Journal: When Was the Last Time You Were Really Excited about New Cars?

When Was the Last Time You Were Really Excited about New Cars?

By
July 13, 2015
37 comments

I had the privilege of driving the new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider over the Fourth of July weekend (look for my full review later this week), and for the first time in what felt like many years, I found myself fantasizing about having this car—a new car.

That may sound strange coming from someone who loves cars, so let me back up a minute and explain: like most enthusiasts, there was a time when I would regularly devour car news, read the latest reviews, and daydream about what new car I would trade my current car for next when the time came. Each new model generation presented new possibilities in design, engineering, performance, and, ultimately, driving experience.

During my brief time with the 4C Spider, my excitement had me asking: when did I lose my passion for new cars? Don’t get me wrong, every year there are still some new cars that are groundbreaking and praise-worthy for various engineering or design achievements. Currently, there are exciting examples, like the Porsche 918 Spyder, the new Ford GT, or just about anything from Ferrari. But we’re talking limited production exotic car territory with prices that render them out of reach for more than 99% of car enthusiasts.

When was the last time I was excited about a mass-produced new car that I could either afford or reasonably daydream about owning one day…before this 4C Spider, that is?

For me, that time was right around the turn of the millennium: the late ’90s and early ’00s. I consider that period to be the pinnacle in terms of driving excitement offered by new cars from pretty much across the automotive industry. Here are some of the machines of that time that especially made my heart race:

  • 998 BMW M Coupe: This was love at first sight for me. I ended up buying first an S52-engined ’99 model and later trading up to the ’01 model with the S54 engine. To this day, I regret selling it.
  • 1998 BMW E39 M5: The last great M5 in my book. Manual-only, and no silly fake engine sound from the speakers.
  • 1999 BMW Z8: A simply beautiful, innovative design mated to the excellent powertrain from the E39 M5. Granted, a bit out of reach for most, but still not (yet) Ferrari territory in terms of price.
  • 1999 Honda S2000: A roadster designed for the driving enthusiast, featuring a never-gets-boring 8900 RPM redline!
  • 998 Audi S4 Avant (B5): AWD and massive torque at low RPMs made this wagon a true driver’s stealth weapon. Sadly, they later proved to be very unreliable.
  • Audi TT: another ground-breaker in terms of innovative design, though I’ve since learned that Freeman Thomas took inspiration from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ. Of course!
  • 2000 Lotus Elise: The second-generation Elise made it to the States and offers us a driver-oriented, no-nonsense track car for the streets.

Technological advancements certainly didn’t stop by the year 2000. Cars continued to receive new technology with each year, but they also got a little bigger, a little heavier, and a little more compromised for mass tastes—ultimately making them rather dull for the driving enthusiast.

Do you agree with this assessment? If not, when was the last time you were truly excited by new cars? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFDQwjqoj-Y

Image Sources: bmwgroup.com0-60specs.comcaranddriver.comhazelnet.org

Join the Conversation
Related
0 0 votes
Article Rating
37 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Justa Kierownica
Justa Kierownica
3 years ago

Miata ND! Nuff said.

Elin S Alexandrov
Elin S Alexandrov
3 years ago

Well, in my opinion it all boils down to weight and characteristic design and engine sound. In most 80s and 90s car you got less weight, less electronic nannies and larger distinction between brands. The character is also something that I relate to little imperfections that don’t ruin the experience, but become part of it. Like the oversteering tendency of old BMW’s. BMW can no longer produce a similar car due to the increased safety requirements now. Yes you can make new BMWs go sideways, but generally you need to stab the throttle really hard and turn off all the electronics that don’t let you commit suicide. My E21 doesn’t do that. The slightest burst of power or lift off can cause its rear end to say “Hi” to the curb. It requires you to be more respectful.

