Valentine’s Day is here, love is in the air, and in this story, I thought I’d share a short series of automotive love stories with you — including my first love, my weirdest crush, some memorable flings, and exactly which car I fell so head-over-heels in love with that I’m now a two-time owner.
My first automotive love was a little red Porsche 911. One of my very earliest memories is playing with a wind-up toy car, a little red 911, with my grandmother in her hallway. You might say I fell in love with the little red 911 before I was even good at walking.
Some years later, I had the chance to spend a few thousand kilometers in various 911 GT3 models on both the road and race-track. Since then, hardly a week goes by where it’s not on my mind. She’s charming, flattering, eager, and curvaceous. From behind? How’s about 500 horsepower sent to the rear wheels, with drivers in full control via what’s probably the fastest automated transmission on the road today?
Driven hard, this thing has sharper claws than your ex, and that screamer engine in the back supplies boatloads of revs and makes a noise that’ll set your loins ablaze. And while she’s built for punishment on a racetrack setting, a 911 GT3 doesn’t need to be your side-fling: this one’s just fine for daily driving if you like, meaning there’s ample opportunity for quality time together.
A performance car is designed to put on a show for its driver — with sights, sounds, and sensations that create lasting memories. In that context, the 911 GT3 is one of the best performance cars to ever get my heart racing.
If you’re looking for lust in the used-car listings, a used 911 GT3 at a few years old can still run you $150,000 or more, and that’s if you can find one. These are rare and pricey — a love affair that might be a dream for most.
My next love story represents a more-attainable alternative — something similarly thrilling, but not as hard-to-get. If a 911 GT3 seems about two seats, two driven wheels and about a hundred grand away from reality, a second-hand Audi RS5 might be just the ticket.
I became hopelessly smitten with this machine in early 2013, after spending a weekend at the wheel in blizzard conditions. If you’re a hot-blooded enthusiast with a throbbing right foot, you’ll fall in love hard and fast: with 450 horsepower, lightning-speed paddle shifting, an 8,500-rpm V8 engine, and Quattro AWD so you can have your way with all of the above, regardless of the weather. This was one of the all-time best winter driving dance partners I’ve ever had, and a machine expert at making quick and entertaining work of even the nastiest winter drives.
Both on the surface and beneath the skin, the Audi RS5 is one of those cars that really expresses mankind’s love of the performance automobile. In 2013, this was a roughly $95,000 car. Today, you can find used copies for less than half that amount, all day long. For some, that makes starting a new love affair a potential reality. The memories I made during a weekend at the wheel in blizzard conditions with this car make it probably my biggest winter-driving crush of all time.
But there’s still just one machine I fell so madly in love with that I’ve now had two of them in my own garage.
The Volvo V60 Polestar wagon? Nope — even if this is one of my most notable winter-driving love affairs, and a track-tuned wagon that I’d still love to have. The Acura TL? Negative. This one’s my my weirdest crush, but the TL represents the first time I ever drove a luxury sedan that connected modern-day touches with a beautiful Honda VTEC V6 engine — something I obsessed about as a young enthusiast and Honda fanatic. A glance at an old photo album of me and one AWD-equipped TL with a rare six-speed manual transmission saw many fond motoring memories flood back to mind.
But the automotive love of my life comes not from Germany or Japan, but Detroit.
From the moment the Dodge Viper materialized into existence, my parents had few waking hours free of hearing everything about it when I was a teenager.
Nothing on four wheels has so many miles on my mind, or under my skin, giving me goosebumps. Maybe it was the looks, the mystique, the ridiculous V-10 engine, or the way Jim Scoutten’s voice used to go to this other level of excitement whenever he drove one on MotorTrend TV when I was a kid. In any case, this snake bit me early, and hard.
In 2013, I bought a 2000 Viper GTS and drove it as often as possible for five years, both on the road, and during weekend lapping events. My high-mileage snake handled it all with little more hassle than a new clutch and some brake pads. As relationships sometimes do, this one got old. So the 2000 GTS made a great trade-in on a younger model: a 2008 SRT-10 that’s still in my stable today.
This is a more affordable love affair than you might think, too.
Viper number one was named “Bubbles.” She was a high-mileage unit that was impeccably maintained — both before and during my ownership of it. I paid $40,000 for this machine, drove it as daily as I could for about five years, and then accepted $30,000 as a trade-in when it came time to upgrade. Do the math, and that’s about $2,000 per year — which I find a reasonable fee to own one’s dream car.
When I trade Viper number two in for Viper number three some day, I’d expect similar results. Just budget for a fairly hefty fuel bill. Viper is a beautiful machine, but she loves to drink, and prefers the expensive high-test.
The moral of these love stories? If you’re looking to find a new love on the internet, head to those used-car listings and follow you dreams. You never know what you’ll find.