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Diego’s AutoHunter Picks

The feeling of getting old


It’s hard to believe that the 1990s were 30 years ago. Where did the years ago? The funny thing is that when 1990s cars are examined with a discerning eye, they almost seem quaint. Even stuff from 20 years ago seems that way considering late-model turbo sixes easily put out the same horsepower as the 5.4-liter Mustang listed below.

Nonetheless, my AutoHunter Picks this week lean towards the late-model . . . er, the past 30 years, plus a vintage Jag that you may dig. Which is your favorite of the below AutoHunter vehicles?

1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
To me, these were the first killer, post-Malaise pony cars that were able to perform like a car from the 1960s. Sure, there was the 5.0 Mustang and 350-powered IROCs that gave us a taste, but the redesigned, 275-horsepower 1993 Camaro made low-14 ETs cake and took little to get into the 13s. A six-speed manual was a nice nod to technology.

This 1995 Camaro Z28 convertible features the six-speed plus limited-slip differential. It has all the other good stuff you’d expect like spoiler, air conditioning, Delco CD sound system and, in this case, leather interior. It’s hard to imagine this Camaro is almost 30 years old so, with 30,440 miles on the odometer, it’s ripe for a collector’s garage.

2017 Toyota 86
I’ve had a desire to try out one of these babies but, when I was car-shopping, the dealership had none, so I was not able to see what they were all about. This was during the pandemic, so I’ll give them a pass. Nonetheless, my perception is that the only other vehicle in the American market that came close to automotive purity was the Mazda Miata. Probably still true today.

I still have that desire to try this car out. Considering this 2017 Toyota 86 has a six-speed manual, I have to linger and sigh. With subtle upgrades that include front and rear underbody splitters, window visors, and tinted taillights, there’s not much to fuss about if you’re the fussy sort. Plus, as a Canadian-market example, I wonder what charms it may have that were absent on American ones – is that a thing anymore?

1971 Jaguar XKE Series II
Isn’t it amazing how the XKE (E-Type elsewhere) went from a light, sprightly sports car to something that looked heavier and ponderous? That’s the penalty given from the Series II facelift, though the tweaks appear completely logical at that moment. Plus, the 2+2 looked somewhat ungainly, a stark contrast with the Series I convertible, which just may be the best-looking car ever.

Yet this 1971 XKE Series II Coupe looks fabulous. What is it? Could it be the D-Type-style wheels? The sanitary Old English White paint with blue leather interior? The four-speed manual? I can’t figure it out because this is the first Series II in eons that has captured my attention. Dual Strombergs on the original straight-six and four-wheel discs make this a nice period GT.

2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R
Did you know the only Mustang Cobra built in 2000 was the Cobra R? Ford skipped the regular Cobra due to an engine issue, so this special competition version with a 5.4-liter DOHC rated at 385 horsepower (rumored to be underrated) was all that Blue Oval fans had. All 300 built were Performance Red with Dark Charcoal interior, plus unique hood and spoiler; absent were the radio, air conditioning, cruise control, and rear seat.

This 18,579-mile Cobra R is #248 of the 300. It features several modifications including front tow hoop, Hurst shifter, carpeted steel wall between cabin and trunk, AutoMeter Pro-Comp Ultra Lite instrument cluster, custom air inlet tube, suspension tweaks, and engine upgrades from a speed shop. Many of these have remained stock but, if you’re a road-racer, you may appreciate this rarity.

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.


  1. These are all great picks especially the Jag. I always wanted an XKE convertible or coupe. Forget the 2+2, those things are so stupid looking I wouldn’t even be seen riding in one. Not that the roof on my 1960 XK 140 fixed head coupe didn’t look a little funny.
    I think I remember reading about the engine upgrade for Camaros in ‘96 and it did make them pretty quick cars. The Camaro might have been a little better looking but my 1995 Mustang GT with the GT-40 kit and 3:73 gears I got from Tommy Vaughn Motorsport in Houston was still quicker. I know because I raced a lot of those Camaros. They didn’t like losing.
    I know absolutely nothing about the Toyota but I do know Mazda Miatas are really slick cars. I also know it took 20 years for the Miata to outsell the MGB. I’ve owned two MGB roadsters, one B-GT and one C-GT but never a Miata for some reason. Maybe because if they were taken care of, MGBs were as bulletproof as it gets. The B-GT even had air conditioning and a great Blaupunkt stereo.
    Tommy Vaughn Ford Motorsport had a 2000 Cobra R on display in their showroom for a while. It was cool but it was inside one of those plastic bubbles. Just like they put the 2005 and 2006 GTs in bubbles when they were on display. I did drive a regular 2001 Cobra Mustang and really liked it but bought an ‘01 GT instead for my wife. It was a nice silver one with Bullitt wheels. The PI heads on the GTs made a huge difference that year.


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