I was thinking the other day, I’ve owned a lot of cars. Some of them were good cars, some weren’t good cars, a few were bad cars. But it seemed that making a list of the best of the best would be a worthwhile thing, so here’s that list. These cars aren’t ranked in any consistent way. Some will be on the list because they were fun, some because I made money on them, some because they were reliable. But I’m ranking them anyway with absolutely no scoring system. Here we go, starting with number 10:
10. 1990 Eagle Talon TSI AWD
This might still be the fastest car I’ve ever owned, at least until the battery died. See, it had a piggyback ECU on it that was apparently used to lean out the injectors that the ECU proper was never programmed for. That aside, the thing flew, and was actually relatively reliable. It was also a shockingly modern feeling car. By today’s standards, this would be the nicest Talon you’d see in any given year...I paid $3000 for it and made a few dollars, but not a ton. Cool car.
9. 1995 Pontiac Trans Am
This one had t-tops and a six speed, with tan leather interior. 130kish miles, I bought it from a NH used car dealer who sold it cheap ($3000) because the engine was misfiring and he didn’t want to do anything to it. It turned out to be a melted spark plug wire...if you’ve ever owned an LT1 F-body, you know the plugs are zero fun to do, so I wasn’t shocked when I found 5 Bosch plugs, two Champions, and a Delco in there. Once I got the plugs and wires done it ran like a champ. I sold it for $5200 or so, my first decent sized profit on a car.
8. 1991 Ford Mustang LX
I had previously owned a few Foxes, but this is still the nicest one I’ve had. Granted, I paid all the money for it (at the time, that meant $6k for a 91k mile gorgeous hatch like this one), but still...look at the damn thing. It had a Trick Flow intake, GT40 heads, 3.77 gears, subframe connectors, and a bunch more stuff. I don’t think I owned it for very long, because I traded it for number 7 on our list.
7. 1996 Ford F-250 XLT Diesel
Well, there it is. The nicest OBS regular cab F-250 you’ve ever god damn seen. The truck had 250k miles, and it may as well have been 250 miles because this truck was MINT. It had a Banks Stinger kit on it, and was legitimately quick on the highway. Everything on it was top notch. I traded the ‘91 Mustang straight up for it, and sold the truck for $8000...now it’s probably a $13-15k truck, so fuck me, but it was good money at the time.
6. 1990 (1991?) Jeep Wrangler Sahara
This one saved my ass. I can’t remember what vehicle I owned before it, but I had just lost a shit ton of money on something (probably a Dodge Daytona, because again, fuck me) and this thing showed up on CL for $1000. I went and looked at it, it ran and drove mint aside from a sticking brake caliper. 4.2L with a 5 speed, not a spot of rust on it, all the stitching on the top dry rotted so I had a guy resew it for $50. I drove this one all summer, left the top down for weeks at a time, and sold it before the winter for $2300. I don’t remember what I bought next, but it wasn’t as good as this.
5. 1988 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z
This is the first car I ever owned for more than a year, and it was the longest tenured car right up until #1 on this list. It was a 305 TPI with a 5 speed, t-tops, 3.08 gears and power nothing. Crank windows, no a/c...a nice Alpine radio though. This is the car I did all my dumb-shit-kid stuff in, and the car I was driving when I asked out my first girlfriend, so its kinda special I guess. I would probably hate it today now that I’m old.
4. 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
Selling this car is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever done. I mean look at it! I bought it for $800, running and driving, with a MINT black vinyl interior. A little rust on the outside, but more like patina than anything. Repaired floorboards, and who the hell cares because look at it! I sold this one for $2300, but the car I should have sold instead is #3 on our list.
3. 1984 Jaguar XJ12 Sovereign
The Jag is the nicest car I’ve ever owned, or maybe ever will. My late grandfather sold it to me for $2000 about a year before he passed away, and when I finally made the decision to sell it, it brought enough money to do some repairs to our house and build a nursery before my son Sebastian was born. This car should be in a museum somewhere...its a german market Sovereign (rather than a Canadian Van Den Plas), and is one of a handful in the country. I didn’t get to give it the attention it deserved, but its with a real v12 Jaguar expert now, so I’m happy enough with that.
2. 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser
This big, sexy lump of metal. This is the first vehicle I’ve owned in a long time with a legitimate chance to unseat the #1 car on the list. It doesn’t have to do a ton, it just has to continue to be itself and it’ll get there. I love this truck, I love looking at it, I love driving it, I love that it’s got plenty of space for my son’s car seat, and I love that it’s the perfect car for the oncoming zombie apocalypse. And find me a less rusty FZJ80 in Rhode Island, you can’t. This truck is excellent.
1. 2001 Audi allroad quattro.
There we go, the best car I’ve ever owned and its a damn allroad. For four years and 60k miles, this thing was the absolute tits. It was smooth, fast, handled well, carried plenty of stuff, and shocker of shockers: it was RELIABLE. It was a 2.7T with a 6 speed, and everything worked. Right up until it didn’t.
I was heading to pick up my wife from work when the battery light (alternator light, really) came on and my voltage started dropping. I ducked off the highway and started driving home...I shut off all the lights, HVAC, and radio, but I couldn’t make the air suspension stop trying to inflate. It was torture, sitting at red lights half a mile from my house, hearing the compressor ticking over at half speed, the needle dropping continuously. A quarter of a mile out the car started to sputter.
My house is in sight, I try to pick up speed in case it dies, but the car isn’t having it. I turn into my driveway and as I come to a stop, the engine dies. Even when breaking down, the allroad always took care of me. I replaced the alternator...and did the timing belt while I was in there, but I didn’t want to deal with the upcoming repairs (leaking airbags and dead compressor, electrical gremlins), so I put it on eBay.
My reserve was $1500. The car sold for $3300. Apparently even while selling it, the allroad took care of me. If I won the lottery, I’d go find that car and even if it was a shell in a junk yard I’d bring it to the Audi dealer, leave a blank check, and say “fix it”.
So there you go, my top 10 cars. Tomorrow I’ll do my bottom 5, because failure is more interesting than success.