By on August 5, 2011

 

 

S.M. writes:

Dear Steve and that other Dude,

As you well know, I am a little hooked on old-school American iron, preferably of the V8, high performance wannabe-GT cum Land Yacht variety. Problem is, they are letting me down in terms of basic transportation to work. Not that my Cougar and Mark VIII are complete turds, that guy with that Piston Slap column would have my ass if it came to that. But the occasional part needs replacement, and every recent modification (defective hi-flow fuel pumps, limited slip differentials assembled rather poorly) left me stranded and car-less for many days…and, well, you see my point.

I have a working budget of anywhere from 20-40k for a vehicle that’s new or lightly used. The ideal vehicle should be well proportioned with good visibility (no buffalo butts, I didn’t go to Industrial Design school for that crap), be RWD and not be a stereotypical European money pit that’s nearly impossible to repair in my garage. The ability to tune/tweak would be a plus and being more practical than my two coupes wouldn’t hurt, either. Not that I want another tuner car that’ll leave me stranded for one reason or another. Oh, and a stick would be nice.

Help!

PS: I am not interested in Panther Love. I wish you people would stop pushing these damn things on your readers. The only ones I’d consider are the “fat panthers” from the mid-90s with all the good stuff inside. I am not interested in taking a new, reliable “skinny” one and making it fat with parts from the junkyard. Been there, done that and already won the Fox Body trophies.

Steve answers:

Well Saj…I mean, anonymous dude.

You have a lot of nice wiggle room if you’re looking at the 20k to 40k range. If price is truly no object up to forty grand I would look directly at the the Hyundai Genesis sedan. It has plenty of power, Lexus levels of luxury, and an overall fit and finish that would make the Clinton era Panthers envious.

The 3.8L Genesis coupe with a six-speed would also be a great fit too since you may want something that is more akin to a touring sedan. Other non-Teutonic alternatives I would look at include the Ford Mustang, Chrysler 300, Infiniti G37, and my personal middle-aged favorite…a 2010 Corvette LS3 with a Targa top.

But I must ask… will at least one of your cars be running by the end of the month? Your predicament is why I avoid considering most aftermarket mods. Yeah, they may look good on the surface. But after years of looking at over 10,000+ repos a year as a remarketing rep, I got sick and tired of shiny plastic wheels and ‘upgrades’ that were like made out of recycled Chinese beer cans.

Keep your next ride stock. Only upgrade the obvious and chances are you may indeed forget that misguided chapter of your life called ‘Panther Love’.

Sajeev answers:

Damn son, you got mad issues.

I mean, choosing a car based on the height of its backside is more than a little disturbing. And not picking a “skinny” Panther completely goes against your grain. That said, Steve did a good job laying the truth on you: any Genesis, fat-ass Mustang or C6 ‘vette is what you need. Or maybe an Infiniti G37 coupe, it’s super classy just like that Mark VIII of yours. Good luck trying to keep any of these choices stock, however. You won’t last a month.

My advice to you is to grow the heck up. Stop looking at interesting, fast or inherently cool cars. You aren’t selling your hoopties and you don’t need anything remotely similar to them. It’s time to broaden your horizons and wake up to your future!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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55 Comments on “New or Used: Buffalo Butts Need Not Apply…...”


  • avatar
    mazder3

    Anonymous Dude,

    Just go with a Honda Accord coupe. Dead reliable and wrong wheel drive so there is no point in modifying it.

  • avatar

    Mehta, just pull the trigger on a new ‘Stang GT with the Track Pack and call it good. Nothing more needed (or I should say, good enough as is). It will be reliable as the day is long and even return pretty decent mileage on the highway. Not to mention how well it will scratch the itch at a local autocross should you find a hankering.

    It’s like three cars in one really. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Bullsh*t. Try living with one for a year.

      The transmission is not gonna last. Period. And things like the “normal” engine pinging at idle will drive you insane. So save the “reliable as the day is long” crap.

