Car and Driver isn’t the first magazine to bring you the ten best of something or other, nor will we be the last. We hope that we’re breaking important new automotive ground, however, by bringing you the ten best in ten different automotive categories. That’s a hundred of the best, right there, and when you throw in our seven sidebars — those boxes and panels that hold subcategories related to one or another of the ten basic biggies — it adds up to 170 examples of things excellent, noteworthy, and/or memorable. If not the best of everything, at least our choice for the best of Automotive America, 1983.
Among these you’ll find the ten best cars, of course, supported by sidebars on the ten best automotive performance statistics (as tested by Car and Driver) and the ten best automotive features. Mr. Sherman thought long and hard and came up with the ten best automotive innovations in recent memory. For those of you who may not be completely sold on the automobile, we present the ten best alternative modes of transportation.
We wrangled and disputed one another over the ten best roads in North America, and then made a list of ten great spots for roadfood. Rooting through our maps and atlases reminded us of another important category, one often overlooked, and with the help of Dean Batchelor we came up with ten great automotive books. We canvassed all the well-known automotive publications in the world and asked them to nominate their picks for ten great automotive photographs.
Jean Lindamood pulled together our list of ten movers and shakers in the automotive cosmos, then augmented that with the ten best quotes from the moved and shaken. While dealing in personalities, we named the ten best racing drivers, limiting the list to the living and active ones, and added our picks for ten great moments in the racing season just past. Mr. Bedard scanned the world for automotive toys, and Michael Jordan backed him up with automotive fads. Finally, in a self-serving mode, we asked Ed. to root out the ten best letters to the editor, and at the same time to determine which ten C/D stories got the most mail.
We wanted you to be the first to know . . .
No list of ten great cars will satisfy everybody. We’ll be lucky if this one satisfies anybody. It represents a hard-won and reluctant consensus of the Car and Driver staff, and every member of that staff can name some pet car that’s been left off. Some explanations are in order—or perhaps “attempts at justification” is the more appropriate term—to wit:
The new Camaro and Firebird didn’t make the cut because they’re heavy, and because they’re suffering far too many developmental problems for such old designs. They’re beautiful, and they feature better than average handling and roadholding, but they’re not yet great cars. Maybe next year.
Had we chosen eleven great cars, the Porsche 928 would have made the list, even though that would have meant two Porsches. As it is, Porsche is heavily represented throughout this compendium of automotive and related greatness, and the 944 got more votes than any other car, making it, in effect, best of the best.
In another category fall cars like the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis, which are hideously expensive and really aren’t all that successful as multipurpose, well-rounded automotive designs. Fun, yes. Exciting, to be sure. But probably no one of them as great an automotive concept as a four-wheel-drive Subaru.
We selected five domestics and five imports, the only stipulation being that the cars had to be series-production models available through normal dealership channels in the United States.
And in other news that year:
Top-selling Cars: Oldsmobile Supreme, Ford Escort, Ford LTD
Winner of Super Bowl XVII: Washington Redskins
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture: Terms of Endearment
Winner of the World Series: Baltimore Orioles
Sources: Top-selling Cars, Ward’s Automotive Year Book; Super Bowl Winners, SuperBowl.com; Best Picture Winners, Oscars.org; World Series Winners, WorldSeries.com