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A rare McLaren attracted plenty of attention at the recent Greater Milwaukee International Car & Truck Show. (PHOTO: Jeffrey Phelps/ADAMM)

Dream cars are a matter of taste and budget

This content is presented in partnership with ADAMM.

If ever there was a place to ogle your dream car, the Greater Milwaukee International Car & Truck Show that ran through March 3 was it. That is, if you're like most people.

According to a survey by auto parts maker Gold Eagle, none of the cars usually cited by online reviewers actually rank among America's top 10 dream cars. No $250,000 Ferraris, zero $400,000 Maybachs, not one $500,000 Rolls-Royce, even though online reviewers might have them on their list. There was an uber-expensive McLaren at the show, but no, that doesn't appear on the list of top choices by everyday people, either.

The choices of people interviewed at the recent show prove that a dream car is a very individual choice, and one that best suits the respondent's very specific needs and budget. That's fairly consistent with the Gold Eagle findings.

For Margaret Koontz, who currently drives a 15-year-old vehicle that used to be her brother's, she said in an interview that the car at the top of her list is a Jeep Wrangler.

"I have to haul motorcycles and snowmobiles, so I'd prefer something I could really use," she said.

And one that fits into her budget. When she finally pops for her dream Jeep, she says she'll probably buy a used one.

Jeep's Wrangler – the vehicle that has retained many classic styling cues from the iconic Jeeps of World War II – also happens to be the number one "dream car" of American women, according to Gold Eagle. Warren Haase, sales consultant for Griffin's Hub Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Milwaukee, said he's not surprised.

"Over the past 30 years, I've sold Wranglers to lots of women," he said. "They're interested in the style, the look, the image, which is sporty and fun."

Also interviewed at the show, Greg Marsh said if he really had the inclination to buy a dream car, he would give an electric vehicle serious consideration. That sentiment confirms Gold Eagle's survey, in which electrics finished high on the wish list for men, likely those who are into the geeky side of tech, especially when it involves drive trains and suspensions.

However, many pine for the coolness of cars that go fast and look sharp, such as Chevrolet's Corvette and Camaro.

Zack Haack, sales consultant for Braeger Chevrolet of Milwaukee, said he was already living the dream by driving a Chevy Camaro when the weather's nice.

"I wanted something that had power and looked good," he explained. "I drive an Equinox in winter. The Camaro has rear-wheel drive and isn't great in snow."

There was a Camaro at the show this year. And, as always, the Chevy section showcased a Corvette that commanded so much attention that it was routinely surrounded by those waiting to slide into the sleek seats and grip the shifter.

John Buckley of Highland Park, Illinois, was checking out a Lexus LC at the show. Was it his dream car?

"I was checking it out to see if it was enough to hook me as a high-end car," he said. He certainly didn't have anything bad to say about the $93,000 sports coupe, but he gave several thumbs up to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio crossover he had checked out a few minutes earlier.

The Stelvio starts at $40,000 – and even its most loaded model costs less than $80,000 – but Buckley said he was surprised that a vehicle he'd never heard of impressed him so much.

"That's a great thing about this show," he said. "You can come in here and find something you really like that you otherwise might never have considered."

Here are the cars, in order, that appear on Gold Eagle's most recent (2018) top 10 list of dream cars of everyday people.

  • Ford Mustang
  • Tesla Model S
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Tesla Model X
  • Dodge Charger Hellcat
  • Toyota Prius
  • Range Rover
  • Honda Accord


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