It’s the end of 2016, and because my job entails active as ample a array of cars as I can possibly charge my ass into over the advance of the year, I’m absolutely the affectionate of being who’s set up to accomplish one of those “Best Cars of the Year” lists. Which is absolutely what I’ve done. But this presents a bit of a botheration for me, aback fundamentally, I don’t like the chat “best” as it applies to cars.
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This is a decidedly annoying pet annoyance to have, aback I accept a lot of emails from nice bodies allurement which car is best in a accurate category, or which car is best for their bulk point, or the best difficult catechism of all—what is the best car I’ve anytime driven?
The acknowledgment to that aftermost one is the McLaren F1, in case you were wondering, but cogent that to addition is hardly applied purchasing advice.
The alone way I can allocution about the best of annihilation is to address a huge abnegation about how this absolute commodity is my own claimed aftertaste and your acquaintance may vary, and blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. I’ve additionally disconnected it into some basal categories accoutrement appealing abundant all 250 cars I collection in 2016, aback the best car on a clue apparently won’t be the best car to use every day, unless you’re a crammer for punishment—like this apprehensive author, as it turns out, absolutely is. So, afterwards added ado, here’s a agglomeration of the best (and a brace of the worst) cars I collection in 2016.
Vintage Benz is cool hot adapted now, and while the 4.3L V8 was the bigger agent AMG gave us in the US bazaar adaptation of the W202 bearing C-Class, added markets got the bigger 5.5L V8 begin in the abreast E55 sedan. The buyer of this C43, Alexander Paul, swapped in a complete E55 driveline, an OEM swap, added a basal Bilstein/H&R abeyance bureaucracy on Monoblock wheels, and now he’s got a 3,400 lb auto authoritative 350 application and 400 lb/ft in archetypal style, with a beef car soundtrack.
OK, Mercedes has bankrupt up this year in the Daily Driver category, but for acceptable reason. The S63 is fast, fun to drive in any anatomy style, and has the best seats of any car I’ve anytime driven. If you’ve got the means, and your drive is your escape from the blow of the world, you cannot do bigger than the S63 Cab. It’s a nuclear-reactor powered spa with an anytime alteration view.
Sure, you could have a cast new AMG or M car for what it apparently took to about-face this $1,200 genitalia Jaguar into the masterpiece it is now—but if you could, wouldn’t you do it too? Buyer Karl Muth, who attended the Lotus 125 acquirement party, commissioned the anatomy “because he sometimes needs to drive audience around,” which is as acceptable an alibi as any to anatomy a 525-horsepower, long-wheelbase Jag with a gated chiral transmission. Honestly, this affair could accept been absurd if it was done at a 7 out of 10 akin of finish, but Karl’s Jag is an 11, with custom badging, Aston-Martin appearance axle aperture handles, custom burled birr and bezel about a RacePak barometer cluster, and a full-custom covering and suede autogenous with diamond-stitched bench inserts. This Jag is the absolute deal.
This one was a boxy alarm amid Flyin’ Miata’s amazing 525-horsepower Miata and Limitless Motorworks’ bonkers Coyote-Swapped Cayman. Ultimately, either car would be able-bodied into the “Matt Farah Approved” way to bake 75-large, but the aberration amid “very good” and “best” aback we’re talking about a shop-built car has to come bottomward to the akin of fit and accomplishment of the anatomy – to me this is actual important, aback the shop’s anatomy is a absorption of what a chump should apprehend in their own build. Flyin’ Miata’s car is abnormally absorbing accustomed that it’s based on the current, new bearing car and all the car’s accent systems, gauges, radio and air conditioning, keyless entry, and more, all work. Functionally, the car is no beneath attainable than a accepted MX5, while packing about amateur the application of the car on which it’s based. Expensive? Sure, at $50,000 additional a donor ND Miata, it’s not cheap, but it’s got a bigger power-to-weight arrangement than a new Corvette Z06 in a amalgamation that retains the Miata’s antic character.
Honorable Mention: BBI Autosport’s Porsche 997 Turbo which took aboriginal abode in our /TUNED Tuner Car Shootout.
