Fans of hit US TV show 'The Sopranos' will have been shocked to learn today of the sudden death of James Gandolfini, the American actor who rose to international fame portraying the lead role of vexed mobster Tony Soprano.
As well as portraying the endearing story of a man trying to manage both his criminal and family lives – which earned Gandolfini three Emmy awards as well as a Golden Globe – for car fans, The Sopranos also featured an array of perfectly cast automobiles, from stealthy saloons, rip-roaring muscle cars and sinister SUVs, which, (we would imagine at least) would be perfect for the Don about town.
So, in memory of the late James Gandolfini, AOL Cars presents its top five Mafia cars.
Perhaps the perfect automobile for those who spend their days collecting protection money from dilapidated billiard halls, the 300C simply oozes menace. Its sheer size helps - the Yank-tank dwarfing even the largest saloons that the European manufacturers offer. While it may suffer from stodgy handling, there's more than enough poke from its 6.4-litre V8 engine to out-drag any meddlesome law enforcer. The rear cabin is also large enough to ensure the requisite heavies don't get left at home either.
Italian heritage, elegant yet intimidatory styling, a roomy, well-appointed interior, and a cracking engine and handling balance thanks to its Ferrari parents – what more could a discerning crime boss need? When the original Quattroporte was unveiled, many joked that it was indeed a car likely to be driven by a Mafia hitman. The current model continues the styling theme, but ups the dynamic ante, ensuring any would-be gangsters looking to 'whack' you would be lost in a cloud of tyre smoke.
From what started as a German military vehicle, the G-Wagon as it is affectionately known, has become the darling of the celebrity automotive scene, with everyone from Brad Pitt to the Kardashian clan owning one. However, in the right specification, namely black paint, on black wheels with black tinted windows, few cars are as imposing as the G-Class. With space in the back for your loved ones and/or a huge weapons cache, and a real go-anywhere ability, there's little to match it as a mobster's daily driver. Those really looking to strike fear into the hearts of rival families will want the newly announced tri-axle version.
Following the Mafia car code of unsubtle aggression, premium branding and storming power, the Cadillac CTS-V fits the bill perfectly for any Mafioso looking for a new set of wheels. A much edgier beast than the Chrysler 300C, the CTS-V has some real performance car credentials, having been developed at that Mecca of speed, the Nurburgring. We just hope any potential Cosa Nostra looking at one have the necessary driving skills to exploit the performance potential on offer.
Land Rover Range Rover
Much like the G-Class, the new Range Rover has all the space and off-road pace that anyone looking to dispose of a body in the woods could ever need. And its sheer road presence gives off the right amount of aggression, too. Be warned, the Range Rover's mafia credentials are very sensitive to spec. Pick the wrong colour combo and you'll look more like a lottery-winning farmer than a feared Mafia Don, something that will see you usurped by a disloyal underling in short order.