, and doing surprisingly well off-road. It would go much higher than this, but it’s hideous and has a stupid name.
#73 - Jaguar XJR
The classic, curvaceous, elegant styling. The wood and leather lined interior. The 370hp supercharged V8. Perfection.
#72 - Mercedes-Maybach S600
It’s not as cool as the old Maybach 57/62, but this V12 super yacht for the road is very much baller.
#71 - Chrysler New Yorker
I’m a sucker for land yachts, and the fact that someone managed to keep this baby food beige New Yorker in suck perfect shape makes me happy. Just look at that grill! It’s like a whale shark. Large, slow, and quite a sight to behold.
#70 - Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
The new CTS-V may be fantastic, but the fact that we won’t get a wagon version makes me sad. Oh well, the old one is still fantastic. Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.
#69 - Audi R8 V10 Plus
Even without most of the curves of the old car, the new R8 still looks amazing. The Plus model is the first R8 to break 600 horsepower and has been widely acclaimed by most reviewers. Even as someone who has grown fairly used to seeing R8s, this was an exciting find for me.
#68 - Alpina B7
I don’t care how much faster the S8 Plus and the S65 AMG may be, the Alpina B7 is far cooler than either of those two. This car may be black on black as opposed to the desireable Alpina blue over brown, but you still can’t argue with what a great job Alpina did in taking the already excellent 7-Series and making it better and more chic in every way.
#67 - Rolls-Royce Wraith
If you think Alpina have a good formula for turning a 7-Series into something special, check out what Rolls-Royce can do. Don’t let my terrible picture fool you; the Wraith is an astonishingly beautiful car. While some might argue that one who wants their English stately come to be a bit sporty should just buy a Bentley, even the Flying B can’t quite top the Spirit of Ecstasy for sheer presence. That, and I’m a huge Rolls fanboy.
#66 - Jensen-Healey
I loved seeing this obscure sports car, partially because most of them have simply ceased to be, and mostly because very few people actually know what it is. Powered by a Lotus I4 and built as a joint effort between the folks responsible for the Austin Healey 3000 and the Jensen Interceptor, what might’ve been a classic icon has instead faded into relative obscurity. I’m assuming the incredibly poor top fitment came that way from the factory.
#65 - Ferrari 458 Spider
Half of the Ferraris I see seem to have some Italian word or phrase for a vanity plate (the other half just have the model number), and this 458 is no exception. I love that I found this car parked at a golf course on a freezing day in December. Most rich people would be off doing winter rich people things, like taking their Range Rover to Aspen for a weekend of skiing. This individual seems intent on continuing to do summer rich people things, driving their convertible Ferrari to the country club for a round of golf.
#64 - Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
There are two very good reasons why I ranked this old G55 above the G65. First, I hate the massive gaping vents and colossal wheels that the newest G63 and G65 have. Second, as you can see, this G55 has had the side pipes removed and massive, chunky, all-terrain tires fitted. So whereas the owner of the G65 likely bought his truck to show off as much as he possibly could, the owner of this G55 likely bought it for the awesome and incredibly capable machine that it is.
#63 - Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The SLS AMG may seem like a sophisticated European super-sports car, but in fact, it’s a bit of a hot rod. This could explain why one famous native Nebraska redneck drives one, which can commonly be seen at Husker games. Although that car looks just like this one, I can’t say for sure if they’re the same car. Either way, it’s still one amazing car.
#62 - Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder
Here’s yet another car that most people wouldn’t recognize as being rare. Although the VR4 version may be faster and rarer, the basic 3000GT Spyder is no common sight. I have absolutely no idea why my camera decided not to focus for this picture.
#61 - Kelly Python
This is the only car I can think of which I have seen in person this year and still had absolutely no clue on Earth what it was. After seeking answers from Oppo’s goldmine of automotive knowledge, I learned that it was a Kelly Python. Originally a prototype for a V8 sports car from Ford, the rights to the design were sold to Alvin Kelly, who began to put the car into production before his company quickly folded. Just twelve of these rarities were produced, making it by far the biggest unicorn on this list.
