Cars with Enough Personality for Big Papi

November 1st, 2013
Lamborghini Veneno

Photo courtesy VW Vortex

It’s that time of year again. Last night the streets of America were filled with beards, baseball bats and World Series rings, as the Boston Red Sox went door to door seeking gifts of candy from gratuitous strangers. Well, the night may not have played out quite like that in the rest of the country, but that was certainly the scene on the streets of New England.

This week’s World Series finale got us thinking. The Red Sox are a lovable team because of the personality they bring to baseball. Their stadium is the oldest in the league, their history one of the most prolific, and with the exception of a few years (we’re looking at you, 2011), the Sox tend to field a team of talented “characters” (think Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, etc.). All of this gels together to give the Red Sox a distinct personality—a personality that makes them one of baseball’s most lovable teams.

If personality can make a baseball team loved (or hated, in the case of the New York Yankees), what can it do for a car? The answer is quite a lot—many an otherwise awful car has been saved by the personality it projects. Conversely, many excellent or innovative cars have been easily dismissed for having the wrong sort of personality (the classic example being the Pontiac Aztek). So, on this day after Halloween, when every parent in New England has a full year until they have to chauffer around some of the biggest personalities in baseball again, we ask the question, “What cars have big enough personalities to match the likes of David Ortiz, Johnny Gomes and Koji Uehara?”

2013 Mazda Mazda3

10. Much as David Ortiz never goes around without a smile on his face, neither does the second generation Mazda3. Famous for its “smiling” front end, the Mazda3 often draws attention (both good and bad) for its looks, size and price. While the car’s price is indeed one of its strong points (it can be had for under $17,000), what really stands out about the Mazda3 is how fun it is to drive, especially when upgraded to the Mazdaspeed3. Mazda redesigned the Mazda3 for 2014, giving it a more adult look, so if you like the unique personality of the second generation, there are likely a lot of great deals to be had on 2013s.

2011 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

9. Some people just have an aura about them—it seems like they’re capable of doing whatever they want, and often they are. The same is true in the case of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Developed on the advice of Mohammad Reza Shah, the Geländewagen went into production as a military vehicle in the 1970s and hit Mercedes dealers as a civilian car in 1979, remaining largely unchanged since then. Capable of going almost anywhere and smashing through almost anything, the hard lines and square face of the G-Wagen work to show just how tough it knows it is.

2011 smart fortwo

8. Next on our list is the G-Wagen’s polar opposite: the smart fortwo. While the G-Wagen exhibits a no-nonsense, go-anywhere, do-anything attitude, the fortwo is a cute 2-seater aimed at urbanites looking to minimize their impact on the environment. With soft lines and a crunched-together appearance, the fortwo is a personification of the urban attitude.

2012 Lamborghini Aventador

7. You know those people that just don’t care what you think of them? The Lamborghini Aventador may or may not, but it sure understands them. Put into production in 2011, the Aventador replaced the awesome but rather bland Murcielago. With a low profile and sharp lines, the Aventador draws your attention while not demanding it—before the roar of the engine demands it, that is. It kind of says, “Hey, I know I’m awesome, and that’s all I need to know. Now move over, I’m passing you.”

1931 Duesenberg Phaeton

6. Sure, the Aventador may not care what you think of it, but you can bet the Duesenberg Model J Phaeton does. Built between 1928 and 1937, the Model J screams exclusivity and sophistication at the top of its lungs. With a long hood and beautiful chrome work, the Duesenberg is automotive royalty, looking down on other cars much as a king does on his subjects. Unfortunately, royalty are about the only people able to afford a Duesenberg today, as prices commonly go into the millions.

1983 Trabant 601

5. Our next car is the darling of a country that no longer exists: the Trabant 601. Seeking to keep out capitalist excess, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) developed the “Trabi,” a mass-market car to suit everyone’s needs. Pumping out a whopping 18 hp with its 2-stroke engine, the Trabi stayed in high demand until the fall of the Berlin Wall, with wait lists for new cars often years long. Named one of the “50 Worst Cars of All Time” by Time, the Trabant remains popular today due to its historical significance and quirky personality. Seeing as the average lifespan of a Trabi was almost 30 years, it appears that the car’s minimalist attitude and big, sad headlights were enough to make owners hold onto them as long as possible (well, that and the fact that Volkswagen was located in West Germany).

