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Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 2:30 p.m.

Its getting to be time to put the truck on the back burner for a while, fix some stuff that needs it, drive something that has AC, better MPG, and is a bit more reliable.

Wife doesn't want me driving around in a cop car, so I can't go find a Crown Vic to tool around in until I find a F series that's good enough to put on top of it.  So now I'm looking for something a bit different.

 

I have a fairly wide range of what might work for me, so I need to take this shotgun approach and whittle it down to something more coherent and managable.

  • RWD or AWD preferred but not necessary
  • First digit of the year has to have a 2
  • Has to fit me, and at 6'1" the Answer is likely out of the running
  • Sporty-ish at a minimum
    • Probably means not too heavy, like a Dodge
  • $4000-6000 range?
  • Reliable

I love me a wagon, I also could enjoy a convertible.  Maybe a BMW? certain Subarus? Volvo wagon? Is a Genesis Coupe large enough for a big boy to fit in?

I'm not a fan of Nissan/Infiniti, I haven't decided on auto or manual

 

Due to COVID prices I'm not actively looking, but more just gathering intel for what I might want to do at a later date when prices aren't f'ing stupid.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 3:16 p.m.

I think all the good buys are in non-sporty (or low sporty) manual trans cars. Sure, a Miata with manual sells better than auto but a manual trans, plain Jane car like a Kia Forte can be hard to sell. 

The boomers are done with bothering with manual and the young'ens have never even known anyone who drives a manual. 

Both FB and CL allow you to sort to see manual trans only. Then, see what pops up. 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
6/15/21 3:35 p.m.

Just to defy the "not a Dodge" request, if you could find a 2nd generation Neon with a manual that is not an SRT-4, it ought to be in your price range and meet everything except the RWD / AWD requirement.

Or a BMW E46 would check all the boxes. I wouldn't get a convertible BMW again, though - the top mechanism is way too Rube Goldberg and likely to be as troublesome as the rest of the car combined.

I'm also in favor of John's idea to just run a search for minimum year = 2000, max price = $6000, and manual transmission, and see what pops up.

dps214
dps214 Dork
6/15/21 3:50 p.m.

I'm a fan of german stuff but realistically I think it's pretty unlikely that an E46 can check the "reliable" and "<$6k" and "sporty" boxes all at once. Or pretty much anything else european. Or subaru for that matter.

If you're willing to accept fwd, I think the fiesta st would be a good option. If/when pandemic pricing goes away you should be able to get a high mileage example at the upper end of the budget range. FWD yes, but about as well balanced as a fwd car can be out of the box. The actual specs aren't earth shattering but ford did a very good job of making it feel fast and competent. I personally don't like autocrossing mine because at the limit it's basically a mess of understeer and wheelspin and feeling like it's going to fall over, but on the road at not quite full send (and where abrupt transitions aren't really a thing), it's a ton of fun and very well balanced. Also comfortable enough, and can be downright good with some minor suspension and wheel/tire upgrades. Will do 35mpg highway on 87 octane if you're nice to it. Very tall person compliant at least with standard seats and no sunroof. I'm 6'1" and disproportionately long in the torso and even with a helmet on I have plenty of headroom.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
6/15/21 3:58 p.m.

Someone has to say it:  Just fit your way into a Miata.

Otherwise G35/Z

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 4:48 p.m.
ProDarwin said:

Someone has to say it:  Just fit your way into a Miata.

Wife had a NC, I did dig it, but if I was first at a light I'd honestly have to have the top down in order to see the light over the windshield.  If it was raining and I had the top up I'd have to do that scrunched-down-in-the-seat pose.

Also, because she had a NC and misses it, she'd kill me right in the face if I had one for a DD and she didn't.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 4:49 p.m.
John Welsh said:

I think all the good buys are in non-sporty (or low sporty) manual trans cars. Sure, a Miata with manual sells better than auto but a manual trans, plain Jane car like a Kia Forte can be hard to sell. 

The boomers are done with bothering with manual and the young'ens have never even known anyone who drives a manual. 

Both FB and CL allow you to sort to see manual trans only. Then, see what pops up. 

I've kind of been doing that, but I'm just not sure what the good ones are.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 5:09 p.m.
buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
6/15/21 5:09 p.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

Or a BMW E46 would check all the boxes. I wouldn't get a convertible BMW again, though - the top mechanism is way too Rube Goldberg and likely to be as troublesome as the rest of the car combined.

The e46 is a great answer to this question. It'll fit you fine(I'm 6'0" and have room for a helmet and more). BMW manual transmissions are great but if you get an auto from that era they're pretty reliable and inoffensive. They have like two reliability issues, the cooling system and the rear subframe. By now the cooling systems should have all been replaced, but if not it's a quick and not expensive job. The rear subframe isn't quite as quick, but not a terrible job to do yourself. Plus, parts for BMWs are readily available and not that pricey, especially compared to buying parts for a car built after 2010.

Or, buy an E39. They're a bit heavier but still great driving cars. It'll have the cooling system that needs to be replaced after 80k but no rear subframe issues.

STM317
STM317 UberDork
6/15/21 6:53 p.m.