The BMW E30 is absolutely a adorable car to drive; aloof avant-garde abundant to accept real, absolute inputs, and old abundant to acknowledge how ablaze and absolute cars acclimated to be. And while the M3 Variant climbs rapidly against the six-figure mark alike for ratty, aerial breadth examples, if you absolutely appetite to go quick, the M3 isn’t the one you appetite anyway. For beneath $20,000 this E30 Coupe now packs the abundant larger S54 Inline Six from the E46 M3, a six-speed gearbox, and anatomic drive-by-wire with a alive action mode. The car is light, abundantly absolute in every way, and very, actual fast. This is one of a actual baby scattering of cars I’ve offered to buy on the atom afterwards active them, and one day I may aloof accept to anatomy one.
Honorable Mention: Joseph Pezeshkian’s arresting ‘FD’ RX7 – the best rotary car I’ve apprenticed and absolutely acme for the marque.
It would be attainable for me to accord this to myself, aback I do own a agnate car (for now) but this one goes to TST fan Travis Osborne who denticulate addition else’s activity C5 Corvette for aloof beneath $20,000. With the beyond LS3 swapped in alongside a Z06 gearbox, coilovers and swaybars, and a parts account absolutely pages long, this C5 is attainable to go. It alike came with an big-ticket set of HRE’s already installed. Travis got himself a abundant score, a able platform, and now has a 550-horsepower monster of a C5 that, with acceptable tires, could calmly be one of the fastest cars at any clue day in the country, for beneath $20,000.
This video will be added memorable to approved TST admirers than most, because of the best agog buyer I’ve anytime had on the show. George, the buyer of this accurate Corolla, is absolutely incredible, and the best acumen I can anticipate of to watch this video. Nevertheless, I got accomplished on Toyota’s biscuit super-sleeper of a decade back. The Corolla XRS, accurately with a chiral transmission, could be the best car for a jailbait that there is, if you can acquisition one. With the 8,200-RPM 2ZZ-GE four-cylinder agent bigger accepted as the affection of the Lotus Elise, a notchy, absolute gearbox, abundant inputs, and a sport-tuned abeyance (no, I swear, really), the Corolla XRS and its auto cousin, the Matrix XRS, are airy on the road, but their drivers will be animated aloof like George, because they apperceive article special. This car is a goddamn anarchism to drive. It revs endlessly, is a joy to steer, to row gears, and to angle on the brakes into a corner. You could apparently drive it like you abhorrence its audacity for a dozen years and it would booty it with simple oil changes.
I collection the GT350R for the big /DRIVE Group Test beforehand this year on clue at Thunderhill. In fact, I aboriginal collection the Dodge Viper ACR, with its “Extreme Aero” amalgamation and those fender slats removed for cool hardcore record-setting, pants shitting performance. Again I collection the Shelby, and it was a blow of relief. Whereas article like the Viper is abnormally focused – get as abounding clue annal as possible, an admirable ambition from any achievement manufacturer, I didn’t absolutely accept all that abundant fun active it compared to it’s lesser-equipped T/A sibling. The Shelby GT350R, on the added hand, ticks all the boxes for me. Grip? Check – with 305’s in the front, 315’s in the rear, alluring shocks, and carbon cilia wheels, it sticks like a bitch. Power? Check – 526 of them, and a redline for days, with a soundtrack that will accomplish you the backbiting of any clue day. Fast, affectionate to drive at the limit, talkative, and attainable as a absolute car (tick the air conditioning box, it’s 2017 about for God’s account and you aren’t Tommy Kendall), the GT350R does it for me. I did a clue day and 1,500 alley afar in six canicule on the columnist car, again offered to buy it rather than accord it back, and was arbitrarily refused. But that action stands, and if addition Ford will advertise me a GT350R for sticker price, I’ll buy one adapted now.
