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Riders of the Storm: The 10 Best Cars to Survive a Sharknado

by Jeffrey Jablansky
July 16, 2013
4 min. Reading Time

Since the summer of 1975, when the movie “Jaws” invented and then popularized the summer shark blockbuster, few Americans have cared about an apocalyptic tale of the world being consumed by sharks.  This held true until last week, when “Sharknado” – a straight-to-network-TV movie for the SyFy channel – reignited the fears that we forgot we had, about a world in which sharks descend from the sky in a storm that also destroys the environs of Los Angeles, California.

As humans, following such an invented tragedy, our first natural concern is for our lives, the institutions that we built, and the safety of our loved ones.

As automotive enthusiasts, though, whither our cars and trucks?  Would they protect us from harm and save us from the sharks?  While most modern cars can outrun even the fastest sharks, even the quickest supercars would likely be outclassed by severe Sharknado winds.  And it’s no use keeping a garage queen in the covered carport, which would most definitely be uprooted and torn apart.

But if you must survive the Sharknado using a car, Autobytel presents our top 10 choices for riding out, or at least bearing, one of nature’s most unfriendly and fictional natural disasters:

Riders of the Storm: 2002 Hyundai Tiburon

If you need to blend in: 2003 Hyundai Tiburon. The easiest thing to do, in the event of a shark deluge to rival an act of God, is to try to stay calm and make like a shark.  Easier said than done?  Enter the Hyundai Tiburon – the Korean automaker’s successor to the aptly-named Scoupe coupe, and first attempt at building a shark. (The word tiburon translates to “shark” from Spanish.)  Although the first-generation Tiburon debuted in the late ‘90s, we prefer the second-generation model, which nicked some of its design cues from Ferraris.  Sharks are fast.  Ferraris are faster.


Riders of the Storm: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark

If you need to act predatory: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark and Morgan Three-Wheeler (tie).  One step up the chain of conformity for the sake of survival is not only acting like the enemy, but looking like it, as well.  In 1963, building on a theme of nautical creatures led by the Sting Ray, the team at GM Styling & Design crafted a one-off Mako Shark Concept, with a long, pointed nose and gills etched into the bumper.  Since the Mako Shark never officially made it to production, the closest you can continue to get to procuring a shark is the Morgan Three-Wheeler – with the optional shark graphics package.


Riders of the Storm: Oldsmobile Toronado

If you deign to confuse the enemy: Oldsmobile Toronado.  The first thing that you need to know about the commonalities between the Sharknado and the Oldsmobile Toronado is that there is one: their names are both invented.  That’s right, students of high school Spanish! Toronado is not the Spanish word for “tornado.”  But if you must attempt to confuse one of the sea’s most powerful creatures, the Toronado is not a bad choice.  Powered by large V-8 engines, and built to withstand natural disasters of, well, Sharknado caliber, best snap one up before they begin to appreciate on the auction block.


Riders of the Storm: Tesla Model S

If you need to stay quiet: Tesla Model S.  Sharks, regardless of variety, have incredibly acute senses of hearing, which allows them to detect prey prior to swooping in for the kill.  This kind of logic is anathema to most performance cars, which utilize big engines and loud exhaust pipes to declare a big presence.  In the event of a Sharknado, discretion is key, and no production car moves as rapidly and silently as the Tesla Model S sedan.  With a 0-60 time of about 4 seconds in the Model S with the highest-output motor, you’ll surreptitiously and sneakily outrun the sharks.


Riders of the Storm: Audi A8

If you need to see in the dark: Audi A8. In pursuit of prey, sharks use their large, side-mounted eyes to supplement their other senses.  Bottom-dwelling sharks have an additional aide, in the form of night vision, to help guide them toward lesser, weaker fish.  The automotive equivalent of night vision, as featured in the Audi A8 and some of its luxury executive sedan ilk, is mostly used to spot wayward deer and unforeseen pylons.  At the outbreak of a Sharknado, night vision systems will give humans a technological advantage in spotting the perturbed creatures.  They will not, however, stop sharks from falling from the sky and damaging your panoramic sunroof.


Riders of the Storm: Toyota Hilux

If you’re in dire straits: Toyota Hilux.  Much has been said about the durability and longevity of the world-famous Toyota Hilux pickup truck.  The BBC’s Top Gear has tried to destroy it, to no avail.  In the event of a Sharknado, in which even a Hummer was no match for the gore, the Hilux would be a useful survival tool.  Should sharks begin to rain from an angry sky (again) in the United States, though, we would be out of luck: in North America, the only market that continues to receive new Hiluxes is Mexico.


Riders of the Storm: Mercedes S-class

If you need to stay odorless: Mercedes S-class. In addition to sensing movement when attacking their prey, sharks rely heavily on a keen sense of smell to help identify the source of their next meal.  In the event of a Sharknado, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the obvious choice for passing the sniff test, thanks to its built-in Air-Balance system.  Air-Balance comprises a tough set of filters, as well as an ionizer, to keep the cabin oxygen odor-free and free of harmful bacteria.  It also features active perfuming – handy for throwing Jaws off the scent.


Riders of the Storm: 1983 Renault Alliance

If a tornado strikes Los Angeles again: 1983 Renault Alliance.  The last time a tornado struck the city of Los Angeles, it was 1983, when Michael Jackson and the Police ruled the airwaves, President Reagan occupied the Oval Office, and Cabbage Patch Kids began to hit the shelves.  It was also the year when two of America’s leading car magazines named the AMC/Renault Alliance as their car of the year.  The Wisconsin-built Alliance was essentially an Americanized Renault 9, but suffered from shoddy build quality and was prone to rust.  Thankfully, sharks have a memory span that is all but nonexistent, and will likely also forget that the Alliance existed.


Riders of the Storm: Nissan Leaf

If your home electricity goes out: Nissan LEAF.  Tornadoes of all kinds – not just Sharknadoes – are known for wreaking havoc on the power grid, leaving local customers without power for days on end.  Thankfully, electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, have the capability to reciprocally provide electric power to your home, thanks to the innovative “Leaf to Home” system.  Currently available only to Leaf buyers in Japan, where a Sharknado has yet to occur, Leaf to Home boasts a maximum home charging time of up to two days.  Buyer beware: once your Leaf is out of juice, it’s only a matter of time until sharks start swimming to your doorstep.


Riders of the Storm: 1960s Lotus Elan

If all else fails: 1960s Lotus Elan.  Most notable for its leaky roof, propensity for leaking oil and other automotive fluids, and unreliability, at first glance, the original Lotus Elan would be the unlikeliest of choices for a Sharknado.  But, with the end of the world potentially upon us, and an unexpectedly clear network of interstate highways and back roads, how better to ride out a post-apocalyptic nightmare than in one of the finest driver’s cars of the last century?  You’ll thank us later.



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