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2005 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

There are times when the only thing that can make the proper statement is a new automobile. And it's not just any auto, of course, but the one that pours out the correct image to our colleagues, to our neighbors, to us.

They are the special driving machines that dwell less on need and more on want or must-have. They satisfy the quest for perfection as we appreciate their touches of fine craftsmanship, their seamless bodies with lustrous finishes, and their superb feel as they wrap around us. We thrill at the thunder underfoot as they roar to life then coast with abandon past the limitations of mediocre and into the stratosphere of unbridled three-digit performance. They soothe us with their lavish touches of pure pleasure with subtleties that continue to surprise and delight.

These are the jewels that can surpass the gratification of a successful, fast-paced bidding war for that special antique, the resplendent box seat at a long sold-out opera or play, or the consummation of a major, hard-fought business deal for the pure satisfaction of the win. And since they go wherever we go, they are always present in our lives.

They may not pass into the heady heights of legend where a few handcrafted beauties -- the Maybachs, Bentleys, Aston Martins -- reside. But the feeling, we know, is close. We have chosen to own a luxury car for our own personal reasons. And that's all the reason that's necessary.

To those discerning car lovers, we offer the following insights.