You people know how conforting it is to find others who define themselves at least in part by what instrument they play?
Don't look to the Danes and Euro thread, I don't even mention guitars there...and I'm not always that bitchey.
I have 3 very good handmade guitars which I would feel comfortable comparing to any Martin. Not better or worse, just different. I would still love a Martin, and have played dozens which were exceptional guitars. Larivee has impressed me more lately, and a friend just bought a mahogany OM style one which sounds great new and will doubtless mature wonderfully. As with all good guitars, there's some envy and covetiveness involved here, vices I likely share with others around Ville de Mudcat.
The one sure thing about Martin and other fine guitars is that they will mature better than lesser guitars. They will sound better older than newer, and they generally sound pretty acceptable right out of the factory.
I regret selling the only Gibson acoustic (I can remember) I owned, even though it was a cheap one from the '60's (I think). Some of the new Gibsons look mighty nice, I wonder how they'll sound in 20 years.
One of the interesting things about guitars is the ones with all the "bells and whistles" are not always the most sought after. A plain old D-18 is as elite as any other. Not the same for cars, I think.
A student of mine sometimes silently reminds me that any guitar is better than no guitar, and if he only had a Martin...