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Unread 09-07-2006, 09:09 AM   #1
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Default Used car purchase - Am I Missing Something?

Alright, the truth is I am extraordinarily picky. What I am looking for in a car, quite simply isn't made. It's ridiculous because it wouldn't be that hard to make it either.

What I am looking for is a sporty type car that is fun to drive, is dependable, has a backseat, looks nice, has a manual transmission, and doesn't consume a ridiculous amount of fuel. So far, I've researched almost every sports car ever made and none of them meet the bill. None at all, unless I've missed one somewhere. If I have, or if there is something else I should consider that I haven't, I'd appreciate any advice or direction. FYI, I've attached to this message all the research on all the cars I've done and my impressions of them. I haven't test driven all of these, but many I have. On the Corvette, my dad owns one and I've logged some pretty serious miles in it.

My used car purchase doesn't need exceed $10k. It really doesn't need to exceed $7k, but that's probably not realistic.

Cars I've researched:

2003 Nissan 350Z: has the looks, performance, and dependability, but no backseat and awful fuel consumption. It's ridiculous because it's the same engine as the Altima which, in the Altima, gets 29 mpg on regular fuel and 250 hp. More than enough for me, however, such a tuned down option isn't offered which I find to be extremely frustrating (the curb weight of both vehicles is very close, BTW, so they should perform about the same given the same engine as far acceleration is concerned). The car is also new, and thus generally out of my price range.

1994-1996 Nissan 300ZX: Similar issues with the 300ZX as the 350Z.

1995-1996 Pontiac Trans Am: Crazy power, good handling, aggressive style, and according to most owners, if you put it in 6th gear and keep your foot out of it, it will get near 30 mpg on the highway (in town mileage is horrid, but I can live with that. It also goes way down with any kind of hard driving at all but, again, I can live with that). TAs are also cheap on the market right now. However, I'm not too confident of their dependability. Insurance is also a nightmare.

2000-2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse: Maybe one of the most beautiful cars on the road today. Not hard on fuel in 4 cylinder or V6 configuration. V6 is lively and fun to drive, and car has a backseat good enough for some cargo. I am, however, highly suspect of its reliability. There's been some bad stories from Eclipse operators.

1994-1996 Chevrolet Corvette: hot looks, awesome handling, makes a wonderful V8 rumbling sound, and unreasonably fast off the line. However, it has no backseat, the tires are terribly costly, heavy fuel consumption, and insurance would be a financial massacre.

2000-2002 Toyota Celica GT-S: great style, great handling, back seat, very low fuel consumption, and amazingly dependable. However, it has embarassingly weak low end torque. Engine has to be wound up to the point it's screaming like a banshee to get any pull out of it.

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX: has good reliability, decent fuel consumption, has a turbocharger, has all-wheel drive. Good acceleration and handling, and also fairly practical. However, it's pricey and it's also fairly ordinary looking.

Acura RSX of any year: much like the Celica. It's dependable, not hard on fuel, has a back seat. However, it's low end torque is not very good and, unlike the Celica, it's not particularly attractive to look at. It looks like a Civic (not surprising, since it's built on the same chassis).

Mazda Miata MX5: somewhat good performance, good handling, not too hard on fuel. Looks girly though (that's OK if you are a woman, but I'm not so it isn't ok). Doesn't have a backseat. Mazdas are supposed to be reliable, but I haven't been impressed with them in my admittedly limited experience.

1998 BMW Z3: nice looking if a bit feminine, good handling and power. Pricey, and I've gotten some very mixed reviews of its dependability. No back seat.

2002-2003 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V: dependable and not too hard on fuel. Good handling. However, acceleration isn't as good as it could be, very ordinary looking, ricer image (not saying ricers are bad, just not what I really want), owners have claimed it has relentless torque steer.

2003 Hyundai Tiburon V6: very nice styling, good exhaust note, has a marginally useful backseat for some cargo. V6, however, doesn't generate a lot of power for the amount of fuel it consumes: 170 hp and 26 mpg. The saving grace there is that at least it'll run on regular fuel. Dependability is a big question mark. Hyundais are much improved over the past few years, but 2003 is a redesign year and the cars aren't old enough yet to know how well they're going to hold up.

2002 Nissan Altima SE-R: good looks, but not great looks, good acceleration, good enough handling and fuel economy. Very expensive and difficult to find.

2002 Nissan Maxima: quick acceleration off the line, handling is decent but uninvolving. Decent fuel economy. Dependable. Vehicle is stylish but not aggressive in its styling (not exactly a head turner). Somewhat expensive.

