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2/18/17 1:52 a.m.

So I have had my 74 beetle for three years. I love it, however, it is stock and like all beetles does not handle very well. While I do love it, I think I'm ready for a change.

I would like something a little peppier, and that I can take to the track and not spin out. (took the beetle to the track one day, everyone thought I was nuts). I am a college student and allas, not a billionaire. So I would like to stay under 10k on whatever car I buy. I have been considering a Porsche 914 as It uses a familiar engine and can take a corner better.

I was wondering what other options are there? I'm aware that there are v8 muscle options available, that can be made to do well on the track, however, i would like to keep it a little more economical fuel and insurance wise.

Thanks for reading.

NordicSaab HalfDork
2/18/17 6:19 a.m.

So... great handling... non V8... easy to work on car.

This puts you dead pin in Miata territory.

Other reasonable options: TR6, S2000

BillBall New Reader
2/18/17 6:23 a.m.

Porsche 944 or 924S. Much more practical and less likely to spin than a 914. Plus you get AC, and in late models an (old) air bag and ABS. Good rust resistance, great handling and brakes. Although the engine is in front, the rear mounted transmission/diff & torsion bar suspension will give you that VW feel, trust me. Just make sure the timing belt/etc service is reasonably up to date. Definitely available for under 10k if you are not looking for a show car. But I have to say that if you plan to use it as a daily driver also the most recent Miata you can afford will probably give you less headache and still be fun.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
2/18/17 6:27 a.m.

Second-gen Corvair (1965-1969)

bastomatic UltraDork
2/18/17 6:46 a.m.

Aren't 914s getting expensive?

I'd say maybe a Volvo 142 - nice classic looks with power disk brakes and good handling. Only problem is they are down on power, but a $10k budget leaves plenty to address that.

Actually a nice 1980s MR2 would be great fun on the track and cost efficient.

OHSCrifle Dork
2/18/17 6:53 a.m.

Any MR2

impster Reader
2/18/17 7:26 a.m.

Good BMW 2002s are getting pricey but you can still pick up an e30 3 Series for under $10k. Drive one; you'll be surprised. I drove English cars for decades and then bought a scruffy 2002 for a nephew. What a revelation after becoming accustomed to English sports cars with engines derived from tractors and suspensions seemingly of prewar design. Though I still have English cars, there's also been a Bimmer in the garage ever since.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/18/17 7:52 a.m.

I'd say it depends a bit on what you consider a "classic." A "traditional" classic like your Beetle or the 914 or a "modern" classic like the aforementioned E30 or 944. The amusing thing is pretty much any generic, modern sedan will handle better than pretty much any sports car from the 60's or 70's, although will admittedly be less engaging. Cars like the E30 and 944 sort of bridge the gap between the two eras with much of the driving engagement of older cars but also tend to have many modern car complexities...

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
2/18/17 10:07 a.m.

Given your constraints, if you really want to track the car regularly you have to take the cost of maintenance and consumables into account. The wonderful traditional and modern cars others listed will all require regular wrenching and attention. The answer here really is Miata.

TrulySpooky New Reader
2/18/17 6:43 p.m.

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions.

I think the corvairs are cool. The Miata (mx5) is a no go....Don't like them at all, unfortunately. The Porsche 924 and 944 I could get into.

And the mr2. I know nothing about it. it's mid-engined right? 4 banger turbo?

hmm i need to think about it.

RossD UltimaDork
2/18/17 9:57 p.m.

Have you driven a Miata? If you have and you still dont like them, fine. But you owe it to yourself if not.

m4ff3w UberDork
2/19/17 10:44 a.m.

Fiat X1/9

Super reliable (just clean the grounds), super simple, super fun.

Stefan MegaDork
2/19/17 12:53 p.m.

How about a C4 Corvette?

I'd shy away from the 924/944 unless you're either skilled with Bosch CIS troubleshooting (for the 924 as their fuel injection system is the cause of many issues in an otherwise decent car) or you have a good set of tools, time and money to deal with the deferred maintenance on a Porsche.

