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plance1
plance1 SuperDork
2/7/17 6:33 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: The answer is Fiesta ST. I'm sorry, but if a Miata won't do then you want a Fiesta ST. At your budget, you can easily afford to purchase it, maintain it, operate it and even add to it. It has the practicality of a back seat and a hatch, so you can live with it every day. At 2750 pounds, it is the lightest car you can buy today (save for a Miata) and it is small enough to park easily and dart through traffic in. As for fun, you'd be hard pressed to find anything more fun to drive on a daily basis. It puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel, whether it's to the track, the autocross or to the corner store for milk. Yes, it's FWD...get over it. It rotates well, transitions well and puts power down well. It will easily outrun a stock BRZ, and more performance is always just a tune away. (In fact, your Ford dealer will do it and your warranty will be just fine.) RWD is great, but can you get something new in RWD that performs this well for $21K? Nope.

I thought these things were $38k????

STM317
STM317 Dork
2/8/17 6:32 a.m.

In reply to plance1: Maybe you're thinking of the Focus RS? It's a larger, more powerful car with AWD. The car in that pic is a Fiesta ST, which is smaller, less powerful, and FWD but people rave about it's tossability and fun to drive nature. Used ones are easy to find in the mid teens. New can be found for low 20s.

jstein77
jstein77 UltraDork
2/8/17 2:06 p.m.

Yeah, you're definitely confusing that with my FoRS. About a year ago, I bought a '15 model FiST for $19.5K out the door (actually $15K with my Sentra trade-in).

ekauppi7
ekauppi7 New Reader
2/8/17 2:31 p.m.

Thanks to all for your suggestions! A couple responses: I've been driving RWD in Michigan for 40 years. With snow tires and some skill it's a non-issue, I can drive with no trouble where many others won't. I enjoy it. In those years I've only owned two FWD cars (Lancia Beta coupe and Dodge Shelby Charger Turbo) both were a pain to work on and less fun to drive (IMO) than RWD.

I have other vehicles so indeed I could consider a 2-seater. Maybe.. Miata or MR-S or S2000.. But this one will really be my daily driver all year round, so practicality matters. And if it's nice enough to put the top down it's usually nice enough to take the bike. Even if it logically makes sense one does not see many C4's on the road here in the winter. I guess I could put snow tires on it and be "that crazy guy"...

I'm not hearing much support for BR-Z / FR-S / 86 here. Why?

I could get a used Mustang for a lot less money it's true. I still have happy memories, I bought a 1996 SN95 Mustang Cobra brand new, shortly before I quit working at Ford. It was a good car, although not trouble-free. Maybe it's time for me to test drive a newer Mustang.

pirate
pirate Reader
2/8/17 2:43 p.m.

I just purchased a 2015 Fiesta with a bit over 10,000 miles. I wanted a small and light car and think the ST is a very good values for what they are selling for. Haven't had it very long but certainly fills the bill for fun to drive.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UltraDork
2/8/17 4:10 p.m.
plance1 wrote:
pinchvalve wrote: The answer is Fiesta ST. I'm sorry, but if a Miata won't do then you want a Fiesta ST. At your budget, you can easily afford to purchase it, maintain it, operate it and even add to it. It has the practicality of a back seat and a hatch, so you can live with it every day. At 2750 pounds, it is the lightest car you can buy today (save for a Miata) and it is small enough to park easily and dart through traffic in. As for fun, you'd be hard pressed to find anything more fun to drive on a daily basis. It puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel, whether it's to the track, the autocross or to the corner store for milk. Yes, it's FWD...get over it. It rotates well, transitions well and puts power down well. It will easily outrun a stock BRZ, and more performance is always just a tune away. (In fact, your Ford dealer will do it and your warranty will be just fine.) RWD is great, but can you get something new in RWD that performs this well for $21K? Nope.
I thought these things were $38k????

RS is the 40K one the ST is significantly cheaper. Also you can get a heck of a discount on a 2016 ST right now if you want to buy new.

jr10cross
jr10cross Reader
2/9/17 6:21 a.m.

I'm a little bias here, but why not a 944? They're RWD but they don't have enough power to get you into any trouble during the winter . Plus, have you seen this winter? I have to say, the near 50/50 weight gives you a lot of traction. Also, could be an investment, prices are only going up. I'm pretty super bias though!

ekauppi7
ekauppi7 New Reader
2/15/17 8:52 a.m.

On paper 2002-2006 E46 BMW 330Ci sure looks tempting. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll go test drive one soon. Straight six, mmm... So this guy is asking $8k, which is well above book. But it's for a clean one owner car with the ZHP option and of course the stick. 120k miles. What do you think is a fair price for the car? Comes with a spare set of wheels and snow tires which is good for how I intend to use it here in Michigan, but does tell us he drove it in snow and salt.

What do you think?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/15/17 9:31 a.m.

Go drive the BRZ / FRS. As with most things on the interwebz, the reliability problems have been exaggerated. A nearly new one will fall in your price range. If it gives you piece of mind, get a warranty.

