We spend a lot of time at Autoblog evaluating cars from ordinary to outrageous to help you learn what car is the best for you. We even have a segment of our podcast called “Spend My Money” all about helping listeners find the right car for them. As such, we thought maybe we should share with you what we have spent our own, real money on.
Our garages are quite diverse, featuring everything from stock crossovers to modified sports cars. We have cars from all around the world and of all ages. And we have all kinds of reasons for owning what we have, as well as likes and dislikes. So click on to see what our ultimate editors’ picks are.
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer
I bought this 2001 Acura Integra GS-R just a week before my 16th birthday, and it’s been mine ever since. The months prior to my purchase were dedicated to reading all the original reviews in the buff books of small, sporty cars from the 1990s and tirelessly searching used car listings. That way, I’d know exactly what was, or wasn’t, hot from a fantastic era of cars that was becoming gloriously affordable in the early 2010s. I had narrowed it down to just a few options by the time I decided on the Integra, but in the end there were a few specific things that landed this car in my driveway: engine, handling and reliability.
Firstly, the GS-R is a fun car to drive. It has a little 1.8-liter four-cylinder that revs to 8,100 rpm. A big thank you to VTEC for making my trips back and forth to high school far more entertaining than they would’ve been otherwise. The engine only makes 170 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, but it’s light enough that 60 mph happens in just under 7 seconds. That was more than plenty for me then, and it’s still plenty now. And oh yeah, all the ink you’ve seen spilled about how great the Integra Type R drives and handles; much of that applies to the GS-R, too. You just need some modifications to get there, and I won’t go into detail about what’s different underneath mine (plenty), but it’s remarkably refreshing to drive on a good road.
Aside from the Integra, two cars from my significant other live in the garage. One is a Milano Red 1999 Honda Civic Si, and the other is a Soul Red 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback. And yes, the Mazda is a manual. We use the Mazda for the mundane tasks of life (it’s the daily), and the Civic Si serves the same purpose as my Integra these days: pure fun.
Associate Editor Byron Hurd
The last time we did an editors’ rides round-up, I had a garage dominated by then-FCA products (see top left). The balance has since shifted. The Challenger left on a Carvana flatbed in the summer of ’20 after an offer I absolutely couldn’t refuse, and with it my only car payment. I picked up my 2003 Toyota Matrix XRS in the southwest later that year; it’s my utility vehicle. As Corollas go, it’s not bad — special, but not so special that I feel bad using it to haul mulch.
But since I really hate money, my lack of payment lasted barely a year. After attending the launch at VIR, I was so smitten by the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing that I placed an order for one. The above photo is from the day I took delivery. Sadly, that was in November, and it has thus sat dormant in my Michigan garage for the bulk of the time it has been in my possession. Soon, you Blaze Orange riot. Soon.
My winter utility champ is my 2011 Wrangler. It’s a mess, but a stubborn and reliable one. The 3.8L “minivan” engine is a complete dog, and the base fuel-sipper gearing makes it both too slow for the highway and too fast for trail crawling. Plus, it’s beige. Sorry, tan. Both diffs are open and everything is stock, less the parts that have been damaged or knocked off on trails. Yes, this Wrangler has spent a significant amount of time off-road, both in the Northeast and the Southwest.
Then, there’s the Miata. This is the car I’ve owned longer than any other in my life. It’s also one of two Miatas I’ve owned so far, and I doubt it will be long before that number ticks up yet again. It had more than 200,000 miles on it when I bought it in northern Virginia back in 2008, and the clutch slipped when it was cold, likely due to rear main seal leak from the 1.6L. In the 12 years I’ve owned it, it has seen numerous track and autocross events and never failed me once. Oh, and the clutch still slips when it’s cold.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder
When we last checked in with staff rides, I was without a personal car, having sold my 2004 Subaru WRX, and my wife was daily-driving a 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK turbo-diesel. I had said we’d likely replace the GLK with something bigger, especially if we had another child, and that I’d be more likely to get something impractical for myself rather than take over the Mercedes as my own. Well, we had another child, my wife now drives a Hyundai Palisade, and I’ve got a 1974 VW Beetle in my garage. I’ve written about the Palisade quite a bit, and it’s still serving us well. What we’d considered our extreme-use case — a long drive in a car packed with kids, pets and a week’s worth of luggage — happens more often than I think either of us expected, but if you’ve got the ability, why not make use of it, right? Live a little.
As for that Beetle, it’s a lifelong dream realized, and it was a surprise from my wife (I am, indeed, a lucky man). What child of the ‘70s or ‘80s wasn’t enamored with the ol’ slug bug? Now, whenever I sit in it, I get flashbacks of cruising down a rainy Highway 101 along the winding cliffs of the Oregon coast, teasing more speed out of my friend Luke’s Bug, snacking on bulk figs and coaxing the cold motor back to life after stopping to traverse the Hobbit Trail and comb the beach for agates. Right now, I’m trying to chase down an electrical gremlin affecting the lighting, but the car runs great, and I can’t wait for a summer of bumming around Ann Arbor in the perfect car for an Ann Arbor summer.
