The Five Cars You Need to Drive Before You Kick the Bucket

You wouldn’t like to be in our office every time we have a new test car around to review for your reading/documentation purposes. After driving it, each member of our team leaves with a different opinion on it and the contradictory discussions seem to never end. Heck, some will even go as far as to stop talking to some of their colleagues for a while, that’s how serious they take matters.
Cars Compilation 1 photo
Photo: Image edited by autoevolution
Therefore, when I came up with the idea of creating a list of cars that every so-called ‘petrolhead’ should drive before departing the world of the living, the discussions were more than fierce. However, in the end, we managed to write down five of them that might not suit everyone’s taste but were regarded as the best compromises in the given situation. So, without further ado, here’s our list, in a completely random order.

1992 Dodge Viper

Built back in the early 1990s, this beast was more than the world could handle back then. It was an absolute beast that had the best the industry had to offer back in the late 1980s and early 1990s in its corner before it even reached the streets in production guise.

The legend says that the legendary Bob Lutz insisted that Chrysler should create a modern equivalent of the Cobra and that’s basically how the Viper came to life (notice the snake names?). Later on, as the car was getting closer to production even Caroll Shelby got involved, driving a pre-production version at the Indianapolis 500 race, raising the public’s interest in it even higher.

The original was developed with the help of Lamborghini that was owned by Chrysler back then. They put together the 8-liter V10 engine and cast its aluminum block and heads. This beating heart was heavy at 323 kg (711 lbs) by today’s standards but used to make around 400 BHP and 630 Nm (465 lb-ft) of torque which was monstrous back then.

Thanks to it, the Viper was capable of doing 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and the 1/4 mile run was handled in 12.9 seconds with a trap speed of 113.8 mph (183 km/h). Fitted with a manual 6-speed gearbox and no driving aids as we have today, you must drive one of these before saying a definite goodbye to your loved ones. That configuration might also be your doom if you’re not careful enough.

1961 Jaguar E-Type

Dubbed as the most beautiful car in the world plenty of times, the grace and stile of the Jag are hard to beat even today. Released back in the 1960s the car basically wrote history and paved the way for another car that is receiving incredible reviews these days, the F-Type.

What we like the most about the E-Type is the statement it makes when you see one down the road. You know that the man behind its wheel knows its cars and that he’s willing to pay for an icon. And the Jag has a hefty price too.

Depending on the year and state, it can easily go over $100,000 but that’s nothing if you’re a collector, as this thing is bound to go up in value over the next years.

If back in the day the car also used to be revered for its driving dynamics, it would fail to reach to the same heights today. But that’s not what draws you to it.

The long bonnet hiding an inline 6-cylinder engine, the curves of the body and the exclusivity are the traits that are simply irresistible. Be it in a 2-door coupe, 2+2 coupe or roadster guise, it will work for us. Just make sure you get behind the wheel of one before it’s too late.

Pagani Zonda F

It was 1999 when Horacio Pagani first showed the world the Pagani Zonda and everyone stopped for a moment. We knew what a supercar was until then but this car seemingly demanded a new title, one that went beyond ‘super’. That’s basically how the ‘hypercar’ niche came to life.

The original Zonda had a 6-liter V12 developed by Mercedes in it and relied on 394 HP and a 5-speed manual gearbox to get around. It was called the C12 and would do 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds. It looks rather dull today, right? Especially since an electric car can do the same sprint one second faster…

Well, that was 16 years ago and it was nearly unheard of. However, we wouldn’t count the C12 in our bucket-list top. We’re talking about a different Zonda, the F version and no, the letter doesn’t stand for what you’re thinking of.

There are a couple of reasons why we’d pick this one of out the bunch. Horacio did create a bunch of special models and we could’ve gone for one of those but instead we think that the car that basically provided the basis for all of them is the one to drive.

Only 25 Zonda F’s were ever made and they all have a 7.3-liter V12 from AMG onboard making 602 HP and 560 lb-ft (760 Nm) of torque. The mill is atmospheric so there’s no such thing as turbo lag or a sudden accumulation of twist. The delivery is silky smooth and at just over 1.2 tons it’s a rocket. That’s probably why they are driven only by experienced pilots and the owners prefer to keep them locked up. Yeah, that might as well become your casket if you’re not careful…

BMW E30 M3

You’ve heard at least one passionate gearhead say that the E30 M3 is an epitome of handling and a car that should be taught in engineering schools to everyone ever wanting to work for a serious car maker, right? Well, there are so many people like this out there that there has to be some truth to it, right?

Prices for the original M3 are going through the roof at the moment so that’s yet another clue, huh? The truth of the matter is, the planets in the automotive field lined-up when the M3 showed up.

Back in the 1980s BMW was involved in a couple of motorsport championships and the touring car of choice was the E12 M635i that was good but rather heavy and showed it on the track. The CEO of the time wanted a smaller, lighter car for touring championships and that’s how the E30 M3.

Luck or faith made it so that at that time, engineers that worked on the 3.0CSL and the M1 were still with BMW and thanks to them and the motorsport experience the company gathered under its belt since the 1960s made sure that this would be a name you wouldn’t forget.

The M3, in various iterations, is to this day the most successful car in Touring car championships with countless wins and titles to its name. The E30 is the one that started it all and has a balance and feedback in stock guise close to what pilots used in the DTM back in the day. That’s what makes it magical and that’s what turned it into an icon over the years.

A Formula 1 car

This time we’re being less specific. Driving a Formula 1 car has to be the epitome of any gearhead, no matter who he is. Various people in the business tried to do it but most of them ended up making fools of themselves and we mean famous drivers not just anyone.

A Formula 1 car has to sit at the top of any list like the one we put together today as it would encompass the latest technology in the field at any given moment.

Why would a Formula 1 car be the ultimate challenge when the Zonda F is included here, right? Well, as incredible as the Pagani creation might look like, it’s peanuts compared to a 1-seater.

The cars themselves are technological marvels, some having over 80,000 components in total. Due to that huge number, if one would be assembled 99.9 percent correctly, it would have around 80 parts misplaced. Yeah, wrap your head around that.

And that’s just one amazing fact about F1 racers. But the car is only part of the story. To drive one, you’d have to be physically fit and we don’t mean just to be able to squeeze into the car but actually handle the forces thrown at you.

When braking, for example, a driver will experience up to and over 5g of loading on his body and up to 4g whe cornering. That’s about 4 or 5 times more than what an ordinary car could possibly pull. To better put things in perspective, think about the fact that a space shuttle acceleration tips at around 3.5g while fighter jets (yes, the ones that actually fly) top out around 8g.

That means you’d be feeling 5 times your body weight. Could your lungs, liver and kidneys handle that? Neither could anyone else's, but F1 drivers actually go through extremely intensive trainings to make sure they can withstand all of the above, just like fighter pilots.

The Red Bull team, for example, once claimed that their team drivers are trained by keeping their pulse at around 200 BPM for 2 hours. That’s twice as much as is usually recommended for any human being for a short period of time. I’m sure that once you get inside one of those cars, your heart will be beating pretty hard too. So this is our list, what about yours? What cars would make the cut?
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