Dream Cars 2006: The Year's Wildest Rides

Congratulations, you’ve just won a gazillion dollars in the lottery. Of course you want a new car. But not just any old car. You want a car that says 'Hey Bill Gates, you want a piece of me?'"

Hey, you never know. So just in case you really do win the jackpot this year, here's a look at 2006's hottest Dream Cars.

Whether they boast German engineering or Italian elegance, this year's "it" cars have two things in common: they burn pavement ... and a big hole in your wallet.

"This year's dream car has to be the Lamborghini Gallardo Spider," said Cosmo Lisica, salesman at Manhattan Motor Cars, home to some of the world's most exotic automobiles. "It's coming out in the spring and is going to be the hottest car this summer."

Costing $225,000, the two-door, 520 horsepower, all-wheel drive Gallardo Spider is an intense powerhouse ready to compete with another buzzworthy sports car -- the yet to be released Ferarri 599 GTB, also costing around $225,000.

"The photos of the Ferrari 599 GTB leaked out during the Detroit Auto Show. It has a lot of sex appeal," said Automobile Magazine senior editor Joe De Matio.

"This car is the modern day interpretation of the Ferrari Daytona, which is a legendary car from the '60s. It's the epitome of what you think of when you think of a Ferrari. It's very sleek. It's very Italian," he added.

Other European imports destined to make an impression on U.S. territory are the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Lotus Exige, Maybach 57S and Bentley Continental GT convertible.

"To announce that you have really made it is with a Bentley or Aston Martin," said De Matio. "There are common reasons why people embrace cars. They usually want the power, speed and desirability of having something rare. It's been the same thing for decades."

For some, though, luxury cars are more than just a status symbol. They are a way of life.

Linda Bein, Oregon zone representative for the Porsche Club of America, is one of thousands of Porsche enthusiasts (Jerry Seinfeld among them) who appreciate the car as an art form as well as a means of travel.

"I drove my first Porsche back in 1968. A friend of my husband's thought I should have one and after driving his, I agreed," said Bein, who became a proud member of the Porsche Club of America back in 1969.

Now, with two Porsches in her garage, as well as a trip to the factory under her belt, Bein is hoping that newer models, like the fast-selling Porsche Cayman S, will continue to keep the Porsche on people's "want" lists.

"These cars are like a part of the family. When I think of people who have Porsches, many of those people have named their cars. There are always those who just want to be seen in a Porsche, but they don't understand the magnitude of the car they are driving."

But when it comes to the creme de la creme of stylized, luxury cars, there is one vehicle that can put even the coveted Rolls Royce to shame.

"The dream car that will really get you noticed is the Bugatti Veyron. It costs almost 10 times as much as the Bentley. It's a super car beyond all super cars," De Matio said of the $1.2 million, French sports car.

But a good name and heavy price tag don't guarantee you are getting the cutting edge in automotive technology. In fact, some feel that manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and Porsche are doing little more than recycling yesterday's news.

"The internal combustion engine was a leading technology back in 1882," said Patrick Maza, Research Director at Climate Solutions, a non-profit organization looking to be the Northwest's answer to global warming.

"It's really ironic, but these glamour cars are kind of dinosaurs. It's not just that they are oil burners. They are old stuff. It sounds crazy, but AC Propulsion's T0 prototype sports car can shoot out of a gate faster than a Ferarri. It uses lithium ion batteries, and I heard it can go 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. I'm telling you, a lot of these electric cars can kick butt."

Companies like Lexus have taken note of the efficiency of hybrid cars. In spring 2006, the Japanese car company is set to release the GS450h Hybrid, a first in the luxury car industry.

For most, however, buying a shmancy set of wheels is less about "efficiency" and more about living out a fantasy.

"Having a car like the Lamborghini or Porsche is a kid's dream," said Lisica. "It's a goal in life to have the money to get your ultimate grown-up toy."