      That said, the car’s a blast.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry you got a lemon. Not everyone did…

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        Yup sorry you got a lemon also but thats an isolated case. I have one myself and it’s had 27,000 trouble free miles so far. It feels as solid as the day I bought it.

        Too bad about your issues since they have ruined your experience with a fantastic car. Also as others have said, pony up the extra few bucks for one with the glass roof. It truly makes the car seem like one of a kind.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve-O

      I must also cast my vote for Mustang GT. I put my money where my mouth is and recently picked up a 2012 GT and it’s been amazing. As you mentioned it gets good mileage on the highway for a car with over 400hp(around 25-28mpg if you keep it around 70mph), she sounds fantastic, and handles better than any Mustang I have ever driven prior. Niceties like the glass roof give it a ‘special’ feel, too… Oh, and get the Brembos-the wheels that come with that package make it worth it.

      While I have sympathy for those who are having transmission issues, (and concern) ultimately I didn’t let it dissuade me. She shifts like a champ.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        25-28 MPG? Which rear axle did you get? With my 3.73., the best I can manage is 25-26 at 65 with the cruise on. I couldn’t get 28 if I dropped the car off a cliff.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The 5.0 with the manual is rated at 26mpg highway, which was likely tested with the standard 3.31 rear end, if you’re getting the same mileage with a 3.73, then you’re doing pretty well.

        Keep in mind that the fuel economy will improve after about 3,000-4,000 miles, as the engine has a built in break-in cycle that dumps a little bit of extra fuel each combustion cycle to help keep the internal engine temps lower. Once the break in period is through economy and performance will both increase.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Well maybe @FromABuicks bad tranny is also causing bad fuel economy?? Maybe its binding up?? :)

        J/K, I know you (very vocally) hate your Mustang. But seriously, they are simply NOT known to extremely unreliable. A small percentage of people have some issues. Its an inexpensive 400hp muscle car, its not a Honda Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Mustang does have the best visibility amongst the current Pony/Muscle cars, and you can’t help but smile from the driver’s seat.

      I do feel bad for those who have had the MT82 problems, but thankfully that hasn’t yet been any of my customers, at least not that I’ve heard through any of my follow-up. The majority of those effected are having the issues fixed through either a fluid replacement, tightening and re-aligning the bolts on the pressure plate, or in the worst case scenario, a complete trans swap. In any event, it’s 100% covered under warranty, and if you’re getting the run around at your local dealership, call 1-800-392-3673 and report your difficulties or check online reviews of other local dealership service departments and find a competent one that will get the issue taken care of the first time.

      The real sleeper here though is the V6 model. Especially the the V6 performance pack, or an aftermarket performance rear end, the V6 Mustang offers more performance than you can legally use on the road, a pretty sweet soundtrack for a V6 car with lots of growl, better fuel economy, and more attractive price.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve-O

        FromaBuick6, I have the 3.31 axle ratio. It makes a big difference on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @Nullo, “The Mustang does have the best visibility amongst the current Pony/Muscle cars …”

        Now that’s damning with faint praise! Even the Genesis Coupe and Altime Coupe have poor visibility.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        th009 –

        That’s probably the hardest part of this recommendation – there’s virtually nothing out there that has the performance/comfort thing pegged but doesn’t have a high rear deck (which I’m assuming is what the Buffalo-Butt is).

        A Taurus SHO would be a great car to go with otherwise. It’s AWD, and not RWD, but the current version is a great GT and has the size and comfort of a land yacht without succumbing to wallowy handling. The EcoBoost engine has more than enough effortless power, and there are aftermarket engine tunes that bring the power up to above 400hp pretty easily if the urge to tweak strikes. The one negative is that the rear visibility sucks, but that’s why you buy one with blind spot monitoring and a rear view camera and don’t worry about what you can actually see out of the rear window.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      The problem with the Mustang for SJ is he wont be able to stop himself from modding it, its in his nature. And then he will just be in the same situation hes in now, albeit with a more “tuner friendly” platform.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Lightly used Corvette or (if you want to be different) Cadillac XLR. Of course you could get a standard cab, 2wd, full size pickup from one of the (artists formerly known as) the Big Three and “sport truck” it. May I suggest one of those stripped Hemi powered RAM Trucks that Fiat/Chrysler is selling?