That “personal preference” abnegation I fabricated aback in the alpha absolutely applies actuality because candidly folks, today’s supercars are all bedrock stars. I collection the Lamborghini Huracan coupe and Spyder, the McLaren 675LT and 570S, the Aventador SV, Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, Ferrari California T, the brutally fast Audi R8, and the 488’s, and seriously, the achievement attainable from all these cars in reliable, attainable bales is aloof crazy. But to me, the prettiest, the best usable, the best fun, the best use of your supercar dollar has to be the 488 Spider. Like the McLaren’s, it’s so fast that I’ve argued you should charge a adapted authorization to buy one. Clashing the McLaren’s, its not a cephalalgia to use every day – it has accustomed doors, a hasty bulk of allowance in the cockpit and on the bindle shelf abaft the seats, and it’s “bumpy road” program, attainable with a quick tap of a button on the wheel, turns the ride into article artlessly abstract in the city. It embarrasses best six-figure action sedans in ride quality; I can’t accept article with such aerial levels of achievement can be, simultaneously, so bendable and usable. It’s expensive, yes, but new Ferrari buying comes with a able believability almanac with the 458, abundant of which carries over, and a decidedly long, 7-year, absolute mile assurance with able resale on the aback end. If I had the banknote for a 488 Spider, I’d drive it every distinct day for half-a-dozen years and advertise it as anon as the new archetypal came out to bodies who couldn’t get one. That’s what I’d do.
Honorable Mention: Lotus Evora 400 – If you hoped the new, relaunched Acura NSX would be a little added like a avant-garde adaptation of the old Acura NSX, what you absolutely appetite is a Lotus Evora 400. No boldness to Acura, aback the new NSX seems to be absolutely the performer, and the few I’ve apparent on the artery so far attending fly as hell, but for a simpler, added authentic active acquaintance with surgical inputs, a symphonic soundtrack, and abundant abundance and amplitude for daily-driver detail, the Evora 400 is a awfully acceptable car if you’re accommodating to cycle the dice with the afflicted brand.
The Vanderhall Laguna: I don’t absolutely accept the point of article like the Vanderhall Laguna. It’s a trike, which is acutely article small-volume manufacturers are accomplishing to brim assurance regulations. I mean, why abroad would you accomplish article with three wheels? Isn’t four auto bigger on a car than three wheels? I can absolve the Morgan 3-Wheeler, aback they’ve been authoritative it aback the Teddy Roosevelt administration. The Morgan 3-Wheeler is fun, but that’s because it feels like aerial a adviser from Apple War I, with a big, board agriculturalist and its big-bore V-Twin. The Laguna has a Chevy Sonic agent and transmission, which agency clashing the Morgan (or Polaris Slingshot, or Campagna T-Rex), it’s front-wheel drive. And no aggregate of front-drive and automatic, no amount how accessible the headers, will anytime be any fun to drive. What’s absolutely sad about the Laguna is that some of the capacity – the leatherwork, the carbon cilia anatomy and interior, are absolutely absolutely exquisite, but aback akin to a Chevy Sonic and barometer cluster, it feels like a center project. Ultimately I see these things as $25/hour rentals in Daytona Beach.
Roush Stage 3 Mustang GT: This is now the additional time I’ve been acutely aghast by a Roush car, which is too bad, because their supercharger accouterments is excellent, and their cars consistently accomplish acceptable power. But it consistently seems like “power on paper” and never real, attainable power, backed up by adapted development and quality. Abnormally now, aback Ford’s own achievement analysis makes the GT350, and sells it for the aforementioned money. Things you acknowledge in the GT350, such as the buried feel, the solid about-face bond of the Tremec gearbox, the anatomy panels which are absolutely afflicted for aerodynamic purposes, are absent; replaced by bragging-rights akin ability levels, as continued as no one looks too abutting and notices the 3M Tape captivation on that “cowl hood.” To attending at the RS3 on paper, you’d apprehend a stupendously fast, attainable Mustang with a factory-finished feel, abnormally because these cars are awash through Ford’s own banker network. But what you get is a agglomeration of ammo credibility to blow about, but a amalgamation that feels imbalanced, cheap, and cheesy, afterwards the absorption to detail that article like the GT350 provides from the factory, area the ambition isn’t accepting the best power; it’s creating the best drivers car.
I don’t apperceive about you guys, but I absolutely enjoyed 2016. I collection a lot of abundant cars; I met a lot of abundant people; I saw some absolutely admirable places. And I couldn’t be added beholden for all the affective genitalia that accomplish that happen, from the beat agents at TheDrive, to the TangentVector aggregation that filmed me for TV this year, to the guys I do the Podcast with, and best importantly, all the bodies who accept lent me cars to drive, afterwards which, I’d accept no job at all. Thank you all, and abounding added afar to go in 2017 afore we sleep.
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