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80two07
80two07
4/15/11 1:05 p.m.

yep one of those threads...

new member here, I've browsed on and off for a while after picking up the mag a few times, I'd ask for advice elsewhere but you guys seem to have the most unbiased opinions with no brand loyalty compared to those on manufacturer specific forums.

so here it is, I'm 19, finally getting out of the hand me down accord and wanting to get something to tinker with and have a little fun in. I'm not looking for anything with loads of power that will send me flying into the nearest tree, just something a little more fun than the Accord...

bare with me here, i can feel this is getting long

I would really like something rwd but for a 19 year old on a limited budget (2 grand at the most) so it seems there aren't many options. Miata, yeah, but I'd like more room. E30 strikes me as a pretty damn good option but maintenance scares me, is this justified?

Outside of that I've pondered getting a Cressida rather seriously, I like the idea of a sedan and they're rather cheap but the drive train is an issue as the 5m/7m seems fairly lackluster and manuals are rather rare. Another more unconventional option I've been considering is a compact pickup along the lines of a 2wd Toyota/Tacoma or a Frontier as I'd really like to my hands dirty and do some more indepth tinkering versus the usual 'bolt ons' that come with more conventional choices but once again they don't have the greatest drivetrains in the world. as you can tell I've thought about this quite a lot...

I haven't completely ruled out awd/fwd as I've always been interested in vws and hondas and subarus tickly my fancy as well but i feel like there should a suitable rwd option, I just cant make my mind up!

jesus christ that's a huge wall o' text, sorry for the essay! but now its your turn grm, what do you think?

alfadriver
alfadriver SuperDork
4/15/11 1:10 p.m.

I remember being that age.

Outside of moving twice a year to and from school, I didn't need more than what a Miata would have given me. Be honest- do you REALLY need that extra room? Especially vs. what you get.

For $2000, careful shopping will get you a very good Miata with problems that are fixable for someone like you.

I've been living with a Miata for 14 years now. I used to pack all of my hockey equipment in the back.

Anyway, you need to try the vehicles. You'll find few flaws with the cars you like, but you need to know if they are really for you. Which means looking, sitting, driving.

ArthurDent
ArthurDent Reader
4/15/11 1:13 p.m.

What about a 240SX with the hatchback - gives some more room plus rear wheel drive.

bastomatic
bastomatic Dork
4/15/11 1:16 p.m.

I have to agree with alfa here - Miata is certainly the answer here. More room for what? You will never have another time in your life when you will need less room than now. Enjoy the freedom.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
4/15/11 1:21 p.m.

I don't know if you are planning on going to college and living in the dorms or not but if you are, I wouldn't recommend the Miata. The last generation of Cressida did not have a manual available. BMWs have cooling system problems (I am not sure about E30s). I don't think the E30 should be too hard to maintain. Other suggestions Merkur XR4Ti, Alfa Romeo Milano.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve SuperDork
4/15/11 1:55 p.m.

I don't get the bias against FWD. A Civic Hatch is the ideal car for your age, budget, situation, and desires. You can fit a ton of stuff in them, $2K buys something decent, a manual is easy to find and they are decent ones at that, you can fix it up to whatever budget you want, and you can autocross them on the weekends. OK, it has FWD. IMHO, for most beginners on most courses, a well engineered FWD platform will let them go faster than anything RWD they can buy in that price range. Plus you can go in light snow.

Go to your local autocross and ride along with that person in the Civic who is always the top PAX time. You'll be convinced that a Civic is the way to go. (Just don't ride with the dude in the supercharged Miata!)

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
4/15/11 1:58 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: I don't get the bias against FWD. A Civic Hatch is the ideal car for your age, budget, situation, and desires. You can fit a ton of stuff in them, $2K buys something decent, a manual is easy to find and they are decent ones at that, you can fix it up to whatever budget you want, and you can autocross them on the weekends. OK, it has FWD. IMHO, for most beginners on most courses, a well engineered FWD platform will let them go faster than anything RWD they can buy in that price range. Plus you can go in light snow. Go to your local autocross and ride along with that person in the Civic who is always the top PAX time. You'll be convinced that a Civic is the way to go. (Just don't ride with the dude in the supercharged Miata!)

