So perhaps this piece is long overdue. I mean, it is 2013 already. But I decided to take a look back at cars that were introduced in the new millennium. There were some great models — like the Honda S2000, the Audi A5, the Cadillac CTS and the Ford Fusion. Maybe another day we can cover those. But alas, today we’re going to look at models that should have never left the proverbial drawing board. Here is my list of the five models that should have never hit the streets.
The last time I wrote, I chose to take a bit of a nostalgic track, discussing three cars that, if I had my druthers, would not have died off in the ’90s. Evidently, I am not the only one who misses cars like the Honda Prelude either, since this month’s Automobile magazine features a bit on cars they want back. Right smack in the middle of the list was the Prelude. The hit counts also indicate that I may have hit a chord when focusing on that particular decade. Since I seem to be on a roll, I decided to milk this for a while.
For as great as the ’90s were as a transitional decade, successful transitions don’t happen without some… hiccups. The decade that gave us the Supra, the RX-7 and the 300ZX at their zenith, for instance, also gave us the dawn of the SUV craze. And for every Honda Civic or Nissan Maxima there seemed a spectral opposite from Ford or Chevy. Don’t get me wrong, though. Import manufacturers weren’t immune to making silly, ineffective or cheap cars either.
I guess the general gist I’m going for here is that though the ’90s were great in many ways, they also stunk in several others, automotively speaking. As a result, many names never made it to the next millennium. Here are three of the most egregious examples.
The ’90s were an interesting time for me as an automotive enthusiast. It was in 1996 that I first developed a more-than-passing interest in cars. It was in 1998 that I got my license, and it was in 1999 that I first drove a car that I could call mine.
But the ’90s were also a formative decade for the auto industry. Gone were the old ways of the ’80s – slow, heavy, dubiously-styled cars encumbered by emissions controls that no one really understood. Yet to come were the huge technological leaps that would make cars more than just transportation, but mobile computers nearly capable of driving themselves.
Every year around this time we find out what the best selling cars of the past year were and every year, we see the same thing. Americans, it seems, love two kinds of cars: big honking pickup trucks and bland, reliable sedans. America’s strange obsession with the pickup is fodder for another day, I think; it’s the cars that concern me right now. For the better part of 30 years, the Accord and Civic from Honda and the Camry and Corolla from Toyota have dominated the car segment of the top 1o. One would think that to achieve this, Honda and Toyota would have had to keep making these mainstays more intriguing to maintain public interest. Instead, they have steadily become more archetypal, more alike, more boring.
Nonetheless, Americans line up at dealers to spend anywhere from $15,000 to over $30,000 on these glorified appliances every year. I have to wonder, doesn’t anyone want to enjoy driving anymore? Surely there must be any number of cars out there that, for the same money would provide more fun, more class and more personality. I decided to look around and see what I could find.
I have been pondering this piece for quite a while now. As the cost of travel — well, the cost of everything, really — has gone up, more and more people I know have turned to the road trip for their journeys. This got me to thinking. Harry Truman believed his 1953 Chrysler New Yorker to be an ideal car for his post-presidential road trip. Thelma and Louise favored a ’66 T-Bird. Ferris Bueller jacked the Ferrari 250 belonging to his best friend’s father.
But what do normal, modern people take on road trips? When I asked on Facebook, I got a variety of answers from my friends. Some suggested sporty cars, while others seemed more interested in utility. What follows is a list of cars that includes many of their suggestions, along with my own carefully considered choices. I have decided to divide it up by category. Enjoy.
Fast sedans are a staple of American car culture. Indeed, there is an undeniable appeal in a car that is versatile, fast and stylish, all in the same package.
Americans aren’t the only ones that think so, though. I read this short feature from the Top Gear people this morning and it got me thinking. Most of the cars they mention are European-market models, not available in the U.S. Given America’s obsession with all things fast and big, it stood to reason that we must have some pretty decent examples of hot sedans as well.
In true Top Gear spirit, I decided to find out what options are out there for those of us looking to go fast and look good – on a budget.
The criteria for my search were simple: The car must have four doors, a manual transmission and be between $4999 and $9999 in asking price. Autotrader dutifully returned about 200 options fitting this description within 25 miles of my house. In sorting through all obligatory Hyundais, Civics, Corollas and Jettas, I found five gems. Each of them will get you where you’re going in a hurry, keep a smile on your face on twisting backroads and assure that whenever you arrive, you do so in style.
It’s a copycat world, I guess. Every self-respecting car magazine, it seems, has to periodically do a top-whatever (-5, -10, -50, -100, etc.) list of the best cars in whatever arbitrary category they have decided on for that month’s issue. That being the case, my own humble publication is clearly lagging behind. So what to do about that?
Back in 2008, on the 10th anniversary of the “immaculate reception” (otherwise known as the day I got my driver’s license), I wrote a large, all-encompassing piece on the top ten cars I had driven in those ten years. Some day, perhaps, that will find its way up here as a really long feature, or in parts. In the mean time, though, I need something a little smaller—not to mention easier to read.
I first tried to think about what my readers would like to read about. Then I remembered that I don’t really have any. And even if I did, what do I care what they want to read about? This is my blog, right? I don’t know who I’m expecting to agree or disagree there, since I literally just got done pointing out my lack of readership, so I’m going to go ahead and agree with myself. Right.
With that out of the way, I decided to simply contemplate what are the 5 best inexpensive used cars for car enthusiasts like me.
Here, loyal reader, is what I came up with: