DirtyDiesel New Reader
March 25, 2015 3:41 p.m.

Long story short, I've always had imports - miata, rx7, integra except for my '03 Z06 that I had for a few years then sold due to big payment and a divorce. After paying serious credit card debt for the past 5 years I am finally out of debt. My faithful Jetta TDI has been with me through thick and thin, and I love her, but I'm ready for a sportier steed.

After thinking a newer turbo Cobalt SS would be the way to go for 6 months of debate, I decided to raise my budget from $8k to $14k and have now found a '07 Mustang GT with 32k on it for $14k. All the C5's in the price range have over 100k. I want something fun for a daily driver but newer and lower miles, and the GTO / Camaro are out because of weight / age and new camaro's are $20k+

I know this won't be a popular choice here, but after research on the S197 platform it appears the weight distribution has been improved as well as the rear suspension. The aftermarket for the car to swap in a new K-member and double wishbone suspension for the front end while loosing a few hundred pounds off the front end making it 50/50 is possible.

Do I just buy a MR2 Turbo for $5k and save money or do I go back into debt. I'm 36 and rent and apt, guess I should save for a house but screw it...thoughts?

G_Body_Man HalfDork
March 25, 2015 3:44 p.m.

Without debt is always better than with debt.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
March 25, 2015 3:44 p.m.

I don't think anyone will try to talk you out of a late (I think post-09?) S197 for technical reasons, they're much improved over the early ones.

But I'm not a fan of debt either.

Cotton UltraDork
March 25, 2015 3:50 p.m.

I don't mind a car payment....especially with no other debt. You're a car guy and busted ass for the last 5 years, so if I were you I'd get what makes me happy.

G_Body_Man HalfDork
March 25, 2015 3:55 p.m.

What about an SN95-2?

ProDarwin UberDork
March 25, 2015 8:19 p.m.
G_Body_Man wrote: Without debt is always better than with debt.

This.

Gearheadotaku PowerDork
March 25, 2015 8:24 p.m.

If the payment + rent is more than 30% of your income, don't do it. Save for a garage with attached house. You'll be much happier in the long run with your own place for projects etc.

bmw88rider HalfDork
March 25, 2015 9:50 p.m.

I'm going to say with Debt only because the MR2 will slowly eat you alive. It's a 20+ year old car that starts to have small stuff just add up. Just this year on mine, I did full front suspension rebuild, new shocks, t top seals, 3 exhaust manifold studs, and both sun visors. It adds up and it's not a new car. Mind you, mine only has 96K miles.

BoxheadTim UltimaDork
March 25, 2015 9:59 p.m.
DirtyDiesel wrote: Do I just buy a MR2 Turbo for $5k and save money or do I go back into debt.

I wouldn't, most of the MR2 turbos I've seen at that price point are projects in search of a wallet.

mazdeuce PowerDork
March 26, 2015 6:13 a.m.

If you're looking to daily the car I wouldn't search out a low mile example like the Mustang you're looking at. You can probably save $4k by getting a car with 50k more miles and you'll get a car that is basically identical from a mechanical standpoint.

foxtrapper UltimaDork
March 26, 2015 6:34 a.m.

Can you get enough pleasure out of that $5K MR2 to offset the joy you'd have with that $14K Mustang?

There is also the matter of maintenance costs and reliability. It's not unfair to point out that older beaters tend to need more daily care than newer fresher vehicles.

I've been a cheap beater kinda guy for most of my life. And I've paid for it. Keeping more vehicles that normal so that something can be driven. All of the old beaters have issues. Currently the Volvo is down due to yet another hub bearing failure. The truck is being driven by the wife instead, but it involves hokey-pokey dancing to start and operate, not to mention the lack of heat, missing exhaust, broken door lock and a few other problems. And and and.

Being cheap isn't always cheap, or pleasant. I'm slowly forcing myself to aim higher. The Harley was a rather eye-opening one for that. I spent more money on that bike than I've ever spent on a motorized vehicle in my entire life. And it was so worth it!

So maybe instead of buying another clapped out heap, I might try a nicer car instead.

That's why I keep circling the likes of a Chevy Volt. Cheap it ain't (compared to my regular purchase prices of under a grand). But it's comfortable, pleasant and reliable. Imagine the things I could do with my life if I wasn't spending all my time fixing broken things.

Klayfish UltraDork
March 26, 2015 6:37 a.m.

I don't have as much of an issue with others here about debt...with the huge caveat of doing it smartly. I'm shopping to get my wife a new DD right now, and I'm sorry, I'm not coughing up $15-25k cash to get it. Interest rates are so stupidly low right now that I'm willing to pay 2% for the flexibility. But again, we're only buying what our budget can easily and very safely handle, including contingencies.

