In 1991, Playboy Magazine’s Automotive Editor, Ken Gross, gathered a small group of car experts to launch a new award to accompany the magazine’s annual automotive report: the Playboy Car of the Year.
Since then, a select group of models have been chosen annually as our favorite vehicles of the year. While PCOY is obviously the most coveted of these awards, other choices represent the best of the best in each category, with the occasional quirky moniker thrown in each year: Best Cross-Dresser, Al Gore Special and Pint-Sized Performance are a few notable examples.
While we would love to give you the early Christmas present of announcing which deserving car will be taking home the 2014 PCOY title, we can count down eight former winners we would kill to find under the tree (or in the driveway) this December 25.
1. 1995: MCLAREN F1 "PLAYBOY'S CAR WE WISH THEY'D IMPORT"
Ferocious and legendary, the McLaren F1 supercar was one of the technological marvels of the automotive world. It completely leveled car fanatics with its 627 horses of power, cruel looks and unbelievable presence. While we now have its successor, the P1, on tap, there will never truly be a replacement for this once-in-a-lifetime beast.
2. 2007: BMW Z4 M COUPE "PLAYBOY'S CAR OF THE YEAR"
Classy, refined but a little sassy, BMW’s vision of the M Coupe Z4 was a welcome surprise that took the shooting-brake body style to the next level. The second M coupe to be produced after a similar treatment with the Z3, our ’07 Car of the Year was a hot limited item with 330 horses and just begs to be added to your holiday collection as a replacement for Santa’s sleigh.
3. 1993 & 1994: DODGE VIPER RT/10 “PLAYBOY'S BIGGEST KICK TO DRIVE"
A double whammy: the vicious Viper RT/10 stole the hearts of Playboy’s expert team two years running as our favorite joyride. While the Vipers have continued to evolve with the times, recent models (SRT, anyone?) have retained the primitive brute force, torque and no-bullshit handling that made the RT/10 an American legend. We recommend racing Rudolph in this one.
4. 2005: FERRARI 612 SCAGLIETTI "PLAYBOY'S CAR OF THE YEAR"
Nothing beats the class, exuberance and price tags of Ferrari’s occasional 2+2 four-seat monsters whenever the prancing pony gets tired of producing some of the best looking (and performing) supercars in the world. While the recent FF is an example of opulent luxury family vehicles, its predecessor, the incomparable Scaglietti, is fierce yet practical—for six figures. If you’re game to pick one of these up, prepare for at least one lump of coal from your friends and family for every horse in this baby (hint: there are 532).
5. 1992: MERCEDES-BENZ 500 SL "PLAYBOY'S ULTIMATE CONVERTIBLE"
It’s no secret that within the Playboy family, we’re awfully fond of our convertibles. From F-Types to Playmates in Mini Roadsters during the Super Bowl, we need the top down every once in a while. The 500 SL from Benz met our every need in the early ’90s with its style, grace and space for four. This Christmas, however, we recommend the roadster to those south of the Mason-Dixon who can take advantage of it this time of year.
6. 2009: ALFA ROMEO 8C COMPETIZIONE "PLAYBOY'S HOTTEST EURO EXOTIC"
While the Alfa 4C is making its long-awaited debut here in America, our exotic choice from Europe-land was a mere Christmas prayer four years ago when the 8C Competizione was rearing its sexy head. While we’re completely down to spend Christmas in Italy this year, you could just put it on your list and hope a set of keys magically appears in that stocking. Dinky car replicas do not count!
7. 1994: CHEVROLET CAMARO CONVERTIBLE Z/28 “PLAYBOY'S CAR OF THE YEAR”
Our love of the Z/28 has never known any bounds, whether it’s a classic 1981 with hood scope or the latest iteration hitting dealerships this spring. However, this 1994 convertible version of the fourth-gen Camaro holds a special meaning to us as our fourth Playboy Car of the Year. Clean-cut, handsome and well-groomed—this PCOY was a distinguished playboy with a wild side. Hef must have had input on this one.
8. 2010: NISSAN NISMO 370Z "PLAYBOY'S BEST HORSEPOWER VALUE"
Last but certainly not least, the Nissan’s Z-line of vehicles has always been favored for their sexy but toned-down looks, great handling and ability to customize as a tuner. The 370Z was fairly new on the market when it got the Nismo performance package, taking this discreet looker up a few notches to bold, loud and fearsome. We named it Best Horsepower Value for giving us a cool 350 horses for under $40K—if that’s not a (Jingle Bell) ringing endorsement for your Christmas-laced dreams, we don’t know what is.