2003 Infiniti G35: much like the 350Z (considering it has the same engine and chassis). Also ridiculously expensive. Styling is good, but too civilized, IMO, for a sports car. Not aggressive looking enough.

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Unread 09-07-2006, 11:05 AM   #2
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Dude, half those cars are going to be well over $10,000, almost no point in listing them (not trying to be rude). I would definitely up the amount to $15,000 to make some of those cars a little more easily accessible, either that or expand your search to other cars, maybe some of these could be the answer:

98 Mustang Cobra (pretty reliable motor)
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Ford-...QQcmdZViewItem

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Unread 09-07-2006, 11:16 AM   #3
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15 grand just isn't going to happen. But you're right; most of this isn't going to be in my budget.

I'm pretty much restricted to Celicas (it would've been perfect if they hadn't made it with abysmal torque), 8-12 year old Trans Ams, 12 year old Corvettes, and 10-12 year old 300ZXs. I was only looking around to see if someone could think of something I'd missed but, unfortunately, it looks I was my usual thorough self.

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Unread 09-07-2006, 12:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jamesp81 View Post
15 grand just isn't going to happen. But you're right; most of this isn't going to be in my budget.

I'm pretty much restricted to Celicas (it would've been perfect if they hadn't made it with abysmal torque), 8-12 year old Trans Ams, 12 year old Corvettes, and 10-12 year old 300ZXs. I was only looking around to see if someone could think of something I'd missed but, unfortunately, it looks I was my usual thorough self.

You missed the 94-01 Acura Integra GSR/TYPE R. Probably would fall in you price range depending on the year. You can rag on the low end torque but remember your comparing V8 to 4 cylinder here, thats like comparing apples and oranges. Both have pros and cons, but I think you will find the overall build quality and workmanship on the imports is a bit better and will last longer. All depends on what your looking for. Also, what are you looking to do? You planning on racing it, or do you just like the feeling in the seat of your pants from more torque?

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Unread 09-07-2006, 12:51 PM   #5
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You missed the 94-01 Acura Integra GSR/TYPE R. Probably would fall in you price range depending on the year. You can rag on the low end torque but remember your comparing V8 to 4 cylinder here, thats like comparing apples and oranges. Both have pros and cons, but I think you will find the overall build quality and workmanship on the imports is a bit better and will last longer. All depends on what your looking for. Also, what are you looking to do? You planning on racing it, or do you just like the feeling in the seat of your pants from more torque?
I'm definitely not a racer. I do enjoy the seat of my pants feeling of a fair amount of torque, though. I really liked the Eclipse V6 5 speed, for example (not terribly reliable, which is the only thing stopping me). That's nothing like any given V8, but the truth is I probably wouldn't often put a V8 through its paces.

In fact, the V6 powered Mitsu Eclipse is exactly the kind of vehicle I'm looking for. It has plenty enough on the low end to suit my modest needs. I'm definitely not as hardcore of a driver as many in this forum probably are. But again, as I mentioned, the Eclipse has a fairly bad rap for dependability. I'd try a Hyundai Tiburon V6 but I'm not sure I trust it's reliability either. It'll certainly be better than the previous generation Tiburon, but that doesn't say a great deal. The only reason I expressed interest in a large V8 car like the Trans Am is because they are selling for very cheap right now, and the LT1 engine, if not as well made as import engines, is probably still more dependable than a Mitsubishi if what I've read can be believed.

Then again, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about it. It's happened before...

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Unread 09-07-2006, 01:45 PM   #6
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I'm definitely not a racer. I do enjoy the seat of my pants feeling of a fair amount of torque, though. I really liked the Eclipse V6 5 speed, for example (not terribly reliable, which is the only thing stopping me). That's nothing like any given V8, but the truth is I probably wouldn't often put a V8 through its paces.

In fact, the V6 powered Mitsu Eclipse is exactly the kind of vehicle I'm looking for. It has plenty enough on the low end to suit my modest needs. I'm definitely not as hardcore of a driver as many in this forum probably are. But again, as I mentioned, the Eclipse has a fairly bad rap for dependability. I'd try a Hyundai Tiburon V6 but I'm not sure I trust it's reliability either. It'll certainly be better than the previous generation Tiburon, but that doesn't say a great deal. The only reason I expressed interest in a large V8 car like the Trans Am is because they are selling for very cheap right now, and the LT1 engine, if not as well made as import engines, is probably still more dependable than a Mitsubishi if what I've read can be believed.