So only you know your finances. If it'll fit, go for it.

fasted58 UltimaDork
March 26, 2015 7:04 a.m.
foxtrapper wrote: That's why I keep circling the likes of a Chevy Volt. Cheap it ain't (compared to my regular purchase prices of under a grand). But it's comfortable, pleasant and reliable. Imagine the things I could do with my life if I wasn't spending all my time fixing broken things.

bingo

RossD PowerDork
March 26, 2015 7:11 a.m.
Klayfish wrote: I don't have as much of an issue with others here about debt...with the huge caveat of doing it smartly. I'm shopping to get my wife a new DD right now, and I'm sorry, I'm not coughing up $15-25k cash to get it. Interest rates are so stupidly low right now that I'm willing to pay 2% for the flexibility. But again, we're only buying what our budget can easily and very safely handle, including contingencies. So only you know your finances. If it'll fit, go for it.

As much as I don't like debt, Klayfish is right. If it's a right fit for your bank account and lifestyle, go for it.

Dusterbd13 SuperDork
March 26, 2015 7:33 a.m.

I hate debt. But if you have no other debt, and can get te payment liwer than the insurance, do it. Assuming that you can still safely save 10% of your monthly income and not touch it.

March 26, 2015 7:37 a.m.

I also say to go without debt, but you have to play the long game. If you want a house so you don't have rent in 25 or so years, get a N/A MR2, Miata, SN95, etc. If you don't want to own a house, you don't need to save as much. I would personally look at getting an independent rear suspension for a Mustang first; that seems like the biggest weakness of the older muscle cars.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
March 26, 2015 7:50 a.m.
Cotton wrote: I don't mind a car payment....especially with no other debt. You're a car guy and busted ass for the last 5 years, so if I were you I'd get what makes me happy.

I'd be careful about getting into a "I should treat myself to this" mindset. I busted ass for 8 years before starting the Corolla rebuild, but it still financially flattened me within just a few months.

Adrian_Thompson UltimaDork
March 26, 2015 8:09 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: I don't think anyone will try to talk you out of a late (I think post-09?) S197 for technical reasons, they're much improved over the early ones. But I'm not a fan of debt either.

S197 came out in 05, face lift came in 2010, but the 412hp Coyote and the 305hp V6 didn't come until 2011.

Even the early 300hp cars are a lot of fun.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
March 26, 2015 8:13 a.m.
Cotton wrote: I don't mind a car payment....especially with no other debt. You're a car guy and busted ass for the last 5 years, so if I were you I'd get what makes me happy.

This.

trucke HalfDork
March 26, 2015 9:00 a.m.

I don't recommend debt. But the idea of not spending time fixing things is way more appealing, especially if you still don't have your own garage. As long as you plan it out to get it paid off. This is not like you're buying a $30k+ car and paying forever.

Your budget sounds like a 3 year or less payoff.

If it makes you smile every time you get into the car, then get the Mustang.

Duke MegaDork
March 26, 2015 9:06 a.m.

I'll play Devil's advocate and ask about your credit scores. You say you had some issues previously. You might actually be better off in your quest for buying a house (assuming you don't mean for cash) if you take a reasonable-size car loan (no longer than 36 months at a payment that still lets you save at least 10%-15% of income) and pay it off on time, every month.

JThw8 PowerDork
March 26, 2015 9:14 a.m.

I'm with the "debt is not the devil" crowd if used responsibly. For many years I did the older/beater DD route usually with a secondary beater for backup. Even with backup there were more than a few occasions where I had to take a work from home day because something was wrong with the cars. Finally my boss had a polite discussion about the fact that he made sure I was paid well, perhaps I could drive something better.

After 15 years of no car payment I went out and bought a new car. I put 35k a year on a car minimum so every 3 years or so I get another one. It's nice not having to worry about the car starting in the morning or having to make sure that repair gets finished on sunday so you can make it to work on monday.

And to Duke's note, while my credit score has always been pretty healthy within 3 months of getting that car loan it jumped another 20 points. Credit scores aren't based on NOT having debt they are based upon the responsible use of debt.

Rupert Dork
March 26, 2015 9:15 a.m.

In reply to Gearheadotaku: Plus with a garage and house you get a very nice income tax deduction on your debt, at least in the US. Pay down the garage mortgage, save money on taxes. Good deal both ways.

And after a while, should you be comfortable with your situation, take out a home equity loan. Buy your ride with the funds & deduct more from your taxes with the home equity loan.

CobraSpdRH New Reader
March 26, 2015 9:16 a.m.

It's not like you're talking about a brand new GT with Recaros, track pack, etc. topping out at $40k+. I think you are looking in the "sweet spot" of car shopping: depreciation is your friend, but still mechanically sound, and not breaking the bank with a loan. Credit Unions are still offering great rates, just don't go doing one of these 72-month type deals, for a car of that age try to keep it around 36 months.

ultraclyde UltraDork
March 26, 2015 9:54 a.m.

Love my 05 GT S197 as a daily driver. It's been rock solid and cheap to maintain, and not bad on gas for what it is. It's got about 110k and is as reliable as a stone. I agree that if you want a daily, don't pay too much extra for low miles. A little maybe, but not much. THese cars are too common.

As for debt, that's your own demon. I prefer a payment if that's what's necessary to have a car that I KNOW is going t crank, run, and get me where I need to go without fail.

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