Cars we bought with our own money in 2016
When it really boils down to it, the Autoblog staff is full of a bunch of guys and girls who love cars. Unlike most people, though, we get the chance to spend time in pretty much every new vehicle available for sale in America. It's probably not surprising, then, that one of the most common questions we're asked is this: "So, what kind of car do you own?"
With that in mind, we decided it'd be fun to put together this list of vehicles that Autoblog staff members bought for themselves in 2016. As you can see, our automotive tastes are varied and, if we're honest, a little offbeat. Click on the image above to see what we mean.
1975 Volkswagen Camper Van
I've always had a thing for old air-cooled VWs. I have fond memories of my mom's 1966 Beetle Convertible, and the first car I ever owned was a Karmann Ghia. But I'd never had a van until this year.
This particular example is a hightop conversion made by a Californian company called Safare (no, not Safari). I've got all the appliances working properly, and 'ol Blue's original flat-four is purring away nicely. It's not without problems – the interior is being stripped, recovered, and refinished this winter – but it's mine. And my wife and I can't wait to make some memories this summer.
– Jeremy Korzeniewski, Consumer Editor
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1991 Honda Beat
So I bought a 1991 Honda Beat, for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I like odd, esoteric automobiles and I have a minor obsession with Japanese microcars. By virtue of it being 25 years old and freshly legal for import, the Beat is more rare than its modest price would suggest. But my attraction to this car has less to do with popularity and more to do with all of its quirks. Like the exotic mid-engine layout and individual throttle bodies for each cylinder. Three cylinders, to be exact, pumping out a mighty 63 horsepower.
Laugh if you like, but the Beat keeps up with traffic just fine. It only requires a lot of flooring and a lot of revs (my car seems to be altered from the factory 8,500-rpm redline to a 9,000-rpm cutoff). And on that subject I say: How many other cars can you drive flat out in a school zone? In a Hellcat, I'm trying to keep the tires from breaking loose for the 3 seconds I can hit the gas before hitting reckless-endangerment speeds. In the Beat I'm rowing through all five gears before I get to 50 mph. Which is to say, sometimes 63 horsepower is more fun than 707. The Beat is automotive minimalism at its best, and I freaking love this car.
– Michael Austin, Editor-in-Chief
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1998 Toyota Tacoma
I'm from Western Washington, and since the Cascades are so close, you end up growing up in them, hiking, camping, and traveling through them to get to other places. When I lived in Michigan, the thing I missed most about Seattle was getting up into the mountains. I had a winter beater S-10 Blazer in the mitten state, which was awful but had real four-wheel drive. So after I moved back to a town just south of Seattle, I was able to look for something I've wanted for years: a 1998–2000 Tacoma. My dad's always had Toyota pickups, and I love the compact size, the simple styling, and the wealth of aftermarket parts available. So does everyone else, which means even ratty trucks command strong prices. This was about the longest and most difficult vehicle search I've ever done. I finally found this '98 V6 4x4, which needed some deferred maintenance but was otherwise clean – a good starting point. It had fresh tires and a nice canopy to keep things dry in back through the sopping winter, and it was also a manual (which I was reluctant to compromise on).
I didn't realize at the time that the steering slop that was there when I bought the Tacoma wasn't going to be fixed with a simple alignment, so it's spending the winter in the garage as I slowly address the things I need to do before taking it camping this summer. I've replaced the front shocks and front brakes, and am preparing to do the timing belt, steering rack, clutch, and some bushings. After that I can get to the fun stuff, like building a sleeping platform, a rear bumper with a swing-out carrier, and some frame sliders. If I get ambitious, a winch and another set of rims shod in BFGoodrich KO2s are on the list. I'm aiming for a capable overland truck, simple and mostly stock, with the stuff I need to get way out there solo. I can't wait to get it dirty.
– Alex Kierstein, Senior Editor
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1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG
This year I bought my grandpa’s beautiful silver 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG. Simply put, I’m in love with it. I’ve lusted after this car ever since he purchased it a few years back. He passed away in December 2015, and I was determined to keep it in the family. My grandpa and my dad both inspired my passion for automobiles, and I wouldn’t be writing this today if it wasn’t for their influence. I’m lucky enough to have the last car Grandpa ever saw fit to own.
This car had fewer than 60,000 miles on it when I took possession back in September, and was one of only 1,425 built over a three-year run. The C43 was one of the first vehicles Mercedes-Benz and AMG co-developed. While it’s not a rocket, it’s no slouch. The three-valve single-overhead-cam 4.3-liter V8 turns out 302 horsepower and an equal amount of torque, and sounds like the Blitzkrieg at wide-open throttle. Personally, I think it’s one of the best looking vehicles Mercedes has ever designed, particularly with the AMG monoblock wheels. But maybe I'm partial to it.
– Reese Counts, Associate Editor