Welcome to Monday, and to chapter five of our weekly Automobile Million Dollar Challenge, wherein each of our editors curates their dream-car stash. The simple rules: Someone hands you $1 million to spend, with the proviso you blow it on nothing but filling your dream garage with cars you’ve always lusted after. We each select at least five of our personal dream cars, rather than copping out and blowing the entire imaginary bundle on one or two ultra-pricey choices, because the latter would just be too easy. This week, Automobile editor-in-chief Mac Morrison loads his dream garage:
It’s been fascinating to see what the Automobile staff has selected so far on this imaginary journey, with some of its selections coming as pleasant surprises. My dream-garage picks perhaps don’t cover as wide of a range as some of the previous entries, but they certainly paint a picture of the era during which I came of (automotive) age, and the everlasting impression these cars made upon me.
1988 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 QV, $470,000
Let’s mark off this one right out of the gate; I find it hard to believe any impressionable, burgeoning car-enthusiast kid in the mid-1980s would today say, nah, I wouldn’t want a Lamborghini Countach now. We’ve previously published the full rundown of the Countach’s history; the fact the model was the poster-car for just about everyone back then might sound like a cliché by now, but it really was. I think all of my elementary-school friends literally had at least one piece of Countach art positioned prominently, on a wall or otherwise, in their bedroom.
Unusually for me, even though it was decades ago, I can’t recall the first time I saw and became aware of the Countach. It most certainly must have been when I saw it in one of the car magazines lying around my grandpa’s house, or maybe even one of the magazines I subscribed to by the time I was in third grade in 1984 or 1985. I do, however, remember what came after discovering it, apparently around the same time as all of my friends.
We talked about that car nonstop. We debated how to pronounce its name; there was no immediate way to determine it definitively when you were 9 years old in a time long before the internet. Somehow, we were finally informed, yes, “Koon-tosh” was accurate, and so evaporated my argument that it had to be something like “Koon-tock” or “Cown-tack.” Hey, we were 9-year-olds living in metro Detroit, and even the damn name was like a great mystery from another planet.
We lost our minds if we somehow caught sight of the Lamborghini on the road as we rode in our parents’ cars. This was a huge deal, a nuclear event reported immediately the next day at school—sometimes even sooner—much to the envy of whoever you told the story to. After seeing one as my mom drove me along Woodward Avenue, I ran inside when we arrived home and immediately called one of my friends: “Jay—Jay!—I just saw a Countach on Woodward!” I’m pretty sure the breathless conversation that followed lasted at least 10 minutes as I gleefully played the role of interrogation victim.
Really, just think about this for a second: The thing was so insane, so bad ass, so far beyond anything else, it legitimately gave you elementary-school cool-kid street (er, playground) cred if you had a believable story you had merely seen one in real life.
Is there a car today that causes the same universal hysteria as the Lamborghini Countach did in its day? I’m unconvinced. For all of the attention the 2019 McLaren Senna caught as we drove it recently, there were plenty of people who—as we drove past them—paid it zero mind. That never happened with the Countach, or I at least can’t imagine it happened. To a generation of us, it’s the original hypercar, and to this day there hasn’t been another car like it. When I see one now, all of those emotions come back, as if the past 30-plus years never happened. That’s why it’s the no-brainer, instant-buy, first resident of my dream garage.
1994 Porsche 964 911 Turbo 3.6, $255,000
This one probably isn’t close to the Countach in terms of universal dream-garage appeal, but the 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6 impacts me to almost the same level. If I’m spending $1 million on cars to fill my dream garage and starting with the Lamborghini, I’m conducting a simultaneous search for an excellent, if not concours-level example, of this 911.
I’ve been a “Porsche guy” since I was 7 or 8 years old. It’s rooted in the fact my dad always liked and talked about Porsches, even though he never bought one. My automotive obsession took a bit of a breather between the 7th and 11th grades as other interests arose, but by 1993 I was full-bore car-crazy again. And when Porsche introduced the 3.6-liter version of its 911 Turbo, it was to my eyes just it. The 355-horsepower figure was gonzo back then, but mostly it’s the look that did it for me at the time, and which does it for me now. The rounded yet boxy shape, those cartoonish, wide rear fenders, the multi-piece, five-spoke Speedline wheels, the last example of a proper, rubber-trimmed whale tail—this is, in my opinion, the meanest-looking factory-produced 911 of all time.