#60 - Acura NSX
This is one of the few cars on my list where the new version actually ranks better than the old one. It’s not that I dislike the original NSX, but this one featured a few less-than-ideal modifications including those terrible chrome wheels. Also, while the old NSX looks cool, the new one looks like some sort of amazing space ship.
#59 - Ford Ranchero
Ever seen a pickup truck with a vinyl roof? Thought not, but this ‘72 Ford Ranchero is just such a vehicle. Less famous than the similar Chevrolet El Camino, it’s still a wonder that this ute concept never caught on long-term in the U.S.
#58 - AMC Javelin
Every sucker has a mustang or a Camaro. This AMC Javelin is for the pony car enthusiast who wants something a bit different. With a humorously long front overhang and short rear overhang, this later Javelin was a somewhat odd vehicle to behold. It was parked in a mall parking lot, proving that the designation of “mall-crawler” doesn’t have to apply only to lifted trucks that never see dirt.
#57 - Lamborghini Huracán
As much as I’d like to place the more subtle, less vulgar R8 Plus higher on the list, the simple fact is that the Lamborghini is is more exotic and therefore cooler. Plus, those wheels. I need a moment.
#56 - Subaru SVX
Had Subaru opted to offer the SVX with a manual, or a turbo, or preferably both, there’s no doubt in my mind we would hold it in the same reverence as the Toyota Supra or the Nissan 300ZX. But perhaps it’s a good thing they didn’t, because unlike those two, prices for a clean SVX are still dirt cheap. For your money, you get a rare, flat six powered, all-wheel drive, four seat GT car that looks like nothing else on the road. In my mind, the SVX is an ideal first car for an enthusiast. Apart from when it crashes, at which point the lack of safety features or replacement parts become painfully obvious.
#55 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
I really wanted to put this car above the Ghost, but I couldn’t quite do it. Must be the big 5mph bumpers on this late Shadow II. Oh well, it’s still an exceptionally cool car.
#54 - Rolls-Royce Ghost
Take everything I said about the Wraith, then add commodious rear seats and wooden tray tables. Then drift it like a classy motherfucker.
#53 - Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
This one may seem quite far down the list for a sedan that isn’t all that expensive or even *that* rare. The thing is, I love old AMGs and older Mercedes in general. Two of my favorite spots from last year were a maroon 500E and a black C43 AMG, both in excellent shape. Likewise, this W210 E55 wears its black paint and signature monoblocks well and in fantastic shape. This is the sort of car that makes me want to get on the highway, set the cruise control for highly illegal speeds, and shoo crossover out of the left lane.
#52 Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ60)
Look at those graphics. Look at them. Does it get any more 80's Japan than that? I doubt it, but having not lived in the 80's or been to Japan I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that this Land Cruiser probably had those graphics added on after the fact, assuming it is in fact a USDM vehicle. Oh well, I love it anyway.
#51 - Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
Rounding off the top half of my list is the insanely, delightfully overpowered
Mercedes SL65 AMG. I have driven this engine bolted into a huge 4-door S-Class, and it went like nobody’s business. I can only imagine the speed this thing achieves. Side note: this individual SL65 was mentioned in one of Doug DeMuro’s old articles chronicling every car in the U.S. with the license plate number “V12".
#50 - Range Rover Sport SVR
Bringing us into the bottom half of my countdown we have one of my favorite performance SUVs, the Range Rover Sport SVR. I love the color on this one, the blue matches nicely with all the blacked-out bits and the two-tone interior. It may not be quite as fast as a Cayenne Turbo S, but it makes up for it with a much better presence and a higher exclusivity factor.
#49 - Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Convertible
It may be called the Ninety-Eight, but on a list of the 100 coolest cars this big ‘vert manages to cut that number in half. The wire rims, white walls, and sheer enormity of the thing all scream “cruise”. Which I suppose is an appropriate thing to do with this boat.
