28 June 2016

Which cars scream midlife crisis?

Around here, we celebrate the midlife crisis: It’s just another excuse to buy a car. Here are our top four:

Chevrolet Corvette: The Corvette is arguably the car that put American automotive prowess on the map, and with roles in films like “Corvette Summer” and “Animal House,” it was frequently featured during many mid-lifers’ formative years. And what better way to recapture youth than with two seats and a big V-8? Check out a 1990 ZR-1, the year that Chevy introduced its most potent production C4. Its Lotus-designed 32-valve V-8 LT5 was built by Mercury Marine and spurs it to a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds. It’s tough to get more performance bang for your buck: The Hagerty Price Guide puts a ZR-1 in No. 3, or good, condition at $23,200.

Ford Mustang: The equally ubiquitous Mustang comes in next on the list. If you grew up in the ‘60s or ‘70s, chances are good that you owned one, had a friend who owned one, or simply lusted after one because you saw Bullitt so many times. For brute strength, go with a 2012-14 Shelby GT500, the most powerful stock Mustang yet. The 2014 example is rated at 662hp and 631 ft.-lbs. of torque, and boasts a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds. Make no mistake: This car is a beast. Mash the gas pedal and the 5.8-liter V-8’s rumble may let you relive some of your more foolhardy memories. Just shy of 6,000 were built, and a quick eBay search yields many low-mileage examples for $40k-$50k.

Porsche 911: A Porsche print campaign summed it up this way: “Honestly now, did you spend your youth dreaming about someday owning a Nissan or a Mitsubishi?” Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make that dream a reality. While a base ‘60s-era car will set you back anywhere from $66,500 for a 1968 coupe to $242,000 for a 1964, submodels like the 172-hp 1983 Porsche 911 SC can still be had for under $30k, according to the Hagerty Price Guide. And if you can live with only 150 hp, you can find a fuel-crisis neutered 1974-’77 911 for under $20k.

Dodge Viper: The Viper is the perfect car for those who crave attention, and that is precisely what you’ll receive. (“Sorry, Officer!”) Not only does its sleek body suggest a jungle cat ready to pounce, but the V-10’s snarl rattles windows and nerves alike. If you’re looking for a road-going car, we’d recommend a 2001-2002 GTS with anti-lock brakes, the first year for that option (Hagerty Price Guide average value: $32,200). If performance is your No. 1 priority, look for a 460-hp American Club Racing (ACR) coupe featuring smooth air intake tubes (not ribbed), 50 fewer pounds and a stiffer racing suspension. The trick is finding one that has never been wrung out on the track.

7 Reader Comments

  • 1
    MTdesign N. Arizona June 30, 2016 at 14:48
    Sorry guys but no one will sell you a decent '74-77 911 for below $20,000. The Hagerty price guide doesn't keep up with Pelican Parts sales which is the market indicator.
  • 2
    jatsma Grand Rapids< MI June 30, 2016 at 09:47
    Is it a mid-life crisis or that we hit a point that we got the kids out of the house, highest earning level, and have some cash to buy a toy? That isn't a mid-life crisis but rather a mid-life opportunity... Let's enjoy!
  • 3
    Jimm San Francisco, CA June 30, 2016 at 10:33
    I like that..."mid-life opportunity." Just be prepared for it to go on a while. I'm approaching 70 and am tracking a new Z-06. Wow! Great job Chevrolet. I know, another old (dude) in a hot car...
  • 4
    Steve Ontario July 1, 2016 at 10:30
  • 5
    Steve B Montana July 8, 2016 at 20:11
    It's been my experience that the term "mid life crisis" is a misnomer. Most men I know including me hit the "crisis" around 50-60. Good luck on that being mid-life!
  • 6
    Michel S. Vancouver WA October 23, 2016 at 20:30
    About the "Crisis" thing. Looking back from nearly age 70, which included 33 years in the Infantry Branch of the US Army, if it was a crisis, I must have started it about age 20 and from Vietnam, I think I considered it really starting at about age ten. I've been telling my wife of 20 years (all happy years and she is also an Army Retiree, she was Personnel and I was Anti-Personnel) that I have a 40 year plan and haven't activated it yet! About cars... I bought a 1972 Porsche 911S Targa at the Factory in Stuttgart. In those days people in the US who wanted a Porsche picked it out and paid for it, then waited for it to be built and shipped. After a tour of the factory, I found out they had one with American specs sitting around because the guy who placed the order changed his mind about accessories. I got a great deal, put over 220k miles on it (many on the no speed limit German Autobahns) and still sold it years later back in the States for more than I paid for it. Viper - I always looked at them and just felt they weren't me. I just returned from Bob Bondurant's GP Road Racing Course in Chandler Arizona where the Viper was what we drove for the first three days (last day was in a formula style open wheel and cockpit car powered by a rotary engine with 160 HP to move the 1200 pound body around using a 4speed with straight cut gears and no synchronizers - shades of shifting a 2 stroke Motocrosser!) The Viper ACR V-10 was simply phenomenal! The seating attitude was spot on for my 5'11", 185 pound body. I could not believe how light the clutch was on my bad knee. The steering was so crisp and forgiving that I never had to move my hands from the 9 and 3 locations. Google map the course for a very old photo (the pavement was perfect in real life) of the turns. Bob Bondurant picked his favorite 15 turns from the courses of the world to create this very powerful teaching tool. On the few laps where I did turns 14 and 15 just right, I could hit the rev limiter in 4th on the drag strip straight away and get one stab on the gas in 5th before, braking, heel-toe downshifting, trail braking into the right then left 90 degree chicane and gassing the arc to the next breaking point. Rob (my absolutely wonderful instructor), did I get that sequence right?) I know, I'm full of myself right now and have been since Rob took us on the Dodge van "tour" of all the places where we would drive! It was really a test to find out who suffers from motion sickness and everyone passed. I got a diagnosis almost two years ago for a fatal disease, but it does not HAVE to be fatal (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis). I mentally started to activate a "four month" plan to kick the bucket but I just tipped it over and spotted a list. Please, read my words now and understand them later - DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE 69 TO START CHIPPING AWAY AT YOUR BUCKET LIST! The instruction, the facility, the 250 cars, the untold number of mechanics, the new tires in the morning and again after lunch - that whole place and everyone associated with it wants YOU to succeed! I went to a boatload of well thought-out and superbly executed courses and schools in my military career and what those folks do outside of Phoenix takes no second place to anything I've ever attended. The leadership of the instructors even got the students involved in helping each other find more success.
  • 7
    Sean Atlanta, GA October 28, 2016 at 06:17
    I wouldn't consider the purchase of one of these cars a "midlife crisis". The fact is this is likely the first time in our lives we can actually afford one.

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