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Duke MegaDork
5/28/21 1:01 p.m.

OK, doing some soul-searching here as I approach 60 (in a few years), prompted by current conditions and recent discussions.  Some background (and if you know me you know it may get lengthy):

I've owned the Manic Miata for 10-11 years now.  I love it to pieces, but it's maybe built for a younger person than I.  Also I would like something a little more comfortable that DW might want to ride in (and possibly drive - more on that later).

It's a 1996 and will not pass an OBD-II plug-in test in fighting trim.  If it was a 1994 that wouldn't be a problem.  It could probably be tuned to pass a sniffer, but that is beyond my skill set.  Up until recently I have had a hookup at the DMV who made this not an issue, but that hookup has recently retired.  This time next year I will have to reregister it and get it inspected, and I am not sure that will be possible.  Delaware DMV does their own inspections in-house, so no chance of finding a friendly neighborhood shop owner with, shall we say, adjustable ethics to pass it.

I have no interest in a track-only built car that needs to be towed.  I want a street-legal car that will be reasonably competitive in street-class autocross.

The Manic Miata has been a project car for the last 15 years, and looks like it.  However, it is rust free, all one color, and never been wrecked.  It has had the late-00s-era FM and Good-win catalogs thrown at it.  The PO was quite the tinkerer, but it all works.  I parked it in November and as soon as I put the battery back in it will fire right up and run like a champ.  It makes right around 235 rwhp and 185-190 ft-lbs, with the dyno chart to back that up.  It's a heck of a start for an SSM build.

I have about $5500 in it as it sits.  Miata prices currently seem to be higher even than general right now, particularly NAs.  I bet I could sell it for $6500 pretty quickly - maybe more.  Tire trailer for $400 and extra wheels for $400.  Call it $7000-$7500 all in.

Say I add $3000 on top to make $10,000.  That's very doable, especially if it would be something DW would be happy riding in.  Or driving, if it has a DSG or PDK transmission - she won't do a manual (she may not drive it much anyway, but that's something I'd like to encourage).  Preference would be for a 2-seat roadster, but open to other ideas.

So, what can I get for $10-11 large that will offer 80% of the driving dynamics but add 80% more comfort and convenience?  What's a mature, reasonably-priced sports car that has enough power in relatively stock trim to feel lively?


bobzilla MegaDork
5/28/21 1:08 p.m.
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/28/21 1:12 p.m.

I am also going to say C5, but non-Z, so you get the removable roof. Decent drivers are in the $10k range these days. Mine is comfortable on road trips, it just chews up the miles. It's even relatively economical, high-20s real-world highway MPG.

dps214 Dork
5/28/21 1:13 p.m.

You're probably not going to like this but the right answer is a down payment on a 987.2/981 boxster/boxster S. With the pdk and a few other good options it'll do everything you want and be at least moderately competitive in BS (base) or AS (S). I really don't think anything fully in your budget is going to do everything you want without some major compromises.

Duke MegaDork
5/28/21 1:18 p.m.

Corvette is probably the easy button, and probably a bargain, but I'd rather something smaller and lighter.

Keep 'em coming - thanks.


John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/28/21 2:13 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

Try a 944devil

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/28/21 2:14 p.m.

NC Miata is a good bargain right now. It's the NA/NB prices that have gone crazy.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/28/21 2:16 p.m.

Is convertible and top down motoring desirable or undesirable to your wife? 

In my life, and my family, I have been considering a back seat convertible which I've narrowed to a 2011+ Mustang with 300 hp V6 or a Lexus i250 which is a retractable hard top.  Lately, BMW 128i on list too. 


I consider both to be Touring Cars, not sports cars but that fits my needs better. 

Both are probably more than $10k

02Pilot UltraDork
5/28/21 2:17 p.m.

Given your requirements, I'll offer one to avoid: any SMG-equipped BMW. The hydraulics for the automated clutch fail expensively - like many thousands of dollars. Manual would be fine, but if you only want something with two pedals, I don't think a BMW is going to be in the cards (if you know what's good for you).

Are you opposed to another, more sedate, Miata? NCs are attractively priced at the moment, and would offer improvements in comfort and convenience.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/21 2:45 p.m.

Based solely on my local Craigslist:

Rebuildable 350Z. I am sure if you shopped you could get an early model with the Brembos.

