Image: Mini Cooper S Convertible
BMW via AP file
The Mini Cooper is a great bet for those first years out of school, when you're in debt and establishing a credit history: It is affordable, but also a solid investment.
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updated 8/9/2005 6:24:40 PM ET 2005-08-09T22:24:40

A well-known quote by humorist P.J. O'Rourke concerns aphrodisiac "mechanical devices." Before you get the wrong idea, note that in the next sentence O'Rourke reportedly said, "Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible."

Mercedes, a DaimlerChrysler subsidiary, still makes an SL-Class convertible, and we are of a mind with O'Rourke: Such sports cars are wonderful facilitators of romance. In fact, you will find two Mercedes-Benzes in the following slide show of the best cars for singles.

We're not suggesting that the sole arbiter of a car's value for singles is sexiness; but if the best parts of being single are freedom and excitement, wouldn't a Mercedes convertible help you achieve those ends better than an Odyssey minivan from Honda Motor?

Save the minivan for when you have kids. Many of the cars on our list are sports cars and/or convertibles. Sport utility vehicles may make your motor run more than any other kind of vehicle, but we think the most fun cars are the ones that are designed to look great and go fast—and that's what sports cars are all about.

Much of 20th-century culture concerned the relationship between driving, freedom and youth. In 1914's Dubliners, James Joyce included "After the Race," a story about insouciant young race car drivers that includes such pro-racing statements as, "Rapid motion through space elates one."

Other major cultural figures from different walks of life have continued this theme. Consider the music of Bruce Springsteen, in which — as rock criticism points out — the hard-luck cases he champions frequently find escape and delight only through driving.

Greil Marcus, writing in 1975 for Rolling Stone about Springsteen's then-new album Born to Run, discussed both youth and driving, speaking of "the lure of the road; the quest for a chance worth taking and the lust to pay its price; girls glimpsed once at 80 miles an hour and never forgotten; the city streets as the last, permanent American frontier."

This rhetoric speaks to a sense of wonder and wanderlust that one equates with youth and being free to come and go as one pleases. For Marcus, Springsteen and millions of Americans, automobiles are centrally involved in being young and experiencing such romance. Even though we have included cars on our list for middle-aged singles, and even though being single often comes with sadness and anxiety, we have focused — for this piece — on that certain youthfulness that comes with being single — the kind we believe you should enjoy while it lasts, no matter how hurried you are to get married. We can't tell you the secrets of freedom and youth, but we can help you find the right car for the moment.

Many of our choices from last year's list have returned this year — but we have also replaced many of last year's choices with new models, ones about which pertinent information has surfaced or ones which, on second thought, seemed like better fits for the list.

We realize that being single often involves being broke, but for the purposes of this article we assume you have the money to buy a new car; a list of used cars would hardly be as sexy. Like O'Rourke, we are interested in four-wheeled, aphrodisiac "mechanical devices." For a list of our favorites, please follow the link below.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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