It's universally agreed that they have a fantastic chassis. What it comes down to is if the engine's characteristics suit you. Some really like the drivetrain, some are less enthused. Don't believe the internet hype that they are slow---- they are plenty fast enough to be fun.

It seems like the OP is leaning towards RWD, and has other options for hauling, or when the weather gets really bad. (truck) Drive the "Frisbee" twins and see what you think. You may just fall in love.

It's very rare that I'm turned on by a new car----- almost all of them these days feel too heavy, overladen and disconnected. The Frisbee twins are different, they are visceral. Every time I drive one, I think of buying one.

If you decide you need more space, and practicality, the Fiesta ST and Focus ST are both good choices. I don't find them as fun to drive as the BRZ-FRS, but they do offer a lot for bang for the buck.

My only reservation would be dealing with potholes and the rough Midwestern roads. They can put a pounding on a car--- and you will feel every road imperfection in a BRZ-FRS.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/15/17 10:11 a.m.

A big negative for the BRZ, for me (I've owned mine about 2.5 years now) is the absolutely horrific depreciation on the used market and the high cost of insurance.

The insurance for my BRZ (no claims, good credit, etc) is nearly 45% more than it was on my Coyote powered Mustang GT.

TurboFocus
TurboFocus New Reader
2/15/17 10:24 a.m.

In reply to z31maniac:

Probably because all the drifto kids think it's fast & furious and consequently crash them into trees and stuff.

I'm a fan of a 2k focus with a turbo and suspension :)

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
2/15/17 10:26 a.m.

So where are we on Focus ST vs Fiesta ST vs 500 Abarth?

jr10cross
jr10cross Reader
2/15/17 11:07 a.m.

I 2nd the RX-8. Just be ready for an engine rebuild or have a spare. Had one through the Michigan winter and it held up really nice. It was probably one of the best cars I had in snow and it was RWD. you can pick one of for $6k and have plenty money left for 10 engines!

MoCounselor
MoCounselor New Reader
2/15/17 11:38 a.m.

I LOVE my e46 330ci, but just be expecting some deferred maintenance costs. Pretty much the WHOLE cooling system will likely need replaced (BMW used "wonderful" plastic EVERYTHING in it,) and the VANOS may need new oil seals. If you're a competent DIY guy, both can easily be done over a weekend.

Also, check for clunking in the rear, it could be a sign of torn/cracked rear subframe mounts.

That being said, don't let those things scare you off. I bought mine back in August of last year, and while I've had to do some of the above repairs (at this point cooling system and VANOS seals,) the car is a blast to drive. Comfortable, quite and relaxed when you want it to be, but very athletic and fun when you drive it that way. It's one of my top 2-3 cars that I've owned, and I've had quite a few fun cars over the years including multiple na Miatas, a last generation Mitsu Evolution, a Mazdaspeed 3, WRX, etc, etc.

ekauppi7 wrote: On paper 2002-2006 E46 BMW 330Ci sure looks tempting. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll go test drive one soon. Straight six, mmm... So this guy is asking $8k, which is well above book. But it's for a clean one owner car with the ZHP option and of course the stick. 120k miles. What do you think is a fair price for the car? Comes with a spare set of wheels and snow tires which is good for how I intend to use it here in Michigan, but does tell us he drove it in snow and salt. What do you think?
ekauppi7
ekauppi7 New Reader
2/15/17 11:53 a.m.

"Drive the "Frisbee" twins and see what you think. You may just fall in love." That's good advice. Thank you!

"A big negative for the BRZ, for me (I've owned mine about 2.5 years now) is the absolutely horrific depreciation on the used market" If I'm buying used, that's a plus not a minus.

"I LOVE my e46 330ci, but just be expecting some deferred maintenance costs." Yeah. I've never owned a BMW but I've read about the cooling system plastic, and the rear subframe. I'm used to european-style maintenance requirements from my Volvos.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
2/15/17 12:49 p.m.

Pretty much everything on an e46 is straightforward DIYable. I just did the consensus worst job on my 330i, which is the rear subframe and differential bushings. The worst part was getting the old bushings out, but everything else is really straightforward. One thing I'd say is that there are a TON of cars out there, so pricing is all over the place. It pays to see as many cars as you can before you buy.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/15/17 1:23 p.m.
ekauppi7 wrote: "A big negative for the BRZ, for me (I've owned mine about 2.5 years now) is the absolutely horrific depreciation on the used market" If I'm buying used, that's a plus not a minus.

True, but you made it sounds as though one of the Twins would be a new purchase.

Lots and lots of young guys own these that don't know a thing about maintenance/modifying without using the cheapest parts. There also seems to be a big contingent of guys that do things like go FI with them, beat the hell out of them, then take them back to stock and sell.

MoCounselor
MoCounselor New Reader
2/15/17 1:28 p.m.

