On Campus

Choosing drives me crazy

People come up to me all the time and say, “Armando, I simply adore your columns in The Vanguard. So, tell me, what is your favorite car?” And before I can reply, I wake up from my dream of celebrity.

The real answer inspires mild annoyance: it depends. I’ll break it down into three subcategories to make things more simple—classic, current, and crazy. A classic car I’d love to drive, a current vehicle (within a decade or so) that I could actually buy (when I have a steady source of income and it makes sense fiscally), and something absolutely outlandish.

My classic choice: a 1962–64 Ferrari 250 GTO. The legendary Italian brand only bestowed the “GTO” tag upon its most special creations. In fact, there have been only three cars with that title in Ferrari’s illustrious history. The 250 is a beautiful car. A three-liter V12 lurks beneath the long, sloping hood, and a small cabin sits at the end of the vehicle. The car is thin and long, light yet powerful. It looks like European class embodied in a vehicle, and I would love to just sit inside one and not even drive it, soaking in the atmosphere of the car. Admittedly, every car aficionado would appreciate this car. Yet perhaps a regular driver might see it as a now slow and boring car with no Bluetooth and manual windows to boot. What I would say in its defense is that back in the day, it cost $18,000, which, adjusted for inflation, would be a touch over $145K today. It holds the record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction: $52 million. But cost aside, in its heyday, the 250 GTO was one of the fastest cars on the road and an instant classic.

My current choice: any BMW M3. Bavarian Motor Works has been putting together brilliant vehicles since they started building cars instead of jets. The M3 is the fastest evolution of their 3series sedan. The car comes in two-door and four-door variations, can accommodate a family of five, and has all the tech one could want (heated seats, satellite navigation, heads-up displays—a hologram dash board projected to your windshield—and much more). Interestingly enough, the cars themselves go so fast that they are mandated by law to be electronically limited to 155 miles-per-hour. Take the limiter off, and you’re heading north of 170. Not to mention this car can get 20 miles per gallon, and if you’re willing to buy a seven- or eight-year-old model, you can get one for under $20,000. Owning one would be a joy, especially on the stretches of Gerry’s Landing Road, where I could open the taps and let the beast awaken—below the 35 miles-per-hour speed limit, of course. The M3 is a stealthy sports car and probably the most affordable and practical of any I would choose.

My final choice: the crazy. I am at a loss for choices on this one as there are simply so many amazing, expensive, and exhaustively detailed automobiles designed by legendary brands. Honorable mentions in this section include the Bugatti Chiron, a car designed without any sort of budget: if the car needed it, cost didn’t come into discussion. Also featured are a banging sound system, premium leather seats, top-of-the-line technology (such as a 12-inch touchscreen) and, last but not least, a 275 miles-per-hour top speed. It is the fastest street-legal passenger car in the world but also weighs over two tons. (Cars that breach 200 miles per hour are by and large very, very light. Two tons is more expected of an SUV than a hypercar.) Every statistic about the car is ridiculous, from 1,500 horsepower to the fact that the speakers in the Chiron have actual diamonds in them to produce the very highest-quality sounds. Reasons to own this car practically write themselves.

Another honorable mention in the crazy category goes to the terrific Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a 700-horsepower ode to driving majesty and another royal addition to Ferrari’s star-studded lineup. The coupe styling makes this model my second-favorite Ferrari ever built.

Compared to the Bugatti Chiron and the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, my first choice might seem docile, but the Ford GT is anything but. In 1966, Ford beat Ferrari with the Ford GT40—named for its 40-inch height—at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France and regained the front foot in the motorsport world. Fifty years later, Ford revived the car in 2016. Its new car has six cylinders, 600 horsepower, and a body to die for, not to mention a pleasant 25 miles-per-gallon efficiency. Although there are many foreign-made cars I’d love to have, I’d take the American racing pony over all the rest with a patriotic smile and leave the other drivers behind in a cloud of liberty.

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