#48 - Volkswagen Phaeton
Even without the W12, even with the weird wheels, and even given how shitty this picture is, the Phaeton is still one of my favorite luxobarges. I love how rare and obscure it is, and how few people know what it is. My friend who was with me when I took this was certainly confused. Even with the anonymity and the repair bills, a Phaeton W12 is on my list of attainable dream cars.
#47 - Nash Metropolitan
LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS!!!!!
#46 - BMW M Coupe
When oddity meets M Car, I’m powerless to resist. This strange BMW coupe-hatch is beloved by enthusiasts, but most people, if they notice it at all, just think it looks goofy and phallic. Still, if you want a sporty car with a fixed roof, and need extra room for stuff rather than people, the M coupe adds a veneer of practicality to what is otherwise a form of pure entertainment.
#45 - Range Rover Classic County LWB
Quite possibly the classiest SUV ever made, the original Range Rover looks particularly dignified as seen here in extra plush County LWB form, complete with traditional olive green paint over tan seats. Foxhound and tweed coat not included.
#44 - Audi RS4
As much as I like the S4 Avant further up the list, I’d gladly trade that longroof body for LOTS MORE POWER, which is exactly what the RS4 offers. And unlike its competitors, Quattro all-wheel drive means you can drive the RS4 year-round.
#43 - MG Midget
Ok, so it’s not quite as cute as a Bugeye Sprite, but it’s damn close. In fact, Midget was just a re-badged Sprite, albeit post-Bugeye. This MkIII features a 65 horsepower I4, which, hysterically, was actually de-tuned from its original 76 horsepower in the Mini Cooper S. Also, note the 3 windshield wipers. Slick.
#42 - Maserati GranSport
The Maserati GranSport was Maserati taking the rather lackluster and unimaginatively named Coupé and making it into what it should’ve been to begin with. 400 horsepower along with new suspension, a reworked, transmission, and a host of other modifications made the GranSport both grand and sporty. As a young kid, one of my friend’s dad’s had one of these (though it was long enough ago that it may just have been a Coupé). Between that one and this one I honestly haven’t seen many of these outside of the occasional Cars & Coffee.
#41 - Cadillac Sedan deVille
We passed this ‘56 deVille cruising down I-80 at close to 70mph with four people in it, being used as though it was just a normal car. Though it may have been the entry level Cadillac back in the day, even a deVille was a sign you’d made it. The signature tail fins may not have reached full size by ‘56, but they are still one of many outrageous styling cues that make this Caddy so cool.
#40 - Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The 4C Spider is the spiritual successor to my own humble Spider S4, but it’s amazing what a difference a few decades makes. Carbon Fiber, a turbocharged engine, ultra quick and communicative non-power steering, and a gorgeous ultralight construction make this one of the great contemporary sports car. Also, those wheels.
#39 - BMW Z4 M Coupe
The successor to the green clownshoe at #46, the Z4 M Coupe wins extra favor with me by being faster, more modern, and much prettier.
#38 - MG TF
Forget the E-Type, this may be the most British sports car ever to British. Just look at it! It even has coach doors!
#37 - Saab 9-4x
With just over 600 examples produced, this GM-based crossover is rarer than all but the most exclusive supercars. You could even get one with a 300 horsepower turbocharged V6 that also found its way into some examples of the Saab’s sister, the Cadillac SRX. It’s amazing that two cars which shared so much could be so far apart on the “interesting” spectrum.
#36 - Ferrari F12berlinetta (with bonus BMW i8)
I wasn’t going to include either of these two in this album since both appeared last year, but this was too cool of a juxtaposition to pass up. As it sits the F12 is, unless I’m quite mistaken, both the most powerful and most expensive car on this list. And that’s not even enough to make it the coolest Ferrari. I’d still drive one though, believe it or not.
#35/34 (tie) - Lincoln Continental Mark III and Cadillac Coupe DeVille
These two were just so damn similar I couldn’t pick. The square, slab-sided, smoothie-wearing Lincoln and the mile-long pimpmobile that is the Coupe DeVille are going to be listed as equals in this countdown, meaning that Ford and GM fanboys will have to pick other spots on the list to squabble over.
