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Sat., March 28, 2009, midnight

Times are tough. The economy stinks. But there are certain cars that call out to us.

Maybe it’s their impressive performance. Or maybe it’s their price.

Here then, are seven cars that will make anyone green with envy.

•1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air ($44,000 to $98,000): Is there a car more iconic than this one? And its merits still resonate: brilliant styling, exceptional power and good build quality. These cars are as popular today as when they were new. The heartbeat of America? In 1957, it was Chevrolet.

•1964 Aston Martin DB5 ($286,000 to $400,000): James Bond drove one – at least he did in the movie “Goldfinger.” For most, that’s enough to place this car on anyone’s list. With a fetching body, the car’s mystique, and its 282 horsepower, will move you.

•2009 Maserati Granturismo S ($117,500 to $135,000): The incredible bark that emanates from the Maserati Granturismo’s twin exhausts will ignite your passion. So will the bite of its 433-horsepower V8. But your heart will be captured by the aroma of glove-soft leather as only an Italian GT can. Bravo!

•2010 Ford Shelby GT500 ($51,225): This bad boy muscles its way into showrooms shortly, with a supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter dual-overhead-cam V8.

•2009 Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe ($434,000): This high-profile car is best avoided if you’re in the witness-protection program. Under the steel resides a 6.75-liter V12 engine that reaches 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

•2009 Mercedes-Benz SL 65 Black Series ($299,000): With a carbon-fiber fixed roof, front fenders, hood, trunk lid and front and rear aprons, this SL is light and made to move. Beyond its 650-horsepower, 6-liter V12 and 3.8-second 0-to-60-mph time, this may be the meanest looking Mercedes ever.

•Jaguar XKR Drophead ($94,475): Jaguars have always had the power to seduce, with their combination of suave sex appeal and powerful, silky performance.

This cat has a 4.2-liter supercharged V8 delivering 420 horsepower. That’s enough to make anyone purr.



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