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Photo courtesy The Torque Report

4. If you were impressed by the Trabi’s astounding power, wait until you hear what our next pick pushes out: the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Ford’s high-performance pickup truck, the Raptor gains its power from a 6.2-liter V8 making a whopping 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque. While the Raptor’s growl certainly shows off its tough-as-nails attitude, its exterior also does a lot to show off its personality. With a blacked-out grille, blacked-out rims and graphics designed to look like mud coming off the wheels, the Raptor never ceases to make it known that it wants to tear its competitors apart.

2001 Chrysler Prowler

3. In the number 3 spot is a car that just never really fit: the Chrysler Prowler. Built first as the Plymouth Prowler and later made under the Chrysler name, the Prowler was the attempt of a troubled company to make a factory hot rod. While we certainly have to credit DaimlerChrysler with the attempt, the Prowler just never quite made it work. The car was more than capable, yet it could never be taken seriously thanks to a goofy front bumper that made it look just like Guy Fawkes. Mismatched mechanical and styling personalities just never seem to work out.

1956 Ford F-100

2. Introduced in 1953, the Ford F-100 (the second generation of Ford’s F-Series) is easily our choice for pickup truck with the most personality. While pickup trucks today tend to be all work and no play, the F-100 was able to straddle both worlds. Business in the back, party up front, the truck is basically the opposite of a mullet. With a sturdy and capable rear end and pickup bed, the F-100 can haul hay by day, and the driver can let loose on the gas pedal by night. With an awesome-looking, wide front end with low headlights, the F-100, like the modern Raptor, reminds us that a pickup truck doesn’t have to stick to business—sometimes it’s fun for a truck to cut loose a bit.

2013 Nissan Juke NISMO

Photo courtesy Car and Driver

1. Taking the top spot is a car with a personality that has never ceased to split opinions: the Nissan Juke NISMO. Nissan struck a chord with the Juke’s design, the so-ugly-it’s-cute exterior ensuring most people either love it or loathe it. Add to that the styling package that comes with the NISMO edition, and owning a Juke NISMO is like owning a bulldog with an attitude (and 197 hp). With a body kit, strategically placed red accents and an impressive tuning package, the Nissan Juke NISMO is proof that you don’t need to be beautiful to be cool.

Which cars do you think have the most personality?

-zwaller

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Mazda3
Used Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Used smart fortwo
Used Lamborghini Aventador
Used Ford F-150
Used Chrysler Prowler
Used Ford F-100
Used Nissan Juke

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  1. Randy
    | #1

    Well, the Yugo certainly beats the Trabant as an example of worst is cool, after all, how many cars could be singled out by GM’s Savant of Mediocrity, Roger Smith (even his name was mediocre) to be pronounced “You’ll get a better car by spending the same amount to buy a used GM vehicle.”

    Trucks? My vote goes to the Chevy K5 Blazer, GMC K5 Jimmy as the original SUV’s, more significant even than Chrysler’s minivans. And the Blazer had a lot of personality. Many credit the Ford Bronco and IH Scout as the first SUV’s, but until the full-sized Blazer came out in 1968 did the modern model of a larger, more versatile 4WD SUV appear.

    With a lot more style and personality than the Duesenbergs, cars like the Cord, Bugatti 57 Atlantic, the Auburn Boat-tail and the Stutz Bearcat outdid the stuffy, rich man’s Duesenberg.

    What about classics with style and personality like the Ford Woody, 55 Lincoln Futura (which became the Batmobile) and the Kaiser Darrin. You even missed the ultimate little personality machine, the nash/rambler Metropolitans.

    On and on, like the Aston Martin DB5, Mercedes Gullwing, crazy cars like the AMC Pacer, the poor man’s vette Opel GT. Tons of good stuff, eh?

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