The Driver's Seat: Driving Powerful and Expensive Cars
I've been an automotive enthusiast all of my life. It's a love that was passed down from many generations of gear heads. I went to car shows as a child with my dad, and as I got older, we added in NASCAR and NHRA racing events. My parents bought what was to be my first car, a '68 Mustang fastback, when I was seven years old. With the help of family and friends we spent the next 10 years restoring it in our driveway. The car was never perfect, and it was the oddest of fastbacks, a six-cylinder automatic with manual steering and brakes. Nevertheless, it was the car that solidified my passion for all things automotive, and I still own it today.
Somewhere around high school I transitioned to trucks. I bought my first one when I was 17 years old (I only daily-drove the Mustang for about a year) and have been tinkering with and modifying them ever since. Now that I'm a little bit older, perhaps even wiser, I've noticed something peculiar. In general, truck lovers understand cars, but car folks don't quite get trucks. That's a topic that we can discuss for hours, but it leads me into what I really want to brag about. As a lover of trucks I'm also passionate about all things performance, and in the past year I've had the opportunity to jump behind the wheel of some pretty amazing cars, at least in my world. Some would say that I've gone rogue, abandoning my post at the helm of Truck Trend to dabble in the world of the enemy.
The most recent was a '16 Dodge Viper ACR with drift legend Samuel Hubinette riding shotgun. For those unfamiliar, the Viper ACR is a barely street-legal racecar. A hand-built 8.4L V-10 engine that churns out 645 hp powers the car and as delivered is able to sustain 1.5g of high-speed cornering. At top speed, 177 mph, the car's aero package generates 2,000 pounds of downforce. This venomous villain will drain your pocketbook to the tune of about $118,000, before options.
Another dream ride that I got to pilot was the '15 Nissan GT-R NISMO. This one was fun because I was tossed the keys and told to "have fun." No fun sponge in the right seat, no closed course, and nobody watching. After the thoughts of "Could I get it across the border and into Canada before anyone noticed?" wore off, I had the delightful experience of tormenting the tires and scaring local wildlife. The combination of launch control, super-sticky tires, all-wheel drive, and a 600hp 3.8L twin-turbocharged V-6 combines for what some would consider a death wish. I was just happy to turn the keys to this $150,000 monster in without me being behind bars and with the car in one piece.
Then there was the Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition. This little car may seem in a different league than the others, but rest assured, it's not. Built of hand-laid carbon fiber, this street-legal go-kart weighs in at just a tick above 2,400 pounds. It delivers 237 hp out of a turbocharged 1.7L four cylinder that's mounted in the middle of the chassis. This one knocks out 0-60mph in only 4.1 seconds and costs half of the other two at only $68,000 (though you can get into a base model for a mere $54k).
While these three cars definitely got the blood pumping, none were as violent as the Charger and Challenger Hellcats. Pumping 707 hp out of a supercharged 6.2L V-8, this terrifying duo left my hands shaking for a good while after stepping out from behind the wheel. These cars are brute force at their finest. They don't handle like track cars, but in a straight line they are violently fast. And the best part is they start at just $60 grand, which is a steal for horsepower normally reserved for supercars.
Thankfully I am a truck guy because with a car like any of these in the driveway I would certainly wind up either dead or in jail.