[V8] The Ten Best Cars: The end of Roger's list

Dave Saad dsaad at icehouse.net
Sat Nov 28 17:46:34 PST 2009

No Willys-Overland Wagon?
These rigs set the standard for tough and reliable.  They don't call  
'em Jeep trails for nuthin...
Even though they have been out of production for over 50 years, it is  
not at all uncommon to see one rattling around town, still on the  
original drive train.
As far as 4-wheel drive passenger vehicles go, I doubt there is one  
built today that could outlast a Willys Wagon.

Not sure what your criteria was for a "best" vehicle, but this one has  
to fit in somewhere.


On Nov 28, 2009, at 3:44 PM, Roger Woodbury wrote:

> Well, I have written about what I think are the ten best cars ever  
> built, at
> least since I was born back around the dawn of time.  I have managed  
> to do
> this without anyone sending me a virus that poisoned my computer, my  
> wife's
> computer and the household water supply, so I think I will finish  
> off the
> list with the last two.
> As I have already said, I have wrestled with this list a whole lot,  
> and only
> this afternoon did I actually finalize the list after doing a lot more
> reading and some rudimentary market research just to be sure.  It  
> hasn't
> been easy, because I didn't want to appear to be awfully prejudiced,  
> but
> the, in actuality, I am.  So here are the last two and my reasoning.
> I have wanted awfully much to include vehicles in this list that  
> were not
> only what I considered to be the best ones, but I had hoped that those
> vehicles would turn out to be significant vehicles in the  
> development of the
> automobile since 1944 when I was initially hatched.
> I considered a whole lot of cars not on this list.  I really wanted to
> include the 1960 Chrysler in some variant with its enormous  
> hemispherical
> combustion chambers and for the time, VERY advanced electroluminescent
> instrument panel, or perhaps the Edsel which was the first car to  
> depart
> from the sameold, sameold automatic gear shifter on a stick, but in  
> the end,
> these weren't significant, just a bit different, and not even  
> thinking fond
> thoughts of Sky King's Chrysler pilarless station wagon and his  
> smashingly
> gorgeous daughter Penny, could make me change my mind.  (If you  
> understand
> or remember THAT reference, then  you are indeed an old fudd....).
> I thought about the Ford Ranch Wagon that became the personae of the  
> station
> wagon in the fifties and a whole lot of other cars that fitted the  
> overall
> "rules" that I established that my list had to fit into.  And  
> speaking of
> the Ranch Wagon I really wanted to include one such vehicle in the  
> list
> because over time, they have proven to be an enormously successful  
> vehicle
> in concept in this country, and only in the past fifteen years have  
> they
> really ceded their position to the minivan.
> And I thought long and hard about maybe including a Dodge Caravan in  
> this
> list because it certainly has been significant in reshaping a lot of  
> the
> landscape of the motorvehicle, and I also thought about the SUV, and
> seriously considered a Ford Bronco or Chevy Blazer as being in the  
> list
> because the Bronco was really first and both Chevy's and Ford's  
> early cars
> have proven to be rugged, reliable and dependable vehicles over  
> time.  I
> personally have owned a 1996 Bronco which I bought from a guy who  
> was upside
> down in it.  It was one of the last produced and in outstanding  
> condition. I
> sold it after five months at a small profit:  it was OK, but not  
> great at
> anything.
> I also traded some OMC stern drive parts for an ex-California Dodge
> Ramcharger that had had a Chrysler 440 cu in V8 installed and had a  
> very
> intertaining computer controlled fuel injection system.  I had to  
> have the
> body redone on that, and changed the horrid seats for some fairly  
> cheap but
> effective buckets.  The thing was LOUD, let me tell you, and I was  
> afraid to
> really let it out, but I suspect if someone in back of me annoyed me  
> enough,
> I could have put it into four wheel drive and driven backwards over  
> whatever
> was there, shifted into drive and drove forward to finish the cretin  
> off if
> I had wanted to.  I ended up selling that car at auction for about  
> $1500
> more than I had in it.  The experience was interesting and made me  
> wonder
> what a Ramcharger would be like with a real HEMI instead of the 440  
> Wedge.
> In the end I decided that I needed a station wagon in the list  
> because I
> believe that at the end of the day, the station wagon will outlast  
> the SUV
> or the crossover for general purpose utility simply because when  
> gasoline
> gets to $4 per gallon again (and I believe it will), any common use  
> vehicle
> that doesn't reliably deliver at least 30 miles per gallon will be  
> out.  And
> it is a stretch for a heavy SUV or crossover will be able to do that  
