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Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Associate Editor
12/15/13 12:14 a.m.

Count me in the Ford Escort camp, ZX2 especially. Mazda BG chassis goodness, robust but somewhat harsh engine, simple, easy to work on.

Vigo
Vigo UberDork
12/15/13 12:53 a.m.
I agree 100% on the Maximas. I owned an automatic '95 for 6 1/2 years, and sold it back in the summer to fund my new project. I am regretting that sale recently, and as much as I would love another, I kind of want to try something different. A '98-99 Sentra SE would be sweet, as would a 200SX SE-R. The B13 is kind of the Holy Grail of SE-R's, but I know finding one will be difficult.

I've driven the Maximas and the 200SX SE-R with 5spds and imo the Maxima is more fun. Torque is a good thing. I would take a G20 manual before a 200SX, too, but that's just my .02.

midniteson
midniteson Reader
12/15/13 4:02 a.m.

94-97 Accord VTEC 4cyl 5spd Wagon,sedan,coupe

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
12/15/13 9:10 a.m.

IN THE PRICE RANGE

i would say a later Saturn S- Series wagon with a stick shift.

cheap parts, easy to fix, hard to break, great mpg

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps HalfDork
12/15/13 1:47 p.m.

In reply to belteshazzar:

I just posted one here in $2014 classifieds for under $2K in IL, NMNA

BBC

nokincy
nokincy New Reader
12/15/13 2:17 p.m.

SF Subaru Forester. I can't really think of anything bad about these except the headgaskets. Find one that had them replaced already.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
12/15/13 2:24 p.m.

Honestly, I loved my XD Elantra (01-06). Solid chassis, options available for suspension upgrades, brakes could easily be upgraded on the cheap with off the shelf parts etc. It made 140hp stock, with a fat midrange so with the 5spd it was fun to drive. Durable as hell, dependable (never failed to start in 10 years 162k miles) and cheap to work on.

slowride
slowride Reader
12/15/13 4:55 p.m.

Personally I would try to find an old Civic hatchback with a B18 swap already done. However, the rice factor is high with these, as is the likelihood they've been abused/raced/wrenched on by someone using the internet as a guide. And I'm not sure you could find one for 2k.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
12/15/13 5:12 p.m.

In reply to slowride:

Yeah, around here it's hard to find a Civic that isn't stanced out and driven by a pimple faced, flat-brimmed-hat-wearing high schooler. Part of the reason I like the cars that I listed is that most of them aren't things you see everyday (except for Maximas), and they don't have the same following or stigma attached that a Honda does. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't rock a nice Civic or Accord, it's just that there are other things that I prefer. But show me a nice EK or EG Civic Si and I'm all over it.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
12/15/13 5:17 p.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

I saw one of these the other day-a bright blue GT sedan...man that thing looked sweet, even stock! I love that color and I much prefer the sedan to the hatch. Not sure it's in my price range, but I would so rock that thing!

kanaric
kanaric HalfDork
12/16/13 2:52 a.m.

2k or less? MR2 or 924S. One of the two is actually fairly practical and the other is actually fairly reliable. Well MR2 practicality is good if you just want to haul groceries or something lol

Starion? Z31? S12 200sx SE?

Starion is reliable so long as you don't want to mod it all crazy. 200sx SE is extremely reliable and surprisingly fun.

90s fwd j cars are not fun to me, well at least the cheap ones. If you are in Canada that's a different story.

Claff
Claff Reader
12/16/13 3:01 a.m.

My current small practical reliable car is my '88 CRX Si. But I'm on the lookout for something more practical, and bouncing between Mazda Protege5 and EP3 Civic. Si hatchback.

Hasbro
Hasbro Dork
12/16/13 5:14 a.m.
Claff wrote: My current small practical reliable car is my '88 CRX Si. But I'm on the lookout for something more practical, and bouncing between Mazda Protege5 and EP3 Civic. Si hatchback.

I drove the Protege5 before buying the EP and loved the handling. Felt so right. I was looking for a 3 door hatch with lots of room, though. EP is Honda dependability at it's best. Having kids would sway me towards the Mazda. I'd be happy with both.

What about a Mazdaspeed Protege?

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
12/16/13 7:45 a.m.

EG or EK Civic

/ end thread

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
12/16/13 8:05 a.m.
belteshazzar wrote: IN THE PRICE RANGE i would say a later Saturn S- Series wagon with a stick shift. cheap parts, easy to fix, hard to break, great mpg

For $2K? Yes. Saturn Wagon. I sold a well-modded one for like $2K 2 years ago, and I'm still kicking myself. Good gas mileage, really easy to work on, light and decent power (on par with most 4 banger FWD cars mentioned so far).

Neon is a great one too. No wagon available, but they're pretty damn quick.

Either of those can be found in MUCH better condition than most cars mentioned here in this price range.

Matthew Huizing
Matthew Huizing Reader
12/16/13 9:14 a.m.