160,000 Mile Boxster. What could go wrong? Its actually in great shape with a lot of service history.

$17k, dang.

218k mile Prelude.

MS3 with a new motor.

Wants an automatic for bad knees, needs a fuel pump.

Seems like $10k can buy some fun cars, but no DSG cars.


Appleseed MegaDork
5/28/21 2:48 p.m.

I was about suggest a lightly used Acro-Sport II, but you need a special license to drive one.

Duke MegaDork
5/28/21 3:07 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

John - we've always had a convertible.  She's willing to ride in one, but the Manic Miata is a little too hard core for her.  However, the car really doesn't need more than 2 usable seats and I'd prefer it to be smaller and sportier.

DSG/PDK is not a requirement since she might never drive this car.  But it may be a selling point if she could.

As a corollary to the original question - what's it going to cost me to get into a Boxster 987.2, with or without PDK?


Javelin (Forum Supporter)
Javelin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/21 3:13 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

At that budget I would go 986 Boxster with the manual and just be happy. If you hunt you can get a serious upgrade to an S. It meets all the requirements you have and I think will give you and the Mrs the enjoyment you're looking for. Go test drive a few and see what you think.

dps214 Dork
5/28/21 3:26 p.m.
Duke said:

As a corollary to the original question - what's it going to cost me to get into a Boxster 987.2, with or without PDK?

Quick search says low-mid $20k range at this moment in time. There's a high mileage base 981 listed for $21k but that feels sketchy for being that much of an outlier.

Duke MegaDork
5/28/21 3:37 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

Yeah, the 987.2 is a better car I am sure, but that's going to be well above what I'm willing to invest in this car. I think $15k is going to be the top limit for how I plan to use it.


John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/28/21 4:33 p.m.
buzzboy Dork
5/28/21 8:43 p.m.

What is the hottest GTI you can get for that price? Their DSGs are pretty good and they're fun/quick cars.

Rons GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/28/21 10:05 p.m.

For S&Gs try a CL search use parameters like 1995 to 2005, 5000-15000 (gets rid of the 1234 guys and 0 down dealers), choose your bodystyles and see what comes through.

5/28/21 10:31 p.m.

NC Miata is bigger, more comfortable, and affordable.  Call Flyin' Miata and ask for help spending the rest of your budget.

Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/21 11:13 p.m.

I did a similar search several years ago. The Abomination was cooking me to death and seemed to be shrinking like my clothes. 

I ended up here. It's handled who knows how many autocross runs and 6-8 time trials without much in the way of issues. 


$10k should get you in reasonable mileage G37 with the extra HP. Fast enough to get you locked up. Nice enough to drive to dinner, comfortable enough to take a trip across country. Mine has been pretty reliable and the parts I have needed (wheel bearing, front bushings, brakes) have been very reasonable and easy to change.

Edit to add: My only complaint is the tire cost. I use up a set of tires every year. 275/35R18s are not cheap. I can't imagine feeding tires to a vette.

These came off the back yesterday. 



Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/21 11:36 p.m.

If an auto is a possibility, this guy is usually in the top 3 raw times at every event he attends with his G37. It's a semi-auto/auto with the flappy paddles on the steering wheel. While the trans isn't a true manual, it's a very good automatic. It's faster than stink. 

No photo description available.

sergio HalfDork
5/29/21 2:26 a.m.

 Cadillac CTS, luxury, sporty sort of. Don't think a V is $10k unless it's got 300k on it.

Rodan SuperDork
5/29/21 3:05 a.m.

If you like two seat sporty convertibles, an NC is your Answer.  I have not driven the 6 speed automatic, but I've heard it's not terrible.  IIRC it does have steering wheel buttons for shifting.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
5/29/21 10:16 a.m.

Geez Duke, you make turning 60 sound like you're ready for "The Home".  FWIW ,all the geezers in our local Miata club drive NCs, with or without the retractable hard top. I'm 69 and still have an NB, so as a 59 year old you hafta take this good natured needling, and don't get a Vette unless you have grey chest hair and a stockpile of gold chains.

Duke MegaDork
5/29/21 5:56 p.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

As I said, I love the MM, but it is stiffly sprung, lowered, and with the racing buckets and 5 points it's a commitment to get in and out of. It's ruff and ready - always ready, I'll give it that - but I am ready to trade a little performance for a little more comfort.


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