A guy who lived near me a few years ago had a mint 911 Turbo 3.6 in his real-life dream garage, and I would see him drive it on the streets from time to time. I would curse him every time. I wanted to be him. I still want to be him.
1995-99 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, $103,000
I was riding home from the 1994 Indianapolis 500 with my best high-school friend and his dad—we had driven to the race in a motorhome and camped on Georgetown road across the street from the Speedway for the weekend—when we stopped for fuel. Inside the gas station, we bought the latest issue of one of the car magazines, and it featured a review of the brand-new Ferrari F355. This model marked a turning point for Ferrari in the then-new Luca di Montezemolo era; Maranello for years had been relying on its name rather than quality product to keep its head above water. (Click here for our full review of the F355 market today.)
The F355 was something else. Its lines were perfect, influenced by aerodynamics but in a time before aero became everything. It contained a screamer of a 3.5-liter V-8 engine, and it launched the evolution of mid-engine, eight-cylinder Ferraris that continues to this day. During college, I would stop by my local Ferrari dealership here and there just to get an in-person look at the car, and I would spend a fair amount of time afterward imagining what it must be like to drive. Having never driven one in all of these years, I’m still imagining.
Most likely I would look for a Berlinetta coupe model, as I’m generally not a convertible guy because my ginger complexion makes it a bad idea. But the F355 GTS appeals to me, too, as its targa-top design offers an open-air experience without killing the car’s look in the way the full-on convertible Spider version does. We know the Ferrari F355 is a maintenance nightmare, but since the entire premise of this story is based in fantasy dollars, anyway, it’s of no consequence. If you’ve seen an F355 in motion and heard its V-8 revved to 8,000 rpm and beyond, you understand why it belongs in a dream garage.
2000-06 BMW E46 M3, $48,600
In January 2012, I bought a 2006 Porsche Cayman S—a car I still own—with 23,000 miles on its odometer for $35,000. The BMW E46 M3 was the only other car that tempted me for my actual dream garage (of a whole one car), but examples of it in similar condition to the Cayman S I purchased commanded several thousand dollars more, and I was already at my self-imposed spending limit.
How I love this M3, though. I hold this generation of BMWs—not only the 3 Series—in high esteem for where they fell in terms of the transition from the old-world, previous-generation cars to what were then-modern styling and proportions. They came along before everything became too round, too bloated, too teched-out … if, you know, you want to see cars in that way and tend to spend your time pining for the “good old days.” As I see it, the early 2000s brought a demarcation line between old and noticeably new, before “new” became, in a lot of cases, a synonym for losing the plot when it came to pure enthusiast cars.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time driving E46 M3s, on roads and racetracks, and doing so is a sure-fire guarantee for having a fun day. With 333 horsepower from its 3.2-liter, non-turbo I-6, it’s an ideal and fantastic enthusiast’s road car—much like my original Cayman S. No overwrought tech, no complex electronics doing the “work” for you. It’s still my favorite car when it comes to no-effort, low-risk, sideways-all-day throttle steering; I’ve rarely had as much real-world driving satisfaction and usable thrill-factor as I’ve experienced in this generation of M3. I place a big premium on that trait when I’m adding something to my dream garage. Did I mention how good it still looks today?
2020 Porsche 992 911 Carrera S, $116,450 (base price now)
Even on a list like this, the “practical” part of my brain demands a brand-new, daily-driver performance car with a full factory warranty and mechanicals I’ve broken-in personally. A car, in other words, you know everything about in terms of what it has been through and how it has been treated, and which you don’t have to worry much about.
The latest Porsche 911 Carrera S is the answer. It delivers outrageous performance without missing a beat, and is the most-capable, usable, fresh-from-the-factory 911 Carrera Porsche has built, as I noted when I drove the 992 during the first-drive launch event. Frankly, for 99 percent of real-life scenarios, there isn’t a better new sports car, no matter how good of a driver you think you are, than the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Oh, I’d add several-thousand dollars in options, like seats, exhaust, upgraded steering wheel and the like, but that stuff is just experiential, value-added, almost-vaporware silliness. You don’t need it. Buy a bone-stock, zero-option 992 911 Carrera S, and your one-car dream garage will be complete. Honestly, you probably don’t even need the S, as the bare-bones, base Carrera has proven.