I sold my former, rust bucket, oil eating 1995 SW2 for $2200 in 2009. And I miss it. I would love to trade my 1995 SC2 for a 1995 SW2. Maybe find a low mileage wagon with mechanical issues and swap everything over to it.

Too bad we didn't get the E36 wagon. My 1994 325i has been cheaper than the 1995 SC2--I haven't had to done any engine work on the BMW, and the stock exhaust still works well. The back seat is also more practical than the Saturns.

captdownshift
captdownshift Reader
12/16/13 11:22 a.m.

BG chassis mazda (i prefer the 323 but swap in the 1.8BP from a protege lx when a parts car becomes available)

early focus zx3's are getting into that range. B13's, E30's, NA miata with a new softtop, or a rough one for $1k and pickup a hardtop for another $1k

edit: i just saw that you're in SE VA, for some reason raleigh, NC craigslist always has a decent selection of BG cars, there's always a few BG 323s on there

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
12/16/13 11:58 a.m.

In reply to captdownshift:

Thanks! I'd drive to Raleigh for a nice Protege or 323.
I could NEVER drive a Focus, I just hate those things. Even all the Ford techs I work with say they are total crap. The brand new ones are pretty nice, but obviously not in my price range.
A Miata would be a blast, but the no back seat thing is what I'm trying to get out of.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
12/16/13 12:10 p.m.

Here it is:

Powar
Powar SuperDork
12/16/13 1:55 p.m.

My choice in this price range (or almost any price range, if I must be honest) is the Saab C900. I'd buy the newest, least rusty manual transmissioned C900 possible. Available as a sedan and hatchback until '93, convertible until '94. I like the N/A cars and the turbo cars, but for ultimate fun factor, a turbo is the winner.

I'll also second the recommendation of a BG chassis car. I personally like the '90-'94 Proteges the best, but the Escorts/Sephias/ZX-2s are all rockin' as well.

I actually really like first-generation Escorts and EXPs just as well as the BG chassis cars, but they're getting really uncommon. The EXP doesn't fit your back seat requirement, but the early EGTs were just as fun and seated four.

Here are my current C900 and Protege:

Here's my current EXP:

captdownshift
captdownshift Reader
12/16/13 1:56 p.m.

i do have a friend with a teal protege lx (body, motor and interior are in great shape) it is in need of rear shocks and springs though who'd probably unload it fairly cheap as he hasn't driven it since getting his audi. He's in baltimore, if interested message me with you email and contact info and i'll pass it along to him

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
12/17/13 7:49 a.m.

In reply to Powar:

Yeah, I'm really leaning toward the early Proteges. I've always liked the simple look, and the LX sounds like it would be pretty fun. 4 doors, good MPG's, 4 wheel discs...sounds like it's exactly what I need. I love what you've done with yours...any details on mods (suspension, wheel/tire size, etc.)?

In reply to captdownshift:

Hmmm...I may have to get his info in the event I can sell my project in the near future. I'm gonna work on selling it after the holidays. I'll PM you my info. Thanks!

Powar
Powar SuperDork
12/17/13 8:26 a.m.
sethmeister4 wrote: In reply to Powar: Yeah, I'm really leaning toward the early Proteges. I've always liked the simple look, and the LX sounds like it would be pretty fun. 4 doors, good MPG's, 4 wheel discs...sounds like it's exactly what I need. I love what you've done with yours...any details on mods (suspension, wheel/tire size, etc.)?

Mine is a '94 DX, which means 1.8SOHC and rear drums. Neither of these things bothers me.

Ground Control coilovers on whatever E36 M3ty replacement dampers were on it when I bought it

Stock 14" '99 Miata wheels

MX-3GS front LCAs, steering rack, and front seats

Protege LX rear seat

Some Plastidipped interior panels because they were so discolored from years of disgusting smoker owners

The front lip in that photo was removed from a late 80s 626 and cut down to fit. The curvature fits the bumper perfectly--- it was just too wide originally. I never put it back on after I replaced the bumper and hood.

I also briefly ran the ATS' from my Miata on it and took it to Deal's Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. Here's a photo from that trip to show the larger wheels.

It's a shame that I hadn't replaced the bumper and hood BEFORE those pics were taken. Ho well.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 Dork
12/17/13 10:12 a.m.

In reply to Powar:

That looks really good. If I found one (and I think I will try to find an LX), I think some lowering springs w/ new struts and some wheels & tires is all I would do. I want something that I can drive for years, have some fun in, but still be practical. A quick little econobox would fit the bill nicely I think, that way I can get good MPG's, have fun autocrossing, and have a backseat to put my son in if needed. Do you have any pic of your MX3 seats and Miata wheels?

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UberDork
12/17/13 10:34 a.m.

As an old fart, I have driven quite a variety of cars, many of which were very crappy. I probably enjoyed my daughters 97 Civic EX as much as anything other than my old TR3 or 64 Sptifre. It started every time, had a functioning AC and heat, didn't leak and would rev like nothing else I've ever driven. I would love to try an SI.

Good luck finding one under 2k.

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