Seven Days of Dream Car Garages: Day Six by Craig Cole

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

It’s the sixth day of AutoGuide’s Dream Car Garage list. Now it’s Associate Editor Craig Cole’s turn to share his 10 favorite vehicles, an eclectic, unexpected rundown of cars and trucks.

Even though the 1936 Ford was a couple years too late to service gangsters like John Dillinger and the crime duet Bonnie and Clyde, it’s got the look of earlier models, with an upright grille, gracefully arching fenders and those all-important running boards. It’s a classic design from the most graceful period of automotive history.

Under the car’s double-hinged hood sits a 221-cubic-inch wonder, the world’s first mass-market V8 engine. Ford’s famous flathead delivered a full 85 horsepower and belted out the Depression-era’s greatest hit, a syncopated rhythm controlled directly by the driver’s right foot.

That’s a laughably modest power rating by today’s standards, but Fords were the inexpensive performance cars of their era. Thanks to ample torque, low gearing and a curb weight that was considerably lighter than the competition, these cars were built to run. Advertised top speed was nearly 90 miles an hour. A terrifying figure for a car equipped with mechanically operated drum brakes.

When it comes to classic autos most people seem to prefer muscle cars. If they do have a soft spot for older iron they typically go for coupes or roadsters. Sedans – especially “Fordor” models – are almost sneered at, but I LOVE them, especially when equipped with suicide doors as this ’36. In fact I appreciate them so much I’m restoring one right now, so it’s mandatory to have an example in my dream garage.

Being an 80-year-old in a 28-year-old’s body goes a long way to explaining my affinity for ancient cars like this one, and you know something, it’s not always about performance…

But then again sometimes performance is all that matters, which is why the Ford GT has a parking spot in my dream garage, plus Jason Siu already claimed the Audi R8 I had my eye on. The company only built these magnificent machines for a couple years, but the short run doesn’t diminish their awesomeness, rather it burnishes it to a blinding glow.

Styled after the triumphant GT40s that stormed Le Mans and trounced Ferrari in the 1960s, the 21st-century version is an honorable homage to the original.

Probably one of the most distinctive-looking supercars to ever prowl the road, Ford’s awesome GT is a driver’s dream. A hand-built 5.4-liter supercharged V8 is mounted immediately behind the cabin, delivering a 550 horsepower kick in the ass along with an equal measure of torque. Quad camshafts actuate a veritable forest of valves – four per cylinder – for maximum airflow.

The car is a cocktail of exotic materials including aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium. With a starting price of about $140,000 it was a bargain relative to the performance it delivered.

Even today the GT is brutally fast but civilized at the same time. It can rip your face off and eat it, for Sunday brunch. I’ll take mine in the orange and blue Gulf Oil livery, thank you very much.

Low to the ground with a road-hugging stance and gracefully tapering lines, the Hudson Hornet was a remarkable car. Unibody construction enabled so-called “step-down styling,” a moniker coined because passengers actually sat lower than in competing body-on-frame cars of the period. Overall, the look was a cut above its competition.

Now, why would I want some porcine relic from the 1950s in my dream garage? Well, it’s simple, show me a modern sedan that looks this cool and has this much soul. That’s right, one doesn’t exist, plus it’s my list and if you don’t like it you can go read Nancy Drew.

The Hudson Hornet is one of the prettiest four-doors ever built, plus it packs a heavyweight wallop. Under its voluptuous hood sits a monstrous 308-cubic-inch inline-six – that’s a full 5.0-liters of displacement in metric

measure. With optional “Twin H-Power” induction it delivered a potent-for-the-time 145 horsepower and a steam-shovel load of torque.

The flathead beast thundered like a piece of World War II field artillery and gave professional drivers enough firepower to take home a bevy of stock-car racing records during the middle of the last century. In the process they assured the Hudson Hornet’s cool-car credentials for decades to come.