Buzz Jones
Buzz Jones
3 years ago

I bought a spanking new, red Nissan Sentra SER in 1993. A true sleeper in its day. Superbly balanced, quick, just an all around driver’s car. Even knocked off a few unsuspecting muscle machines on occasion. I guy in a 79 Vette gave me the finger for embarrassing his porky ride between stop lights. On another occasion I lost a 5.0 Mustang carving through the blue ridge mountains above Greenville SC. I bought the car after discovering the press hype was actually correct, haven’t found anything like it for equivalent value since. Cars cost too much and don’t deliver the thrill these days. It will take a Chinese firm, I suppose, to build an inexpensive sports car for the masses.

Matthew
Matthew
6 years ago

“1998 BMW M Coupe: This was love at first sight for me. ”

Yep, me too. Haunts me.

Alex Miller
Alex Miller
6 years ago

I love my 2004 JCW Mini which I’ve owned for 10 years and will never sell. Still a very exciting car to drive. Also love my 1991 911 C2 with PSS10s – otherwise stock. My 2013 BMW 335i Xdrive is fast and boring with no steering feel, clompy ride, beautiful interior, terrible nav system, great seats, did I mention boring? Rented a 2014 E63 S in LA last year and drove the Angeles Crest Highway (both ways) and around LA area for a week – almost bought one – incredible car – telepathic handling, explosive power, great interior, I want one in a wagon. Rented a Cayman S this spring for a week – too perfect – great steering, PDK clunky, not enough power – like my 1991 C2 better.

Ananthan Sivaraman
Ananthan Sivaraman
6 years ago

Would have to agree with this.

The Silver Age. That’s what it was. The 90’s through the early 00’s was the silver age for enthusiasts. Its been on a limp ever since. Then there’s also that inevitable vision of the future thats right at the next corner most enthusiast refuse to acknowledge. Can’t really put fault on the manufactures. As a ‘business’ they need to adopt or face annihilation. Die-hard enthusiast don’t command a substantial amount of revenue as they used to. In fact, some of them operated at a loss building performance models during the past. They had to let something go. So, to make everyone happy, the homogeneous, platform sharing, confusing design language was adapted. The Miata ND & the FRZ would have never come to fruit without a partner to share the platform. Kudos to Toyota & Mazda for at least trying to find the means to keep us excited. But, for how long more?

The boutique manufactures are building more exciting machines then any of the manufactures. The Icons, Singers, Emory Outlaws, Eagles. Even though priced at an unattainable amount for most of us, they are inspiring. Maybe even to find our own forgotten hero cars from the past. Our history is littered with amazing machines to choose from. Just pick a decade that you can relate to.

I’ed take the 1st generation Integra Type R please 🙂

thomas pedelucq
thomas pedelucq
6 years ago

Two months ago when Audi announced the brand new RS3.
And it’s strange actually, because with some cars-passionated friends we are use to call those cars “taudis” (play on word, because it means “slum” in french. Yes i am.)
It’s probably a bit because of the commercials they’ve made on their UK youtube channel, but that car, what a bomb. This aggressive design, this 5 cylinders, 2.5L, 367 hp petrol engine : what a sound !
Go and check the video of the RS3 fighting against an old Rally Audi Quattro, then tell me “I’ve never been excited by a new car” : then you have never been excited at all. Even by girls. Because that car is better then sex. And better then the smelling of napalm in the morning. And if you’re not convinced, then remember what Johnny cash use to say : “RS3 is a great car”.

Regards.

Ricky Sixx
Ricky Sixx
6 years ago

Afshin,

On behalf of bimmerforums and http://www.mcoupebuyersguide.com there is still a standing offer to provide you with a Coupe for purchase. Just say the word.

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
6 years ago

The lead pic of the M coupe attracted me to this article, when I read it I realised that my 99 S50 was the last new’ish car I have owned, I liked it ever since I saw Clarkson drifting it around the track on top gear when it was new, when I owned one I was a bit disappointed and the only other new car I owned since was a Z4 M coupe, also a bit disappointing, so I reverted back to older cars and BMW 2002 is my daily (I have and do own other brands!).
The modern cars I find interesting and desirable are beyond my budget.

