1968Skylark
1968Skylark
8/3/17 8:36 p.m.

I'm new to this community, and honestly just looking for some thoughts on a few different daily driver/project options right now; Looking for some feedback, cause I can't pick one as they're all so tempting!

I'm currently working 5 days/week, making some extra cash for fun hobbies, but I'm living about an hour away from my dad's garage where I can work on vehicles. I live in an apartment building, so parking space is kinda tight, and I definitely can't work on a car in my building. Right now I drive a 2006 Toyota Matrix that is generously being lent to me by my dad, as long as I need it. With a 1.8L and 4speed automatic, it's reliable as hell, pretty good on gas, but it's far from fun.

I personally own a '68 Skylark convertible that was passed down through my family to myself. It's more of a cruising car, not really for daily driving, unless it was summer. This presents my first option. The car is in pretty good shape, but it needs a transmission rebuild, and some other miscellaneous things. Option #1 would be to keep driving the matrix, and work on the Buick on weekends, swapping a transmission (maybe even doing an LS or LT swap with a 5 speed manual), and some suspension work. Any change in transmission would require I change my rear end gears, and it would be a good idea to make some drivability upgrades. But in the end, it's not really a daily driver, and it's a lot of money to put into a car I'm not daily driving.

Option 2 would be to buy a cheaper, manual RWD car to daily drive, have some fun, and maybe try some rallycross. I was mainly thinking FB RX-7, maybe a cheaper E30 BMW coupe, stock foxbody mustang, etc.. This is appealing to me, having a fun, manual car to daily drive, and maybe turn into a project down the road. My issues with this would be cost to get safetied, registered and insured, and gas mileage isn't great on these older coupes. It's also kind of important the car be somewhat capable of driving through snow, so I'm not stuck 90% of the time.

My third option would be to get a diesel pick up truck. I really have a thing for trucks, there's something about driving them that just makes me smile. I'd be looking for a manual diesel, 2wd or 4wd, fairly stock. Certain makes and models can get pretty good gas mileage. In my area, a manual diesel can cost quite a bit, even for an older model. Another consideration would be my parking garage; I'm not super limited in height, but I'd have to stick to reg cab/long box or crew cab/short box. Realistically speaking, I don't have a great need of a truck all the time, it's more of a driving preference thing.

So that's my lengthy list, feel free to add an Option #4, but I guess my big thing is that I want an enjoyable daily driver. I drive over 500km/week to work, and around Toronto, so I'd like to enjoy what I drive.

Thanks, Kyle

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/4/17 8:41 a.m.

Only thing I can add, there is no such thing as a cheap E30 anymore.

Unless you buy some clapped out, rust bucket that would barely be safe to drive.

APEowner
APEowner HalfDork
8/4/17 8:50 a.m.

Personally, unless you live in snow country, I'd fix the Buick. I wouldn't do a bunch of upgrades. Just rebuild or replace the transmission, do whatever else you need to do to make it safe and reliable and drive it. It's taken me decades to come to this realization but for me specialty car ownership is more fun if I'm driving an imperfect car than when the car is sitting waiting for time and money to make it perfect.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/4/17 8:59 a.m.

A couple of years ago, I wanted something that fit your option 2 category, while also being fuel efficient and ultra reliable. I ended up with one of these:

A 1985 Celica GT-S Coupe. Nearly 30 mpg absolutely driving the wheels off it, and 50k miles with nothing but oil changes, tires, and steering arms (because if you rallycross it and don't upgrade them, they're a consumable). It was the perfect car, rwd, fun, surprisingly capable in the snow, and to my very 80s oriented eye cool as hell- their only major weakness is rust. Spend a weekend repainting the entire underside once a year and it would last forever.

EDIT: A more modern equivalent to this might be an S14 240sx, or possibly an MR2 if you only need two seats.

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy New Reader
8/4/17 10:19 a.m.

Live in apartment. Tight parking. Closest garage you can work on said car or project is an hour away. You drive 310 miles (for us backwards folk) a week for work.

Looking at all of that, I'm gonna suggest find a cheap gas sipper that you can keep for your daily car (the Matrix/Vibe, Hondas, Toyotas, etc etc) and then a project car that your dad might not mind being left at his garage. Hell, find some v6 Accord with a stick or an older Ranger and just drive it in to the ground.

SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
8/4/17 10:43 a.m.

