Hooniverse Asks: What’s your guilty pleasure car?

A “guilty pleasure” car is a vehicle that you have an affinity for, but there’s no real reason for you to like it. It’s hard to defend this choice of transportation. Yet you don’t care. You enjoy it, and no one else need give a damn. Or maybe it’s the sort of vehicle you’re slightly embarrassed to tell others you enjoy. That certainly counts as a guilty pleasure mobile.

I do not, however, believe a Porsche 911 Targa 4S counts here. Chris Harris knows cars. He knows them quite well and he can drive the tires right off the alloys. He’s also a terrific presenter. This tweet here though? I don’t get it. It’s almost like he’s fucking with us on this one. And that could be possible.

That aside for now though, let’s get back to guilty pleasure cars. What’s yours? My own guilty pleasure craft is the Cadillac Escalade. This goes back to the prior generation version though, because the new one is actually good. Or better. Let’s go with better. The past Escalade has loads of plastic, wobbly interior bits, and a price tag to match a mis-perceived sense of self-satisfaction. Yet I adored spending time with the big lug. The V8 engine was powerful, the seats La-Z-Boy cozy, and the on-road sense of invincibility was real. You sit up high, look down upon others around you, and mash the throttle to surge through highway traffic.

Our own East Coast Editor Kamil Kaluski has a choice in the same vein; the Infiniti QX80. That’s a great choice, as it’s a pretty ugly machine, yet I’d love to dash from here to South America in one. It would be a joy the whole way down.

What is your guilty pleasure vehicle?

45 Comments

  1. The Smart Fortwo. The gas one, not electric. I know it’s an objectively terrible car that’s not good at anything except parking, but I was shocked at how much I enjoyed driving it, even with the automatic. I have a strong urge to put fat tires, a skid plate, rally lights, and straight pipes on a manual transmission one, and just be unbelievably obnoxious in the city.

  2. “tasteful” Bro-trucks (although really, is there such a thing?) I don’t mean the rolling coal jag-offs cruising around with ridiculous lifts with 24″ ‘rimz’ and truck nuts and chrome everything. But a nice little suspension lift, aftermarket wheels and some serious off-road tires – hellya.

    Impractical? pretty much. Less capable as an actual truck? You know it. But deep down, I’m still a 12 year old kid who thinks jacked up trucks look cool.
    https://www.readylift.com/media/catalog/product/cache/image/700×700/1cef22258bee6e6f90a137aa1d085b37/8/_/8_inch_super_duty_lift_kit_1100.jpg

  3. Full size pickups – I have absolutely no use for one, and no intention of buying one. Beyond the sheer fuel and acquisition cost, one would just barely fit in my spot, and there’s no way I’d be able to load a car seat in the back (I had a new Benz GLE for a night this week, and that was a squeeze even being a few inches narrower than an F-150). Plus, they are kind of pigs to drive unless you’re pointing it at the end of the longest, straightest highway in your general vicinity. But, on that big, long, straight road, they do have a ton of charm.

  4. I can’t really have a “guilty pleasure” car, because if I like something, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. Be it cars, clothes, hobbies, movies… I like hearing other peoples’ opinions, but the only one that ultimately really matters to me is mine.

  5. I have a perverse attraction to the Citroen Ami 8, although push come to shove I’d get a GSA because it’s objectively better and subjectively more attractive.

  6. How much time do you have?

    I love almost everything automotive aside from the automobile as appliance vehicles. Think 2000s Toyotas. Bland styling and bland performance.

    But the rest? Odd looking, odd driving, odd features, odd engineering? Bring ’em on.

    Vegas, Citroëns (pretty much all of them), Fuego, Saabs, Corvairs, Biturbos, Baretta GTZ, Citation X-11, Cavalier Z24, Escort EXP, Subaru SVX, Brat, XT6, Colt Twin Stick, C4 Corvette, Pacer, Gremlin, anything MD Harrell owns, etc. Yeah, I know some of those have a following, but not a 911 Targa sized one.

    My answer on Twitter was that I still kinda want another Chevy Monza and Nissan Pulsar NX SE even though I’ve already owned one of each and they were both crap.

    Sure, I’d still love a 911 Targa or a Corvette or a Camaro or a Mustang or an M3, but bring on the oddballs. They’re the ones that I’m likely to afford anyway.

    1. Oh, and beaters. There’s something very satisfying about a well worn, rough around the edges cheap transportation. My $1,400 Ranger or my daughter’s $1,700 Protege make me smile every time I drive them because they are still solid transportation, even though they cost less than 3 typical car payments.

      She just drove that Protege 5 hours round trip for a concert. I had no reservations. I often drove the Ranger 3.5 hours round trip to my company’s manufacturing facility with no issues.

      Fantastic.

    1. They already had an ‘s’ fall off the name before it even drove off the lot out of the advertisement

      1. I hadn’t even noticed the misspelling on the source image. I was too concerned about what was going on in the picture. I think the ladies are trying to get a good look at the driver because he is leaving a crime scene. He looks very guilty.

    2. My dad fell in love with the colonnade Cutlass when it came out in 1973. When he learned that 1977 was the last year and they were going to be downsized, Mom told him to go buy one so she didn’t have to listen to him complain about how he should have.

