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7/9/18 7:14 p.m.

Hi all,

I'm looking for help and suggestions.

I've been trying to figure out for a LONG time my goals with my next "fun" car.  It's not a DD, but rather used for the goals.  I think I've finally figured out the goals (they change often):

1)  GT type car to take long day trips with my wife.  Quiet is good...performance (easy somewhat relaxed speed) is good, good handling for long back road drives, etc.

2)  I've always enjoyed better handling cars than raw horsepower cars (smaller vs. bigger is better for me too)

2)  Something that would be fun to Autocross.  Doesn't have to be best car in class...but just fun to drive (I've had BMW 330, Integra GSR before both with suspension upgrades...

3)  Something I will enjoy playing with...looking at...and upgrading (suspension mostly)

4)  Dependable

5)  Used is OK (although a few years vs. 10+ years) and price ideally of < $20k

6) Some sort of community/following would be a bonus


So...with those as the goals...here have been some of my thoughts...although I must admit it changes daily...

- Miata NC would be great...but I suspect not a very good "GT" car...loud and not an easy cruising car.  But...good for autoX and fun to play with and dependable.  

- RX-8 - Fun to Autocross, good handling, but what about as a GT?  Not much torque which might be important?  Also not dependable enough?

- Focus ST - Recently this seems like the answer.  Quiet-ish, good GT with Torque and power, fun to AutoX, reasonably dependable?  Fun to upgrade.  What am I missing here?

- Any number of BMW's (Z4, 135i, 335i, etc) but I seriously don't like (nor have had good personal experience) with their dependability and nickel and diming me...

- 370Z - I've owned a lot of Datsuns back in the day (510s and 240Z) so have a soft spot for these...but I haven't yet driven one...but I do hear they are very noisy.

- Mustang GT - Seems to tick off all the boxes...but it really doesn't do much for me (too big and too focused on power vs. handling I think for my tastes...although I do know they can be made to handle well)


I am sure there are quite a few others...and would love your thoughts/opinions/suggestions on the above or any others I should be considering...

Thanks very much!



bobzilla MegaDork
7/9/18 7:21 p.m.

Genesis coupe 3.8. 

yupididit SuperDork
7/9/18 7:22 p.m.


Colebob New Reader
7/9/18 7:44 p.m.

Thanks for both suggestions.  Appreciate it.  Both probably meet all my goals and hadn't considered either.  My first thoughts (not correct...just my gut reactions) are re the 996 I struggle with the dependability/repairs/etc costs and the Genesis just doesn't do it for me (like looking back at your car with pride after you park it :-).

Oh...and thought of another possibility that hits most of the boxes...a C6 Corvette...but it has just a bit too much "presence" for me (I'm older...quiet...etc.). 

So I guess what smaller cars would do all the above...but also be a good GT type car?

Thanks again!

OHSCrifle Dork
7/9/18 7:47 p.m.

G37 coupe

Ransom PowerDork
7/9/18 7:49 p.m.

How well do the FR-S and BR-Z cruise?

It's not so much a recommendation as a curiosity.

Mini? My F55 I mostly regard as an appliance, but it's a serviceable autocrosser and a pretty solid cruiser. Although it also probably falls into your anti-BMW leanings, since that's what the later ones really are.

Is an NC with a hardtop that noisy? My only time with a Miata was in an NA, and it seemed quite civilized to me, but I was coming from a Street Prepared BMW 2002...

Aw, I'm no use. I still like BMWs...

Stefan MegaDork
7/9/18 7:56 p.m.

A NC with the PRHT is much more quiet than a normal NC and the stock suspension is pretty well tailored to cruising.


Floating Doc
Floating Doc HalfDork
7/9/18 8:20 p.m.

In reply to Stefan :

Good point, OP, you should drive one.

Colebob New Reader
7/9/18 8:24 p.m.

Thanks Ranson and Stefan,


I've only drive a soft top NC Miata.  If the hardtop is a lot more quiet...that could be a great choice.  Also though...how is it as a GT car (cruising and easily eating up Highway miles)?

Again I've only driven the BRZ car a short distance.  How is it as a GT car?

Thinking too...as long as reliability is maintained...what about a BRZ or Miata PRHT with a supercharger?  Cost would still be reasonable...as long as they stay dependable?  Could be a good alternative to the Focus ST.  Also...I've had lots of honda/acuras in the past and like them...but not GT enough.  I just read about a Hondata Flashed new Civic Si.  How would that do for my goals?



kazoospec SuperDork
7/9/18 8:34 p.m.

With your list, I was thinking FoST before you even included it in your list.  The only reason I didn't care for it is that I'm one of those weirdos who like their vehicles loud, light and just a little bit twitchy.  The only knock on the FoST as a cruiser is that the rearward visibility is absolute crap.  Otherwise, cruises great, reasonably quiet, sneaky fast and a very solid autocrosser.  

Strizzo PowerDork
7/9/18 8:44 p.m.

I would add mazdaspeed3 to the list.  they cruise great on the highway and have plenty of power, and more with available mods.  good platform for autocross as well.  bonus points, it has a factory LSD

parker Reader
7/9/18 8:46 p.m.

I love, love, love my FR-S, but it is not a quiet cruiser.  Very little sound deadening.


mtn MegaDork
7/9/18 9:02 p.m.

Masarati BiTurbo

Tom1200 HalfDork
7/9/18 9:06 p.m.

