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World's greatest cars: Is yours on the list?

Posted: 16 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:car? automobile? Chevrolet? Nissan? Ford?

I'm not opposed to progress but I recoil at useless complexity. I know that computers in cars are here to stay. But why so many so fast? Neither my old '66 Ford Econoline (Rosemary) nor my '94 Dodge Lancer (the Beige Bomb) contained a single CPU. Now we're making cars with 300 CPUs requiring a fussy network of operating systems, links, buses and bypasses to keep from shorting each other out and frying the magneto. Senator Edward Markey has just issued a report about the vulnerability of car computers to being "hacked." Someone far, far away, he warns, can now seize control of your Beamer and run you remotely into a not-so-remote bridge abutment. Don't laugh. Sen. Markey's nightmare was the thoroughly credible plot last year for an unfunny episode of "Person of Interest."

Cars don't need to be laptops on wheels. They don't need to be smartphones that can go ninety while scheduling Junior's piano lessons, monitoring Suzie's soccer practice, surveilling Dad's lunch meeting and superimposing "Game of War" in transparent 3D on the windshield.

Oncoming traffic ought to be the only thing visible in, on or beyond the windshield, even though it's boring. The steering wheel ought to be the only thing the driver controls by touch. People don't need to be convinced by advertisers that careless, discourteous and distracted driving is OK now because technology can take over and steer the car and hit the brakes and veer across three lanes while you text sweet nothings to your cutie or try to find the burning cigarette in your lap.

1965 Ford Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang

A car can be beautiful, as has been proven a thousand times. A car can be fun, as Burt Reynolds demonstrated perhaps more convincingly (and recklessly) than any other driver. A car can be simple enough to be kept in flawless repair by an East L.A. high school dropout with a six-drawer toolbox and a manual grease gun.

Over its more than two centuries of existence, the car has become far more than its inventors, Cugnot, Rivaz, Karl Benz and even Henry Ford, ever imagined. Depending on what a person makes of it, a car can play many roles. A car can be bedroom or playroom, dining room or barroom, boardroom or hangout, or even, in a pinch, a household. It can be a sidekick, a spouse, a shrink, an adventure, an escape, a phallic facsimile, a feminist flying-carpet, a lifesaver, a murder weapon and a coffin. A car can be a cash cow for automakers, especially if it's glutted with features, options, gimcracks, doo-dads, tweeters, woofers, undercoating and a "centre-stack" packed with HD, Netflix, killer apps, satellite maps and dancing coloured lights. But, for all that, a car is nothing but sheet metal and noxious fluids if it doesn't get you from here to there.

A car still has to be a car.

In the following pages, you can find pictures of some of the cars mentioned here. Let us know what your favourite car is in the comments section below.

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