I Need Exotic Looks And Road Trip Comfort! What Car Should I Buy?

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Photo: Kristen Lee/Jalopnik

Joe and his wife are recent empty nesters looking for a high-end car for long drives and road rallies. They signed up for the Dustball Rally and would like to use something a bit more unique than their BMW 3 series. What cars should they buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )

Here is the scenario –

My wife and I are soon to be “empty nesters”, and are looking for an interesting car for road trips, cruises, and rallies. We’ve signed up for the 2023 Dustball Rally, and while we could take my 335 daily driver, I’d like something more exotic to take on the trip. I’m not looking for a combo cruiser/track car, as I’d rather buy a dedicated sports car for that. I’m looking for a car that we can drive 5-800 miles in, on freeways and back roads, and arrive not feeling worn out.

In summary, I am targeting 2 doors, exotic styling, road trip comfort with a max budget of around $120,000

Maintenance doesn’t bother me, I have a lift and can handle most major services. This car wouldn’t be a daily driver.

Quick Facts:

Budgets: up to $120,000

Daily Drivers: No

Locations: St. Louis, MO

Wants: Exotic looks, two doors, long-distance comfort

Doesn’t want: 4 doors, anything with “engine out” standard maintenance items

Expert 1: Tom McParland – Cruise In Style

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Image: Autotrader

Joe this sounds like an excellent opportunity now that the kids are out of the house, enjoying the sites and making friends with a cool car. Of course, you need to pick the right car. If you go too sporty those long drives become tiresome, too much luxury and you lose the excitement.

Fortunately, Aston Martin has been making some of the best cars for this task for quite some time. Unlike some other higher-end brands most Astons have “timeless” styling and cars that are 10 years old still look fantastic today. Take for example this 2012 Aston Martin Virage coupe. It’s just sporty enough with the excellent V12 under the hood combined comfortable interior and a fairly generous trunk. Naturally, the maintenance schedule on Astons isn’t as carefree as a Camry but with only 23,000 miles you should avoid any major headaches for a while.

Expert 2: Andy Kalmowitz – Marvel Movies Are so Hot Right Now, And so Are You

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Photo: Manheim Imports

Joe, you seem like a real cool guy. Because of that, I’m not gonna steer you down some wrong and terrible path (like my co-experts). Instead, I’ll tell you the vehicle you need to buy. The Audi R8 V10 Convertible. Joe, my friend, just look at it. It ticks all of your boxes: It’s exotic. It’s got two doors and is comfy for the long haul. Plus, the frunk is big enough to fit all your childless shit. It’s perfect for you.

Now, I think I’ve found a good one for you, but there are still so many other options in Audi R8s. Don’t want a convertible? No problem, there are plenty of coupes. Want a manual? You’re all good. Audi made one of the most badass gated shifters of all time.

That being said, you should definitely get a convertible. Top-down driving is better driving. I don’t make the rules here. Listen to that V10 roar as you think about how your children are all out of your hair.

Anyway, no need to look further than this entry, as it is the best one. If it’s good enough for Iron Man, it’s good enough for you.

Expert 3: Steve DaSilva – A Truly Grand Tourer

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Joe, I’ll admit something to you: I’m not going to suggest my first pick here. When you say you want a reliable but exotic-looking coupe to eat up hundreds of miles, my first thought is the Toyota Supra — the most exotic-looking vehicle under six figures, yet perfectly compliant on rough roads. just for kicks, here’s one near you.

But your budget dips into the six figures, and you want something more. I get it. So, rather than submitting my pick to you, I’ll instead suggest the objective right answer: The Lexus LC 500. It is pperfectly comfortable and composed, an absolute beauty to behold, and all of the interior amenities you could ever hope to have for a long road tip. What’s not to love?

Ideally, I’d like to suggest that you buy a convertible, but there don’t seem to be any near St. Louis. That’s a shame, but you did say you wanted a coupe. With that in mind, here’s a white LC 500 right out in Ballwin, MO, just waiting for you to go pick it up. Just go with the right answer, and find yourself happy.

Expert 4: Owen Bellwood – You Want Exotic?

A photo of a dark green Morgan Plus 8 sports car with its roof down.

Photo: Northshore Sportscars

Joe, you sound like a man of taste. So, the suggestions from Tom and Andy would doubt suit you down to a “T”. But, you want something exotic and exciting. Something that stands out from the crowd. You want a Morgan.

This quirky British marque has been churning out some truly wonderful cars for more than 100 years now, and is one of the few firms still using actual wood to build its cars. Exotic.

Despite its longevity, not many Morgans have made it Statesside, so you’ll be in an exclusive club if you go down this route. In fact, the car I originally wanted to suggest for you – the exquisite Morgan Aeromax — there are just seven examples here in America. So if you’re up for importing something excellent, try this out for size.

But if you don’t want the rigmarole of an import, there are some great Morgans out there today. You could take a gamble on this lovely green and cream Aero 8 with its distinctive cross-eyed styling. Or, punt for one of the brand’s more iconic models, like this slightly over-budget Plus 4.

Personally, I’d opt for this cute-US-a-button Plus 8. At a touch under $80,000 this 2003 Morgan ticks all the right boxes: exotic looks, two doors, comfort and it’s got freaking wire wheels! What more could you want?

Expert 5: Kyle Hyatt – The Gold Standard GT

Silver coupe on a coastal road casually breaking the laws of physics.

Nothing on Earth will cover ground like a Porsche 911 Turbo.
Photo: Netcarshow

Don’t let these other jokers fool you. Sure, an Aston Martin or a GranTurismo seems like a great place to spend time, but are you prepared for the soul-rending pain that the ownership experience will bring? No. I can almost guarantee you’re not. So, skip the hassle and get arguably the greatest GT car ever conceived of by human minds: the Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Now, I will grant you that it might look slightly less exotic than some of the other suggestions, but the huge, bulging hips and massive intakes coupled with the active spoiler out back make a case for themselves. Plus, no car is as capable of flat-out breaking the laws of physics as a 911 Turbo.

The 991.1 Turbo S came from the factory with a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six that makes 552 horsepower and up to 553 pound-feet of torque on overboost. It was offered exclusively with Porsche’s excellent all-wheel drive system and the relentlessly efficient PDK gearbox. With launch control, the car is capable of 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, and unlike some of these other fragile yahoos, the neun-elfer will do that over and over (and over) again without complaint.

THe 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo | Road & Track

Going with the Turbo S instead of the more pedestrian Turbo model gets you a few other rad features (aside from the extra power and torque), namely Porsche’s carbon ceramic brakes which came as standard. As long as you stay off of a race track, they should last for eons offering unflappable stopping power.

When it comes to service, running costs and overall build quality, nothing compares to a 911 either. The platform is well-proven, the turbo engine is dead reliable, and unlike Morgan or Aston Martin, Porsche dealers and independent service shops are pretty common, no matter where you are.

Finally, for the touring part of grand touring, the 911 offers tons of practicality in the form of a great big frunk that will hold way more than you expect it to as well as rear seat space that can easily hold luggage or tiny humans, if necessary.

I mean, I don’t want to say that the 911 is a perfect car, but it kind of is and you’d be crazy to not snag this example for under your $120k budget.

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