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Gold Medal Vehicles Go The Distance

You don't have to be an athlete to be geared with a vehicle that breaks world records. Joe Wiesenfelder, Vehicle Profiler at researched cars that are gold-medal-worthy in their respective fields, along with noting vehicles that are especially accommodating to athletes.

"The philosophy is that only individuals can choose the best vehicle for their purposes, but in the spirit of international competition, we handicapped the field and now present our lighthearted look at which players should go all the way," said Wiesenfelder.

Track & Field
Wiesenfelder outlined vehicles that go the distance with speed, endurance ... and even those that can overcome hurdles, qualifying them for the 2004 games:

  • Sprinters: If any car were to cross the finish line first in the equivalent of the 100-meter dash, it's inevitably the 2004 Saleen S7. The S7, which is built from the ground-up in Irvine, CA, completes the quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds at 119.9 mph. Domestic fans should be relieved that the pride of Italy, Ferrari's Enzo, retired after 2003 when it set the world record of 133 mph in 11.1 seconds.
  • Marathoners: 26.2 miles is no simple human feat, nor is a cross-country drive. For the long haul, the Volkswagen New Beetle TDI, with diesel efficiency, a highway mileage rating of 46-mpg and a range of 690 miles, is most likely to handle any road marathon. Look for Japan to win the silver with the Honda Civic Hybrid. Its fuel economy is a higher 48-mpg, but its smaller fuel tank means it'll run out of steam in 624 miles.
  • Hurdlers: Having to jump hurdles in bumpy courses is best for such SUVs as the Hummer H1 and Land Rover's Range Rover.
    • The Hummer has 16 inches of ground clearance and can climb 22-inch steps.
    • The Range Rover clears 11.1 inches. Most likely to receive a bronze is the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which clears hurdles up to 10.5 inches.
  • Shot Put: Although tossing a shot put or discus directly into a vehicle has never been tested, cars most likely to rebound from a direct "shot" are the heavily-cladded Honda Element and the Saturn Ion, the latter skinned with dent-resistant polymer panels instead of sheet metal.

Additional Events

  • Gymnastics: Balance Beam: Drivers don't want to lose their balance while behind the wheel, so suggests the BMW 3 Series and the Infiniti G35, both known for balanced front-to-rear weight distribution and responsive, precise steering.
  • Synchronized "Wading": Great Britain's Gibbs Aquada, the only car we know that can swim, has a lock on the swimming competitions, but many cars that can't swim. Many can wade, and in the 20-inch-deep waters of the regulation Synchronized Wading Pool, only the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover, Hummer H1 and H2 and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon qualify. Cue the music.
  • Weight Lifting: When it comes to carrying weight, the United States keeps the title. The favorites this year in the middleweight (half-ton full-size pickup) class are the Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab 4x2 Short Box, with a 3,094-pound payload capacity, and the Ford F-150 team's 1500 Regular Cab 4x2 Long Box, although the Ford needs an optional Payload Package to carry 3,000 pounds.
  • Winter Games: Looking ahead to the 2006 Winter Games, contests such as hockey, ice-skating and the luge test athletes' strength and poise on icy surfaces. Two rugged wagons in training for the title are the Subaru Outback and the Audi Allroad. Both boast two of the most sophisticated all-wheel drive systems, for surefootedness on ice, and higher-than-average ground clearance for plowing through snow.

For the Athletes
Many athletes have special requirements for transport to their next event. When heading to competition, the following are good picks for the players.

The nine-seat Ford Expedition, which has a respectably roomy third row, should accommodate baseball, rowing, volleyball, and basketball teams - or at least their first strings plus a coach or two. Larger groups should check out the vans, which seat as many as 10 (Dodge Sprinter), 12 (Chevrolet Express) and 15 (the Ford E-Series).

Wet divers and sweaty track stars can quickly damage vehicle interiors. That's why a fleet of Honda Elements would be a good choice to help protect against perspiration. The Honda Element has waterproof floors and water- and stain-resistant seats. Cyclists can even put their bikes in the high cargo area without removing their wheels.

For more information to see what car is the perfect fit for you and any of your competitive adventures, visit


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