Ian Miles
Ian Miles
6 years ago

I find all this a bit depressing. I am a huge fan of second hand car and have never purchased a new one. However, look at what is coming down an assembly line near you. TVR will be bringing a car built using Gordon Murray’s revolutionary iStream production process, with a new Cosworth V8 and retailing at about 60k GBP. Alfa have just announced a great new and rear wheel drive saloon, the first of a whole new series of cars. Lotus continues to finesse and up the performance of its cars. Renault have brought a rear engined rear wheel drive Twingo. Wait until RenaultSport get hold of it. The Aston DB 11 is currently being designed as is the replacement for the Defender. Jag is working on a rage topping F type. Masaerati will be bringing the Alfieri to market. Honda has a new Boss who is focused on breathing life and fire back into Honda. Honda must be working on a new Firblade, perhaps even with a V4. KTM will be producing a MotoGP bike. To name but a few really exciting, innovative and beautiful cars and bikes to be produced. Having said that, if I could have any car it would be an F1.

Jon Ulrich
Jon Ulrich
6 years ago

My excitement for a new car goes back to the second generation Corvair coupe, arguably one of the nicest designs to come out of GM. I seem to be attracted to American cars that step outside the design norm. These include the second generation Camaro, Fiero, Dodge Viper (I still can’t believe Chrysler had the guts to build it), Chrysler Crossfire, and the Pontiac Solstice. The last two looked beautiful in the flesh but where considered disappointments by the automotive community. The Solstice reminds me of an evolution of the 1950’s Italian design school – a time when the Italian design houses built the most beautiful cars in the world. I forgot two cars that I tried to talk my dad into buying (they were in the price range that we could afford at the time) -the new Jaguar E-type and the C-2 Stingray. My dad perferred 4-6 passenger sedans.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago

After an evenings consideration I’m going to wind back the clock a bit and seriously amend my previous post to what in truth are the last two cars to really and genuinely got me excited rather than just sort of interested ;

1) McLaren F1 – The last genuine revolution rather than evolution in automotive design and technology . The one car for which every automaker has still yet to learn half the lessons the car has to teach and the only car since the Citroen DS and its SM sibling that truly can be considered revolutionary . The sad fact about the F! today is even McLaren has forgotten/abandoned the lessons learned from the F1 with perhaps only Koenigsegg being the true successor albeit a minor evolutionary successor

2) Honda/Acura NSX – If the McLaren F1 was a genuine revolution then the NSX must be considered at the very least a major uprising in the automotive world . Out Ferrariing Ferrari … embarrassing Porsche .. sending Lamborghini back to the drawing board with its tail between its legs and all at a price and level of reliability even todays Exotic manufacturers can only dream of . All from the company that brought us the lowly Civic

So forget my previous post and comment . These .. are the only two cars in the last 25 years that have truly gotten me excited . To the point that both still can excite me .. though in light of what McLaren has chosen to morph into the F1 can be a bit .. depressing to think about sometimes . My choosing to ignore what ever the new NSX may turn out to be .

Matt Duquette
Matt Duquette
6 years ago

I was excited about the FRS/BRZ and i bought one i am happy i did its a joy to drive and while its a modern car they didn’t let the tech shit get in the way

Jarrod H
Jarrod H
6 years ago

Never. Not even a little. I have owned quite a few new cars, and find them interesting, but I would never really say I got excited about them. I have enjoyed them but I would not really say I miss any of them once they moved on.

Jarrod H
Jarrod H
6 years ago
Reply to  Jarrod H

Forgot to put the irony here. If you had asked this question 20 years ago, when the cars we find entertaining desirable now were new, would have probably resulted in the same answers. Funny how that works.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
6 years ago

I am loathe to spending money on modern cars, it feels like throwing away money I could have used for that 1960-something car I really want. But when Porsche launched their Cayman back in 2006, I was right at the front of the line. I think I’m about to do it again with the new Alfa Giulia.

On a side note, last month I was forced to buy a newish car because my trusty older Saab 93 Aero had reached the end of its useful life. I got a one year old but flawless VW Passat and I cannot tell you how incredibly in love I am with this thing — I think because it is so shockingly inexpensive for what it offers and looks darn good too.

saxon bell
saxon bell
6 years ago

I just purchased an immaculate 6 speed mk4 R32 golf with 85000klms. There may be better cars out there but it ticks so many boxes for me. It feels good, looks tough but understated, feels fast and then there is the sound…….
I chose an to buy a new r line golf wagon for the family and the r32 over the new r wagon.

