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chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/5/12 7:03 a.m.

So I'm headed out to look at this http://www.derrywholesaleauto.com/vehicle_pages/1G8ZY1279XZ295356-1999-SATURN-SC2-3DR-AUTO.shtml today and I don't know a whole lot about Saturns. I know it made it into a GRM article recently: http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/articles/gas-pains-20-fuel-sippers-wed-gladly-drive/ so that's a small bonus for this car.
Right now my goal is to get into something for low cash (<$4k), easy to work on, commuter car (so high fuel efficiency is a plus) and fun to drive. I think this car will hit all of these very well (with the exception of the autotragic tranny, how hard are they to swap out for a manual?). So what says the GRM braintrust? What do I need to look out for?

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
4/5/12 7:18 a.m.

Looks for burning oil, bad motor mounts.

Everything else is pretty standard.

I don't know that i would bother buying an auto if i were wanting a manual eventually. Plenty of manuals to go around, not worth settling.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/5/12 7:27 a.m.

Nothing in this good a shape for this cheap up here. It has less rust under it than my 04 Jag, according to my wife.

jrw1621
jrw1621 PowerDork
4/5/12 7:45 a.m.

Plastic and flexible body panels do a good job of hiding rust. Try to get the car on a lift to inspect below.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UltraDork
4/5/12 7:49 a.m.

great choice in general, but i'm with 92celica. hold out for a 5-sp if you want a 5-sp.

Gearheadotaku
Gearheadotaku SuperDork
4/5/12 7:50 a.m.

I'm very happy with my '97, same car as this but a 5-speed.

The upper motor mount does wear, causing a alot of noise and vibration, but its a very cheap and easy fix. Like 30 bucks and 10 minutes easy. They're great on gas, easy to service and parts are cheap. 2K seems like a fair price.

They do use oil, mine likes a quart and a half between 3,500 mile oil changes. I have 160k on mine.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/5/12 2:40 p.m.

Well I drove it and even though it needed a few things (rear brakes, rear sway bar end link, motor mount and is it normal to hear the gas splashing around in the tank) I liked it. I told the guy I'd give a $200 deposit if he'd hold it until my tax returns get deposited next week but he didn't want to hold it a week. I doubt it will last long at this price so I'll keep looking.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UltraDork
4/5/12 3:35 p.m.

there's always more

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy HalfDork
4/5/12 4:32 p.m.
jrw1621 wrote: Plastic and flexible body panels do a good job of hiding rust. Try to get the car on a lift to inspect below.

This. My last Saturn, a 94 SW2 5-speed (!!!) looked awesome, but those beautiful dent resistant polymer body panels hid a world of rust underneath. Still, not bad for a winter beater I bought for $400 and sold for $800 the following spring.

corytate
corytate Dork
4/5/12 6:56 p.m.

I bet you could get a good southern example, fly down and drive it back up, for less than 3k. with a man trans.

ccrelan
ccrelan Reader
4/5/12 8:43 p.m.

http://newyork.craigslist.org/fct/cto/2942681465.html

This one looks to be a nice deal and is in New England

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/5/12 11:22 p.m.

In reply to ccrelan:

That is nice. I'm certain I'll find another one, I'm not worried. Who knows, the next one might even be a better deal.

Twin_Cam
Twin_Cam UltraDork
4/6/12 4:34 a.m.
chknhwk wrote: I'm certain I'll find another one

Right you are. The only Saturn you buy immediately if you see it is a '95 SW2 manual.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/6/12 7:46 a.m.

In reply to Twin_Cam:

Why is that? I've actually been hoping to find an Acura Integra or ZX3 with a manual, the Saturn was a 'oh crap that's a great price, I need to check it out'. Other than that my options are pretty open. $4k cap, preferably less.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/6/12 8:01 a.m.

What kind of mileage...? http://nh.craigslist.org/cto/2942837041.html Must...not...buy...Mercedes...

