If it’s Monday, it’s time for chapter three of our weekly Automobile “Million Dollar Challenge,” wherein one of our staffers each week creates their personal list of dream cars. The rules are simple: What would you buy if you were today handed $1 million and commanded to spend it on nothing but filling your dream garage with automobiles? We’ll each select at least five of our lifelong dream cars, rather than copping out and blowing the entire imaginary wad on a single million-dollar car, because what fun would that be? However, not every car must be a six-figure collector’s item, either. This week, it’s Automobile social-media guru Billy Rehbock’s turn to dream:
Ready for some #MondayMotivation? I’m somewhat notorious at our office for having way too many Hot Wheels cars parked on either side of my computer, so naturally I tried to cast a wide net here to include as many of my favorite cars as possible when imagining my dream garage.
I own a 2012 Volkswagen GTI, so practicality is not the objective of my selections. I chose cars that I’ve either loved driving during my time at Automobile, or ones I want to cross off my list in general. My dad raised me as a Volkswagen enthusiast, so I made sure to pick out at least one ride from VW, Audi, and Porsche—but I still dream of cars from other marques, too.
1988-1995 Volkswagen Corrado VR6, $10,000-$16,000
This is a sentimental pick for my dream garage. Growing up, my dad talked about his former Corrado VR6 with immense fondness. His car was painted Tornado Red and had sweet BBS wheels; I’ve never driven a Corrado, but contemporary reviews raved about its handling and potent engine. It also brought active-aero spoilers into the mainstream, and it was the flagship vehicle for Volkswagen’s innovative narrow-angle VR6 engine. These cars are still incredibly affordable, but they are in rare supply due to being expensive when new and still pricey to maintain.
2003-2004 Volkswagen Phaeton W12, $15,000-$36,000
Volkswagen’s one-time flagship sedan captured my heart early in life; I loved the fact VW built a car with an opulent interior but hid it away beneath jumbo-Passat styling. The Phaeton’s W-12 engine is a mechanical marvel, producing a silky-smooth 420 horsepower. The car is loaded with luxury equipment that took a decade and a half to reach the mainstream, like heated, cooled, ventilated, and massaging seats.
The VW Phaeton is still an elegant car to drive, and after driving a barn-find, lightly modified 2004 Phaeton W12, I’ve never wanted one more. Like the Corrado, these are pretty affordable to purchase today but upkeep can be a nightmare, especially due to the engine’s complexity and the car’s air suspension.
2003-2004 Volkswagen Golf R32, $15,000-$40,000
This is arguably the greatest Golf of all time, so it’s right at home in any dream garage. Powered by a naturally aspirated 3.2-liter narrow-angle V-6 engine, the R32 delivers 240 hp, all-wheel drive, and the choice of a manual transmission or a dual-clutch gearbox.
The car’s boxy form gave it a bit of a rally-car aesthetic, and the Golf R32 holds its value incredibly well: one example sold recently for a whopping $44,000. The stunning multi-spoke wheels give this special variant of the Mk4-generation Golf a more grounded stance, and an R32 painted Deep Blue Pearl would make a fantastic inclusion to what is shaping up to be an impressive VW “young-timer” dream-garage collection.
2001-2005 Renault Sport Clio V6, $30,000-$70,000
Yes, such a car really does exist: a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, manual-transmission-equipped, 252-hp production hot-hatch with two seats. Renault built 1,309 examples of the Clio V6 Phase 2 between 2003-05, making it a rare and desirable mega hatch. (Renault built Phase 1 variants during the entire span of 2001-2005.) European car magazines at the time named it an instant classic, and I’d absolutely reserve $70,000 just to be sure I had enough cash to purchase and import one to compliment my Golf R32.
We don’t spend a lot of time at Automobile talking about mid-century American cars, but there’s just something about a 1957 Ford Thunderbird in Starmist Blue with a Colonial White roof.
Ford’s Corvette competitor’s design was inspired by a one-off 1952 Ferrari Barchetta given to Henry Ford II by Enzo Ferrari himself. As someone who’s always preferred European touring cars to American muscle, this Ford is a fitting dream-garage inclusion for my only American-car pick. Fortunately, 1957 Thunderbirds aren’t too expensive, so maybe I’ll be able to add one of these to my real garage at some point.