In Miami, "transportation" means cars — yours, a friend's, your parents', whomever's. We have no functional public transit system to speak of, and getting into a cab basically means paying an eccentric stranger a ridiculous amount of money to drive you three miles and nearly kill you 14 or 15 times along the way. And because everyone here is driving himself, with about 2.5 million people in Miami-Dade County, there are a lot of cars roaming around.
But they're not all special, unique snowflakes. There are ten types of car in Miami that you see more than anywhere else. Chances are you have the keys to one right now.
Here are the ten most Miami cars on the road.
See also: How Miami Are You? Ten Ways to Tell
10. Jeep Wrangler Sport
If people were allowed to drive on the sands of Miami Beach, the number of Wranglers in Miami would make a bit more sense. In spite of their outrageous fuel consumption and the tremendous redundancy of having a four-by-four vehicle that's basically gone unchanged since its use in World War II, these forerunners of the modern Hummer have been the everyman's means of feeling like he's on safari on Biscayne Boulevard.
9. Early to mid-'90s Cadillac Eldorado
These are the street-faring steel boats that simply refuse to die. They fit into the era that rests between Cadillac's past glory days and its slick, contemporary reinvention, a period that only the owners of these apparently eternal cars are convinced will someday be considered classic. But as easy as it is to slander them, you have to give credit where it's due. These Caddies were built to last, with the one pictured above pushing over 200,000 miles and still running strong, screaming belts and all. Plus, how can you deny the wonderfully sleazy charm of that candy-apple-red paint job under a creamy vinyl roof?
8. Volkswagen Beetle (New Era)
Sometimes called "the chonga tortuga," this bubbly revision of the classic VW that was the sprightly ancestor of the Porsche 911 was immediately popular among young Miamians, as well as their parents, who saw it as a cute, reliably sexless car that was too little for their kids to kill anyone and big enough for them not to get liquified upon their first inevitable impact. But then came those goddamn eyelashes, and everything changed. Ever since, the bug has held its ground in Miami and is likely to continue batting its prosthetic eyelashes at your rear-view mirror for years to come.
7. Honda CBR1000RR (2-Wheeled Exception)
You ever wonder about those screaming fighter jets on wheels, splitting lanes on I-95 with some asshole wearing shorts and sandals and a vanity helmet with a neon-green Mohawk at 122 mph? Generally speaking, they're Japanese sportbikes, sometimes referred to as "cholo steeds," and often as not, they're 1,000 CC Hondas built to racing specs. In reality, there isn't any good reason for anyone who isn't a professional racer wearing a fully protective suit and driving on a track to be pushing a 1,000 CC to those kinds of speeds. But hey, what is Miami without ludicrous, dangerous degrees of excess, right?
6. Late-'90s Ford Mustang Convertible
Maybe you knew a friend whose dad had one of these when you were all growing up. Maybe his dad knew you called it the "Hialeah Ferrari," and even though it was mostly an affectionate nickname, you could tell his dad always wanted to beat you about the head with a tire iron whenever he saw the scarcely restrained smile you wore when you referred to it as such. Yes, both cars have prancing ponies for their emblems, but they do not have the same pedigree. Still, the 'Stang has plenty of soul for what it lacks in things such as performance engineering and exquisite Italian design, and it will always hold a special place in the hearts of all us kids who grew up hearing that bellowing V8.
5. Early 2000s Nissan Altima or Sentra (because really, how much difference does it make at this point?)
Spend a day driving around any part of Miami and you will see why this car is arguably the true workhorse of this city's daily commuters. Wherever you go, you're sure to find a ten- or 15-year-old Sentra or Altima, even a Maxima sometimes, with its headlights fogged up, its bumpers bearing a few battle scars, and its trusty engine clinging onto dear life just to get its driver to his next port of call and back. They're not the most strikingly handsome cars, and they certainly aren't the most exciting to drive, but damned if they aren't loyal till the day they stop breathing.
4. BMW 3-Series
This is about as ubiquitous as it gets in Miami proper. From suits in pristine 335i hardtop convertibles leaving the Wells Fargo building in downtown, to the deli guy who just made you an amazing chicken tender sub at Publix taking off his apron and getting into his 328 ragtop with duct tape keeping the roof sealed, 3-Series Beemers are everywhere in this town and seem to belong to every class of citizen. Only in Miami are Bavarian Motor Works cars the great equalizers.
3. Chevy Ridin' High (Actually, Any American-Made Car Riding on Dubs)
The massive rims are a necessity — bonus points for adding candy or pearlescent paint and as much chrome trim as you please. There are plenty of places where you can find a fine assortment of these whips around Miami, but few so fine as the Take One Lounge parking lot after sunset, when you'll find Chevys and Fords of all vintages — from the early '70s to the early '00s — with beautiful paint and customizations that would make Rozay swoon.
2. Porsche 911
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Considered by many to be the greatest car ever made, the Porsche 911 looks just as at home in front of any $4.7 million home on Pine Tree Drive as it does snaking along the curves of Collins Avenue between 45th and 63rd streets. And while it is a shame that these fine machines don't get to see much time on any proper winding backroads or anywhere near a decent canyon or hillside road, the fact that they make the beautiful people feel slightly more beautiful and the old people slightly less old has been more than enough cause to make it a shining standard of Miami motorway flash.
1. Mazda Miata
Because the answer is always Miata.
If you really need more of a reason than that, just look at it! It's a convertible roadster built for beach-bound drivers who enjoy driving and putting the top down in fair weather (or when the A/C isn't exactly "working") and don't mind its insanely impractical small size. In fact, that size comes in handy in Miami, where eight out of ten drivers seem to believe "perpendicular," "diagonal," and "IDON'TEVENKNOWWHATI'MDOINGHERE" parking are variations of parallel parking. Lots of these fantastic little cars, even the original NA models with their wonderful pop-up headlights, have been purchased in South Florida over the course of the Miata's 25 years on the road, and plenty of them are still running with Sunshine State plates in the same driveways they were parked in after leaving the showroom. The Mariner Blue Miata on the left in the picture above is a 1991 model that's become an heirloom in the family whose name the car bears on its license plate. Miatas just look and feel like they're supposed to be here. That pretty much makes them Miami as all hell.