While many auto journalists will tell you they’re just trying to scratch a living out of whatever they can, it’s an undisputed fact that the job has some definite perks. Although we can’t live the life of the rich and famous every day, we do occasionally get invited to drive the cars we cover. For a couple of beautiful days in October, Monticello Motor Club—one of the most exclusive and impressive automotive country clubs in America—opens its doors for the International Motor Press Association‘s (IMPA) Test Days, where schlubs like us get asked to drive some of the best new cars in the world on both a technical race track and the back roads of the Catskill Mountains.
Road & Track columnist Peter Egan once wrote, “Cars are considered to be an art form, yet the Mona Lisa, I’ve noticed, never needs a cooling system flush or new brake pads.” Automotive design has been an integral part of the car industry since the 1920s, when GM began to develop the first year-over-year changes to their cars’ visual appearance. As makes and models have evolved, so have the varying design languages associated with them—with varying degrees of success.
No matter what the application, technology always advances. In the 1980s, Casio was famous for its Databank watch. It included enough storage memory for some addresses and phone numbers, and it had a handy calculator, just in case you decided to tip 18.7%. In April, 2015, Apple released its own smart watch. It’s roughly the same shape as Casio’s Databank, but the technology now allows for 8 gigabytes of storage, a touchscreen, haptic feedback, and a range of apps that cover everything from the weather to the Red Sox score to what Jeremy Clarkson’s been tweeting this week. Cars are no different.
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you still haven’t gotten Mom that gift to show her you appreciate all those years she lost out to raising the fine individual you have become, you might want to look into some quick gift ideas. So head to the flower shop, pick up a nice heartfelt card from the convenience store down on the corner, or head over to a used-car lot and pick her up something nice. If you really wanted to show Mom how much you appreciated your childhood, maybe you should get her a car that takes her back to a time before she had kids. Get her something sporty, something fun, something that will remind her of her more carefree days.
There are cars that are “nice to drive,” and there are cars that are “fun to drive.”
Plenty of options exist for the people who prefer a smooth ride, luxurious cabin, numb steering and no real connection between driver and pavement. I won’t name names here, but feel free to make assumptions.
On the other hand, some cars simply beg to be driven hard, because doing so provides an overload of sensory excitement and pure joy. Yes, many of those cost upward of $100,000, but for mere plebeians like me, driving joy can be had for $30K and under.
Keep reading for seven examples of inexpensive greatness.