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/the-ram-express-cheap-fast-good/

    FYI if you want to pick a car based on it’s butt, be my guest. That methodology helped me find a mate. (And she’s been much easier to live with than the 1st one I picked based on her chest.)

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      XLR-V! Or STS-V, supercharged Northstar FTMFW. The good thing about them (in this case) is it’s absolutely impossible to modify them since no one knows how to tune the late Northstar computers.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @S.M.

    Here’s well equipped 2 seater that can be had new for under $30k including a 32valve V8, 6 speed auto, 3.73 limited slip.

    http://photos.ecarlist.com/pc/eX/vZ/0q/ya/Wn/jS/Hl/Kd/bX/oA_640.jpg

  • avatar
    jenkins190

    Challenger R/T … It’s a V8, it looks good and at 4,000 pounds definitely checks the land yacht box.

  • avatar
    devildog

    After reading your post it got me thinking…what cars CAN you work on nowadays. I heard that you need to get a battery for the e92 m3 installed professionally in order to be programmed. Is that true with all cars these days? What new-ish cars are still able to be worked on by amateurs these days?

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      +1

      Specifically choosing a non-Euro car just because of perceived complexity means also leaving out many cars which would be suitable for shortlist.

      SL,AMG MBs, M BMWs, powerful Audis etc. Btw how about modern Jaguar (they are considered now to have OK reliability here in Euroland at least I think).

      Will modern Cadillac or Corvette be that much simpler? Esp. when they have comparable power and equipment….

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You can work on just about anything. You need a laptop, an ODB/CAN adapter, and the appropriate software. Hobbyist-grade interfaces to the car-computers usually run a couple of hundred dollars.

      As someone who hasn’t done much tinkering with carburetors, I find modern cars make more sense under the hood *to me* than their all-mechanical ancestors.

      So far, I’ve tapped in to the electronics on a Jetta TDI, a Ford Ranger, and a 2nd-gen Prius (to a limited extent). I can’t wait to delve deeper into the Prius but, with 135k-miles on the clock, the thing continues to be solidly-reliable, so I don’t get to play with it just yet. :-)

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    04-05/06-07 CTS-V. Go drive one, you’ll fall in love with luxury and performance of 400 HP and 4-doors. Sorry, only 6-speeds.

    30 mpg on the head from CLE to PHI with a tune fluids and some modest driving. Will wax most Mustangs!

    • 0 avatar

      I have one of these (an 06) and love it, but I’ve gotta say I’ve never seen anything like 30 mpg, even on long straight highway runs.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        With a few modifications my 05 CTS-V gets 32-33 mpg, and 30.5 with air conditioning on(computed by hand). Mine is an exreme example with no sun roof, about 3400 lbs, and 450 horsepower. Tire pressures, Royal Purple fluids, and gentle driving help.

        No Jap sedan making 300 horsepower can top it!

        I think a turbo Cobalt SS with Recaros and limited slip wax just about everything mentioned so far. But in the end you still have a Cobalt.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    With that kind of mod addiction, you need to stop looking at performance cars. You will just blow it up again!!

    Buy something boring and plain and comfortable for you to just use for safe, sane, rational daily transportation. Why spend that big a wad though??? $40k?? Even $20k?? You can buy a safe boring unmoddable car for way less than that, even a new one. Then save the big money to put some real mods on those toys of yours!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Well I was going to give a smart ass answer about just getting a Cadillac DTS as having resonably good visability (going back to the age of the orginal platform) and being COMPLETELY un-mod-able… but then I know someone would likely prove me wrong.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    I would at least look at a Hemi powered LH. No stick, but still a pretty sweet ride now that the interior quality is not as Lego like as in the past. The Charger is a bit less zaftig in the hind end than the 300C to my eye. The G37 coupe is really nice to drive, too – damn near bought one myself when I got the last car.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    On second thought, how about an ’05-’06 GTO? Manageable booty, decent sightlines, 6.0 LS2.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      To quothe that (in?)famous journalist – “LSX FTW”

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      …And the styling of a Cadillac Catera. If you’re really into sleepers, it’s great. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your time telling non-car people “you don’t understand, it’s got a Corvette engine!”

