Car Talk

We really are living in a new Golden Age of auto design. I can’t remember the last time so many cars got me so hot’n’bothered just on their looks. There’s the Mercedes CLS “four-door coupe.” The new BMW 6-series. The Chrysler 300C and its HEMI-powered Dodge Magnum and Charger cousins. And have you seen the ’06 Corvette Z06? GM hasn’t made anything that good-looking in 30 years. Hell, I’m even a fan of the chiseled Cadi CTS and XLR.

(Of course, even a Golden Age still has a little lead. The less said about the new Ford Five Hundred, the better. I think they named it “Five Hundred” because they needed something starting with F and “fleet vehicle” was already taken.)

OpinionJournal’s Dale Buss explains the modern car renaissance:

With quality and functional differences among products largely having narrowed over the past decade or so, eye-catching design can be decisive. “Both consumers and the car companies are ready to see more chances taken out there,” says Chris Chapman, director of automotive design for DesignWorks USA, a unit of BMW. “People are kind of sick of the same old thing, and they’re looking for something new.”

And we’re getting it in spades, too. Just check out some of the goings-on recently in Detroit and Los Angeles. Even the Japanese are starting to make some cars that look as good as they’re made.

I’ve drooled so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to retire the Sebring convertible later this year, while it’s still young. (Four years old in May, just over 30k miles – if you’re interested in buying it, say, next July.) Got my choices narrowed down to either a 300C SRT-8, or a new-model (and not overly-Bangled) BMW 330i. What to choose, what to choose? Raw American power and in-your face looks? Or precision German engineering and understated finesse?

And to think, those are those are just two of several fine choices in the mid-range of the near-luxury market.

This really is a Golden Age.