If you really want to go German, maybe a BMW 3-series? Parts costs are much more reasonable compared to the Porsche 924/944. Maintenance efforts are similar as are customization/improvements.

I second the Miata though, there's a reason why its "The Answer" around here.

Go drive a well sorted one on a twisty road and wind it out a bit, you'll either get it or you won't.

Plus for a college kid, they are easy to maintain and fairly decent on gas and easily customized to your taste/budget or grow with you as you continue after college.

oldtin PowerDork
2/19/17 2:06 p.m.

2nd the X1/9. Fun little go karts,

mndsm MegaDork
2/19/17 3:31 p.m.

I am firmly of the belief that the best chassis out there rwd, under 10k.....rx8. R3 package and go. Brilliant stuff.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
2/19/17 3:33 p.m.

At least on the West Coast, a non-salvaged R3 is going to set you back noticably more than 10k. But even a regular RX8 with good suspension is pretty spectacular.

Stefan MegaDork
2/19/17 5:07 p.m.

It's also not old enough to be considered a classic, where as the original Miata and similar are.

wannacruise New Reader
2/19/17 7:04 p.m.

Any Mazda or Subaru depending on your wants and pocket book. But if you want something a little more Vintage, find a pre-1974 MGB. Get one that has been taken care of but not perfect, and near no rust. (can be found for less than 10K) These bodies were unbeliveably strong and ridgid. In my opinion they were the strongest best built of all the early little British cars. Easily upgradable, inexpensive to build and fix. Or get a Midget like the one the mag here built a few years ago. You won't be sorry, they are gobs of fun.

classicJackets HalfDork
2/19/17 7:47 p.m.

How has nobody here mentioned Datsuns?? 280z has the best body structure of the S30s and can be pretty good if you can get one with limited/no rust.

They also have enough hatch space to actually move a mini-fridge or a bag of clothes to school and still have a passenger

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/20/17 11:00 a.m.

You can find a fantastic Mk1 VW GTI or Scirocco for under $10K. Great handling, safe and fun, and as long as you keep the car in good shape, and fairly stock (removable bolt-ons) ---- it will get worth more money instead of less. They also share a familial feel with your bug.

oldeskewltoy UltraDork
2/20/17 11:16 a.m.
TrulySpooky New Reader
2/20/17 7:13 p.m.

I actually have driven a Miata. A buddy has one, its just not my cup of tea. The fiat is kinda cool. I looked at a rx7, that would be cool. I would like to know more about the fiat though, seems almost likek the mr2 and 914.

I know someone who's selling a c4 Vette, wants 6k its in fantastic shape.

What about a Datsun 260z?

sesto elemento
sesto elemento SuperDork
2/20/17 7:19 p.m.

1st gen celicas handle great with minimal mods. My liftback was a great handling car with springs and dampers.

TrulySpooky New Reader
2/20/17 7:25 p.m.

In reply to sesto elemento:

The celicas look cool. (like mini muscle cars) I thought they were worth way more than 10k though. (I mean the first gen not the fwd modern ones)

ae86andkp61 HalfDork
2/20/17 8:38 p.m.

Just throwing this out there, Celica for $3500:


You are in Reno, right?

FWIW, years ago when I was in college, I was looking for something cool, light and nimble, and capable of doing some motorsports on the weekend. I really wanted an AW11 MR-2, but they were a bit out of my price range at the time, so I was also shopping X 1/9 and other Fiats, MG Midgets and B, etc.

I ended up with an AE86, and in hindsight I am really glad! A sporty coupe or hatchback is sooooo much better as an only car for college than a tiny roadster or a mid-engines two-seater! Easier to park outside, easier to stuff a buddy or two in the back if needed, easier to haul a bicycle or a futon. It might not have quite the same cool quotient, but an 80's performance hatchback will be tough to beat as an all-arounder.

$10K can buy quite a bit of an AE86/Celica, Scirocco/Rabbit, Datsun ZX, Nissan 240SX, 924/944, Isuzu Impulse, etc.

If you don't mind what could be a bit more of a hands-on project, you could toss an Alfetta GT/GTV6 or a classic SAAB 900 into your search as well.

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