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/6/12 8:06 a.m.

Used to have one of these, kind of want another one... Anybody know how they do in heavy snow with snow tires? http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/cto/2908225669.html

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy HalfDork
4/6/12 9:26 a.m.

It's all in the tires. I ran my Miata through last winter on Firestone Winterforce tires and had absolutely no trouble whatsoever. But if you're thinking E30, I'd hold out for the extra power of a 325i. Though you can get another 20hp and 20 ft/lb with just a chip, if I remember right...

Also, that gold SL2 is NOT a 95. It has the older style dashboard of a 91-94.

HStockSolo
HStockSolo Reader
4/6/12 9:28 a.m.
Twin_Cam wrote: Right you are. The only Saturn you buy immediately if you see it is a '95 SW2 manual.

Some belief that they are rare. I've owned one and have seen a few for sale. I actually think 1995 SW1 manual may be rarer (if you are looking for gas mileage). My SW2 was pretty rusty. I've liked all three of my 1995 Saturns, but my 325i has been mostly just as inexpensive. Well, it won't get 40+mpg cruising at 55mph like the SL1. An E30 would be much worse because they are so un-aerodynamic. I'd look for a 318ti.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/6/12 9:36 a.m.

That's the E model, though. I thought they were in the mid 30's for mileage? I had one - briefly - but I liked it and always wanted to give another on a go...

jrw1621
jrw1621 PowerDork
4/6/12 9:41 a.m.

With your commuter aspirations a E model would be fine. I would rather have an E with a 5 speed than a iS with an automatic.
My '87 iS manual gets 25 mpg easy combined and maybe 27 if all hyw and conservative driving.
I would bet the E model could do about two points better of 27 easy and 29 all hyw.

That BMW went up today at 8am. My guess is it will not be there by 8am tomorrow. Act quick if you want it.
http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/cto/2908225669.html

HStockSolo
HStockSolo Reader
4/6/12 9:54 a.m.

Revised (Old) EPA ratings are:
19/26 (21/28) manual -1987 325e
18/24 (21/26) manual 1988 325 (super eta)
16/22 (18/24) manual 1988+ 325i
17/23 (19/25) manual 1991 318i/is
18/26 (20/28) manual 1993+ 325i/is
18/26 (20/29) manual 1996+ 328i/is
20/29 (23/32) manual 1998 318i/is/ti

24/36 (28/40) manual 1995 SC1/SL/SL1/SW1
22/32 (25/35) manual 1995 SC2/SL2/SW2

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UltraDork
4/6/12 9:55 a.m.

i've had half a dozen e30's, and maybe i'm just over them now, but for a commuter i'd rather have (another) saturn. the ownership cost per mile can be downright awesome.

chknhwk
chknhwk HalfDork
4/6/12 10:46 a.m.
belteshazzar wrote: i've had half a dozen e30's, and maybe i'm just over them now, but for a commuter i'd rather have (another) saturn. the ownership cost per mile can be downright awesome.

Thank you, I feel maybe I should be looking at cost/mile and total ownership costs versus simple fuel efficiency.

DaewooOfDeath
DaewooOfDeath Dork
4/6/12 10:52 a.m.

Just something I remembered off somebody's Saturn build thread, but don't those cars have really weird front suspension? Something where the swaybar locates the axle fore and aft?

HStockSolo
HStockSolo Reader
4/6/12 11:03 a.m.

In reply to DaewooOfDeath: Yes, it is really light, but it allows a good deal of unwanted movement. BMW used the same setup in the E21 3-series and there are probably other examples. Quite a bit of bump steer, but they can corner very well because of the low mass.

It is pretty common for strut cars to have separate trailing tension rods in the same position on either side. It is definitely a more resilient arrangement than the sickle shaped, ball-jointed arms on the E30/E36/E46 which bend and wear out quickly (those are a lot more precise when they are working, however.)

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