Just as with my last update, I’m always thinking about what’s next, however far out that forecast may be. With both the kids in school and our lives increasingly busy, it’s seeming ever more likely that I’ll be looking for a daily driver when the market calms down. That’ll be electric. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is at the top of the ultimate wishlist, but the Kia EV6 (understandably), Polestar 2, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Subaru Solterra are all in the running. More realistically, I might just get a used Nissan Leaf or something, as I’m going to have to be okay with it spending a lot of time undriven, as such is often the lot of auto reviewers’ personal vehicles.
News Editor Joel Stocksdale
My garage has a toy car, a parts car, a more practical daily driver/toy and a hauler/winter vehicle. The first of those is the 1999 Mazda Miata you see above. It’s actually my second one. I bought it because my first ever car, another 1999 Miata, was on its last legs burning oil and rusting. I found this low mileage one in the same color for probably less than it would have cost to overhaul my original. I still have the original, and it has become my parts car, and I’ve already moved over several parts to the new car, including the green and black houndstooth seats I made in college (yeah, I learned to sew there). Since buying it, I’ve proceeded to turn it into the Miata I dreamed of as a high school student, giving it sleek wheels, front and rear spoilers, a roll bar, and most importantly, a supercharger. It should make about 190 horsepower at the wheels (I haven’t dyno tested it yet) and it has a sweet supercharger whine. It’s an absolute hoot and I’ll probably keep it for the rest of my life.
As for the daily-ish toy, it’s a 2013 VW Beetle. I’ve talked about it before back when I compared it to a vintage Beetle that VW itself owns. It also effectively replaced my old 2007 Civic Si, which was a lot of fun, but I was kind of tired of, in part for its lack of long-distance refinement. The Beetle also fulfilled a bit of a dream for me. I’ve had a serious soft spot for Bugs since I was a kid, probably mostly from hours of watching The Love Bug, which remains a favorite movie for me. And with the turbo engine, manual transmission and independent rear suspension similar to a contemporary Jetta GLI, it’s also quite fun to drive. I’ve enhanced that aspect with a variety of upgrades, such as an intake and ECU tune that bring it up to around 250 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It’s also lowered with adjustable shocks, and has visual upgrades such as the wheels, custom floor mats and a fun arcade-style starter button. And even with these upgrades, it remains surprisingly comfortable and quiet. The hatchback even makes it pretty practical.
Finally, we have my most recent acquisition, a 1997 GMC Suburban. This also replaces my old Civic somewhat as it’s my new winter car, keeping my Beetle and Miata out of the salt. Its four-wheel-drive has also been handy for keeping me out of ditches in the winter, too. It ticks off a few other boxes for me that the other cars don’t. It’s actually the first V8 vehicle I’ve owned, and the first with four-wheel drive. Actually, it’s my first American car I’ve owned, too. It’s not perfect by any means, with some dings and broken or missing interior parts, but it runs well and has a pretty rust-free body and chassis (which I’m trying to keep pretty clean with now annual rust-prevention treatments). The huge interior has been really handy for hauling around furniture, yard waste and whatever else is too bulky or dirty for my other cars. It’s also a pretty fun time machine with its pink-ish paint, taillight covers, side decals, and other ’90s GM hallmarks like creaky door hinges and that unique interior smell all GM products of the era share. It’s old, thirsty and a little noisy, but has been hugely handy and surprisingly endearing.
Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski
I used to have a sweet VW camper van, but sadly my situation in life changed and I decided I’d rather see it being used by someone who would show it the same kind of love that my family had while we owned it. Gladly, I found exactly that sort of couple to take ownership of my 1975 VeeDub, and as an added bonus, I was able to virtually follow along in some of their journeys on Instagram. For a recap of my experience with Blue the van, check it out here in a video feature.
I’ve had lots of cars over the years, starting in my mid-teens with a 1964 Pontiac Le Mans convertible that, well, needed lots of work and a 1965 Karmann Ghia convertible that needed quite a bit less. From there, some of the more interesting machines you may have found parked in my driveway were a 2004 Mazda RX-8, a 2006 Mini Cooper S convertible with the Sidewalk package, and a 1992 Nissan Patrol with a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter inline-six diesel and five-speed manual transmission when we lived for a year in Central America.
Right now, the only vehicle I own is a 1993 GMC Suburban 2500. As a heavy-duty model, it’s equipped with a classic Chevy big block engine displacing 454 cubic inches. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds and has all kinds of space inside for people and … stuff. We use it for hauling and towing, and it’s a really nice vehicle for camping and exploring. It won’t be my only car for long. As soon as prices rationalize on the gently used market, I’ll park something newer and fully electric in the garage.