#33 - Porsche 914
I spoke to the owner of this beautifully restored Porsche. His daily driver is an M3, but he loves the nice days where he gets to take the top off this little green wonder and really have some fun. It may be odd looking, but you can’t help but want one.
#32 - AMC Pacer Wagon
Speaking of odd looking cars from the 70's you can’t help but want, this Pacer wagon may not be the classic “fishbowl” hatchback, but it is nevertheless as charmingly dorky as they come, complete with fake wood trim. The condition of this car was right on the edge of what I would imagine was restored and what could be, just maybe, a survivor.
#31 - Jeep Wagoneer
Sticking within the AMC family, this fully restored Wagoneer was truly a sight to behold down in Omaha’s Old Market district. It’s an extremely cool car, without a doubt, but in order to make it into the top ten, it would need to be a bit...grander.
#30 - Triumph TR4
Last year while exploring downtown Des Moines with some friends, I came across a tidy white Triumph TR3. This TR4 was the natural progression. I love the lines, the subtle fins and huge headlights, and the little “Overdrive” badge on the back.
#29 - BMW Z8
From an old school sports car to one that’s designed to hearken back to that same era. The BMW Z8 was designed as a tribute to the achingly pretty 507, and while it may not have been a very successful sports car, the low production numbers and sexy throwback looks mean that this cars have only appreciated in value.
#28 - BMW 2002
What’s cooler than a new BMW meant to look old? How about an old BMW? I saw this early 2002 street parked late at night outside a laundromat in a college town. I really hope it was a student who owned it. Seeing people my age with a passion for cars, especially classics, gives me hope.
#27 - Peugeot 404 Estate
My only spot from abroad this year, this classic Peugeot wagon may have been styled by Pininfarina, but it still came from a time when Peugeots were famously robust. Had I spotted it in America, it would probably be higher up the list, but Peugeot is still sold new in Israel, so it wasn’t quite as big of a surprise to see one there.
#26 - Dodge Monaco Coupe
While others dream of Charger R/Ts and Challenger T/As, I like the sort of old cars that better represent what normal people actually drive. This Monaco certainly represents that, with enough style to be desirable yet still affordable enough to be attainable, both today and when it was new.
#25 - Saab 900 Turbo
I virtually never see old first gen 900s in good shape, and it’s even more rare to see a Turbo. I actually saw a black 1988 900 SPG a week or so after I took this picture, but I didn’t get a picture of that, so the Turbo it is. I’ve actually seen this 900 in traffic as well, and have exchanged a knowing Saab owner wave with the driver. It’s the little things.
#24 - Nissan Skyline (R32)
Every JDM fanboy in the U.S. dreams of importing a Skyline GT-R, and the R32 Skyline is now old enough to be brought here. The thing people forget is, the GT-R is the top model of the Skyline lineup, which also consists of more normal cars like this sedan, which depending on the trims is likely packing less than 200hp. To most passers-by, this is a normal car with the steering wheel on the wrong side, and I love that someone bothered to bring it over. Hopefully it gets left stock.
#23 - International Harvester Scout
Back before SUVs were really a thing, there was the International Scout, a truly sparse off road vehicle designed for both hard work and rough backwoods adventuring. Not even a convertible top came with this one: you either attached the removable hard top, or you left it at home and hoped the weather stayed good. And just look at it! The body is literally just a rectangle with some cutouts for the wheel wells and a windshield sticking up. Simple, but it works.
#22 - Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT
Thing of the Vantage GT as the Vantage Enthusiast Pack. It started at just under a hundred grand and was purely focused on the experience of driving the thing. I was actually celebrating my birthday with dinner at an excellent Brazilian restaurant, when the waitress raised the blinds revealing this parked across the street. I immediately excused myself and crossed over to take a look. Totally worth it.
