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Uptown Cars at Downtown Prices

      What do Ford, Mazda, Subaru and Mitsubishi have in common? They sell their Flagship vehicles for about 30 grand.   When you consider that VW has already produced six figure cars, and Lexus and Acura will certainly do so in the next three years, it makes the fact that these manufacturers will let you buy into their brand in a big way for 1/3 of that is quite refreshing.

   What these manufacturers decided was that the car that does the best job of defining who these manufactures are; should be affordable. The 2005 Ford Mustang GT at $26,000 is more then just a bargain, its’ the reincarnation of one of the most signature cars of all time. Ford does make the GT; a much more expensive car at $140,000 that does come with 500 horsepower, but Ford has produced such a small number of these super cars that dealers have been able to sell the handful of cars already built at $125,000 over list. If Ford had wanted the GT to be the flagship car they would have built enough of them that you could get your hands on one if you were so inclined. When Nissan, then Datsun introduced the 240Z they made sure to build enough of them that anybody who walked into the dealership with their wallet in their hand walked out with a car. The Mustang will get both a Shelby edition that is not that different and a cobra edition that bumps the horsepower up to 400 that is due out in the fall of 2005. These versions do not jeopardize the fact that dealers are selling the 2005 Mustang GT below list price and with 300 horsepower that is less then $90 per horse. Although the Mustang is a true sports car and only comes in a two door model they do include two seats in the back for when you are traveling with small children. The back seat is roomier then a Porsche 911 leaving plenty of space for laundry for when you are going home for the weekend.  The best aspect of the new Mustang is that it is a really good looking car. People will notice this car in the parking lot and will be impressed at how Ford was able to capture the spirit of the original.

      The Mazda RX8 is a technological marvel. This car is a two door like many sports cars but has an additional pair of suicide doors that hinge towards the back of the seating compartment that makes access to the backseat much easier then most other sports cars. This car uses the rotary engine that put Mazda on the map; it produces 238 horsepower out of a mere 1.3 liters.  Although the RX8 weighs in at 2900 pounds and is not a light car its engine is used to make street legal ultra light race cars that are lightening quick with 0 to 60 times in the low three’s.  It is this connection that gives the RX8 its racing heritage. Although this car actually lists for about $28k when I checked with local dealers they were eager to sell some cars and quickly knocked off 2 grand. Because of the light engine the RX8 is able to boast of a 50/50 weight distribution. Although you can get a Nissan 350Z for about six thousand more, the RX8 has a real backseat and a very sporty interior. There are two downsides to the RX8, like some other sports cars the front seats feel a little snug, and this cars fuel economy is SUV like.

   When Mitsubishi decided to bring the Lancer Evolution to the United States there was much rejoicing amongst car enthusiasts, this was because the Evo is a true cult classic. Not only is there a magazine dedicated to this car called Evo; this car appears in many video games. This car holds to its rally instincts with a 5.1 second 0 to 60 time made possible by a 276 horsepower 4 cylinder turbo engine. Only the Porsche GT and the Ferrari Enzo can claim as much race car to street car heritage. Even though this car drives a little stiff, it is a blast to drive because when the light changes you can dust most any car that doesn’t have a parachute attached to the back. To give you an idea of how serious they are about racing Mitsubishi makes an RS edition that saves 90 pounds by losing air conditioning and power windows and locks. This version actually cost two thousand less then the regular edition coming in at about $27,500, which is about three and a third as much as the $8,150 that Porsche wants just to add ceramic composite brakes to 911 GT3.

    The Subaru Outback Wagon may not look like a sports car but it has captured the imagination of a lot of people who need a family car to schlep kids to soccer practice but wouldn’t be caught dead driving a minivan. Although the Outback gets 250 horsepower from its 3 liter boxer engine it’s not that quick, but the all wheel drive tends to keep the car on the road even in heavy rain. What this car can do is haul a dozen suitcases at 80 miles per hour without experiencing any strain or stress. Subaru does make other cars like the Forester for $15,000 and the explosive WRX STI but these cars don’t have the passionate followers in the same way that the Outback does. As a minivan alternative that is not too pretentious, and can handle most situations easily, the Outback has become a very sought after vehicle.

    Although exotic cars are great fun to fantasize about, these four cars will get you where you have to go without forcing you to jeopardize your children’s college fund, limit your vacation plans to your backyard, or drive a mundane boring car.

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