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swampyankee
swampyankee
7/11/19 9:04 p.m.

Ive been spoiled for the last 6 years being only .8 miles from work. Soon ill be moving further away.  The upside is the nwe place has plenty of space and a 2 story barn. The downside is, its a 35 minute commute, 20 of it being highway.

I'll be semi retiring the old Ranger and looking for something cheap to drive to work, per the criteria listed on my topic header.

I'm a British car guy from way back and I've owned many watercooled VWs as well. However, most models from the current millenium are way too complex for my backyard skills. My last good, fun VW was a 2001 Jetta GLi VR6.

Other criteria include manual shift and decent winter traction.

I'm looking for suggestions and experiences from other workday rallyists.

Indy-Guy
Indy-Guy UberDork
7/11/19 9:09 p.m.

Saturn SL2 is cheap and economical to operate. Stick shift is available. I've used one as an appliance for nearly 17 years now.

parker
parker Reader
7/11/19 9:10 p.m.

Fiesta ST

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
7/11/19 9:57 p.m.

Zx2, seriously.

 

I'm stunned that you can buy a fairly fast car that when driven nice gets 40mpg, is somehow badass in the snow, can be bought for under a grand and there isn't more people talking about it

spacecadet
spacecadet Dork
7/11/19 10:02 p.m.

In reply to swampyankee :

Everyone here can give you an answer that is probably the way they went.. 

So what's your budget? What's your pain threshold on maintenance and dealing with harder to find old parts? 

What else(if anything) does it need to do besides the commute? 

joey48442
joey48442 PowerDork
7/11/19 10:04 p.m.

In reply to Antihero :

Rot. At least around here. Honestly can’t remember the last escort of that generation that I’ve seen out on the road. Sad, I loved escorts. 

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise HalfDork
7/11/19 10:29 p.m.

1991 honda civic Si hatchback

surfshibby07
surfshibby07 New Reader
7/11/19 10:43 p.m.

Heck even an svt focus. Just be sure to do the timing belt to be safe and you have yourself a super fun, great handling hatch. They are super cheap now as well. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider SuperDork
7/11/19 11:09 p.m.

I'd keep it simple and follow the growing crowd of Honda Coupe owners here. Pick a size....either medium or large and have fun. Both the Civic and the Accord just work too well in the commuter/fun car role. 

spandak
spandak Reader
7/11/19 11:31 p.m.

Am I the first to say Miata? 

The reliable British roadster. 

It is, after all, the answer. 

Dootz
Dootz Reader
7/12/19 2:19 a.m.

RSX

manladypig
manladypig New Reader
7/12/19 2:38 a.m.

In reply to swampyankee :

any 90s honda

 

VegasNick
VegasNick Reader
7/12/19 4:25 a.m.

I love my BRZ for my commute. I drove 70 miles each way and it is just fun... and cheap. 

swampyankee
swampyankee New Reader
7/12/19 6:29 a.m.
spacecadet said:

In reply to swampyankee :

 

So what's your budget? What's your pain threshold on maintenance and dealing with harder to find old parts? 

What else(if anything) does it need to do besides the commute? 

Good questions. Im thinking $3000-4000 tops. I would need easy access to parts but I've driven alot of oddball cars over the years so i know how to find sources. 

Since i play in a couple bands, I'd have to include a modicum of gear space, although we had a Mini once and it was able  to accomodate my stuff with the seats down. 

Someone mentioned the ZX2. I really wanted to buy one of those to implement a plan i had. The Ztec engine was supposed to be a great little motor. I like the Focus and Fiesta as well. I'd dig a Mini S, but the onr we had ended up with mysterious problems that were BMW fixable only, so we bailed on it. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/12/19 6:38 a.m.

I am recently into a Saab 9-3. I have no long term data yet but it strikes me as a cheap, fun, commuter candidate what with the manual trans and turbo. 

If you have cargo needs, there is the combi (wagon) version too. 

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
7/12/19 7:10 a.m.

Mazda3: you can get a nice one in your price range, fun to drive, good mileage, very reliable, easy to work on, cheap parts, and there are pretty easy upgrade paths to. 2.5 6 speed and big brakes if you are so inclined. 

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 Dork
7/12/19 7:13 a.m.
Antihero said:

Zx2, seriously.

 

I'm stunned that you can buy a fairly fast car that when driven nice gets 40mpg, is somehow badass in the snow, can be bought for under a grand and there isn't more people talking about it

This.  Put a set of Haakas on it in the winter and it will be unstoppable.  The Zetec is as reliable as gravity, the consumables are dirt cheap as well.

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
7/12/19 7:13 a.m.

I like my 02 wrx for commuting. It’s been cheap to drive and it’s fun for the few twisties I have.

kevinatfms
kevinatfms Reader
7/12/19 7:51 a.m.

If you can find one, a Fiesta SFe with the 1.0L 3 cylinder turbo engine and a 5 speed transmission. They are like a budget version of the Fiesta ST and are a HOOT to drive. Throw some dampers, springs and a rear sway bar on it and its basically a lighter Fiesta ST.

And i do believe they tune them now. Not 100% certain but i think i saw a company selling a tune that boosted them to over 150hp/160tq for just under $500 with an SCT x4 programmer.

therieldeal
therieldeal Reader
7/12/19 8:00 a.m.

Came here to suggest a Ford Escort, but I see that's already been covered :)

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/12/19 8:38 a.m.

Pontiac Vibe GT of 03-07 is generally a Corolla wagon but the GT got the high rev engine and only manual trans. 

Some zoom, some high mpg, some cargo utility, while being Toyota simple and reliable. 

The dead Pontiac name makes then cheaper to buy than the Toyota Matrix which is the same exact vehicle. 

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy Reader
7/12/19 8:40 a.m.

If you don't like the Arrowhead, but still want the 2ZZ hatchback, get the Matrix XRS. 

Or if you don't want the hatch, get the Corolla XRS.

swampyankee
swampyankee New Reader
7/12/19 8:49 a.m.
Sonic said:

Mazda3: you can get a nice one in your price range, fun to drive, good mileage, very reliable, easy to work on, cheap parts, and there are pretty easy upgrade paths to. 2.5 6 speed and big brakes if you are so inclined. 

My wife drove a Mazda3 Sport hatch for a few years. It was a fun car, although I like the non-fender-bulge styling of the previous year. The only reason she got rid of it was, as a real estate agent, the shifting was in conflict with her having to talk on the phone, etc. We sold it for a 2010 VW Tiguan - biggest mistake! (TSI CCTV rear main seal, timing chain tensioner issues)

swampyankee
swampyankee New Reader
7/12/19 9:11 a.m.

I'm surprised no one is talking about the Mini Cooper, especially the S. Are they problematic?

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UberDork
7/12/19 9:23 a.m.

In reply to swampyankee :

Yes

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