#21 - Volkswagen Type 3 Fastback
This car may be peak hipster. It’s very clearly a daily driver, with cloth covers on all the seats and a pine tree air freshener dangling from the mirror. Mild rust present on the blue paint and that roof rack round out the charming appearance of this Type 3. It was parked at Whole Foods, because of course it was.
#20 - Cadillac Series 62 Convertible
A big, classic Cadillac convertible is the ultimate form of cruiser. One of the advantages of this car over, say, a ‘59 El Dorado, is that unlike the six-figure ‘59 convertible, this one is “cheap” enough to drive to a baseball game and leave parked with the top down, as seen here.
#19 - Lamborghini Huracán Performante
Take everything I said about the silver Huracán, and add quite a bit of power, other go-fast bits including reworked suspension and some carbon fiber aero, lighten it, and off you go. I especially love the pearl white paint paired with the bronze wheels and the tricolore trim.
#18 Ferrari F430 Scuderia
I can’t put my finger on why I found this Scud cooler than the more powerful, more expensive Lamborghini above it. Maybe it was the fact that the Ferrari wasn’t just the newest and flashiest car, but probably something the owner actually bought for what it was. Maybe it was because I have fond memories of the Scuderia; it came out in 2008 when I was an impressionable 10 year-old. Oh well, I make the rules here, don’t question me.
#17 - Aston Martin DB11 V12
Talk about presence. I initially thought the DB11 was not quite as good-looking as the DB9 it replaced. Seeing this one in person caused me to change my mind. It’s a truly stunning car with the proportions and understated elegance that define Aston Martin.
#16 - Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (993)
I’m a huge fan of the 993 generation of the Porsche 911, and this wider-bodied 4S is one of the rarer 993s. I saw it circling the area of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza looking for a parking space, and I myself waited until it docked and then headed over to take a look. It was well worth while.
#15 - Tesla Roadster
Tesla, with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3, is likely the most talked-about car brand of the moment. Now, Tesla has announced that they’re bringing back the Roadster name, with a preposterously fast hypercar. I say “bringing back”, but nobody really remembers the original Roadster, Tesla’s Lotus-based first product. That made seeing this one, with the knowledge of what Tesla has since become, all the more special.
#14 Porsche 911T Targa
As much as I like all the 911s that have come since, there will never be another one as cool as the 911 Classic, particularly the Targa. This car actually ended up belonging to a professor at my university. He gave my a ride in it before agreeing to sponsor a car club on campus. I didn’t know any of that when I first saw the car. All I knew was that it was insanely cool and I wanted it.
#13 - Acura NSX
Wow. I was not ready for how radical this car was in person. I actually saw my first new NSX almost exactly a year ago, mere days after I assumed I was done with spotting for the year and published my 2016 photo dump. With that in mind, who knows what I’ll see in the wild between now and Jan. 1? Fingers crossed for a new Ford GT.
#12 - Ferrari 550 Maranello
This is the only time this year I’ve been a passenger and had to ask someone else to chase down a car for me. Specifically, I was riding shotgun in my old LX470 with my dad at the wheel, waiting at a red light when this Ferrari crossed our bow. I asked him, very nicely, to try and catch it. This request would’ve been damn near impossible to fulfill had the 550 not pulled into a parking lot almost immediately. The couple in it were very cool, waving and returning my thumbs up when I took their picture (yes, I am that creepy).
#11 - Pre-production Mercedes-Benz E63s AMG (possibly Black model)
I was sitting in a grocery store parking lot in Idaho Springs when the van in front of me drove off, revealing a camo-clad Mercedes AMG wagon doing some high-altitude testing. The engineers driving it were either too absorbed in their notes and computers to notice me circling the car, or they’re just used to it. Seeing a cool car is exciting. Seeing a camouflaged tester is also neat. Seeing a fully-wrapped tester for a car that should be absolutely amazing is a total thrill.
#10 - Ford Thunderbird
Kicking of the top 10 is a car which, for me, is absolutely iconic. Before they messed things up a bit with the facelift in ‘57, the first-generation Thunderbird was a car that truly combined sportiness and elegance in a way that few American cars had up to that point. It was one of the first classic cars I longed for as a kid, and that hasn’t changed a bit since, especially after seeing this beauty.
