Charging Forward: The Shortlist

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1987 Buick Regal GNX Coupe

We all have one; that list of cars you wish you could get your hands on. Whether or not you ever will is another story, but deep down, there’s a burning desire – no, wait, let’s call it a “lust,” of a specific breed of animal that is on your shortlist of dream cars to own.

I’ve been lucky and have acquired a few of my own along the way such as my Trans Am WS6 and my Grand National, both of which are currently sitting out in my garage, quietly, as I type this. There are other cars I’ve really wanted, even managed to own along the way, but had to cut loose for one reason or another; such as the Grand Prix GTP or my CTS-V.

Then there are many, many others I have on my bucket list, spanning all eras, brands and even from other countries. But for the sake of time and the length of this story, I’ve decided to narrow them down to my top five late-model GM picks. Besides, this is GM EFI Magazine, after all.

1. 1987 Buick GNX: Sure, you can say owning an ’87 Grand National is about as close as you can get to owning one of the 547 GNXs ever made.  You can also make a case that roughly 92% of the GN was carried over to the ‘X, but the added exclusivity, increased performance and GNX-specific hardware makes it all so much better. The Grand National to end all Grand Nationals. Enough said.

2. 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Behind the GNX? Maybe I’ve had too much coffee, but up until two months ago this spot belonged to the C6 ZR1. I’d still fancy one of those, too, honestly. The blown LT4-powered C7 won me over though, with 650 hp and vast improvements over both its C6 predecessor and the King of the Hill ZR1. Arguably the best Corvette ever built, and the fastest (sorry, ’69 ZL-1), I can only wonder what the C7 ZR1 (if there indeed will be one) will bring? Probably 800 horsepower.

3. 1991 GMC Syclone/1992-1993 GMC Typhoon: The Syclone and Typhoon were a pair of all-wheel drive turbocharged beasts with an unlimited amount of tunability, much like a GN. The Syclone was a one-year only model with 2,995 produced (an additional three were built in ’92, but were never available to the public), while the Typhoons are easier to come by and offer more room for friends and the family. The only difference is that the added weight of the Typhoon’s SUV body slows you down over the lighter pickup-based Syclone.  Either way, you can’t go wrong. Thirteen-second 1320’s from a snail-equipped V6 was standard, while beer money got you into the 12s.

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4. 2009-2015 Cadillac CTS-V: Having recently come from a first-generation “V1,” with mixed reviews, many enthusiasts would probably shy way from CTS-Vs altogether based on my experience. Not me, though. Blame the 556 hp LSA engine and the way it responds to simple, bolt-on performance parts. Or the incredible handling, the more aggressive styling, and the much-improved Brembos over that of the earlier cars. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment or maybe I’m hard-headed. But that blown Mack Daddy Caddy steals my heart every time I see one. The 2016 V3 is tempting, obviously, but once they are released and inevitably overshadow the V2, depreciation will settle in of the LSA models. Buy low, sell high.2015-cadillac-cts-v-coupe

5. 2012-2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1/2014-2015 Z/28: It seems like only yesterday that I was one of the F-body faithful who bemoaned the current Camaro as an overweight, hard-to-launch, me-too musclecar that Transformer fanboys flocked to in an effort to have a slice of the latest fad. In short, I wasn’t a fan. Even after I’ve spent time behind the wheel of several Super Sports, I couldn’t be bought. But once I’ve had the chance to get my hands on an SS project car from a previous gig, put boost to it, installed the best race-tuned suspension I could find, and threw on a set of long-tubes, I was starting to see the light. Seat time in a couple of ZL1s pushed me over the fence and the Z/28 made me a believer. I want one – just not a Transformers Edition.

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BONUS – Narrowing this list down to just five was tough but after much deliberation, I just had to throw one more into the mix…

6. 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS: Yes, seriously. When this car was unveiled in 1993 as an upcoming 1994 model, I quickly fell in love – even as a 13-year old kid. The goofy built-in rear side skirts, anemic 350 and outdated hubcaps that were carried over from the boxy previous generation Caprice were long gone. In its place were 17-inch aluminum wheels, [an underrated] 260 hp LT1, monochromatic black paint, and more attitude than the Terminator – the sleek big body was the bee’s knees at the time. Although those specs sound perfectly pedestrian today, by comparison, Ford’s top-of-the-line SVT Cobra of the era offered the same sort of specs but with 20 less horsepower. The Impala was cooler, too. Still is, actually.

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