What starts with an “A” and rhymes with “howdy”? Audi of course. The German luxury automaker is a precious Bavarian jewel deserving a place of reverence in my dream garage.

The company is an industry benchmark for design and interior quality. Arguably no product in its lineup delivers on these promises of good taste better than the flagship A8. But who wants to rough it with the standard car’s supercharged V6 or optional twin-turbo eight? The S-version cranks up the wick, hauling freight and hitting like a silken sledgehammer.

The car’s 4.0-liter V8 features the same forced-induction arrangement as the regular A8’s up-level powerplant, but in “S” guise it delivers a 520 horsepower tsunami that washes away any doubts big cars can’t hustle. Audi’s world-renowned quattro all-wheel drive system and adaptive air suspension sink the S8’s claws into the road surface for a thrilling yet luxurious drive.

Throw in Autobahn-approved brakes, a responsive eight-speed transmission and the most luxurious cabin this side of the Palace of Versailles and you’ve got a recipe for all-out awesomeness.

My next vehicular choice is at the opposite end of the automotive spectrum. Everyone needs the services of a pickup from time to time; there’s no way I’m cramming a washing machine in the Ford GT or hauling a load of firewood in the S8. Thankfully the Chevrolet Silverado HD is a truck down to its fully boxed, ladder-frame bones. For heavy-duty towing and hauling the GM T900 can’t be beat.

It may not be the prettiest or most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road but it’s a workhorse par excellence. When equipped with the optional 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine the Silverado HD has enough axle-twisting torque to rip giant sequoias out by their roots and stop the earth’s rotation. These are reasons enough to keep one around, plus, of course, they have room for a new Whirlpool.

Revolutionary cars don’t come along every day. The automotive industry is all about incrementing its way ahead by redesigning and improving upon what’s already been built. Playing it safe and guarding long-term interests is the name of the game. For OEMs with shareholders it’s best to not rock the boat.

But when the Citroën DS landed on the market in 1955 it must have looked like something from the Zeta Reticuli, not a terrestrial automaker. Its sleek body and flowing lines appear futuristic even today.

SEE ALSO: The Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

At the time the DS offered a literal boatload of cutting-edge features – from how it was designed and constructed to the way rode and drove. Its headline element was an advanced hydropneumatic suspension system that treated passengers to a butter cream-smooth ride – like floating on frosting. The DS’s fancy suspenders were even height-adjustable and load-leveling. Top that, Land Rover!

The French get no respect. All too often they’re the butt of jokes from Americans or Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson. But like a Monet painting, a gothic cathedral or a Grand Cru Burgundy wine, in its day the Citroën DS was the pinnacle of its field, which is why there’s space for one of these quirky cars in my dream garage.

The Ultimate Driving Machine. For more than three decades BMW’s mantra has signaled to potential buyers the cars they build are special, that they’re designed and manufactured for a discerning few. You can argue, as I do, they’ve lost their way over the last few years, pushing electronics, technology and crossover vehicles over driving dynamics and performance. Some of their recent efforts seem to have missed the target. The new 3 Series comes to mind.

But it wasn’t always this way. BMW used to be committed to drivers, and arguably no other vehicle in its now-vast lineup was more focused than the M3, especially in the E46 generation (model years 1999 to 2005). It was a surgical scalpel in a drawer full of hacksaw blades.

This was the last M3 with a proper naturally aspirated inline six under the hood. The next-generation car switched to a high-winding V8, which in all fairness absolutely rocked, but is a BMW truly a BMW if a straight six isn’t mounted ahead of the firewall? You tell me.

The engine only weighed in at 3.2-liters but it delivered absolutely heroic numbers. In the U.S. 333 horsepower was signed, sealed and delivered to the rear wheels. European models put out even more.

