Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
I don’t know about you, but I for one am looking forward to my mid-life crisis. All 17 shrinks of mine say that coming to grips with the fact that it’s going to happen no matter what is half the battle, and that once complete acceptance is initiated, only then can true understanding come into effect. Let me explain.
Just because you suddenly find yourself in your 40s and are stuck in the same dead-end job with a house full of pissed-off teenagers, a mortgage that rivals Greece’s debt crisis, and a wife who has exchanged sexual interest for menopause doesn’t mean the world is falling down around your ears. This is a golden opportunity to let loose, man! You now have the ultimate scapegoat, and no one is going to argue with you about it, because the last thing anyone wants to see is a full-blown recreation of Michael Douglas’ roll in Falling Down.
Plus, having a bonafide excuse for your spending habits might be a great way to open your eyes up to a new hobby outside of drinking beer and watching sports reruns. Trust me on this one; nothing says, “Back-off man, I’m in the middle of a crisis here!” quite like a full-blown performance vehicle that has the insurance deductible rates of an ex-Soviet jetliner for beginner pilots.
You’ll notice that we also have omitted Porsche and Ferrari from today’s list — both of these brands bare the weight of every mid-life crisis joke out there, and we feel they’ve already gotten their time in the limelight as high horsepower examples of overcompensation.
1. Chevy Corvette
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the guys who invented Viagra have parties with the Corvette design team a few times a year, because at the end of the day, both of them are designed to give guys in the same age demographic one hell of a rush. The great thing about the Corvette is that it is readily available, reasonably priced in base form, and carries with it a bevy of unexpected niceties like on-board WiFi. For all the elitists out there, rare options like the C7.R Edition are also available, because while big brakes are great, bigger brakes are better.
2. Mazda MX-5 Miata
Okay, so the MX-5 Miata may not be the most macho thing you can buy when solace can only be had by the purchasing of performance vehicle, but neither is it a bore to drive either. Redesigned to offer a lighter, faster, and far more nimble driving experience, the 2016 Miata is the kind of car that makes you ponder the personal preferences of the man piloting it, all while secretly congratulating him for purchasing such a well-designed roadster. It’s an affordable, fuel-efficient sports roadster for the more modest American male, and although joy can’t always be found at the bottom of a bottle of 10 Cane rum, it can be had in the form of convertible that the wife won’t mind all that much.
3. Ford Mustang GT350
Mustangs are to middle-aged men what beards are to urban hipsters. No one really knows how it all started, but it seems like goddamn everyone has one, even if it doesn’t look good on them at all. Fortunately, versions like the Shelby GT350 seen here are a fantastic performer on a multitude of levels, unlike hipster beards. Starting at just $47,795, this brilliant piece of American engineering seems like a solid bet for any middle-aged man looking to regain his youth with a six-speed manual gearbox. Now if only we could find a way to get Mustang drivers to actually behave on the open roads…
4. Dodge Viper
Sometimes, a Corvette doesn’t seem extreme enough and a Mustang doesn’t “wing it enough,” so you need something special to show the world that middle-aged masculinity is not just measured by belt-lines and receding hairlines. Take the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, for instance; the official car of men who like their coffee served with a shot of Bushmill’s and think that Darth Vader really had the right idea all along when it came to father-son bonding time. It’s the kind of car that if you didn’t see it in the parking lot somewhere you sure as hell will hear it leaving, and the ACR version in particular remains a perfect example of a crisis-mobile that is great both on and off the track.
5. Lexus RC F
This oddball addition to today’s lineup makes sense only after you look at the RC F on paper and then go take it for a test drive to see how it measures up. With 467 horsepower getting shuttled to the rear wheels and an interior that is Lexus-grade all around, buying one of these puppies to brighten your mood really makes sense if you are down in the dumps and desperate for a new lease on life. When we drove one last spring this fact was hammered home by just hearing this car’s earth-shaking exhaust notes alone, and while stylistically it may be polarizing to look at, its performance numbers and modest $62,805 starting price tag are as hard to ignore as that orange paint job.
6. Mercedes-Benz SL
Ah yes, the SLC convertible. Longtime accouterment and friend to thousands of recently divorced men who still hopelessly cling to the notion that owning a German convertible makes them the talk of the town. Going for a swift sedan is one thing, but opting for an SL-Class roadster that starts at $47,000 and tops-out in the $217,000 range… well… that’s just cashing in on success. Starting with 241 horsepower in the current SLK and building all the way up to 621, the dentist/lawyer staple of America is a real crowd pleaser for anyone wanting to show off what the finer things in life look like.
7. BMW Z4
Starting at $49,700, the Z4 by BMW actually has some value associated with it to go with all of that bubbly personality and German engineering. With horsepower figures starting around 240 and going all the way up to 335, the convertible of the well-to-do, moderately malcontent male is an interesting marriage saver, as it offers the wife a sports car that she really wouldn’t mind driving around town as well.
8. Ford SVT Raptor
Our next entry is a vehicle that is just as multi-faceted as it is ferocious, and even though my mid-life crisis is still another decade or so away, dammit if I don’t already want one. The Ford Raptor is the kind of truck that your rich dad buys you in college, you drive the piss out of it, parking it where you please, and showing the rest of your “bros” that badass isn’t just a word, but a state of mind. Decades later, on a random Tuesday afternoon, you find yourself driving to the store in the family minivan to get some more cleaning products and you spot the latest generation sitting at the Ford dealership, sparkling like a ferocious reptile’s claw in a sea of sedans and subcompacts. Is this opportunity ringing? I think it is.
9. Cadillac CTS-V
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
I drove the all-new Cadillac CTS-V last fall, and might I say that for all of its trappings as a potent luxury vehicle for the wealthy American middle-aged man, it also makes a damn good option for any other time in life as well. It has all of the interior touches we crave in a Cadillac, but with 640 horsepower of ass-kicking terror to go along with it. It’s the car for guys who want power and craftsmanship, but need a roomy backseat and four doors for picking the kids up from detention. The CTS-V also has the unique benefit of being able to blend in when cruising along the interstate, because nothing pisses the wife off more than finding out you just got a $300 speeding ticket.
10. Dodge Hellcat
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
The interesting thing about the Dodge Hellcat is that while everyone tootles on about its 707 horsepower motor, and how it sounds like an angry alien dog on methamphetamines, there are so many other fine selling points to this car that warrant mentioning. For one, it’s quite moderately priced for what you get, coming in at just $62,495. It also has more fun control settings and touchscreen related gizmos than you can shake a stick at. But perhaps one of my favorite things about the Challenger Hellcat is its styling, which screams 1970s throwback muscle car both externally and internally. This is the car for the guy who is already on bad terms with his neighbors and doesn’t mind pissing them off at 7 a.m. because Highway to Hell just came on the radio.
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