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer
6 years ago

Just today … when I looked over the order guide and spec sheets for the 2016 Shelby GT350.

Ryan Connolly
Ryan Connolly
6 years ago

Was lucky enough today to see the very last clown shoe M Coupe to roll off the assembly line.

One day I will own one. One day.

Here’s a craptastic potato phone pic of it. Drool.

Anthony Swanborough
Anthony Swanborough
6 years ago

Every new car excites me. It shows the evolution of a device that began so archaic to something that is so pure and fantastic. From racing cars to the general run around, the evolution from the very basic to seeing manufacturers finding the smallest of niches shows that we not only need cars, but that the needs and want from one are ever changing and dumb at the same bloody time. What i took from the article was if new cars held my attention, they do. The pull of older cars are because of the way they fitted, I’ll take an e30 before practically anything else, but, I’d still prefer that spanking new gtr on the track…..

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram
6 years ago

Very much agree with this. Much as I love the sort of cars Petrolicious features (and would prioritise ownership of a 105-series Alfa or a Datsun 240Z over something newer, if I had the cash), I’m constantly thrillled by newer cars, too. Even more humble ones.

The new MX-5 is the perfect example, and one that other people here seem to cite too. The GT86/BRZ is another. I’m looking forward to the new Alfa Giulia as well. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to drive most of the cars I’ve been excited about in recent years – I’ve ticked off the MX-5/86/BRZ, as well as cars like the BMW i3 and i8, the Tesla Model S, and Mercedes AMG GT.

And even genuinely affordable cars can interest me. I’ve driven the latest Smart Fortwo, which is a fantastic city car and far better out of the city than the old one – making an appealing (and good) small/cheap car is much more difficult, and therefore admirable, than making a great car at a money-no-object price.

Robert Greenebaum
Robert Greenebaum
6 years ago

I’m in the same boat- that is, having trouble getting excited about new cars these days. I’m always suspicious that it’s just my age (45), but not fully ready to buy that explanation. You could argue that there’s never been a better time to be an enthusiast- by most measures, cars are “better’ than they’ve ever been; incredible performance, features, safety etc. But it seems to me that almost every car company is following the same mold now: build two platforms (one smaller, one larger), a handful of engines, then make one sedan and one SUV design in small, medium, and large sizes on those platforms. That covers probably 80\% of the market right now. Supercars have become absurd- and basically unusable on public roads. That leaves a handful of affordable, interesting machines out there. Perhaps this is why the used market for interesting 15-30 year-old cars is going crazy right now.
Or maybe I am just getting old and grumpy. Sigh

Paul Bilek
Paul Bilek
6 years ago

I bought my 2015 Stingray because it’s one of the only new cars I really loved. ( other than the new Ferrari lineup, which is out of my league, I usually don’t give much thought to other new cars).

Todd Cox
Todd Cox
6 years ago

I think a lot of new car designs are either lazy or simply confined by restrictive requirements that dictate design. Horsepower wars are a little over the top these days; shoving massive horsepower in a sub-par car isn’t a great way to make for a good ride. With that said, the one car, the [i]first[/i] car I’ve been excited about in a very long time is the ND Miata (and whatever the Fiat version will be; though I’m bummed it won’t wear an Alfa Romeo moniker as was initially reported).

This car has captivated me. It’s pretty. It’s fun. And like its great grandfather, the NA, it is more focused on being a driver’s car than outright performance numbers. I’m legitimately excited about it, and a great many other folks are.

