Old Or New? : 1982 DeLorean vs. 1993 Subaru SVX vs. 2004 Panoz Esperante vs. 2012 Fisker Karma

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Welcome to your four-way fantasy!

Four vehicles, your choice, for four years of personal driving enjoyment.

And to make the deal even sweeter we’re throwing in a special ingredient into the mix.

shutterstock_281200505Your own mechanic.

He won’t be the one who will be doing all the wrenching. That will be your exclusive job from beginning to end. But when it comes time to figuring out an issue with your new love, or even a little extra help with holding a component or two, your mechanic will be there with guidance and a very light helping hand.

So without further adieu let’s go visit the four cars du jour.

Lang Story - Delorean

1982 DeLorean

This rolling beauty has only 54,000 miles and a Hollywood pedigree that is second to none.

Unfortunately, the daily drive and maintenance regimen for DeLoreans are a very different story to the mythical movie mystique. DeLoreans were notoriously slow and cranky even for the 1980s, with an underpowered 2.7 Liter V6 found in a few less thn lustrous Peugeot, Volvo, and BMW models.

You do get a nice stick and some wonderful leather seats, but make no mistake! If you choose this Malaise Era starlet, your life in the repair shop will resemble that of a farmer with a field full of eye high corn. There will always be something to do with the DeLorean.

Your stainless steel silver steed will also creak, leak and rattle at many points in this upcoming four year journey and you will have to pay top dollar for parts thanks to a local sole supplier.

Will it be worth your while to see and be seen with this legendary celebrity? Before you answer, let’s visit the salvation of lean production methods found in the thick of the Clinton Era, and see what’s behind curtain number 2.0.

Lang Story - SVX1993 Subaru SVX

It may not have the cache of Doc Brown’s ride, but the Subaru SVX is a wonderful cruiser with a velour interior that still make modern day $35,000 rides jealous. 230 horsepower. All-wheel-drive. Plus you get that wonderful window within a window look that made the Delorean so distinctive.

We’re also going to be throwing in a bit more safety to make the ownership experience a bit less traumatic. Four-wheel ABS. A driver side airbag. A crash protection system that rivaled the best in the business.   To complement that crash risk, you’re  also going to be able minimize your parts risk thanks to a spare car or two at the local  pull-a-part.

Life with an SVX won’t be smooth sailing. These models had a tendency to munch their automatic transmissions. No stick here! But then again, sometimes an automatic can be just as much fun when it comes to real world driving.

Lang Story - Panoz2004 Panoz Esperante GT

What’s an Esperante besides the idiomatic Latin feminizing of a rare global language?

It’s… simply… amazing…

The Panoz is a brilliant mating of a heavily modified Ford Modular V8 with a svelte sport body that always turns heads for the right reasons. Panoz is a small sports car company in North Georgia that only produces about 300 to 500 of these vehicles every year, and this year’s Esperante represents quite a nice catch.

However, big warning Mr. Enthusiast. You won’t get a spare car for parts unless you’re willing to pay big money for one. Some of the parts you need will be expensive. There will also be limitations as to what you can do, and what you’ll have to pay a specialist to figure out. Your mechanic will offer basic maintenance and minor repair assistance. But if the big stuff happens, the Panoz will have to be sent off and repaired with a big wad of your own Benjamins. This brings us up to the final contestant.

Lang Story - Fisker Karma2012 Fisker Karma

This Shangri-la of Obama era eco-bling is coupled with what is arguably the worst choice of powertrains this side of a billion dollar bankruptcy. The Fisker Karma is indisputably the only car of the modern era that mirrors the “WOW!” exterior and “UGH!” mechanicals of a Delorean.

So what’s in it for you? For only $40,000 that you’ll never see again, the Fisker Karma will be given a Corvette engine that will marry the best of GM with the pinnacle of European design and ergonomics. It will be a dream car that will also have reasonable parts costs for everything short of the exterior panels and interior environment.

That Fisker Karma is quite a compelling treat, but keep one thing in mind. You can’t buy or sell any of these models. Profit is not part of the equation. It will be you alone who will have to weigh in the costs of upkeep and the time invested in one of these four dream cars.

So which one’s right for you? A Doc Brown Delorean? An SVX that can envelope you in Clinton Era comfort with reasonably cheap upkeep? A Panoz Esperante that will have a minor price premium and a proven powertrain? Or a Fisker Karma, that will have a $45,000 non-refundable admission fee and the finest mating of design and performance this side of a Bugatti?

The choice is yours. So choose your four year fling wisely. Some cars can get jealous when you least expect it.

Steven Lang

Steven Lang