While doing my list of the 10 Best Looking Factory Wheels, I included the E39 M5 and it got me thinking, what are the 10 best sedans of all-time? There’s no doubt that we’re living in a glorious time for automobiles. If you’re not making over 600hp, hitting 60 in under 4 seconds, or closing in on 200 mph in any sports car, you’re behind. Just a few decades ago this was hallowed territory reserved for only the fastest supercars. Now you can get that in a four-door Cadillac with supple leather and an expensive sound system. The following is a list of the ten best sedans that either got us there or reaped the reward. Again, I had to stop at ten because I kept finding myself saying,”what about this car, and what about that car.”
E39 BMW M5
The E39 BMW M5 is my returnee from the best looking factory wheels segment. I was torn between the E39 and E60. You could get both with a manual transmission in the states. The E39 featured a nearly 5 liter V8, the E60 had a V10. In the end, I thought the E39 just looks better. It was the last gasp of the old boxy BMW and it had those incredible wheels. Plus, have you heard one with headers? It will hurt your ears! The S62 8-cylinder engine made a hair under 400 hp. What was really cool is that it had an individual throttle body per cylinder. Ultimately, the car would hit 60 in 4.8 seconds and had a top-speed over 180 mph (if you remove that pesky governor).
Cadillac CTS-V (2nd Gen)
The first generation CTS-V signified to the world that Cadillac was back. They’ve occasionally had performance cars in the past. The Northstar V8 comes to mind. Now they were aiming directly at BMW and their M-Division. The second generation took it to a whole new level. Incredible magnetic suspension, massive breaks, a supercharged V8, and a six-speed manual. In a Cadillac?!?! The supercharged LSA made over 500 hp, hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds, and had a top speed of approaching 200 mph. The third generation would hit 200 mph but the second generation is the last one with a true manual. Did I mention it did all this on only 9 pounds of boost? This is why a simple pulley change and tune takes these to the mid 600’s.
Dodge Charger Hellcat
I don’t think anyone is making better looking cars than Fiat-Chrysler at the moment. The entire Dodge lineup is insane and the Hellcat is the maddest of them all. Sure, you can’t get it with a proper manual but it has 700 hp with a warranty! It will hit 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, runs the quarter mile in the low 11 seconds, and tops out at 204 mph! What a time to be alive! I’ve ridden in one of these and it was a riot. We’ve heard that gas engines are going away since the 1970’s and if they are, this will be the high water mark. I can only imagine what the next generation Viper is going to look like!
My dearly departed Chevy SS! The car no one knew about was also one of the best sedans. I unfortunately wrecked mine in a torrential downpour but it served me well. It had a 6.2 liter LS3 up front making 420 hp. The suspension was the same magnetic suspension from the CTS-V above. You could even get it with a manual transmission. All this for less than $50,000. I picked mine up brand new for $40,000 because everyone wants SUVs. Well, everyone is dumb! I raced my buddies M4 and took him from a stand still (thanks torque vectoring). We raced again on a roll and he started to pull ahead. Chevy was going toe to toe with BMW’s M-division, then they killed it. What a shame.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Alfa’s triumphant return to the United States was marked by three spectacular cars, the 4C, the Stelvio (an SUV I know), and this the Giulia Quadrifoglio. As I said earlier, I don’t think anyone makes better looking cars than Fiat-Chrysler and this is another example. Before I bought my SS, I seriously considered one of these. I just couldn’t justify spending $30k more to gain a few tenths. The Ferrari-based twin-turbo V6 produces over 500 hp and propels the car to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. It also has massive optional carbon ceramic brakes if you like crushing your sternum. It is too bad that the Americans don’t get a manual transmission. If you’re looking for something truly unique, why not take a look at this Italian beauty?
7th Generation Chevy Impala SS
The 7th Generation Chevy Impala SS wasn’t necessarily quick, it took seven seconds to hit 60 mph. It didn’t make a lot of horsepower either. The 5.7 liter LT1 only made 260 hp. The Impala was also the same size as a medium boat coming in over 4,000 lbs. So why is it on the list? Because it was the last true Chevy Impala. After this they went to FWD and a gutless V6 or worse. Plus it was the LT1 which is an iron block V8 based on the LS platform. Just add on a giant Vortech supercharger and make 1,000 hp. Problem solved! My friends parents had one of these and I always loved it. Maybe one day they will bring a proper Impala back to the lineup but I doubt it.
Audi RS4 (B7)
The B7 Audi RS4 is a car that I’ve almost purchased on several occasions. Every time I see one for sale I do the same research and I always talk myself out of it. The RS4 is so cool because it featured a proper manual and a 4.2 liter V8 that revs to a stratospheric 8,250 rpm. The RennSport Audi made 420 hp and hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Not fast by today’s standards but still fun regardless. Like all Audis it’s AWD with a 60% rear-bias. This thing also had insane 8-piston brakes stolen from the Lamborghini Gallardo. While not particularly fast, the RS4 is still a fun, loud Audi which is always a riot!
Mercedes C63 AMG
Another car I always look for sale when I get bored, the C63 AMG was the fastest four-door sedan when it first came out. Like the RS4 above, this was a naturally aspirated V8 but was a full 2 liters larger. The naturally aspirated V8 made 451 hp but Mercedes would shrink the V8 to 4 liters and add two turbos. The twin turbo V8 made a little more horsepower at 469 hp and 479 lb ft of torque. This pushed the Merc to 60 mph in less than four seconds. If I had to choose, I would go with the naturally aspirated version in silver with black interior like any good Merc should be.
Ford Taurus SHO
Some of you may think I’m crazy for this pick considering the list but you have to put it into context. During the time of its release, the Corvette made 250 hp. The Mustang, 200 hp. The Ford Taurus entered the fray with a Yamaha derived V6 revving to 7300 rpms. The little V6 made an astounding 220 hp slotting it between the Mustang and Corvette. The 220 hp flowed through a 5-speed transmission or an optional automatic. Sure it was FWD but it only weighed 3,300 lbs. The first and second generations were the sweet spot. The third generation may have featured a Cosworth block but they were ugly as sin. The fourth generation is still on the road and the AWD and 365 hp twin-turbo V6 is nice but no manual.
If you don’t know about the awesomeness of the Mercedes 500E, you’re not alone. Most of my friends know because I get excited when I see one in the wild. Why? This car was really the precursor of AMG and represented one of the few (maybe only?) times Porsche and Mercedes combined forces. At the time Porsche was struggling and Mercedes was looking to develop a sports sedan. The 5 liter V8 cranked out 322 horsepower helping the car hit 60 in under six seconds. The car also featured leather-clad Recaro seats and Porsche brakes. This car really set the precedence for every AMG that would follow. it ‘s too bad they didn’t collaborate again when Porsche wanted to release a four-door.
Honorable Mention: Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed (high-speed opulence), KIA Stinger (a new contender in the sports sedan market), Volvo T5R (Gotta love a fast Swede), Porsche Panamera Turbo S (as fast as it is ugly), Maserati Quattroporte (One of the best sounding cars ever).