List: What Car Would You Buy With $100,000?

By Seyth Miersma

December 16, 2010


10. Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible ($53,645) – The Shelby droptop checks quite a few of the boxes on the list of things we want from our ultimate “fun” car: it looks good, it sounds good, it’s a convertible, and it’s pop-your-tent fast. Still, the nearly affordable MSRP leaves a lot of money on the table, even when you option the crap out of it.


9. Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster Final Edition ($99,650) – Mmm, Viper. Your $100K is well and truly spent by the time you pony up for this last-gasp Viper convertible, and you may be playing dice with your remaining years, too. Still, we wouldn’t mind using free money to buy one of the most devilish American sports cars ever, and in its final instantiation to boot. Even if the Viper does get revived after the last Final Edition is sold, you know its fangs will be distinctly duller with all that wussy traction control added in.


8. Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged ($95,465) – Fast, roomy, and off-roady in equal parts, the Range Rover Super will use up the majority of your spending money and offer you huge luxury in the process. Perhaps the most practical choice on our list, the Rangie is nevertheless fun to drive and family friendly. Plus, thousands of professional athletes can’t be wrong, right?


7. Jaguar XFR ($79,600) – We came pretty close to nominating Jaguar’s new XJ to this list, but the sporting wiles of the XFR were too, ah, wily to pass up. The Jag is all kinds of sexy, and fast, and good handling, while still being more practical than some of the outright sports cars on the list. Only its slightly detached driving profile and its bargain price hold it back here.


6. Cadillac CTS-V Coupe ($63,465) – This has got to be the best looking new car of 2010, right? Throw in the fact that it’s got hell’s own V-8, and you’ve got a coupe that’s absolutely fair game for a lottery win, or our round of make-believe. You’ll have to be willing to waste about $30K (even after all the options have been added on) of your budget to pick the V Coupe, but when you’ve floored the throttle on a lonely desert road for the first time, you may not care all that much.


5. Porsche Boxster Spyder ($61,200) – Maybe the most pure Porsche on sale today, we want the Boxster Spyder regardless of price. Starting with the dynamically pure Boxster and then lightening it is no bad way to make a car, say we. Even with the roughly $60K starting price, we figured that the sticky-finger filtchers that work in Porsche accounts department would let you option the car to the moon—not so, it seems. The highest we could jack the Spyder price was about $77K. 911, perhaps?


4. Lotus Evora ($75,000) – The Lotus has everything we want in a free car. Let us put that another way: the Evora maybe the perfect car for our game. It’s darn close to the spending cap, it looks amazing, and, because it’s a Lotus, it’s better even than the Porsches in terms of outright driving joy. The real problem is that the Evora, for as well as it works in our game, isn’t a perfect Lotus—this is the heavy, 2+2 model, after all. The purer Elise and Exige may be true to the spirit of the brand, but they can’t compete for us in either price (Elise) or well-roundedness (Exige). Plus, we’re actually still seeing a chiropractor for our back after our last Exige test drive, and Lotus refuses to add a greasy shoehorn to its options list.


3. Nissan GT-R ($84,060) – Okay, we’ll freely admit that the GT-R would make a fine number one choice for the $100K game, but at this level we can afford to be really picky. Godzilla is the fastest point-to-point car on our list, and ranks as one of the best supercar values in the history of supercars. What it isn’t, though, is majorly soulful or luxurious—and we kind of want at least one of those qualities, if not both, in our lucky winner.


2. Porsche 911 Carrera S ($90,500) – You knew you weren’t going to make it through this list without seeing a 911, right? Iconic for all the right reasons, perfectly priced with plenty of room to option it exactly as you’d like, practical yet special to drive, what more could you ask, really? There are those, especially in cold-winter climates, who may reasonably decide to sacrifice the rear-drive purity and a few thousand in options to get into the slightly safer Carrera 4S. Give us the two-wheels driven version in Guards Red with a six-speed manual, and we’re happy for life.


1. Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG ($87,600) – The E-Class over the 911? Maybe we’re just trying to be difficult, or maybe this Benz is one of our favorites in a very, very long time. A big, super-fast sedan that really talks to the driver is a rarity that driving enthusiasts will love. Couple that with the fact that the E is actually a useful size, seems to have tank-like build quality, and has an engine that sets our hearts to pounding, and you’ve got a fantastic way to spend your dough. About that dough; we optioned our dream E63 to within dollars of a six-figure tag. Winner.

10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

Here’s a party game to try out with all of your car-loving friends and family members over the upcoming holiday season. The scenario is this: someone hands you $100,000 in a suitcase and tells you to buy a car. You can only buy one vehicle with the money, and you don’t get to keep the change when you’re done.

For the sake of simplification, let’s say that the car has to be a new model. (Yes, we know that’s not as much fun, but we can play the game with used cars another time.) What do you pick?

Obviously, you’ll probably want to spend as much of the $100K as you can—free money doesn’t come along all that often, after all—and chances are you’ll be willing to be a bit less practical with your choice than you’d be when shopping for your average daily driver. We certainly were.

Trying to balance our desires for fun, poshness, and closeness to our 100-grand limit, above you’ll find the ten cars that we’d be most likely to pull the trigger on. Have a look and then be sure to tell us which car you’d pick, or which few you’d have a hard time choosing between.