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HomeAutoHunterDiego’s AutoHunter Picks

Diego’s AutoHunter Picks

Performance through the ages

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This set of AutoHunter Picks offers three stripes of performance: Old-fashioned, the Japanese way, and the American way. Though the Buick is a behemoth, Buick was known for torquey engines. This particular Nissan is known for pulling supercar numbers, but the earlier incarnation like this R32 comes off as a bit more practical than the current GT-R. And then there’s two Corvettes that were the crème de la crème of their moment. Which would you pick?

1993 Nissan Skyline GTS-t
My first trip to Europe when I was 12 was neat because I was able to discover many vehicles that were not sold in the U.S. Today, my tastes tend to run towards the Euro-centric or badge-engineered American vehicles built overseas, but there are a ton of fascinating JDM collectibles that never reached our shores originally but have gradually made their way here. They’re most often found on the West Coast but there’s strong interest in the South as well.

JDM fans go ga-ga over the Skyline GT-R coupe, but there were lesser versions also available like this Japanese-market GTS, which has been modeled after the Falken Racing Group A race car. It actually was GTS-t originally (which means it was built with a 2.0-liter turbo straight-six offering 212 horsepower), but it has been upgraded with the GT-R’s twin-turbo 2.6. As it sits, it is estimated to produce 500 horsepower and is capable of running on gas or E85.

1948 Buick Roadmaster Convertible
For the well-heeled, this Buick was “it” back in the day. As the top-of-the-line in 1948, the Series 70 Roadmaster rode on a huge 129-inch wheelbase (compared to the Special’s 121) and was powered by a 320cid Fireball Dynaflash Eight. Standard was a three-speed manual, with Buick’s Dynaflow Drive automatic being a new option the year before. I imagine a banker with a large family would have bought this, but who knows?

This 1948 Buick Roadmaster convertible is finished in Aztec Green with green leather interior and tan top. It features the 144-horsepower straight-eight backed by the standard three-speed manual on the column, power front bench seat, power windows, manual steering, and loads of style that few cars could match at the time — even Cadillac’s convertible wasn’t as big.

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
In the final model years of the C4 Corvette, Chevrolet produced the Grand Sport, paying homage to a handful of race cars that were produced early in the C2’s existence. All were painted Admiral Blue with a broad white stripe and two red stripes on the front fender. They were powered by the 330-horsepower LT4 (a generous 30-horse bump from the standard Corvette’s LT1) paired with a six-speed manual.

Only 1,000 Grand Sports were built in 1996 (of which 810 were coupes), with this like-new example having only 8,693 miles on the clock. Features include rear fender flares, black leather interior, Delco-Bose AM/FM/CD/cassette audio system, removable roof panel, electronic air conditioning, and six-way power driver’s seat. If you want an easy way to join the Bloomington Corvette clan, this is a fine way to go.

2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Or maybe your tastes lean towards the modern? Skip to the C6 and the “Blue Devil” ZR1 was the most capable Corvette one could buy starting in 2009. The supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8 offered 638 horsepower, which was astounding at the time. There also was extensive use of carbon fiber plus the polycarbonate hood bulge that gave a view of the intercooler.

This 16,082-mile 2009 Corvette ZR1 is one of 1,415 built in 2009, with 1,202 featuring the 3ZR Premium Equipment Group that included a swath of optional items like the Custom Leather-Wrapped Interior Package. Wheels are the typical 19-inch (front)/20-inch (rear) chromed aluminum jobs most often seen on ZL1s. When introduced, the ZR1 pulled 3.4-second 0-60 sprints, which is quite contemporary even today.

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Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.

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