My 50 Favorite Vehicles of The Past 50 Years

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring 16
Did this make the list? All Photos by Randy Stern

This February 5th will mark a personal milestone – I turn 50 years old.

To celebrate, I felt compelled to compile a list of 50 favorite automobiles of the past 50 years. These are vehicles that shape what I do today – from cars my family drive to some of the best vehicles I have driven for today's work.

This was the toughest list to put together. None of these vehicles came easy. It took a lot of memory visualization to go back in time. It is not a list that everyone will agree upon – after all I drove each and every one them (except for a couple – I was too young to drive those)!

Enjoy this list – all 50 of them.

1991 ACURA INTEGRA: The best car I ever owned. Heck, it got me through finishing undergrad.

2012 Acura TL SH-AWD 27

2012-2014 ACURA TL: In summary, the right Acura for an old Integra owner – all grown up. This is a mature sedan with an awesome all-wheel drive system.

1984-1988 AUDI 5000/100: If only a lawsuit would have not happened, it would have gone down as one of the best sedans of its kind ever sold here.

2013- BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT/GTC: I will still say it – "Heaven." Enough said.

2006-2011 BMW 3-SERIES (E90): Let us agree on one thing: This is best 3-Series ever! It was perfectly executed towards being a great driving sports sedan.

2011- BUICK REGAL: The unsung hero of the Tri-Shield brand. It is truly the best road car amongst the lineup. I will take mine turbocharged, please?

2009- CADILLAC CTS-V: For its second generation, the Crest-and-Wreath went for it. How do you quantify 556 supercharged horsepower and drive so civilized?

1967 CHEVROLET IMPALA: It replaced a 1965 Plymouth Satellite. I’m glad we kept for a good number of years.

1977-79 CHEVROLET CAPRICE CLASSIC/IMPALA: It was what General Motors had to do – downsize. For Chevrolet – they nailed it! Though shorter by almost a foot, they maximized space and efficiency.

1995-2002 CHEVROLET CAVALIER: The J-Car had been around so long that they got it to the point of drivability. The aero look and updated interior helped matters as well.

1995-2000 CHEVROLET LUMINA: For once, Chevrolet produced a front-drive full-sized sedan that was inoffensive and lovely to drive.

1995-2000 CHRYSLER CIRRUS/DODGE STRATUS/PLYMOUTH BREEZE: The last to go cab-forward was the most balanced of the era.

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Again 2

2012- CHRYSLER 300 SRT8: Brutal luxury – that is how you describe the most refined SRT of them all.

1970-1972 DATSUN 240Z: A true sports car that defined a generation. This is the benchmark for all two-seat, rear-drive, front-engine "affordable" coupes to match or beat.

2008- DODGE CHALLENGER: It brought back memories of a familiar car of my childhood. It drove exactly how I remembered it…the only ponycar that matters.

2013- DODGE DART: Once a VOTY, always a VOTY. This car was simply fun!

1967-1968 FORD MUSTANG: Forget the ultra light front end, to drive a classic Mustang is to understand its allure. It is simply my favorite pony of them all.

1983-1986 FORD THUNDERBIRD: You always remember your first rental car. The big, aerobird combines luxury and fun.

1986-1991 FORD TAURUS/MERCURY SABLE: The rebirth of the American midsized sedan. With aerodynamic styling with room for six, it was a winning combination for the time.

2000- 2004 FORD FOCUS: The first one made quite an impression – little was done to translate the global version to our shores. They were absolute fun to drive.

2013- FORD EXPLORER SPORT: Take a popular three-row crossover/SUV, add the Taurus/F-150 V6 EcoBoost…and press the throttle. Can you say "OMG?"

1984-1987, 1988-1991 HONDA CIVIC: In my humble opinion, these two generations are the best of the line – back-to-back. You swore that you drove an Acura Integra or a Prelude instead of a compact car.