Depending on where he is, a none beat to crap Civic maybe out of the price range.

pres589
pres589 Dork
4/15/11 2:01 p.m.

Early Focus? Seats are goofy, otherwise they seem like a decent little car.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy Reader
4/15/11 2:02 p.m.

Exactly how much mechanical aptitude do you have? Do you have access to a space in which to work on your car?

If you are stuck on RWD: In your budget range, I'd get a 4 door BMW. Both the E30 or the E34 are good choices, but I'd lean more towards an E34, simply because you can find a nicer one cheaper than a nice E30, at least where I live.

alfadriver
alfadriver SuperDork
4/15/11 2:04 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: I don't get the bias against FWD. A Civic Hatch is the ideal car for your age, budget, situation, and desires. You can fit a ton of stuff in them, $2K buys something decent, a manual is easy to find and they are decent ones at that, you can fix it up to whatever budget you want, and you can autocross them on the weekends. OK, it has FWD. IMHO, for most beginners on most courses, a well engineered FWD platform will let them go faster than anything RWD they can buy in that price range. Plus you can go in light snow. Go to your local autocross and ride along with that person in the Civic who is always the top PAX time. You'll be convinced that a Civic is the way to go. (Just don't ride with the dude in the supercharged Miata!)

Focus, Corolla, Cobalt, etc- anything will fit the bill.

A quick craigslist found a few $2000 focii.

Nothing against FWD, I just like being able to take the top off....

The real problem is finding a car that you can like, or just tolerate, over hating. Fit is a problem.

mndsm
mndsm SuperDork
4/15/11 2:08 p.m.

Go before the Frontier, find one that the tinworm hasn't gotten, and a 2wd Nissan Hardbody might just be the answer, if it isn't Miata. Those and the 240's shared motors, they're cheap, RWD, and if you really need to haul crap, it is a truck. Hard as nails too.... can't kill the damn things. Other than that, the usual suspects, miata, e30, 240sx..... I dinno what prices are like in your area, but a p71 might be a good option too. I don't know when they got the mod 4.6, I wanna say it was sometime in the mid-late 90's.... should be able to scam one for 2k. Problem is, it's not a manual. On the plus side, it's already set up for severe duty.

Other considerations- Starion/Conquest, Civic (yeck from me personally, but they're damn reliable) Escort GT, St185 chassis Celica..... mx3... all fun stuff. One thing to consider as others have mentioned? Where are you located? Is winter a factor?

Apexcarver
Apexcarver SuperDork
4/15/11 2:17 p.m.

I bought a needy E30 as a beater and here is a breakdown.

Bought it for $600 (it needed help)

Most everything on it has been maintenance or caused by myself. Most of the problems are electrical (easy to fix for the most part, clean a connection here, dielectric grease there, solder there.)

Parts arent bad (Rockauto is your friend, pelicanparts when rockauto dosent have it) (parts tend to be cheaper then my mustang)

Finding a shop to work on it, more challenging. If you want a BMW be ready to do your own work.

It is going to more widely depend on the example you buy. Mine was $600 and I did get what I paid for. Buy the nicest example you can afford (dont do what I did) and you will be fine.

What am I replacing the E30 with? Miata! only times you will need more space is moving in and out of dorms.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla Dork
4/15/11 2:19 p.m.

I ran an 89 9C1 all through college. Trust me, being able to carry 5-6 young ladies across town to wal-mart is a good thing to be able to do. I still miss that car.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk HalfDork
4/15/11 2:28 p.m.

Eric, how on earth did you get a hockey bag into the trunk of a Miata? I know mine won't go.

JamesMcD
JamesMcD New Reader
4/15/11 2:35 p.m.

If you decide to go FWD, a 2nd gen. MX6 would be a fine choice.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt Dork
4/15/11 2:52 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote: Depending on where he is, a none beat to crap Civic maybe out of the price range.

Agreed - in Atlanta, it's nearly impossible to find '92-'00 Civics that have not been at least one of these, and usually more than one:

  • Riced with poorly done mods
  • Driven into the ground
  • In a couple fender benders
  • Had the previous owner forget to change the oil for several years
twolittlebroncos
twolittlebroncos Reader
4/15/11 4:22 p.m.