JB21
JB21
6 years ago

I actually do still get excited about any new cars that’s coming out, even SUVs and CUVs (what does CUV stand for? I told my friend it’s Cute Utility Vehicle, but am sure that’s not what it is) and stuff. I simply get excited about what they come out with. But the thing is, pretty much every new car has been somewhat of an disappointment. Initially intriguing, and excited even, but slowly but surely something starts to bug, and most of that is due to the electric nannies. So much of them! Anyway, I was genuinely excited about VW Mk5 GTI, and as recently as just a couple of years back, Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth. Oh, and Renault Twingo, Alfa 4C, BMW i8, Tesla Model S, oh you name it, anything remotely interesting, I get excited, however short-lived the excitement is.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago

Hmmn

Morgan Aero
Donkervort D8 coupe [ what Caterham should of done but didn’t ]
Pagani Zonda
Ferrari wise the 456 was the last in my book worth desiring
Porsche … hmmn .. the last of the 993 GT3’s
BMW Z3M Coupe .. fugly as all get out in a very jolie laide sort of way and completely bat **** insane . A German Shelby Cobra if you will

Other than that ? Truth be known I love my daily driver but I wouldn’t say I was excited about it . its our Goldilocks car . Everything else of late ? Errr … not much really . If it weren’t so over priced for what it is maybe the Evora .. oh well

Philip Beresford
Philip Beresford
6 years ago

I’d say the early 2000’s was the last time I was regularly excited by reasonably priced new cars. The latest super cars are always great, but it’s the stuff that you could perhaps be able to afford if you save really hard or buy second hand in a few years that excites me the most. Cars like the E46 M3, E39 M5, Z4, RX7, Supra, S2000, and R34 Skyline GT-R were my holy grails.

Actually now I think about it, there [i]are[/i] beginning to be a very few new cars that have started to excite me again… the FT86 and the 2016 MX-5 being the main ones, but also the Jag F-Type, the Cayman, and the BMW i8. Perhaps we just went through a bit of a dark era there from ~2004-2014, like what happened in the late 70’s to the 80’s, where enthusiast cars were bought to their knees by safety and emissions regulations.

Yoshi Kobayashi
Yoshi Kobayashi
6 years ago

This is a great article and exactly how I have been feeling recently about the auto industry as a whole. There is nothing I love more than cars and I was wondering, “Is there something wrong with me? Am I depressed?”. I did some reflection and I think I have figured out why. The industry as a whole, to save on costs and leverage economies of scale, have switched from making cars for enthusiasts and are focusing on building cars for the “unwashed masses” of automotive appliance buyers. Eradication of the stick shift and clutch, focusing on the SUV/CUV models and creating designs that don’t polarize nor offend, designs that ooze blandness. They are also focusing on models that sell to the automotive ignorant, case in point the BMW X6. Why would someone buy the monstrosity that is the X6 if they had access to the 6 series. The X6 is something that doesn’t do anything exceptionally well but it’s what sells and the typical buyer is likely not well versed in cars. He/she probably is buying it because “it’s cool” and wants to show off that they have a BMW to their neighbors. They likely wouldn’t know an apex if it came up and bit them in the face. Manufacturers (sans a select few) are not designing and building for enthusiasts anymore. Case in point, import tuners don’t lust for the newest cars coming out of Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Honda. They lust for the 20 year old Supra Mk IV, the S2000, the 240SX, the 3000GTs and the RX-7s. Why is that? Short of Nissan and Subaru, these manufactures are not putting out innovative, exciting designs they put out 10-15 years ago. They’re selling and catering their products to “sheeple”

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
6 years ago

I’ve been a subscriber to EVO magazine since it’s second edition but I guess the number of new cars that excite me seems to be diminishing. I was really excited when the Ferrari 550 came out but it’s probably the newest Ferrari I really desire to own and that came out nearly 20 years ago. The new cars I most desire at the moment are the Porsche Boxster Spyder and (not sure if this actually qualifies as a car) the Ariel Nomad.

Nelson Escobar
Nelson Escobar
6 years ago

I find that in order to get particularly excited about cars, I need to back the OLD ones. Right now I currently own an M3 E46, and could not imagine trading it for newer car (with the exception of new 911s and Lotus models). Newer cars just don’t seem as exciting!

Greg Deschodt
Greg Deschodt
6 years ago

When they announced the Cayman GT4… But it’s sold out and rather expensive…

David P
David P
6 years ago

Pah – why can’t you edit posts???