2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 2

2009-2014 HYUNDAI GENESIS SEDAN: No one expected the Korean automaker to make a rear-drive premium sedan with intentions on playing with the Germans and the Japanese. Guess what? It is quite good.

1990-1994 INFINITI Q45: Nissan's idea of a flagship sedan for our market was unique. Yet, it was extremely refined for its time.

2013- JAGUAR XJ: Waited decades to drive a Jag. The wait was worth it!

2012- JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT: Drive one on the track and find out why this is one of the most awesome rides around.

2013- LEXUS LS: Absolute luxury only found in a flagship. This is just a divine ride with a spindle grille as the icing on this cake.

2003-2008 MAZDA6: A true sports sedan with swift moves and swagger of its own. It befits the tag line of "Zoom-Zoom."

2014- MAZDA6: Amongst current mid-sized sedans, this one is the best driver amongst the crowd. It is a car apart from the crowd – as it should be.

1983-1988 MITSUBISHI CORDIA: My first three-diamond car I ever drove. It defined fun for a class that is supposed to be as such.

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

2009- MITSUBISHI LANCER RALLIART: Not one of your typical Lancers. Not exactly an Evo. But, it has everything I want in a Lancer, including amazing response from the throttle.

1989-1994 NISSAN MAXIMA: Perhaps the best front-drive sedan Nissan ever made. It was roomy, athletic and loaded for bear. This truly earned the moniker: "Four Door Sports Car."

1995-1999 NISSAN SENTRA: Perhaps the best of its kind – roomy and really fun to drive.

2002-2006 NISSAN ALTIMA: This generation brought focus to the mid-sizer by combining sport, luxury and true five-passenger space.

1972 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT: My first car. There are too many stories to tell about this one.

1982-1996 OLDSMOBILE CUTLASS CIERA: A staple of my rental car days in the 1980s. This is one of the truest Oldsmobiles, despite being badge-engineered.

1988-1997 OLDSMOBILE CUTLASS SUPREME: The W-Body switched the Supreme One to front drive. The result? It was massive fun in a comfortable long distance driver.

1998-2002 OLDSMOBILE INTRIGUE: The one chance for GM to produce a Rocket for its time. It was best of its lineage – starting with the Cutlass Ciera.

1970 PLYMOUTH BARRACUDA: The most memorable car our family ever owned. We should have kept it for Matthew to drive when he got to high school.

1992 PONTIAC BONNEVILLE: Instead of being stodgy and boxy, the big Bonnie was given a sexier look, more space and plenty of performance. Could possibly be the best of the arrowhead brand of its time?

1999-2005 PONTIAC GRAND AM: Before you knock the plastic cladding design, understand this: One car has given me more joy for exploring entire new regions for me. This final Grand Am helped me carve out as much of the Mid-Atlantic region and the Midwest with enthusiasm and enjoyment.

2008 Pontiac G6 Coupe 1

2005-2010 PONTIAC G6: In replacing the Grand Am, it was to be a driver for sales. It was also a nice driving machine. That was until the brand was left at bankruptcy court.

2009- RAM 1500: My choice amongst full-sized pickups. A great cabin goes along with better rear suspension and that HEMI roar.

2011 SAAB 9-5: The last new car from the brand. It was really that good.

1984-1987 TOYOTA COROLLA: The switch to front wheel drive also meant the most space efficient Corolla ever. Let us not forget about the FX16 hatchback!

1986-1989 TOYOTA CELICA: The best of the breed. Period. IMHO.

1984-1992 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF: The Mark II advanced the breed by creating more space efficiency and more flexible driveline options. What they did not change was the Golf’s fun-to-drive quotient.

1985-1992 VOLVO 740: The first European car I ever drove. Boring, you say? I beg to differ…

2001-2009 VOLVO S60: The front-drive Swede that is more than a revelation. It is truly the most fun to be had in a Volvo.

2007-2010 VOLVO V70: A wagon can be as fun as the sedan it is derived from. Yes, it is true!

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