Classic Cars

5​ collector cars Gen-X, Boomers, and Milennials were searching for during the pandemic

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a desirable car for enthusiasts of all ages.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

In 2020, Americans were given a lot of time to sit at home and distract themselves by surfing the web. Often, they found themselves daydreaming about owning a classic or collector car.

Hagerty has released some interesting results of a survey of the company's web traffic during that period, detailing which vehicles had their quotes searched for the most and what age groups were doing the searching. Scroll down to see the results.

2000-2006 BMW M3 (E46)

BMW E46 Convertible

The E46 generation BMW M3 was available as a coupe or a cabriolet.

Photo courtesy of BMW

Gen-Xers and Millennials are looking hard at the BMW M3s of the early 2000s. Seventy-eight percent of the quotes Hagerty received were from that age group.

The E46 edition of the car was produced as a coupe and a convertible, getting its power from the last of the S54 straight-six engines BMW produced. The automaker sold the model in a variety of special editions but the CSL was never brought to market in North America.

1997-2004 Porsche Boxster

Boxster (986), 1996

Porsche introduced the Boxster in 1996.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The Porsche Boxster celebrated a big birthday this year, but last year it was the first-generation model that was on the minds of browsers. Boomers represented 51 percent of the quotes for the Boxster followed by 33 percent by Gen-X.

The mid-engine Boxster was Porsche's first road vehicle to be originally designed as a roadster since the 914, which was in production from 1969 to 1976. A couple different engine choices were available for the first-gen Boxster when it was new and the model underwent a mid-generation update for the 2002 model year.

1984-1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

1989 Jeep Wagoneer

This 1989 Jeep Wagoneer sold for over $100k at Barrett-Jackson.

Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer's popularity is picking up just as Jeep announced that they're bringing the SUV back. The new Grand Wagoneer is expected later this year.

Hagerty reported that 65 percent of all quotes for the vintage version of the SUV were from Gen-X and Millennial buyers - the target market for the new one as well.

1993-2002 Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird

The Pontiac Firebird was discontinued just before the Great Recession hit causing the brand to fold.

Photo by Ken Morris/Shutterstock.com

The final generation of the Pontiac Firebird is still turning heads, nearly 20 years after it left the market. During the pandemic, 63 percent of the quotes that were searched for are from Gen-X and Millennials

1990-1998 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The third-generation Mazda Miata went out of production six years ago.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Gen-X and Millennials represented 56 percent of all quotes for the second- and third-generation Mazda Miata. The second-gen MX-5 debuted in 1997 and was put on sale for the 1999 model year. This was the generation that got rid of the pop-up headlights.

The third-gen Miata was in production from 2005 to 2015. Design-wise, the car stayed pretty true to its roots but there was one notable innovation. This generation was the first to have a retractable hardtop variant.

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The CX-5's styling is sharp and clean.

Mazda

Crossovers have clearly become the family vehicle of choice. Minivans and large sedans are far less common than they used to be as buyers opt for the relative plushness and more generous space offered by utility vehicles. That's not a bad thing, but many people will find the increasing levels of sameness in the crossover market to be off-putting.

Thankfully, Mazda is here to help keep things interesting. Its CX-5 takes a different approach than its rivals. Where vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V focus on comfort and efficiency over almost everything else, Mazda managed to jam in loads of vehicle feedback and engagement. Behind the wheel, the crossover feels and sounds much more alive and responsive than its competition. Jumping out of a larger vehicle and into the CX-5 felt like a shock at first, as the Mazda's steering wheel delivers real, actual feedback and transmits a picture of what's going on underneath the vehicle, which is something not often seen outside of expensive performance vehicles.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5's cabin is more upscale than its rivals. Mazda


Engaging Powertrains

The CX-5's base four-cylinder engine is fine, but the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is where things start to get interesting. It bumps the standard mill's 187 horsepower to 250 and gives off a pleasing turbo whine under heavy throttle. It pairs almost perfectly with the six-speed automatic transmission and delivers surprising power and torque. My test vehicle's all-wheel drive gave the CX-5 a surefooted feel, and from experience I can say that it's worth the added cost if you live anywhere with legitimate winter weather.

There are a few tradeoffs that come along with the CX-5's level of driver engagement, largely related to interior space and noise levels. While the Mazda's cabin is comfortable and is in no way low-rent, a great deal of wind, road, and drivetrain noise make their way into the vehicle at all times. You could argue that this is just another expression of the CX-5's connection with its driver, and you'd be right in some cases. At many times, however, such as when taking the kids to school or just running to the grocery store, it gets tiresome. Your five-year-old won't care about how good the steering feel is when they have to keep asking you to crank up the volume on their podcast story. The noise level is most noticeable around town with the constant stop and go of traffic.

The other main drawback with the CX-5, at least for families (like mine) that don't travel lightly, is interior space. Thanks to its curves and beautifully sloped roof, the Mazda's cargo hold is not as spacious as some of its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, or Toyota RAV4. That dramatic shape also makes the rear seat feel tighter than it reads on paper, but thanks to a friendly ride height and large rear door openings, parents will have no issues with loading kids in car seats.


2021 Mazda CX-5 A sloping roofline can make rear-seat headroom challenging for taller people.Mazda


Great Tech and Safety

Mazda bumped the CX-5's infotainment screen size from 7.0 to 10.3 inches across the board for 2021, but there's no touchscreen here. Instead, the system is controlled using a rotary dial and volume know that are mounted behind the gear shifter in the center console. It's a responsive and fairly straightforward process to use and control the system, but scrolling through long menus or trying to wade through several options using the rotary controller becomes tiresome and distracting at times.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was named a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That award is due in part to the crossover's excellent performance in crash tests, but also comes thanks to its long list of standard advanced driver aids. All models get a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a smart brake support system, and high beam control. My top trim tester also got a driver attention alert system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree monitor.

It's hard to ignore the quality, value, and fun that the CX-5 brings to the table, even considering how good its competitors have gotten. With a price tag that maxes out under $40,000, the Mazda's driving experience and plush interior should put it at the top of shoppers' lists. Its few drawbacks don't spoil the overall package, and only really present a problem for families of four or more – like mine. Those people, myself included, should be shopping for a slightly larger vehicle, anyway, and for them, there's the Mazda CX-9.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5 is one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers on sale today.Mazda

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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