With an iron block, the S54 as it was internally known, revved to 8,000 RPM and broke through the coveted 100-horsepower-per-liter barrier, and it did so without any forced-induction bandages. It transformed the already lithe 3 Series coupe into a rip-snortin’ two-door rocket that could chew up and spit out unsuspecting performance vehicles. At the time these cars were so cool absolute zero seemed scalding by comparison. They were a driver’s delight and proof that BMW was committed to enthusiasts.

If the M3 is all about funneling driving pleasure to the left-front chair then my next pick is dedicated smothering rear-seat passengers in obscene luxury. As land barges go, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is as lavish as they come.

Why a Roller? Well, sometimes you just don’t feel like driving. On those rare occasions the ghostly Phantom is perfect for the job.

Its interior is swathed in hectares of supple animal hides, knee-deep carpeting and enough wood trim to make it feel as though you’re sitting inside a tree. The floor mats are so plush asphyxiation from wool inhalation is a serious threat.

The car is also loaded with all kinds of gadgets and clever touches, from power-closing suicide doors to artfully concealed umbrellas. Overall the vehicle oozes class(warfare) and refinement.

For my personal chauffeur (we’ll call her “Alexandra”), a 6.7-liter V12 waits under the Phantom’s aircraft carrier-sized hood. Brandishing direct fuel injection and as many other technologies as money can buy, it delivers a stout 453 brake horsepower, likely more than the Space Shuttle.

In a lot of ways the Phantom is a car from a different era. It’s huge, it’s opulent and it’s highly desirable. Like American sedans of decades past this Rolls-Royce is an ocean liner for the highway.

By now you can tell I have cripplingly eclectic automotive taste. So far my list of dream cars contains no Ferraris, zero Lamborghinis and not a single Lotus, and that’s not going to change with my last two picks. With few exceptions I prefer offbeat cars with lots of character, just like this Eastern European beauty.

The Tatra T603 is a bathtub of a sedan with a rounded, almost bulbous body. Its distinctive appearance hints at the clever engineering hidden within.

Built in the Czechoslovakia, the T603 was the go-to car for communist-party officials and was a relatively common sight in Eastern-Bloc countries during the Cold War. More than 20,000 examples were made, many by hand, over a 20-year production run.

Part of what makes this vehicle so cool is the engine. It was powered by a rear-mounted, hemi-head, air-cooled V8 that actually hung out over the rear axle. This gave the T603 decent power and “interesting” handling characteristics.

With one of these puppies in my dream garage I’m never going to see another one in America. Gawker attention at the annual Woodward Dream Cruise is guaranteed. Advantage: Tatra.

The T603, Czechoslovakia’s finest vehicle, back from the days when, you know, there actually was a Czechoslovakia. Stylin’ like a party boss!

Wrapping things up, my final vehicular choice is something else off the beaten path, off road entirely, in fact. Jeep’s iconic Wrangler is the perfect trucklette for slogging through dirt and mud should the desire to get soiled ever tickle my fancy.

Practically an American institution, the Wrangler’s roots reach back many decades to the original Willys Jeep. Its forebear’s legacy was forged on the beaches of Normandy, where it hammered its way across the French countryside liberating its populace from Nazi oppression. It served with valor on countless other battlefields as well.

That red-white-and-blue heritage is alive and well in today’s rough-and-ready Wrangler, an American vehicle proudly assembled in Toledo, Ohio. It’s the automotive equivalent of the Fourth of July, Black Friday and a Norman Rockwell painting all rolled into one. Patriotism expressed with four-wheel drive and knobby tires. A fine choice for a Dream Garage if I do say so myself.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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  • Nonymous Nonymous on Jan 25, 2013

    Hope to hear more about that 1936 Ford. I like the styling, Ford's transition into Streamline Moderne style. -AM2

  • Isend2C Isend2C on Oct 06, 2014

    Such a wonderful selection! It's so personal and you had to have thought: "what's that random communist car I like? oh yeah!". I wish that you had done a video or narrated this, I Love how you speak in your videos.

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