If you're interested in Cressidas why not look at the Mk2 Supras? Same drivetrain and the hatch area is actually decent for hauling things. They seem to go pretty cheap around here.

I think the ZX3 Focus is a great value if you can find a decent one in that price range. Stock performance isn't terrible and SVT upgrades are fairly obtainable and make the car even better.

alfadriver
alfadriver SuperDork
4/15/11 4:52 p.m.
DeadSkunk wrote: Eric, how on earth did you get a hockey bag into the trunk of a Miata? I know mine won't go.

Really? I got it into both my 95 and 99.... Maybe some of my pad sets are less bulky? But I really didn't have too much of a problem. (including the spare tire in the 95)

Hmmmm.

The only think I can think of is that 1) I have old equipment (which was fine for a pick up league) and 2) zero organization pockets- so it was easy to shake it a little to fit.

Sticks- of course in the front.

for the OP Packing wise, we also did 5 night weekends for 2 people...

Lets put it this way- if you have any serious desire to fly, and travel a lot (say a train trip around europe...)- you need to learn to pack light anyway.

racerdave600
racerdave600 HalfDork
4/15/11 4:59 p.m.

Don't rule out the Miata...I made it through college with a TR4 and MG Midget.

pres589
pres589 Dork
4/15/11 5:03 p.m.

Thought about this some more. Boring but does everything you need, get a Volvo 240.

But I think I'd just get a Miata, maybe get a luggage rack and some rigging to carry a couple duffel bags to school that way.

80two07
80two07 New Reader
4/15/11 5:29 p.m.
ArthurDent wrote: What about a 240SX with the hatchback - gives some more room plus rear wheel drive.

Practically non existent in the Northeast, and if they are around they're either riced out and hacked together or driven into the ground, which is a shame because i really like them. I've just honestly never seen a reasonable example for sale that wasn't either of the two things above or ridiculously over priced.

bastomatic wrote: I have to agree with alfa here - Miata is certainly the answer here. More room for what? You will never have another time in your life when you will need less room than now. Enjoy the freedom.

Well I would really like to have the ability to take more than 1 other person in my car if need be, not to mention all the crap I usually have with me for either my bikes, camping/hiking, bringing recycling to the transfer station and my school stuff to a lesser extent. I understand that they are fantastic cars and are essentially exactly what I'm looking for but I just need more room.

Brett_Murphy wrote: Exactly how much mechanical aptitude do you have? Do you have access to a space in which to work on your car? If you are stuck on RWD: In your budget range, I'd get a 4 door BMW. Both the E30 or the E34 are good choices, but I'd lean more towards an E34, simply because you can find a nicer one cheaper than a nice E30, at least where I live.

I'm pretty comfortable working on cars, I have a friend who's a big vw nut and I've done quite a bit of work with him on his cars, from oil changes to some work an engine swap. I consider myself to be fairly mechanically inclined, If I have the time and tools I'm comfortable doing pretty much anything. Space is no issue I have a nice paved driveway and a garage if I need it, ive got a pretty decent selection of tools as well.

I'm not stuck on rwd but ill get to that in a second.

pinchvalve wrote: I don't get the bias against FWD. A Civic Hatch is the ideal car for your age, budget, situation, and desires. You can fit a ton of stuff in them, $2K buys something decent, a manual is easy to find and they are decent ones at that, you can fix it up to whatever budget you want, and you can autocross them on the weekends. OK, it has FWD. IMHO, for most beginners on most courses, a well engineered FWD platform will let them go faster than anything RWD they can buy in that price range. Plus you can go in light snow. Go to your local autocross and ride along with that person in the Civic who is always the top PAX time. You'll be convinced that a Civic is the way to go. (Just don't ride with the dude in the supercharged Miata!)

rwd cars are more fun, thats all there is to it. power oversteer beats the hell out of pretty much anything you can do in a fwd car unless theres snow on the ground. Like i said I haven't ruled it out but I would much rather have something rear-drive. and as someone guessed civics are quite expensive or thrashed around here (and everywhere it seems), similar to the 240sx's but theres more of them.

