List: Ten Best Modern Day Bootlegging Vehicles

By Winding Road Staff

December 29, 2010


Hyundai Genesis 4.6: One of the biggest knocks against the Genesis sedan, when it debuted a few years ago, was that its styling was just a bit too anonymous. That’s a bad thing when you’re trying to impress the neighbors, but just about right when you’d like to pull one over on the boys in blue. A V-8-powered Genesis is plenty fast on the open road, and offers a wealth of trunk space for your wealth of hooch.


Volkswagen Tiguan: Way back in the MKI days, the GTI would be the VeeDub of choice for rum running. But the GTI legend has sufficiently grown to make us think that the hot hatch is just a bit too high profile. Better, we think, to select the GTI motor in the soft-roader Tiguan body. Sure, the handling and outright pace may not be quite as good, but you’ll make up for their lack with the more indistinct styling, and huger hatch.


Volvo XC70 T6 AWD: With a turbocharged inline-6, all-wheel drive, and enough room to safely stow the space shuttle, the Volvo wagon has all the performance credentials we might look for when smuggling illicit substances across the nearest border. Its boxy looks and general WASP-ish appeal also make it more invisible to police than anything this side of a stealth fighter.


Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart: A detuned Evo with a bigger boot, the Sportback Ralliart ticks all the boxes for performance, space, and subtlety. Just avoid the PoPo-attracting Rotor Glow Orange paint job.


Nissan Maxima: While the styling might stand out a bit, the Maxima’s 3.5-liter V-6 will allow it to get out of trouble surprisingly fast. It’s also big and comfortable, perfect for transporting enough Shine to incapacitate David Hasselhoff, Mel Gibson, and the whole of Hazzard County.


Ford Taurus SHO: If there is a perfect blend of blistering performance and utter anonymity, it might be found in the Taurus SHO. 365 turbocharged horsepower, a massive trunk, and styling that’s invisible to the general public and won’t attract the attention of Johnny Law make the Taurus a great choice for a border run (no, not Taco Bell).


Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT: There is little to visually cue anyone in on the speed of the turbo Legacy, and it’s a pretty common car, for the most part. Also, it’s an easy one to tune into the realm of hardcore without giving up its sleeper looks. Having four-wheel grip might come in handy when traversing off the beaten path.


Acura RL SH-AWD: A little more classy than the Legacy, but it flies under the radar pretty well. If the cops asked for the make and model, witnesses would be likely to spit out something along the lines of, “err…grayish?” Again, the all-wheel drive is a plus for making a getaway in the dirt and snow.


BMW 550i Gran Turismo: Way faster than it looks, and tons of room for the merchandise. Its still-new appearance may catch the eye of the family man looking to upgrade, but it’s definitely not a car that screams “contraband” to a lawman on the lookout.


Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG: The AMG-tuned Geländewagen is not especially subtle. Okay, it’s about as subtle as a Playboy Playmate on fire during halftime at the Super Bowl. But the massive G-wagen kind of makes up for its lager-than-life profile with the fact that it can be easily ordered in bullet-proof trim, and because it can pretty much drive over or through anything stupid enough to get in its way. And it’s fast. (Oh, and our esteemed Fleet Manager demanded its inclusion in this list—we suspect an M-B payoff.)

Hyundai Volkswagen Volvo Mitsubishi Nissan Ford Subaru Acura BMW Mercedes-Benz

The illicit alcohol production and distribution industry of the 1930s and 1940s, coupled with the, let’s call it “irreverent,” spirit of some enterprising Southerners, helped to invent the concept of the moonshine-running car. Traditionally these vehicles were modified to offer the maximum amount of performance without changing the stock exterior appearance. A big trunk came in handy for loading in all the booze, too.

The pre-NASCAR days of illegal booze hooning may be well and truly gone, but we thought that it’d be interesting to consider which modern vehicles might make for great bootlegging cars. Today the cars would still have to be fast enough to outrun the local cops (or the US Border Patrol agents, depending on what kind of “bootlegging” you’re up to), spacious enough to handle a goodly amount of cargo, and as subtle as possible. It just wouldn’t do to go crossing into International Falls, Minnesota with a trunk-full of undocumented, Canadian maple syrup in your Veyron—the authorities will sniff out your supercar subterfuge in half a second.
So then, here are ten of the most smuggle-ready cars on sale today. Make sure to let us know which car you would choose, too, if and when you were gripped with the law-breaking fever.