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Unread 05-17-2012, 12:16 PM   #16
Ax
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Originally Posted by mulletman View Post
This post is right in my bloody wheelhouse. See my post below:




Disclaimer: This post is based on opinion. Opinion that is in my opinion, correct.



I just bought a car for a reasonable price that is reliable, somewhat fuel efficient, is comfortable, has oodles of soul, and has absolutely mammoth aftermarket/enthusiast support. Excellent build quality as well. You likely won't like how old it is, though. Insurance is cheap. Safety is good. It's practical. Visibility is fantastic. It's above average in the performance department.

You have to decide if you want a car to drive, or if you want a box that will most closely replicate the act of sitting on your couch with your laptop, phone, and a plate of food. If you're looking for the former, the following is for you.

Recent cars suck. Bad. Screw mobile appliances, to find a car worth buying for a reasonable price you have to go back a few years. With your request for no Honda or Toyota products, it seems you're looking for something a little different, or at least interesting. What's your budget?

Start by throwing out FWD. It's poison to interesting cars. It can take the most noble of engineering and design efforts, and make in instantly not worth buying. The second thing to do is limit your choices to those vehicles that have manual transmissions. Automatics are for whiny girly-men who don't get the idea of being in harmony with the machine. The third thing to do is addition by subtraction. Start throwing things out. Smaller is better, lighter is best. Nothing kills an interesting car faster than weight. I'd list things to avoid, but listing things that are acceptable is much easier: Power locks, windows, steering, and brakes. Air conditioning. That's about all. Maybe anti-lock brakes. Traction/stability/acronym control is pointless and usually does more harm than good. A sun/moon/star/whatever-roof is okay if it's unavoidable. If your car has a touchscreen, or can be talked to (and listen), that's a big red flag. Don't fall into the technology trap. Simple is good. Technology =/= a good machine.

Finally, avoid 'trendy' items. Cars like any of the Scion things, anything called 'cube,' or 'soul,' or 'cruiser,' or whatever. In 10 years, people will (and should be) embarrassed to drive them. They will have been replaced by the new trend that everyone 'must' have. Avoid cars that are designed for no purpose other than being able to fit cartoon-huge aftermarket wheels. (Chrysler 300C and others, both Chrysler and otherwise.)

Buy a car with numbers in the name. A good, solid, manly, timeless name. E30 325iS. There's a good name. It means something. E30 is the chassis code, 3 denotes the series of car, 25 defines engine size... a 2.5 liter. The iS suffix shows the presence of a sport package that actually includes things that should be in a sport package. A limited slip differential, and different spring rates. If they have to name the car 'Soul,' it's because it doesn't have any.

Look for a car with real performance parts that haven't been added by a 19-year-old's trip to Auto Zone. Things like overhead cams, limited slip diff, and variable valve timing.

If you've bought a car that will be as good in 10-15 years as it is now, you've bought a good car.


If you're dead set on a newer car, maybe look for a Miata or MX-5 or whatever they're calling it now. That's about as good as it gets for new cars. The experience to be had in the rest of them is similar to sitting in your microwave on a conveyor belt.



To do this, you'll have to go a few years older. It's not a bad thing. It's a great thing. Embrace it. Feel the awesomeness. New cars are like new smart phones. People buy them just to show other people they can. Older cars are like gold bullion.

Edit: By old, I don't mean like 1960's old. I understand a frame-off resto is out of the question. I mean older than about 7-8 years. There were still remnants of great car design as recent as 2006.
I understand all this. A couple things though: I live in a city with unbearable traffic and quite a few hills so an automatic transmission is something I'm gonna have to live with. Also, my wife drives my car sometimes and the prospect of her driving a manual is amusing to say the least.

My thoughts on the "something recent" is that I want something that is comfortable, that's going to have a nice interior and is going to last a while. Generally speaking when you go back 6-7 years, you get cars that a lot of times don't have nice interiors or have some slight annoyance, and parts become harder to find.

Also: I really want something that looks nice. I'm a professional now and I want to look professional. I don't want something that makes me look like a college student or high school kid. Those days are over (or coming to a quick end) for me.

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Unread 05-17-2012, 12:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ax View Post
I understand all this. A couple things though: I live in a city with unbearable traffic and quite a few hills so an automatic transmission is something I'm gonna have to live with. Also, my wife drives my car sometimes and the prospect of her driving a manual is amusing to say the least.

My thoughts on the "something recent" is that I want something that is comfortable, that's going to have a nice interior and is going to last a while. Generally speaking when you go back 6-7 years, you get cars that a lot of times don't have nice interiors or have some slight annoyance, and parts become harder to find.

Also: I really want something that looks nice. I'm a professional now and I want to look professional. I don't want something that makes me look like a college student or high school kid. Those days are over (or coming to a quick end) for me.
Basically the only thing left that I can recommend with a clean conscience, is an E36 or E46 BMW 3-Series. Leave it stock, and it looks professional. They are comfortable and have nice interiors. They're all RWD or AWD, many had autotragic transmissions. They made billions of them, and parts are all over the globe. (Quick sidenote... parts for older cars are also super easy to find, if you buy the right car.) They can be had for a reasonable price.

