TTAC Commentator Ronman writes:
Hi Sajeev and Steve, hope all is well. I have a query for a friend. He is a photographer in California, and has recently felt the urge to buy a convertible. His requirements are kind of eclectic with a sort of tight budget.
Here it goes: he wants a convertible so that he can enjoy the sun in his neck of the woods, he wants one that drives well with some decent power and with the top down he would like to be able to use the car for tracking shots and the like. He would prefer a hardtop for safety reasons (theft) as some of his gear might be in the car at times. Also since his budget spans from 12 to 16k, he would prefer the used car he is going to ultimately buy not be a pocket burner in terms of maintenance. So a model that can be acquired with extended warranties would be preferable.
He’s already tested a 2002 SLK280, but he’s wondering what would be nicer on the mid term, the SLK, a similar vintage Boxter, or Audi TT convertible. I had advised him about the presence of the Honda S2000, Mazda MX5 (he said it’s too girly), and the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn equivalent (not sure if those slot in the budget) however he did mention that if it’s worthwhile he would try to up his budget somewhat. a 2 seater convertible is not a strict thing but it is preferable. So what do you and the B&B think?
Ronman, with those needs and that budget, your buddy is looking at what I sometimes call “The Dark Ages” of German value engineering. Buying a used model from this era (especially with no service records) is beyond stupid. The Boxster’s IMS engine failures and (some) Audi’s engine sludging are well known, but it takes more forum digging to learn all the expensive problems on the other models. And he better, unless he doesn’t mind surprise repairs that can be in the thousands.
Not that the new stuff from Germany is simply outstanding in terms of long term value, so I’d recommend your friend buys a hardtop MX-5. The GM Kappas are a good alternative, but finding a hard top might be tough. Maybe a Thunderbird, if he needs more space/comfort and wouldn’t mind the occasional retro kick in his photography.
And honestly, is a MX-5 any more “girly” than a TT or SLK? But I suspect he’ll buy whatever he likes on the test drive. And if its an SLK, TT or Boxster without reassuring amount of service records, be totally okay with rubbing it in when he complains about the repair bills.
Let’s see. Your buddy thinks the MX-5 is girly? Based on what?
I have yet to see one of those come with a standard make-up case. Seriously. Everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to yours truly likes the MX-5. Even a guy I met who deals with some of the nastiest scum of the Earth as a public defender in Northwest Georgia drives one. Four kids and built like a marine, I’m sure he would have gone for an old Wrangler if he was concerned that folks would see him as ‘girly’ in a car that a lot of guys like.
This isn’t even a question given his criteria. He should buy the MX-5 and load it up with whatever he likes. It’s wonderful to drive. Reliable. Sporty, and damn simple to keep up and maintain. All the German models your son mentioned were built at a time when German quality was a painful oxymoron. Skip em’.
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