#9 - Mercedes-Benz 280SL
The first of three Mercedes-Benz cars in my top 10, this green-over-butterscotch “Pagoda” SL might’ve made it further down the list; however it was parked within a few blocks of an enormous car show, meaning that calling it a spot is borderline cheating. Oh well, it’s one of my favorite cars I’ve seen this year, and it wasn’t tecnically in the show, so here it is.
#8 - Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS-6
While I tend to shy away from the semi-cliche muscle cars like the Chevelle, there can be no denying that seeing the absolute pinnacle of a legendary model is something fairly special. Packing 450 horsepower and 500 lb/ft of torque from its 454 Big Block, the LS6 Chevelle SS wasn’t just the peak of the Chevelle name; it was and is generally considered to be one of the most formidable muscle cars of all time. Ones like this one, which was immaculately restored, can easily bring six figures.
#7 - Jeep Grand Wagoneer
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer makes the top 10 because it’s my favorite SUV of all time, and one of the only truly classless vehicles in existence. This one appeared to have been nut-and-bolt restored, and it certainly looks like the work of the famous Wagonmaster, who sells top-dollar restored Jeeps that are ready for a summer cottage in the Hamptons. I could be wrong about this, but the only other place I’ve seen that subtle pinstripe on the hood of a Grand Wagoneer is on cars in their inventory.
#6 - Nissan Figaro
This imported, right hand drive retro-convertible is one of a series made in the late 80s/early 90's by Nissan, along with the S-Cargo, Pao, and Be-1. It belongs to an employee at the Lauritzen Botanical Gardens, which seems very fitting.
#5 Citroen 2CV6
Here’s a car that would be noting special is seen abroad, but was a rare treat to see street parked in Kansas City. The 2CV was France’s people’s car for decades, but it didn’t ever sell in vast numbers in North America. I’m not sure whether this one was originally sold here or imported later on, but either way, it’s a delightful looking oddball that you just don’t see here. This is the only one of these cars I’ve ever seen in the wild.
#4 - Lincoln Continental Convertible
In terms of cars that aren’t too valuable to be driven, it’s hard to get much cooler than a 60's Lincoln Continental convertible. The suicide doors, and definitive long, low, flat look means that it’s hard not to look like a badass in one of these. Bonus points for being painted black. The Continental convertible has a spot in my dream garage as one of the ultimate cruisers.
#3 - BMW M3 (E30)
The compact sports sedan that arguably started it all, the E30 M3 today is a valuable collector car, already a classic depite not being that old. At the time, it was just a four-seat rocket ship for the road or track. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one out in the wild, let along in the parking lot of an office building. Needless to say it was parked out on the fringes. I saw the signature wing from quite a ways off and thought “No way, someone must’ve just glued that on a normal E30.” Nope.
#2 Mercedes-Benz 220 Saloon
The oldest Mercedes I’ve ever seen in the wild, this 220 was far smaller than it looks, but still manages to look like the sort of car a head of state would be driven in. It even has a full-length cloth sunroof to wave out of. Parked alongside the M-Classes that frequent this country club makes this old Mercedes seem all that much more special.
#1 - Mercedes-Benz 280SE convertible
Well, I said there were going to be three Mercedes cars in the top ten, and there had only been two so far, so you had to know a Merc was going to be at number one. Even though it wasn’t one of the later, more desirable 3.5 models, this stunning 280 convertible still seemed to me like the perfect car for the sunny, 70° fall day on which I took this picture. I would happily drive this car across the country provided the weather was good enough. The 280SE convertible has always been one of my dream cars, and seeing one in its natural habitat for the first time made it my favorite spot of 2017.
I will most likely make use of the new “Slideshow” feature on Kinja and do a separate post later on with all these pictures in a slideshow for those who didn’t feel like endlessly scrolling through my driveling comments. Let me know your thoughts and favorites!
Links to Past Year-End Picture Dumps