We’re up in Michigan, dogsitting for Dad & Caryl while they’re down in Mexico on vacation. Dad & Caryl’s house started as a 1-bedroom schoolhouse, gradually expanded over the years. I absolutely love their garage setup: 2 main cars, plus a side entry workshop garage, plus space to park another few cars.
So I got to thinking – what’d be in my collection if I lived here? And I do mean here, a place where there’s a foot or two of snow on the ground here during the winter. Also, with this area’s history of car manufacturers and suppliers, it’s also a place where American hot-rods get a little more respect.
I started with the usual rules from my Dream Car Garage posts: BringATrailer.com auction sales only, and only closed prices (so you get a feel for the real closing price, not somebody’s asking price.)
1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($10k)
I bet you think this is my winter beater, but no.
While it does have four wheel drive, it doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, stability control, airbags, or a good chance at making it through a decade of winters without completely rusting through. I’d rather get the existing rust issues touched up, then keep it as a time capsule for running errands during the summer and fall. Can’t you just see this thing doing a fall color-watching tour of Michigan?
Runner-up: 1963 International Harvester Travelall C-1000 Custom ($26k). Way, way before my time, but damn those colors and that wraparound glass look fantastic. I’d probably drive around all winter with a Christmas tree strapped to the roof, complete with red and green lights.
Just a big ol’ convertible to tool around Whitehall, get hot dogs from Dog-n-Suds, and ice cream from Ruth Ann’s. Not a drag racer, not a particularly famous nameplate, just a fun way to get around. The black vinyl interior is gonna burn thighs on a hot day, but it is what it is.
I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’d be so tempted to change the wheels out, but as soon as you do that, then it’s the exhaust, the engine, the stereo, etc. Best to just enjoy this thing for exactly what it is.
Runner-up: 1990 Chevy Corvette ZR-1 ($20k) – the shape on these is aging pretty well. It’d be my #1 pick if it wasn’t for the manual transmission, which would mean Erika wouldn’t be able to tool around in it.
2005 Audi A8L W12 Quattro ($13k)
This is the winter beater. Hear me out.
It’s got all-wheel drive, air bags, and it’s gonna be pretty doggone safe. Well, until you mash the accelerator, that is – the 6-liter 12-cylinder engine produces 450hp and 428 foot-pounds of torque.
The longer wheelbase of the A8L and the luscious leather interior means comfortable road trips to Little River Casino, our family’s favorite place to lose money up here. The car’s a gamble, too: any repair costs won’t be cheap. However, the low entry price means I won’t be heartbroken if I get into a winter accident.
Runner-up: 2002 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen ($35k) – pretty capable for winter antics, and Erika loves the look of these. Totally unqualified runner-up: 2003 BMW M5. It has no business as a winter beater, and it’s a stick, but holy cow, how are those only going for $18k? They’re going to be incredibly collectible.
And whaddya know, I’ve got over ten grand left over! I’d probably spend it on a winter beater truck with a snowplow, come to think of it. Snowblowing the driveway sucks.