      • 0 avatar

        Back in the 1950s, when you got a high performance V8 from Ford or Chevy, it probably came with valve covers that said “Thunderbird” or “Corvette”.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        I went from an ’04 Mach I Mustang to an ’06 GTO. The GTO doesn’t attract attention like the Mach did but I still get many complements. I’m suprised how many people know what it is. Then again I got the GTO for me to enjoy, not for the attention or approval of others.
        I like my GTO but I’d go for a G8, a GXP if you can find one at a decent price.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Ronnie Schreiber: My father’s 1957 Fairlane 500 had the Thunderbird valve covers on the 312 V8.

        If it were up to me, I’d go with either a Challenger or a GTO. You can’t find a V8 G8 for under $20K, it seems to me.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      The 05/06 models were not too bad looking, especially with the appearance package and a set of staggered deep dish wheels. Having one in an exciting color like red, orange, yellow or bright blue helps too. And if all else failes, just start it up and rev it a few times, they will get the message.

    • 0 avatar
      majeskyb

      I have to agree. We love our ’04, with the ’05 hood and rear bumper. The car is great on the highway- plenty of power and quite comfortable. And the prices are coming down on them quick too. I’ve seen some as low as $9,000 for some higher-mileage ’04s. Which, really isn’t an issue on an LS engine.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Along the same lines, a Pontiac G8 GT would work, be a little bit more modern, and not quite as anonymous.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    It’s not practical, but for a reliable, fun RWD car with a stick shift, how about an S2000? It has classic roadster styling and a lithe arse.

    If AWD isn’t objectionable, the last generation Subaru Legacy GT is pretty intriguing, although it’s not without issues and quirks.

    Other than that, there are the cars already mentioned. At least the Infiniti G can be found in coupe and sedan form with a stick shift. Or, if you’re willing to join the fwd crowd, there are a few Mazdas, older Accord Coupes and 1st gen. TSXs.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    HAHA Buffalo butts, i like that and i share your horror at them.

    What I want is a brand new 1966 Thunderbird roadster.

    Sigh.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    You should give the 300 another try, I hear they improved the seats.

  • avatar

    Sorry all for the late reply, but thank you ALL for writing.

    I have made my decision, placed an order and waiting to sign my life away in the F&I department…and although someone got close, nobody got it right.

    I’ll find a way to make this into another installment of New or Used in the future. Thank you all for playing!

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    S.M., you live in a pick up truck land – TX, So, fuel economy and LSX be damned! Go with ultimate pick up, – RAM SRT-10! V10 Viper motor and 6-speed stick! It should be well within your budget and with that much stock power, you don’t need to modify.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I really hope you didn’t buy a brand new car.

    • 0 avatar

      I wanted something close to new, but the sad reality is, this particular vehicle holds its resale value well and is heavily incentivized when new.

      So, lifetime value in mind, you kinda have to be a fool to NOT buy new. More on that later.

  • avatar
    SP

    I’m thinking you should have found a better axle shop, first of all.

    And you should have watched out for those countefeit Walbro fuel pumps, second of all.

    Neither of those defects can be blamed on the cars … only the people trying to fix them.

    I am interested to hear what the new car will be.

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously I have regrets about my axle issues. And I thought I was buying a good Walboro via Summit racing…unless you think Summit might be passing off junk under a well known brand name.

      I don’t blame the cars, and I am keeping them. But its time to get something that won’t shoot me in the foot anymore!


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