[url=”[URL=http://s1106.photobucket.com/user/Dr_Nookey/media/a2336d44-bce2-48fa-8307-ffedbe4f42dc.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h362/Dr_Nookey/a2336d44-bce2-48fa-8307-ffedbe4f42dc.jpg[/IMG][/URL]”]let’s try this[/url]

[url=”[URL=http://s1106.photobucket.com/user/Dr_Nookey/media/P1040793-1.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h362/Dr_Nookey/P1040793-1.jpg[/IMG][/URL]”]And this[/url]

David P
David P
6 years ago

The FF was the last new car that made me stop and take notice. Before that the Zonda. That was a real show stopper IMO. The i8 is pretty special too and the current 6 series is probably the best looking mainstream car for years.

The original ZM Coupe is a winner though. Had mine for nearly 10 yrs now.

[IMG]http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h362/Dr_Nookey/a2336d44-bce2-48fa-8307-ffedbe4f42dc.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h362/Dr_Nookey/P1040793-1.jpg[/IMG]

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago
Reply to  David P

The FF is known in my Ferrari circles as the Ferrari Flop . Or the ___ Ferrari if you will .

The i8 though ? Ahhhh … the i8 . Forgot about that one on my list along with its baby brother i3 . The perfect pairing

DomM
DomM
6 years ago

Great list and great talking point too, Petrolicious.

Truth be told… I’ve always been excited for cars. Although I get the point this article is making. I was starting middle school when BMW debuted the E46 M3. I barely knew much about cars at that time other than how they looked, but it was special to me. Little did I know it would be one of the last pure versions of the M3. The Toyota Supra was somewhat “new” on the street despite being discontinued for the USA 98. Other notable cars for me were the following:

2000–2007 Subaru STI
Mitsubishi 3000GT
Acura Integra TypeR
1999 – 2001 Mustang Cobra
2002 Camaro SS + Firebird Trans Am
Nissan 300ZX and 350z

I’ve never been let down on high end cars though… But that’s a different subject.

Patrick Siebert
Patrick Siebert
6 years ago
Reply to  DomM

Great comment – I agree with just about everything you said here…

I too was in middle school when the e46 M3 debuted, if I can remember correctly, I was in the 4th grade. The first time I saw that car was on the cover of Car & Driver, and I specifically remember telling my parents that I was going to own one. The car was seemingly perfect – everything a true enthusiast would want – a non turbo motor that revved to the stratosphere, timeless body, and an exhaust note that begs you to redline every gear. These were the days that BMW was in its prime… Part of me wants one of the new M4s, but it just seems like the company compromised so much of its heritage in making the new Fx cars (and even a bit with the late Ex cars and their large size).

Ended up purchasing an 06 e46 M with some DINAN goodies a few years back, and don’t think there’s a car out there now that I would look into selling it for (with the exception of the 997 GT3… Drool…).

Given your screen name, assuming you too have an M in the stable?

DomM
DomM
6 years ago

Not yet! I hope to get a M car eventually. I currently have a 91 Mazda Miata and 83′ BMW 633csi with an E46 sedan as my daily. I’m debating on getting a E36 M3 now that they’re at an all time low. We’re at a point where the bad examples out there will continue to get worse and the ones worth owning and preserving will hold their value or slowly start ticking up. I still think the E46 will continue to depreciate. Should I be patient??? I haven’t decided yet. But it will be very difficult to resist a solid deal on a E36 M3. I’m hoping to find either of these with a beat body and well kept engine. Since our family business is in auto body repair, the body work is the fun part for me.

On a side note, I encourage you to keep your E46 M3! That’ll be great car to have and one our generation will forever embrace. I haven’t driven the new M4. I only got to drive one the V8 M3s not too long ago. I liked it as with anything else with a V8. But I couldn’t agree more with your statement about compromising heritage. There was something special about BMW optimizing around the 6 cylinder engine for several decades which makes me truly appreciate all previous M cars. Not too mention how lean all the previous generations were as well…