The value of 68-72 A-bodies is still pretty strong. Unfortunately a Skylark isn't in as much demand as a Chevelle or a GTO, but being a convertible helps. Really the determining factor in whether it is worth putting money into the Skylark would be rust. If it isn't too structurally rusty you probably can't lose, particularly with an inherited car.

I would echo the sentiments of others here, just get it running reliably in stock condition for now. I don't see a manual swap really improving the value of a 68 Skylark Vert, and in fact it may do just the opposite.

One other thought, I have been daily driving a 3/4 ton diesel while I work out my Mustang's issues. This is not a fun vehicle if you frequently encounter city driving and parking garages.

yupididit
yupididit Dork
8/4/17 11:51 a.m.

If you have a commute to work, then your daily should be something thats reliable and probably not duel duty as a toy. Unless, its under warrenty still. Stick with the reliable matrix and have said toy in a garage to get worked on etc. Everything in your option #2 has a chance of leaving you stranded on the way to work or at home, with nowhere to work on it. Whats your budget?

1968Skylark
1968Skylark New Reader
8/4/17 7:19 p.m.

You all make very valid points, I mainly need to be grounded back to reality for a lot of these. My main issue right now IS that I drive 500km/week, in a boring Toyota. I drive that much, and it's not engaging at all, and I would say I enjoy driving more than the average person. I would trade some gas mileage any day for something that made my drive more enjoyable.

APEowner said: Personally, unless you live in snow country, I'd fix the Buick

As it so happens, I do; it snows in Ontario 3-5 months out of the year, and it's close to freezing almost 6 months, so the Buick doesn't get out much. As I said, it's stored at my dad's place, so I only really get to take it out on the odd weekend provided it's not raining. I honestly only actually insure it 4-5 months out of the year anyways. However, this is pretty ideal for a project, as I've got space to work on it, and I don't rely on it for daily driving.

As far as the Buick's value, I'm not terribly concerned. The car has more sentimental value to me than anything, but first and foremost, I want it to be something that I enjoy; Any upgrades I make would definitely suit a restomod muscle car, but I couldn't care less what other people think would affect the value of the car.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said: A 1985 Celica GT-S Coupe. Nearly 30 mpg absolutely driving the wheels off it, and 50k miles with nothing but oil changes, tires, and steering arms (because if you rallycross it and don't upgrade them, they're a consumable). It was the perfect car, rwd, fun, surprisingly capable in the snow, and to my very 80s oriented eye cool as hell- their only major weakness is rust. Spend a weekend repainting the entire underside once a year and it would last forever.

This is ideally what I'd be shooting for in option 2, something fun, pretty reliable, but not necessarily pretty by any means. There are some fair points made with reliability though; Driving as much as I do, and living away from a work space, I really need a reliable vehicle for day to day use.

As far as a truck goes, size doesn't bother me. While in University, I worked for a landscape company that used F-450s with a 12ft dump box; I drove these and had to park all over Toronto, sometimes with a trailer. While I'm definitely not looking for something this big, my parking spot has enough access for a truck. I work out of the city, so parking there is not an issue. In the city areas where parking is tight, transit access is already faster to get around than by car.

Also, lastly, my budget for buying an older used car would be in and around $6000, with safety and registration. Obviously less is better, as there's more room for any unexpected hiccups. If I was working on the Buick, I would spend about the same, but it's already registered and insured.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
8/4/17 10:42 p.m.

If you're ok with the Matrix other than it being slow, get an XRS. Driving a 2zz car is hilarious if you're doing it right. Still reliable, still 30mpg, but adds row-your-own gears and 8200rpm that rewards you for absolutely wringing it up to the rev limiter. Way faster than they look on paper. They don't stay in 'lift' (VTAK!) very long in a 0-60 run (thus the unimpressive times) but by the time you get to the top of 3rd and then get into 4th you're in lift continuously and it's goofy what it'll run away from. Perfect for a reliable highway commuter that has to be practical as an 'all-arounder' but still a little fun. Down here you could get a decent one for 3000-3500$.

captdownshift
captdownshift PowerDork
8/5/17 7:11 a.m.

I believe that G_Bodyman will be close to you in about a month for University. Meet up with him and check out his panther platform. Of that doesn't tick any boxes for you, small and nimble is the answer for you.

Our Preferred Partners
rDYHr7OoH4y4okd5l4gFGF3L0u1Oh9EcmLIqXk0nBsFpPzcVukRuEkREDHVyN5vJ