However. DO NOT buy one that has issues. Pay a premium price for a premium car, with service records, a known history, and no problems. Have a pre-purchase inspection done by someone reputable.

Hell hath no fury like a problem child BMW. Don't take that to mean that they're bad cars..... they're brilliant. If mistreated, they suffer.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 12:30 PM   #18
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Well, way to kill my arguments, Ben.

I know that the primary issue with FWD is understeer, and I do know how dangerous it can be. My first car was FWD, and every car since has been AWD (which also has the understeer problem). I guess I just don't see it to me as much of a problem. I learn the limitations of my car, and I don't deal with understeer.
Sorry...

AWD has the advantage of being usefully trail-braked into a situation where it can put power down without understeering. It's glorious!
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Unread 05-17-2012, 12:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mulletman View Post
Basically the only thing left that I can recommend with a clean conscience, is an E36 or E46 BMW 3-Series. Leave it stock, and it looks professional. They are comfortable and have nice interiors. They're all RWD or AWD, many had autotragic transmissions. They made billions of them, and parts are all over the globe. (Quick sidenote... parts for older cars are also super easy to find, if you buy the right car.) They can be had for a reasonable price.

However. DO NOT buy one that has issues. Pay a premium price for a premium car, with service records, a known history, and no problems. Have a pre-purchase inspection done by someone reputable.

Hell hath no fury like a problem child BMW. Don't take that to mean that they're bad cars..... they're brilliant. If mistreated, they suffer.
I was intending to buy from a dealership. Something were I can get a carfax and a warranty.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 12:34 PM   #20
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I was intending to buy from a dealership. Something were I can get a carfax and a warranty.
Warranty is meh. Carfax is useless. The carfax on the car I just bought was completely incorrect. It showed that the person drove it like 80,000 miles in a matter of 2 months.

There's no replacement for records.... I bought my car from a dealer... it came with a grocery bag of folders full of every receipt for everything that's ever happened. I know who's worked on it, what work was done, when it was done, how much they paid, etc. I know that it was taken to the same two shops for it's entire 22 year life, and that they know the car very well. Things that carfax can't do.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 02:35 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by mulletman View Post
There's no replacement for records.... I bought my car from a dealer... it came with a grocery bag of folders full of every receipt for everything that's ever happened. I know who's worked on it, what work was done, when it was done, how much they paid, etc. I know that it was taken to the same two shops for it's entire 22 year life, and that they know the car very well. Things that carfax can't do.
Not to bust a bubble, but those vehicles are rare to find. Most everyone (myself included) rarely hangs on to receipts for oil changes and all the other maintenance. I have never seen any car like that on any lot any time I was shopping for a vehicle. (On a side note, I live in the middle of nowhere and thus they may be easier to find in larger cities, but no where near me.)
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Unread 05-17-2012, 02:55 PM   #22
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Not to bust a bubble, but those vehicles are rare to find. Most everyone (myself included) rarely hangs on to receipts for oil changes and all the other maintenance. I have never seen any car like that on any lot any time I was shopping for a vehicle. (On a side note, I live in the middle of nowhere and thus they may be easier to find in larger cities, but no where near me.)
No, you're right. It takes finding the right dealer.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #23
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Reading all this...
My friends have made so many mistakes in their car choices.......

I need to visit here when I buy a car.

My friend got an RX-8. Useful for showing off, but nothing else.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 05:52 PM   #24
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An RX-8 is at least semi-interesting. Rev-happy and unique motor + lots of gears + decent chassis/suspension = good.

Too bad it's so darn ugly.
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Unread 05-17-2012, 09:26 PM   #25
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I love the RX-8. It's just underpowered.

Unfortunately, most of the cars I would recommend to you don't fit your billing, because they look to "young". So, I will leave you with this: BMW 3 series. Volvo S60. That's about it.
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Unread 05-18-2012, 08:09 AM   #26
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I love the RX-8. It's just underpowered.

Unfortunately, most of the cars I would recommend to you don't fit your billing, because they look to "young". So, I will leave you with this: BMW 3 series. Volvo S60. That's about it.
By young I mean I don't want some dilapidated pos.
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Current Rig:
Guitars: The NightShade, Fender Big Block Toronado, Fender Marauder, Fender Strat, Rogue ST-4
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Amps: EVH 5150 III 50 Watt, Vox Night Train 15 Watt
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Unread 05-18-2012, 08:46 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Ax

I was intending to buy from a dealership. Something were I can get a carfax and a warranty.
IIRC you can get a carfax anywhere. I don't think that has changed since I bought my Civic.
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Unread 05-18-2012, 11:39 AM   #28
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In that case, I would recommend a Subaru Impreza, a Mitsubishi Lancer or a Volkswagen GTI.
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Unread 05-18-2012, 12:15 PM   #29
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An RX-8 is at least semi-interesting. Rev-happy and unique motor + lots of gears + decent chassis/suspension = good.

Too bad it's so darn ugly.
When my Neon dies and goes to heaven, I'll be looking at the RX-8...and Mini Cooper...and Challenger...
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Unread 05-18-2012, 12:44 PM   #30
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In that case, I would recommend a Subaru Impreza, a Mitsubishi Lancer or a Volkswagen GTI.
A Lancer? Have they improved? I've never heard anything good about them.
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