The Ten Best Cars Larry Has Ever Driven
By Larry Edsall
The folks at ClassicCars.com asked me innocently enough: "Hey, Larry, how about giving us a list of the 10 best cars you’ve ever driven?"
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not, not when, by very rough estimate, I’ve probably driven somewhere around 4,000 different vehicles in the last 20 years, and driven them some 650,000 or more miles on four continents.
So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll count down a list of 10 that come quickly to mind (and, yes, there’s a story that goes along with each of the cars), in order of increasing greatness
10. Nissan Skyline GT-R
Nissan was introducing an updated version of what was then its largest sport utility vehicle and it knew none of the invited journalists was very excited by the prospect, so it sweetened the offer by bringing to its Arizona proving grounds one of its Skyline, a world-class road rocket not sold in the United States. Yee-haa!
9. Ford Telstar TX Turbo
I went to Australia for the opening of the Thunderdome NASCAR-style oval and Ford offered the use of the brand new Telstar TX Turbo, sort of a cross between a Mustang and a hot-rod Mazda. The car was, indeed, a hot rod, and so rare at the time that twice people tried to break into the car and steal it out of the motel’s secure parking area.
8. Mercedes-Benz 500E prototype
This was the prototype for the original 500E. Mercedes had contracted Porsche to soup it up and the car was amazing, powerful, awesome brakes, a suspension that hunkered down the faster you went, and a manual gearbox so you could extract all the power that big V8 would produce.
7. Shelby GT500
This is the brand new, 2007 model, and it’s a Shelby Mustang with 500 ponies under its striped hood. Needless to say, this pony car packs a kick.
6. Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera:
I’ve been writing about cars for nearly 20 years but had never driven a Lambo until just a few weeks ago. It was worth the wait.
5. Porsche Carrera GT
I didn’t approach this 10-cylider, 600-horsepower, state-of-the-art, carbon-fiber supercar’s 205-mph top speed potential, but I felt how wonderfully it accelerated, turned and stopped, and how much it felt like, well, like a real Porsche, the culmination of decades of engineering that understands the benefits of putting the engine behind the driver.
4. Ford GT
I’d driven the supercar prototype along famed Highway One south of Pebble Beach, California over the weekend, but on the Monday after the Monterrey Historic Races, Ford offered an opportunity to do a couple of laps around the Laguna Seca racetrack. Dan Gurney was among those there that day, and rather than embarrass myself on the track, I asked Gurney if he’d drive and let me ride along while he talked about the car and about driving the original GT40 to victory at Le Mans. Gurney spent most of the first lap using the car to nudge spotter cones off the track. Why, I asked. So I can drive this thing on the ensuing laps, he said. And he did!
3. Ferrari Testarossa
As I pulled into my driveway, so did a state police car. The trooper got out. He got into the passenger’s seat of the Ferrari. In his uniform. Gun and all. He looked at me and said that we were going to take the car out and “go through the gearbox” to see what it could we. Obedient and law-abiding citizen that I am, we did.
2.Aston Martin DB7 Vantage
In 1999, Aston Martin celebrated the 40th anniversary of its victory at Le Mans and offered the use of this car while I was covering the race. I even got to do some laps around the full road course as part of pre-race activities that included an Aston Martin club "parade." We were supposed to simply follow the pace car for three laps, but after the first lap the pace car driver waved us past around we were free to set our own pace, even down the Mulsanne Straight.
1. Porsche 911 Turbo
Date: June 27, 2000
Location: Nevada’s Black Rock Desert
Driver: Larry Edsall
Driving coach: many-time Le Mans and Daytona 24-hour race winner Hurley Haywood.
Coach’s instructions: Be gentle. Be smooth. Keep your foot down.
Result: a U.S. Auto Club certified top speed of 175.781 miles per hour, the fastest I’ve ever driven.
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