> in the
> real world and provide the sort of performance that modern driving  
> demands.
> So I have decided that my station wagon for inclusion in this group  
> is:
> 1989-91 Audi 200 Quattro Avant.  -- Now, if I wrestled with this  
> selection
> at all to begin with, chosing WHICH wagon to include was enormously
> difficult.  There are many choices which I could have made, but I  
> finally
> realized that it is this one that does everything so well that it  
> needed to
> be on my list.  Oh, I know that there are those who would argue for  
> a Subaru
> Outback or Forrester, or a Volvo 240, or a Chevy Caprice or Ford  
> Country
> Squire, and all of them have their plusses, AND minuses.
> But the Audi Avant is the only one that has Quattro all wheel drive,  
> and
> when I remembered the massive ice storm that we had here in eastern  
> Maine
> around ten years ago, the choice became obvious.  At the time of the  
> ice
> storm, my daily driver was a 1989 200 Avant Quattro that I had  
> bought from
> the big Audi dealer in Minneapolis. That car was a one owner sold by  
> them
> originally, and serviced perfectly.  I bought it in 1996 when it had  
> 61,000
> miles from new:  the people who had bought the car originally had  
> inherited
> a lot of money and had moved to Florida. When that happened the Audi  
> Avant
> became their summer car in Minnesota and sat in a garage all winter.
> All during the ice storm I drove 40 miles per twice each day to keep  
> rock
> salt on the walkways of my commercial building and to make sure that  
> the
> heat and lights were still on.  The 200 Avant, with ten to fifteen  
> bags of
> rock salt in the rear, was solid on the road and went through five  
> inches of
> ice and slush as though the road was dry.  I chose to drive it  
> instead of my
> four wheel drive truck because the Audi was so much better in bad  
> weather
> than the truck with the front axle engaged, plus it used less than  
> one half
> the gasoline.
> To be sure, the Audi 200 requires specific service and must have that
> service when it needs it.  An American station wagon is probably more
> durable in the short term, but of the four Audi wagons that I have  
> owned,
> all have had well in excess of 130,000 miles when I last drove them,  
> and
> considering the ooverall cost per mile and the nature of the service  
> that
> they have provided for me, nothing else will equal it.
> Parenthetically, I have also owned in my past a Volvo wagon...that  
> one was a
> 124S bought new in 1972, and it was a wonderful car for the first  
> 50,000
> miles.  Now what was acceptable in 1972 is different than what is  
> acceptable
> now: that car had manual steering and was, well, slow, especially  
> with the
> air conditioning on.  But it was pretty good, and comfortable for  
> traveling,
> and until the fuel injectors and transmission showed signs that they  
> were
> not in it for the long haul, I was enthusiastic. But I really felt  
> that
> Volvos were supposed to be reliable for more than 60,000 miles  
> without major
> overhaul, and in 1972 they were not.
> Finally, the last but not least in my list is the 1990-94 Audi V8  
> Quattro.
> I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but in truth, these cars
> really are remarkable, and all the more so because they were not a
> commercial success.  Now, nice ones are just more and more rare, and  
> soon
> they will undoubtedly be nonexistent.  But all things considered,  
> these are
> truly remarkable vehicles in comparison to their competitors of the  
> time,
> and even in comparison with cars of this class today:  new cars get  
> better
> fuel mileage, have more power, have many more air bags and other  
> safety
> features, and so on and so forth, but the Audi V8 Quattro was  
> designed in
> the 1980's to compete with Lexus, BMW and Mercedes, and none of  
> those cars
> would do what the V8 can do, day in and day out.  The Mercedes and  
> big Lexus
> was arguably more roomy, I suppose and the top end BMW was probably  
> faster
> and might have handled a bit better.  But when the weather turns  
> ugly, ALL
> of those other cars will be hiding in the garage.
> There is nothing cheap here.  Parts are expensive and when parts are
> available from Audi, the price automatically gets jacked up through  
> the
> roof.  But this is not just a bigger Audi 90: this was a car that was
> specifically designed and produced to make a statement by Audi, and  
> all
> three of them have done that remarkably well.  The newer S8 and A8  
> may be
> better in a lot of ways, and the new A6 is remarkable in many ways  
> as well,
> but the V8 did it first, and comparatively is simple compared to the
> electronic marvels that the modern automobile has become.
> For a daily driver there is nothing else that I can imagine wanting.
> Thanks to all for reading my diatribe!
> Roger
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