That is on my list before too long. Glad to hear it's not too bad. Very true on the price variance too. I saw 330's as low as $4500 and as high as 10k.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) wrote: Pretty much everything on an e46 is straightforward DIYable. I just did the consensus worst job on my 330i, which is the rear subframe and differential bushings. The worst part was getting the old bushings out, but everything else is really straightforward. One thing I'd say is that there are a TON of cars out there, so pricing is all over the place. It pays to see as many cars as you can before you buy.
MoCounselor
MoCounselor New Reader
2/15/17 1:28 p.m.

What Volvo/Volvo's do you have? That is my #1 marquee, hence the 242 project car sitting in my garage right now!

ekauppi7 wrote:

"Drive the "Frisbee" twins and see what you think. You may just fall in love." That's good advice. Thank you!

"A big negative for the BRZ, for me (I've owned mine about 2.5 years now) is the absolutely horrific depreciation on the used market" If I'm buying used, that's a plus not a minus.

"I LOVE my e46 330ci, but just be expecting some deferred maintenance costs." Yeah. I've never owned a BMW but I've read about the cooling system plastic, and the rear subframe. I'm used to european-style maintenance requirements from my Volvos.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/15/17 2:39 p.m.
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) wrote: Pretty much everything on an e46 is straightforward DIYable. I just did the consensus worst job on my 330i, which is the rear subframe and differential bushings. The worst part was getting the old bushings out, but everything else is really straightforward. One thing I'd say is that there are a TON of cars out there, so pricing is all over the place. It pays to see as many cars as you can before you buy.

Is the 330i only single VANOS? On the M3 it's dual VANOS (IIRC) and is not an uncommon failure.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
2/15/17 5:34 p.m.

330i is a dual VANOS. On the non-M (M54) cars the seals can wear, causing rattle etc., loss of power, but are otherwise robust. There are rebuild kits available from beisan systems, and Dr. Vanos sells rebuilt units. When I bought my car it had the rattle. I didn't feel like screwing with it, so I just sprung for the dr. vanos unit. I cant say whether I gained back any power, but calculated MPGs (odometer miles divided by volume of fuel consumed) went up by around 1.2 after I replaced it.

The vanos unit on the M cars (S54 engine) is also dual VANOS, but is a whole nother level of complex, and is part of a more expensive system with additional possible failure points. Its expensive --reman is like $1500 from Dr. Vanos. I live in fear of having an issue with the one on my M3.

From dr vanos website:

"The E46 M3, the Z3 M Coupe/Roadster and the E85/86 MZ4 Coupe/Roadster all came equipped with the s54b32 engine (commonly referred to as the S54) which was a much more complex engine than the earlier US Spec M3 had. The vanos unit on the S54 also evolved into a more complex unit and has it's own set of inherent problems that many S54 owners will run into eventually. The S54 Vanos controls both the intake and exhaust camshafts to improve performance, torque, idle characteristics and emissions. A high pressure (1200psi) control system is used to ensure responsive and accurate camshaft adjustments required by the high performance M engine. The added complexity and high oil pressure used on the S54 vanos means there are more opportunities for failures and related problems. Click on the tabs at the top for more specific information."

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
2/15/17 6:43 p.m.
ekauppi7 wrote: On paper 2002-2006 E46 BMW 330Ci sure looks tempting. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll go test drive one soon. Straight six, mmm... So this guy is asking $8k, which is well above book. But it's for a clean one owner car with the ZHP option and of course the stick. 120k miles. What do you think is a fair price for the car? Comes with a spare set of wheels and snow tires which is good for how I intend to use it here in Michigan, but does tell us he drove it in snow and salt. What do you think?

Clean ZHPs, especially the '05-06 ones, are right at dealer KBB in the $8-10k range, so the price may not be off the mark. I just paid $8500 for a 93k mile ZHP convertible and my son paid about the same amount for his '05 ZHP sedan. Look for rust, from where it's at. Mine was a Texas car and my son's was from California, so they are really clean in that regard. All other advice here is spot on.

And these cars are fun, practical, and easy to DIY. A great combination.

parker
parker Reader
2/15/17 7:09 p.m.

I love my FR-S. It has finally taken the top spot of favorite cars that I've owned away from my old 85 MR2. Speed is relative. The FR-S is faster than a 240Z and even my 72 911. I have an 09 Cobalt SS turbo with a tune. While really, really fast, it is nowhere close to as much fun as the FR-S. Treat it as a two seater with a long trunk. The back seats are completely useless but with the backs folded down the cargo space is pretty good.

bmwwebb
bmwwebb New Reader
2/15/17 7:57 p.m.

The base Porsche Boxster is an entertaining driver, no rear seat, but plenty of usable storage. These look like bargains right now.

jr10cross
jr10cross Reader
2/16/17 10:22 a.m.
bmwwebb wrote: The base Porsche Boxster is an entertaining driver, no rear seat, but plenty of usable storage. These look like bargains right now.

yep get 97-99 and you'll avoid the whole IMS bearing thing, percentages are way lower because it isn't sealed.

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