      I was 9 and remember going car shopping. We looked at the Regal just to say that he did, but the Cutlass was what he wanted. There was an Olds dealer about a mile from our house and he picked out a Manderin Orange Cutlass Supreme with the Light Buckskin interior (Dad told so many people those colors they are etched in my brain), landau top, side moldings and pin stripes. It had the rallye wheels and the 350 4bbl.

      It had a front bench seat and mom promised that she was going to sit in the middle right next to Dad. She did, for a while, until the novelty novelty wore off. Dad added an under dash tape deck on a slide mount so he could store it under the seat away from prying eyes. Otherwise it remained stock.

      He had a friend with a sharp silver with red Monte Carlo and another with a brown (I think) Grand Prix, but almost everyone had a colonnade car at that time. They were almost as common as F-150s today.

      I learned to drive on that Cutlass 7 years later and my sister did 2 years after that. He owned it into the 90s but Midwest salt had taken its toll.

      So,yeah, I have a real love for these too, although I prefer the more formal, upright nose and the formal roofline, probably because it’s what Dad bought.

      1. I always liked the twin “wrap-over” waterfall grilles that Olds used occasionally in their history. I think Olds started dividing their grilles in ’68, but the first one I recall bending back horizontally was on the ’73 Omega. The styling element disappeared in the 80s and then returned in the 90s.

        When we had our first child and I realized I needed a bigger car, I almost traded my Contour SVT for a used Cutlass Custom Cruiser wagon, but couldn’t negotiate a good deal on it. I regret instead going with a minivan, because the big GM wagons can be resto-modded into beastly cruisers.

        http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/1439/1421/3595710089_original.jpg?v=0

        1. I like that a lot, but the designer in me is twitching about the (mis-)alignment of those scoops and the grilles and the body color B & C pillars.

  7. Easy, The Mitsubishi Mirage Hatchback (5speed) . Despite the hate that is directed on this car, I really like the honesty of the car. NA 3 cylinder /port injected that is easy to service/ 15″ wheels, and a lot of options . and 10 year warranty for less than 10k out the door new. It is a perfect car for a new driver who wants a manual, easy upkeep, great mpg, a decent infortainment system, and easy footprint.

    Weirdly I like the Jeep Compass Rallye edition . I cannot rationally explain this.

  8. Ferrari 612 Scaglietti in what they called Grigio Ingrid that looks like gold to me. People called it the Scag, which is an insult. Awful F1 transmission and all because 6 speeds are rarer than hen’s teeth. A prime long distance cruiser that blends into any background and with maximal Ferrari-ness, which can be too much for any reasonable person.

    1. I’m surprised to say that I find that car pretty interesting. Are the cuts over the headlights actual cooling vents, or purely for styling? I like the pillar-less hardtop look, but it’s a shame it doesn’t have rear doors.

    2. How is your taxation when you bring in a car? Also, I’d love to chat with a Japanese original buyer of one of these. It’s impossible for that person to not be interesting.

      1. Pretty much just our ‘applies to everything’ GST, goods and services tax, of 15% + shipping + insurance. NZ$8000 inJapan ‘costs’ about $11000 landed.
        Something you take pot luck on is whether the previous owner was a heavy smoker. Smoking is still prevalent in Japan.

        1. That’s a good deal! We got our Leaf appliance at a 10-15% discount because it was a smoker’s car. A heavy UV session and a bit of cleaning has almost killed the awful smell off entirely.

      1. Many Citroën CX and XM owners have one if they have another car, I own a CX and a BX as well. The styling is much better resolved than the Vel Satis ‘sister’ car.

    3. Sadly, not enough of us thought that. But that has kept prices down.
      One of the only three cars that the ‘TopGear Three’ all liked, They agreed with you.

  9. 1991-’96 Buick Park Avenue. Yes, it’s front-drive GM boat from the Radwood Era and has most of the baggage that comes with that (dumpy driving dynamics, indifferent fit-and-finish, etc.), but they’re surprisingly economical, pretty reliable (particularly engine-wise) and, as far as I’m concerned, quite handsome.

    If I found a clean, fastidiously-maintained ’96 Ultra (the last year for this generation but the first with the L67 supercharged 3800 Series II) at a sensible price…man… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/991b5ca8783fc3a15b4f807103938c8f46c8e7c7768abd51ac4ebdae74ea36d3.jpg

    1. I loved them, as a kid in Europe, and still adore the styling. First time I saw one in real life though was a disappointment. Slammed together like a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.

  10. Regarding Chris Harris’s comments, I think he’s dead serious. I mean, it’s a targa. I like 911s as much as the next guy– especially old ones– but I would pass on all but the most ridiculously inexpensive targa model. I don’t like open-top vehicles anyway, and it just ruins the lines.

    1. The targa is a compromise between a ragtop, and an actual roof. You can still remove the top on a nice day, but it is quieter and better insulated when on. But in the days of retractable steel roof convertibles, the targa doesn’t seem to make much sense, and as you say, ruins the lines. Except it may make sense to Porsche fans/collectors who see it as a relevant hark to designs of the past.

      Given that it is a less popular 911 variant, I would say that that has the makings of a potential ‘future classic’. Unloved and unwanted when sold new, but will be a rarity some years down the track.

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