Since you mentioned doing upgrades ; you could buy a FRS / BRZ and add sound deadening material. Same goes for Miata. 

We seem to have similar tastes:

While I like the 350/370Zs they are a bit boomy inside but more importantly the are probably a bigger car than you'd like

I love driving German cars I don't fancy owning them. Not so much for parts prices but more for the need of special tools needed to do various jobs on the cars. With that said if I found one for a good price and all the maintenance receipts I might Mia ethe jump. A Z4 coupe/ hatchback would be my pick or a Porshce 968 (less than logical I know).

End of the day my picks would likely be S2000, BRZ/FRS or Miata. If they were to noisy inside I add 50lbs of sound deadening.



TGMF Reader
7/9/18 9:15 p.m.

If a FoST is on your list then the VW GTI 2015+ with the sport package should be as well.  With a stage 1 (or 2) tune of course. 

Driven5 SuperDork
7/10/18 12:26 a.m.

If getting an NC, with that price range and goals I'd stick to the 2013-2015 Club model with PRHT.  The PRHT does make a noticeable difference, although I can't tell you if that would be enough to make it "GT enough" for you.

Are used ND's also starting to hit sub-$20k yet?

Regarding the C6 Corvette, I think older/quiet/etc describes the majority of Corvette owners...So maybe don't count it out just yet.

jfryjfry HalfDork
7/10/18 1:22 a.m.

You should drive a c6 before you write it off.  I don’t know that you’d like it but you might!

szeis4cookie Dork
7/10/18 6:10 a.m.

These may be older than you're willing to accept but I immediately thought Acura TL Type-S and 5th generation Honda Prelude.

Jaynen UltraDork
7/10/18 6:20 a.m.

Came here to add the 2015+ GTI sport package as well. Much better cruising car and daily car than a lot of the others in terms of noise

stroker UltraDork
7/10/18 6:39 a.m.


Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
7/10/18 6:57 a.m.

What you describe is what I bought my 2006 MINI Cooper S JCW for: weekend toy/back-up DD/autocross.  It's not the most competitive car in the class (my car has moderate STX-level upgrades), but I do OK with it.  It's fairly light (about 2600 lbs) so it's fairly easy on tires with STX legal camber plates.  Plenty of room for two people to go on a long weekend getaway.  Is it as comfortable on long hwy drives as my minivan? No. But it's not abusive.

MINI reliability can be a crap-shoot.  The later 1st gen cars (05-06 R50/R53 & 05-08 R52 convertible) had most of the bugs worked out and the engine is a tank compared to later models.  Don't dismiss the convertible either. Yes, the added weight hurts it as an autocross car, but they are a ton of fun otherwise.  I miss the '07 Cooper I had with my ex-. 

z31maniac MegaDork
7/10/18 7:06 a.m.

As mentioned, the Twins do not make nice highway cars. Loud, need to grab 2-3 gears to make a pass, etc. 


From your own thoughts, it seems like your leaning toward the domestic/functional Focus ST, which would be a good choice. I've owned high-powered FWD cars before ('10 MazdaSpeed 3) and it got tiring. 

There are a bunch of us now with E82s on the board (128/135). If you can find a clean, low mileage one, I'd seriously consider it. If your worried about a modern turbo BMW, then go for the 128, the N52 is still a very capable motor with just a few mods. Like had I known they had that much potential before I bought my 135, I might have just looked for a clean 128 and saved myself $7-10k.

bcp2011 New Reader
7/10/18 7:54 a.m.

A few have mentioned the 86 twins and them being noisy at speeds. They came with a sound generator tube that’s connected to the intake and routed to the passenger side of the firewall. If you want to have a more “refined” ride just take out the tube and plug the intake and firewall hole. Fairly easy and it’ll cost 5 bucks at the hardware store with maybe 15 min of your time.  It does dampen the sound in the cabin and if that’s not sufficient you can always add more sound deadening materials. If that’s the only thing keeping you away then it seems to be an easy fix. Good luck!

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
7/10/18 8:19 a.m.

If you're considering hatches, I'll second the GTI and throw in the WRX.  I have the previous generation WRX hatch and it's been the kind of Swiss Army knife car that you just described.  It's a hoot to autocross and surprisingly quiet and comfortable on the highway for the type of car it is.  I've been taking a lot of road trips in it this year and it continues to impress.  I think a lot of that has to do with the stock Recaros, good visibility, and decent power on tap.  In nearly 5 years we've taken it from 30-60K miles with only oil changes and tire rotations so that means it's the most reliable car I've ever owned (as always YMMV).  

Also, I'll say I didn't expect to like the GTI as much as I did.  On paper it's down on power and driven wheels compared to my Subaru, but I was hard pressed to tell a difference in performance during "spirited" driving.  The interior was nicer/quieter than the WRX as well.

That said... I'd be real tempted to try out a C6 if I didn't need a back seat to haul kids with. wink

z31maniac MegaDork
7/10/18 8:27 a.m.
bcp2011 said:

A few have mentioned the 86 twins and them being noisy at speeds. They came with a sound generator tube that’s connected to the intake and routed to the passenger side of the firewall. If you want to have a more “refined” ride just take out the tube and plug the intake and firewall hole. Fairly easy and it’ll cost 5 bucks at the hardware store with maybe 15 min of your time.  It does dampen the sound in the cabin and if that’s not sufficient you can always add more sound deadening materials. If that’s the only thing keeping you away then it seems to be an easy fix. Good luck!

It's the wind and road noise, not the sound tube. 


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