What’s Your Sentimental, Attainable Dream Car?
What's a past car you'd buy again?
Every enthusiast has tiers of dream cars they obsess about. Some are affordable and accessible, while others are outrageously expensive and impossible to even see in person. Both are fun to discuss, but today, we’d like to focus on cars you have always felt close to, cars you briefly drove, or cars you drove the wheels off sometime in the past. Do you miss any of these cars? What is a sentimental dream car you could afford to buy again?
When I was a sophomore in college, I somehow convinced my mother to buy a brand-new three-door 2006 Volkswagen GTI DSG. She owned it for about two years before she got fed up with check engine and airbag lights, as well as some other general reliability annoyances. She traded it in for a front-wheel-drive Ford Escape that provided many miles of carefree, reliable transportation (The ones that had 4X4 were cool as hell back in the day, and she owned one before the GTI). Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as fun and unique as the GTI.
When this little blob of German hatchback design wasn’t acting up, it was a riot. The DSG was smooth and flawless, the suspension was solid yet compliant, and its torquey, direct-injected, 2.0-liter turbo-four pulled so well. The spec sheet says the Mk5 only produced 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, but I swear it felt like much more.
I fell in love with that car, in part because she let me take it to an autocross event one summer. I loved its lack of body roll, acceleration, sweet baritone turbo-four growl, and the way it looked. I maintain that one of the best-looking modern hatchbacks is a three-door Mk5 GTI that’s slightly lowered on 17-inch Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels. I wish she’d held onto it for a few more years or sold it to me for family pricing. I have so many fun memories of rolling around the greater Midwest in it, including way too many high-speed expressway pulls.
Because of all of this, I’ve had a Mk5 GTI on my radar, whether it be a future project or another daily driver. They’re fairly inexpensive in Southern California, but thanks to our nation’s currently crummy used car market and the fact that these things have been beaten to death, it’s hard to find a clean one in good condition with decent miles. I specifically recall cherry examples fetching around $5,000-$6,000 only two years ago, which is why I’m not so keen on spending significantly more at the moment. Eventually, I’ll get my hands on one, it’s just a matter of when..
What car is like this for you? Is there a specific car you’ve driven or have always wanted to drive that you consider to be generally affordable? Let us know in the comments.
What to read next:
- Chris Rosales makes the case that the Golf was the only truly great Volkswagen ever made.
- Read how Kevin Williams took a spontaneous trip to buy a car but ended up helping the owner fix it instead.
- Cadillac should do its own version of Hyundai’s Grandeur concept with a bustle-back Seville.
- Chris sold his BMW ZHP because it wasn’t the dream he wanted it to be.
- Reminisce with Peter Nelson about the Little Tikes Sport Coupe, the first car that taught him driving dynamics.