The real problem is finding a car that you can like, or just tolerate, over hating.

Im going to let that speak for itself and not bother with some of the other posts.

mndsm wrote: Go before the Frontier, find one that the tinworm hasn't gotten, and a 2wd Nissan Hardbody *might* just be the answer, if it isn't Miata. Those and the 240's shared motors, they're cheap, RWD, and if you really need to haul crap, it is a truck. Hard as nails too.... can't kill the damn things. Other than that, the usual suspects, miata, e30, 240sx..... I dinno what prices are like in your area, but a p71 might be a good option too. I don't know when they got the mod 4.6, I wanna say it was sometime in the mid-late 90's.... should be able to scam one for 2k. Problem is, it's not a manual. On the plus side, it's already set up for severe duty. Other considerations- Starion/Conquest, Civic (yeck from me personally, but they're damn reliable) Escort GT, St185 chassis Celica..... mx3... all fun stuff. One thing to consider as others have mentioned? Where are you located? Is winter a factor?

Good point on the hardbody sharing the KA with the 240, that has totally skipped my mind somehow, really diggin that idea. The more I think about a pickup the more I like the sounds of it. rust is a problem because I live in new england but theres probably something out there. maybe. Those other options are some good ones but for the most part are really hard to come by in maine, new hampE36 M3e, and vermont. Right now i'm feeling the idea of the pickup as i said, or the e30 (see next post)

as for winter goes its not a big concern to me, either ill be at school or it'll give me reason not to drive around and burn gas. i always have the possibility of using the accord during the winter as well as my mother will be keeping it so she has something to drive other than her truck...which she drives all winter. jeez this makes me sound like a spoilt brat when it couldnt be further from the truth!

Apexcarver wrote: I bought a needy E30 as a beater and here is a breakdown. Bought it for $600 (it needed help) Most everything on it has been maintenance or caused by myself. Most of the problems are electrical (easy to fix for the most part, clean a connection here, dielectric grease there, solder there.) Parts arent bad (Rockauto is your friend, pelicanparts when rockauto dosent have it) (parts tend to be cheaper then my mustang) Finding a shop to work on it, more challenging. If you want a BMW be ready to do your own work. It is going to more widely depend on the example you buy. Mine was $600 and I did get what I paid for. Buy the nicest example you can afford (dont do what I did) and you will be fine. What am I replacing the E30 with? Miata! only times you will need more space is moving in and out of dorms.

Thank you this was very insightful and restores my hope in the e30. as you said finding a shop might be difficult but my friend into volkswagens is in a vw/audi club and i have no doubt he could help find me someone if i needed work that i could not accomplish by myself or with his help.

not going to quote but I know someone reccomended the police package crown vic and someone else the caprice - thats gonna be a no go, autos, mpg isnt too great, cant imagine the handling will be anything good, and i dont want to drive around looking like a wannabe cop.

sorry for another epic post...thanks for all the help though, really leaning towards the pickup and the e30 (e34 maybe) ever so slightly more now.

80two07
80two07 New Reader
4/15/11 5:36 p.m.

for the record - miata = ruled out. I understand how much you guys love them and understandably so, they're awesome cars, but it's just not for me, i move around a lot and need room for multiple bags, boxes and people. not trying to pick a bone with youu guys but its just the way it is.

80two07
80two07 New Reader
4/15/11 5:40 p.m.
pres589 wrote: Thought about this some more. Boring but does everything you need, get a Volvo 240.

Very good call, what about the later rwd models 700 & 900 series though? these can be had pretty cheap as well and I would have to worry less about aging parts and the brown crusty stuff. anyone have some insight into this?

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
4/15/11 5:44 p.m.
80two07 wrote:
pres589 wrote: Thought about this some more. Boring but does everything you need, get a Volvo 240.

Very good call, what about the later rwd models 700 & 900 series though? these can be had pretty cheap as well and I would have to worry less about aging parts and the brown crusty stuff. anyone have some insight into this?

Lots of people love them, turbos are fairly quick, it is very reliable and they will swallow anything.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
4/15/11 5:45 p.m.

Seriously have you considered the Merkur?

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