Driveway Stuffers


The Car Family

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Nothing says happy holidays like a shiny new toy in the driveway whether it is a Bentley, Mercedes, Audi, or for the self-actualized, a Pontiac convertible. Regardless of what model you choose two things are assured. First, you are going to make your insurance agent very happy and secondly, someone in the family could have gotten it for you cheaper.

With the PCH artery largely clogged what you are seen driving is just as important as how fast it goes. So the ideal holiday car is one that articulates style while waiting for the (circle all those that apply) rock slide, flood waters, tidal surge, movie star gwakers, fire engines, out of state RVs, undressing surfers, and/or crashed Ferraris to be cleared.

Since Malibu has been described as what’s a heaven for, it is no small feat to reduce the 500 or so possible holiday rides to a respectable handful for perspective Santas to consider when shopping for something for every yearn. For the size doesn’t matter buyer the Mazda MX-5 (nee Miata) now comes with as a hardtop convertible that tucks into the briefcase sized trunk. You get room for two and your bottle of STF 50 sun block and not much else. On the other hand that’s all you need. With Mazda’s flingable flyer the sky’s the limit for this young at heart tanning machine.

Want something even minier? Try the MINI Cooper convertible. You can order yours with a turbocharger if you fancy playing tag with the big dogs. Either way its Bulldog stance, retro interior looks, and glued to the road ride make the MINI both frugal and exciting. When it comes time to park or maneuver, this is the car to have and you don’t have to surrender any creature comforts or challenge your credit limit at $22,700.

Larger four and five passenger convertibles from Chrysler and Ford are best sellers due to their pricing, starting around $20,000, and more relaxed fit comfort levels. No surprises and plenty of standard features make these good driveway stuffers for those who like their vehicles traditional looking to veil that topless lust. For those who prefer a hard top convertible, the Pontiac GT is most appealing, but be prepared to pay a few thousand more for the privilege of watching the metal top fold gently into the trunk. Visually, the G6 has a Clark Kent disguise that hides its super solar appeal. Cute and cuddly.

A bit more expensive, but hey, it’s the holidays, are hard top convertibles from Volkswagen and Volvo. We especially liked the Volkswagen Eos, as it not only had the metal top folding option, but a glass sunroof as well. So cool and priced well at about $30,000. The Volvo was another matter. It was bigger and pricier at $43,000. Competent and wanting to please, the Volvo has also been rated one of the safest convertibles you can buy along with the Saab 9-3. The Saab is one of our favorites, though it does not have a retractable hardtop. Sharp handling, able to attract attention especially in Electric Blue, this is a most underrated driving experience. Best of all, its still a bit quirky.

Covet moving to the head of the class? Try the Audi W12 with its all wheel drive, and a dozen pistons being rammed into action by enough exploding hydrocarbons to make Exxon stockholder’s smile. This understated yet elegant sedan is stunning inside and out. Its 450 horsepower may not be as fast as Santa’s reindeer, but he doesn’t have vibrating seats and I’m sure the Audi’s view out the windshield is better. It only takes $120,000 to keep your fanny happy.

For nearly the same money there is the new Lexus LS 600h L. Called a hybrid, this powerful sedan has about every feature known to earthlings from all-wheel drive to an eight-speed automatic trans and a separate air-conditioner for the back seat passengers. For  $12,675 you can order the Executive Package that provides rear seats that recline, heat, cool, and massage. And for those easily entertained, this car can parallel park itself.

What says love more than his and her Mercedes convertibles? In this case the so fast 6.3 CLK AMG and the stunning SL 550 roadster. The SL550 has a new seven-speed automatic, a $94,800 price tag, and a 382 horsepower engine. A study in chic understatement, this convertible has everything from stability control to deployable rollover hoops behind the seats. This is the convertible of choice for the well kept. In the other corner of the garage is the “What has god wrought?” CLK AMG that uses its 495 horsepower to propel this four-seat convertible to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds all the while looking so innocent.

Last, and easily the most sexsational holiday vision for your driveway is the Bentley convertible. No need to decorate your dwelling, simply park this beauty out front and watch the traffic slow to view the true spirit of giving. Yep, it is expensive, but you had 12 months to save, which is the real reason the holiday season is at the end of the year. The Bentley is a study in outrageous numbers. Two turbochargers, four wheel drive, six speed transmission, 12 cylinder engine, 552 horsepower, and I didn’t’ even mention the gas guzzler tax. There is absolutely nothing that would make Santa trade in his sleigh more than this white goddess with her brown leather dress and bulging flanks. Whether it is beating up an unsuspecting Porsche, humiliating the Highway Patrol helicopter, or just maxing out your gas credit card, this is the vehicle of choice for those who aspire to show their true love of consumption in this season of giving.

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