Then again, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about it. It's happened before...
The Trans AM's are very nice cars, very fast, easily upgradable and handle pretty well. The reason they are so cheap is because of current gas prices, although they are reasonable on the highway they suck on gas in city driving. In turn it is hard for the dealers to move them so they are forced to lower prices. You cant have the best of both worlds unfortunately, so I pose the question: Is this your first car? An add on to additional cars? If its your first Im not going to try to sway you in either direction, just make sure that what you get is:

1. Addfordable to drive for your budget
2. Going to last you as long as you need it to(or at least has a track record of such)
3. Makes you happy

Good luck with your search, hope you find what you are looking for.

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Unread 09-07-2006, 01:54 PM   #7
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The Trans AM's are very nice cars, very fast, easily upgradable and handle pretty well. The reason they are so cheap is because of current gas prices, although they are reasonable on the highway they suck on gas in city driving. In turn it is hard for the dealers to move them so they are forced to lower prices. You cant have the best of both worlds unfortunately, so I pose the question: Is this your first car? An add on to additional cars? If its your first Im not going to try to sway you in either direction, just make sure that what you get is:

1. Addfordable to drive for your budget
2. Going to last you as long as you need it to(or at least has a track record of such)
3. Makes you happy

Good luck with your search, hope you find what you are looking for.

No, the one I'm thinking of purchasing would be my fourth vehicle, and no, it will not be an add on to others. Can't afford insurance on two autos, so this will be my drive-it-to-work vehicle as well.

Your three criteria are common sense criteria. Unfortunately, I can't find a vehicle that fits all three. There are plenty that fit two of them but none that I can find that I'm certain fit all of them. Very frustrating, you know.

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Unread 09-07-2006, 09:40 PM   #8
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No, the one I'm thinking of purchasing would be my fourth vehicle, and no, it will not be an add on to others. Can't afford insurance on two autos, so this will be my drive-it-to-work vehicle as well.

Your three criteria are common sense criteria. Unfortunately, I can't find a vehicle that fits all three. There are plenty that fit two of them but none that I can find that I'm certain fit all of them. Very frustrating, you know.
Sorry thought it might have been your first car, hence the common sense answers lol. Anyways good luck with your search.

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Unread 09-07-2006, 11:24 PM   #9
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What I'm a fan of is the Porsche 944. Excellent fuel economy, rear seat, and everything else. You can find one in excellent contition for about 4 grand. The 944 turbos in good condition will be still less than 10 grand, and you can get a 944S (2.7L instead of 2.5L) for ~6000. Then there is the 944S2 (3.0L), ehich is 10000-15000. Obviously the higher end models have slightly worse fuel consumption, but still a lot better than a 'vette. If you don't want a porsche, you can go for the Japanese version of the 944: the Nissan 240SX. It is very similar in principle, but there is a difference in quality. Also the parts may be slightly cheaper than a porsche. These come in coupe and hatchback versions, and surprisingly, don't cost much less than a base 944. The last option I have is the Mazda RX7. This I personally would avoid, because of how difficult it is to work on it (rotary engine). I also think you may dislike it for the same reason as the celica: the power comes in at 7000rpm.The late 80's, early 90's model (FC) Is quite cheap, but the next generation (FD) can cost all the way up to 20000.

Good luch in your search.
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Unread 09-08-2006, 12:35 AM   #10
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What I'm a fan of is the Porsche 944. Excellent fuel economy, rear seat, and everything else. You can find one in excellent contition for about 4 grand. The 944 turbos in good condition will be still less than 10 grand, and you can get a 944S (2.7L instead of 2.5L) for ~6000. Then there is the 944S2 (3.0L), ehich is 10000-15000. Obviously the higher end models have slightly worse fuel consumption, but still a lot better than a 'vette. If you don't want a porsche, you can go for the Japanese version of the 944: the Nissan 240SX. It is very similar in principle, but there is a difference in quality. Also the parts may be slightly cheaper than a porsche. These come in coupe and hatchback versions, and surprisingly, don't cost much less than a base 944. The last option I have is the Mazda RX7. This I personally would avoid, because of how difficult it is to work on it (rotary engine). I also think you may dislike it for the same reason as the celica: the power comes in at 7000rpm.The late 80's, early 90's model (FC) Is quite cheap, but the next generation (FD) can cost all the way up to 20000.

Good luch in your search.
Interesting that you say that, as I just saw a Nissan 240sx on the way home from work today and thought I'd look into them. Thanks for the help.

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