Mazdaspeed 6?

New Edge Mustang GT?

I'm assuming a 2000-2002 F body with an LS is probably out of budget?

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/15/21 8:13 p.m.

Most coupes are going to be a tight squeeze for you and if they're not they're going to have been larger GT cars that cost 50 grand or more when new, which may be nightmares with regards of working on them or deferred maintenance and they're also generally heavier. 

Wagons are just rare and slim pickings.

 

A lukewarm to hot hatch is the sweet spot at that price point for you to be able to enjoy driving, fit it and not fear any task that may need to be done maintenance or repair wise. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
6/15/21 8:38 p.m.

I’m also wondering what kind of Mustang you can get for 6k. Seems to check a lot of boxes. Speed6 is an interesting idea too.

Also, NCs are smaller inside than NAs in my experience. I’m 6’2” mostly torso and drove an NA for years. I could hardly fit in the NC I at in. Though it was PRHT.

What about an RX-8? Super cheap nowadays. Drive until engine poofs and swap something else in?

CLH
CLH GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/15/21 9:43 p.m.

Mini Cooper S ticks several of the boxes but sadly not all. Still might be worth a look.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 9:45 p.m.
CLH said:

Mini Cooper S ticks several of the boxes but sadly not all. Still might be worth a look.

I had a friend that had one and he was forever fighting the clutch in it.  I think it went out annually, either the disc or something in the slave system.  Did he just have a lemon?

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/15/21 9:53 p.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

Ditching the dual mass flywheel for a single mass is the answer to fixing that issue. 

 

I'd say a P5 protege, but they're 90s and most of the ones that remain have terminal rust. 

 

What about the matrix XRS or Vibe equivalent? 

CLH
CLH GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/15/21 9:54 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:
CLH said:

Mini Cooper S ticks several of the boxes but sadly not all. Still might be worth a look.

I had a friend that had one and he was forever fighting the clutch in it.  I think it went out annually, either the disc or something in the slave system.  Did he just have a lemon?

Uh, yeah the reliability box was one of the ones I was alluding to as "un-ticked".

Though, to be fair probably not as bad reliability as some of the other suggestions. YMMV.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 9:59 p.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

What about the matrix XRS or Vibe equivalent? 

I've ridden in one and they're fun little cars, but I don't really dig the looks.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 10:05 p.m.
CyberEric said:

I’m also wondering what kind of Mustang you can get for 6k. Seems to check a lot of boxes. Speed6 is an interesting idea too.

Also, NCs are smaller inside than NAs in my experience. I’m 6’2” mostly torso and drove an NA for years. I could hardly fit in the NC I at in. Though it was PRHT.

What about an RX-8? Super cheap nowadays. Drive until engine poofs and swap something else in?

I'd be interested in a Mustang, but I'd be looking for a good New Edge, or a S550.  The S197 doesn't really do much for me.  Finding either in a good condition for the price range would be a challenge.

RX8 is an interesting thought, but how many have good engines still?  Maybe find one that is already swapped?

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 10:06 p.m.
STM317 said:

Mazdaspeed 6?

New Edge Mustang GT?

I'm assuming a 2000-2002 F body with an LS is probably out of budget?

I actually saw an '02 Camaro Z28 for decent condition for $4200 on craigslist.  Right now damn near everything is out of budget due to COVID.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
6/15/21 10:08 p.m.

Not really near Florida.  On the manual tranny car for sale website.  
 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 10:15 p.m.

In reply to Datsun310Guy :

Michigan isn't a problem really, although the rust may be.  I have friends in Grand Rapids that should be able to go look at a car if I was serious about it, then I could roadtrip back after a visit with them.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
6/15/21 10:37 p.m.

What about an IS300? I liked the one I drove back when they came out.

You could probably get a nice Mazda 3 for that price. FWD but I think they’re fun to drive.

barefootskater (Shaun)
barefootskater (Shaun) PowerDork
6/15/21 11:15 p.m.

FWIW, I think the stigma of crown Vic= cop car is nearly gone. Especially if it was a civilian model in something other than black/white. A set of gears and exhaust/tune can make them entertaining if not really fast by today's standards. 

Im a big fan of stripper model Accords with three pedals. 


im a huge fan of Rangers (find an extended cab for the extra leg room) add drop springs, gears and boost. party. 


early (pre-10) Focii are great with either the zetec or duratec (personal fav engine)

 

taurus wagon makes up for its lack of sportiness with an abundance of ugly funk. Plus, super cheap and would be a hoot to fully slam and give the "idgaf treatment" purposely rust one panel, or sticker bomb, or flares with rad wheels. Box flares for bonus internets. 
 

or if you want to go full Florida man and sacrifice your model year/reliability/AC/economical requirements, the Funderbird could be shipped out and finished well under your budget. Just saying. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/15/21 11:40 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

I've wondered about the IS300.  Never had any experience with them though 

67LS1
67LS1 New Reader
6/16/21 12:16 a.m.

Another vote for a Mini. I had an 09 JCW. Added 110k miles without a hiccup. And I used to tell people its bigger on the inside than on the outside. Amazing amount of front passenger room.

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