Let’s face it: nobody who daydreams of a Los Angeles vacation envisions riding around in a poky four-door Dodge. Even if you have one at home—and even if you love it—how much more fun would it be to zoom along the Pacific Coast Highway in a Ford Mustang Selby? Or down Wiltshire Boulevard in a ’63 Cadillac convertible, the ragtop down and those gorgeous tail fins turning heads at every red light?
Time was, the only rental cars available to travelers were generic sedans meant to offer function and value—with a minimum of flash. But now, more agencies—from Hertz and Avis to more specialized companies—are filling their fleets with cool rental cars that make their customers’ automotive dreams come true.
“The biggest improvement to the domestic rental market has been the upgrade to better models,” says Evelyn Kanter, travel writer, automotive industry expert, and the editor of car-and-travel.com. As well as benefiting the rental agencies that get a higher resale value when it’s time to upgrade their fleets, says Kanter, fantasy cars please customers who expect features like power windows and keyless entry in their own vehicles.
Of course, it’s a big step up from power windows to the features that define America’s coolest rental cars, like the fine leather interiors and purring engine of a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé. Or the sleek lines and formidable acceleration (490 horses’ worth) of a convertible Ferrari F430. But if you’re looking to fulfill your childhood dream of driving a classically gorgeous car—or just to make a serious impression next time you visit your in-laws—rental agencies across the country are ready to cater to those whims.
Just remember, everyone’s idea of an awe-inspiring ride is different. A gearhead like Adam Ferrara, cohost of Top Gear USA, for example, gets revved up only by truly exotic vehicles.
“It’s really cool that you can rent supercars,” Ferrara admits. But “if you really want to impress me, offer historic military vehicles…. I would like to rent a 1944 Sherman Tank to see if I could beat Patton’s time to Bastogne.”
Until then, we’ll just have to make do with these cool rental cars.