Managing Editor Greg Rasa
I bought my
2007 Ford Mustang GT convertible in 2013, on a “life is short” whim after my dad died. It had 11,000 miles on it.
I enjoy any convertible, so that’s the feature I love. Then there’s the Grabber Orange, a historical color rarely offered. (Quoting a friend: “It’s garish — I love it!”) Since buying it, orange has made a bit of a comeback on Mustangs, Broncos and sporty cars from other brands. Also appealing is that the look of the car had not yet strayed from the 2005 redesign.
It has lived its best convertible life the past few years in Palm Desert, Calif., where it’s a boulevard cruiser. The orange paint glows in a desert sunset. My father-in-law Jim, above, takes it out sometimes when I’m not there. A lot of people chat him up in that car.
Beyond that, we own two Volvos. I’ve traded a lot of cars in my life, but one I regret selling was a 2013 Nissan Leaf. It was incredibly practical. So the next purchase will be electric.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore
Since we last posted this list, I’ve acquired another car: a 1973 Chevelle Malibu. I inherited it from my late father, and ownership is split between my brother and me. It has 350 cubic-inch V8 with a two-barrel carb that makes 145 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. It’s teamed up with a column-mounted automatic. This Malibu’s a barge, to say the least, with original paint and interior. My dad did a fair amount of body work, and there were bondo stains in the driveway when we sold my parents’ house. It was their daily driver from the late 1970s through the 80s, but it largely sat in a garage through the 90s until 2020. We toyed with having it rebuilt with parts from a rare 1974 Laguna Type-S, which would have been an upgrade for the engine and added swivel bucket seats, but that fell through. Because of this car I’ve always had a soft spot for the 1973-77 Chevelles and their Euro-inspired colonnade styling. More on this to come.
I still own a 2006 Dodge Charger. I got it right out of graduate school when I was an intern at Automotive News. I didn’t really have the money to pay for it and bought it anyway.
I have always loved Chargers. The 1968-70 models rank among the greatest muscle cars of all-time, in my opinion, and I know I’m supported by many enthusiasts. That’s basically why I bought this thing back in November of ‘05. I skipped out of my reporting duties at AN, brokered the financing over the phone from the lunchroom and picked it up the day before Thanksgiving. It was pretty great. Driving a new car, especially one of the coolest modern muscle cars of that era, was a riot. I did countless burnouts. I bought it for its looks and the idea of a Dodge Charger, rather than any sound car-buying principles. I went with the SE trim and the V6, which was all I could afford. It carried me through my first few jobs, covering city council and real estate, before I was lucky enough to make car journalism an actual career and secure entry to the world of test cars.
My Charger was, and is, a good car, though it’s mainly been in dry dock for years with the odometer frozen in the mid-40K range. Someday I’ll probably get new tires, do some basic maintenance and sell it. Then again, I might not. Sell it, that is.
Senior Editor, West Coast, James Riswick
The BMW Z3 was the car I wanted when I was 12 years old and just saw “GoldenEye” for the first time. Back in 2007, shortly after getting my first real gig in the automotive reviewing biz, I decided to sell my daily driver and buy something fun to keep in the garage. I wanted to find an M Roadster as it was, and continues to be, the superior vehicle, but then I stumbled upon a Z3 that spent most of its life under a cover with low miles (37,800), the right color combo (Atlanta Blue with beige interior just like the “GoldenEye” car), the right engine (the 2.8-liter inline-6, unlike the “GoldenEye” car) and the right transmission (the five-speed manual). It’s spent the interceding 14+ years in various garages and the odometer currently reads 47,579 … so yeah, I haven’t even put 10,000 miles on it and 1,000 of that was just driving from L.A. to Portland when I moved. My mechanic says I need to drive it more, which I should, but it’s also been worry free. The only sad thing about having the Z3 is that as a two-seater I won’t be able to drive with my son for many years to come.
The other car in the family is a 2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d, which we hurriedly bought to replace our beloved 2013 Audi Allroad when we came upon the realization that it just didn’t provide enough room for a rear-facing child seat, a 6-foot-3 driver and my wife. Much like the Z3, it was the right old BMW at the right time: diesel engine, a color (as opposed to black, white or silver) and low miles (58,900, which was less than the Allroad). It was driven by a middle-aged lady out in the suburbs who serviced it at the same dealer every year since it was new. She had also ordered a new X5 and had sold ours to the dealer early because they asked — not because there was something wrong with it and needed to bail ASAP. All of the above made me feel better about buying a car with a dubious reliability history (already having a trusted BMW mechanic helped on that front, too). Also making me feel better was the fact that the X5 is the rare family hauler from this era, and therefore price range, that isn’t horribly depressing. Sorry, I don’t want a Highlander. There’s just enough extra space for us, the diesel engine has proved its worth during multiple lengthy trips and it’s indeed just as exceptional of a highway cruiser as the second-generation X5 was when new. It also made me ponder whether luxury cars really have improved all that much in the last decade?
Comments are closed.