QFTW: What Would Jack Keep?

Yesterday saw Zach’s answer to our first ever QFTW. You remember — the one where we asked what car is currently on sale that you would buy and hang onto for the next 30 years? If not more? And Zach answered pretty wisely — the Caddy CTS-V. Hard to argue with 500+ hp four-doors. Unless you’re Jack Baruth. See friends, despite the Cadillac’s Nurburgring-veted cred, it’s simply not German enough. Ahem.

Upon reading Steve’s post on Tanner’s “new” 912E I had to chuckle a bit, as I’ve already made my choice for a “thirty-year car” — my Porsche 993. As a 1994-build car with 81,500 miles, it’s almost halfway there! But rules are rules, so I’ll choose a currently available vehicle as my “keeper.”

Porsche and GM designer Anatole “Tony” Lapine once said that a truly great design does not immediately appeal to the eye; rather, it reveals its beauty over time and repeated viewings. When I first saw the Mercedes-Benz CLS coupe-sedan-whatever, I wasn’t terribly impressed. The lines seemed overwrought, the proportions were odd, and the tail was perhaps the least subtle Kamm-chop since the Mk1 Scirocco. In the few years since its debut, however, I’ve come to believe that it will, in time, join the ranks of classic Mercedes-Benzes. To begin with, it’s a deliberately impractical design — a charming thing in and of itself. Although the CLS has already spawned at least one imitator, with (many) more to come, it remains unmistakable from any angle, and if the interior is slightly less successful, design-wise, than the exterior, it is nonetheless unique.

Looks are only half the equation, however. Any car that is truly a “keeper” has to be splendid to drive. In 6.3 liter AMG-powered form, the CLS is precisely that. It is as rapid as one could desire for a street car, the handling is communicative and pleasant, and the AMG motor itself has character in spades. The CLS55 was a decent enough car, but the CLS63 is superb. One flat-out run through the gears is enough to demonstrate the superiority of this hand-assembled naturally-aspirated engine. Five hundred horsepower have rarely been delivered so charmingly. Which, of course, brings me to the final reason why the CLS63 is a keeper: it is a car which is unlikely to exist in the future. There will always be sportscars, no matter how the market changes, and there will likely always be massive executive sedans, but a two-ton-plus demi-sedan which runs a twelve-second quarter-mile and costs over a hundred thousand dollars is a concept which has probably just about run its course. It won’t be available in the Prius-populated future, at any cost. So I’ll take a fully-loaded CLS63 with the 030 Performance Package, and I’ll have it in the superb Indium Grey, which thankfully is not grey at all but a rather striking shade of copper. Thus equipped, I can be assured that my next thirty years will be spent in rapid, comfortable, and quite unique fashion.

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