Exceptions to the Rules

1.  No front wheel drive.
2.  No four cylinder motors without factory forced induction.
3.  No less than 250 crank horsepower.
4.  No boring or gimmicky looks.
5.  Must be fun to drive.

These are the rules.  There are many sets of rules, but these are mine.  These are my Deal Breakers, the five rules that cannot be violated or else a car is a no go for me.  If any of these rules are broken, the car doesn’t make the buy list, let alone the short list.  Or does it?  There are always exceptions to the rules, loop holes or caveats that let you get away from the established criteria.  On Tuesday, we looked at some of the established rules and talked about your rules.  Click more to take a look at the exceptions.

1.  Fourth Generation Acura Integra Type R
Rules Broken: No front wheel drive, No four cylinders without factory FI, No less than 250 crank horsepower

You have no idea how hard it is to find a picture of a stock one...

The Integra Type R was offered for only a limited amount of time in the US, and if you wanted a color other than yellow, black, or white, you are out of luck.  I don’t, though, consider that a horrible thing.  It fits the spirit of the Type R: A simple, straight forward, fun car perfect for the track or street.  To be honest, my seat time on the Type R is short.  The longest I’ve been out and about in one was for a quick fifteen minute spin courtesy of a customer at a previous job.  But in that short time, I found it an enjoyable car to drive.  Unlike most cars where the power goes through the wrong wheels, the front end didn’t feel heavy or reluctant to move.  In fact, it was a very point and click affair, and while not a drift machine it didn’t take too much work to get the rear end to step out.  The 1.8 liter four B18 was responsive and eager to rev, and with just minor modifications was the perfect engine for the car.  Even in eye searing yellow, the lines of the Integra were sleek and clean, unlike the bulgy RSX that followed.  Despite crossing off three of the deal breakers, it was still a great car, and one that deserves a close look.

2.  The 2005 on Pontiac GTO
Rules Broken: No boring or gimmicky looks

Little GTO really makes me yawn.

Fact: The last two offerings from Pontiac that were badged GTO aren’t going to win any beauty contests.  The designs aren’t understated, they are boring.  Changing the GTO look from its Aussie kissing cousin Monaro was a killer for that car.  Even after changing to the split dual exhaust and adding the hood scoops, it still fell victim to the US jelly bean bland styling.  But I can get past that.  Why?  Because LS2, that’s why.  A four hundred horsepower V8 that can make gobs of power if you sneeze on it that can dominate at the strip, road course, or roll on race mated to a beautiful six speed sending power to the back end makes most cars look a lot better.  Match that up with the “of all GM products at least the LSx is reliable” reliability, everything settles into place.  When you take into account that the original muscle cars weren’t exactly that hot but your standard big sedan or coupe with a monster engine, the Super Sized Cavalier with an LS2 made sense.

3. 2007 Mini Cooper S
Rules Broken: No boring or gimmicky looks, No front wheel drive, No less than 250 crank horsepower

It's cute like a sea urchin...

The Mini Cooper has often been described as “cute.”  I say gimmicky.  Even more so than the newer Beetles, I feel the Mini cooper pushes the boundaries of gimmicky into a realm I call retrostupid, right there with the Plymouth Prowler, Ford Thunderbird, and Chevrolet HHR.  It tries too hard to look like the older (and oddly by older, I mean up to 2000) body styles.  All the Hipster Kids drive them.  It comes in at a paltry 175 crank horsepower, all going through the front wheels.  However, it all works.  That gimmicky look pushes the four wheels out to the furthest corners of the car, giving it unrivaled stability.  Much like the above mentioned Type R, the front end is light and responsive.  That barely there one seventy five comes courtesy of turbo charged four banger that provides a smooth, linear torque curve.  By our powers combined, this car is not to be trifled with on a technical course or autocross.  With but the fewest tweaks, the Mini Cooper S is much like the rabbit from Monty Python.  Sure, it looks like a rabbit, but it will rip you to shreds if you try to take it on.  And let’s not even get started on the John Cooper Works model.

4.  The Porsche Boxster
Rules Broken: No less than 250 crank horsepower, No boring or gimmicky looks

The Girl Porsche

In 1996, Porsche released the Porsche for every man, the 986 Boxster.  While nearly ticking all the right boxes – rear wheel drive, mid engined, great transmission – the looks were out dated from the start.  It didn’t have the sharp, classic lines of the 993 or forward looking 996.  Instead the design stopped somewhere short of “meh”, creating a car that took up space but didn’t really have any design language to follow.  Some attribute this to Porsche’s inability to design anything different (see: every 911, ever), which is odd when lined up next to its sibling Cayman.  Further, it wasn’t until 2000, four years after the release, was the Bosxter S made available with more than 250 horsepower, and even to today you have to buy the S model to break the mark.  One thing rings true about the Boxster, though.  Once you cross your fingers and get over the IMS failure, the car is a dream to drive.  Porsche felt that, to make up for the suppository like styling and the fact that you are (most likely, I know we have female readers) a guy driving the “Girl Porsche”, the Boxster dances over the road with a grace not expected.  The mid engine gives it perfect balance and pointability, and despite being down on power, it isn’t all that slow.  Besides, it’s still a Porsche.

Looking over these selections, we see almost every rule violated.  Wrong wheel drive, under powered, boring or ugly looking, no boost.  The list could go on and on of cars that shouldn’t be on the list, but they still are.  Looking back up, we see only one rule that isn’t violated, the all important rule.  It still has to be fun to drive.  It could be the only rule one needs.  As long as it is fun to drive, the other requirements don’t matter.

No, that’s wrong.  Front wheel drive is still fail wheel drive.

6 Responses to Exceptions to the Rules

  1. SublimeZ says:

    I disagree about the GTO being boring, but recognize your right to think so.

    mine http://s141.photobucket.com/albums/r53/SublimeZ06/04%20GTO/?start=all

    Only rule I’ll consider breaking is for a new 6-speed auto. I know my tuner can tweak it.

  2. I think the new GTO toes the line between understated and boring. The newest ones with the hood scoops are down right stupid looking. I prefer the kind you have as far as looks go.

    As I stated in a previous article, the new GTO didn’t make it and one of the big reasons was styling. People expected more in-your-face looks.

  3. I still love it though.

  4. Taylor S says:

    heck yeah for the GTO. This can’t be all of the exceptions,can it?

    • I’d imagine that’s not EVERY exception. I’ve come to this conclusion because I honestly can’t see Rob up Kate at night writing this going through a list of every car model Rhys ever existed lol.

  5. Robert Fortier says:

    ^Auto correct FTW

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