If you haven’t guessed it by now, I love cars and like a lot of people I spend a lot of time thinking about the ones I might like to own. My daydreams live in an odd place, they don’t run towards the higher plane of pure fantasy where the Ferrari and Lamborghini live, and, despite the fact I expect to be buying a new minivan or SUV in the next couple of years, they don’t run to the purely practical, either. No, my fantasies live in that middle place. A place where the cars are interesting and, as unlikely as a purchase may be, still attainable.
I am forever perusing Craigslist and the other on-line classifieds for likely subjects and it has become something of a game with me. Naturally, I wondered if you might like to play along.
The rules of the game are simple. You have a total budget of $5000. You must purchase the car, get it to home and roadworthy for under that amount. Expenses include basic repairs and rebuilds, but just the essentials to get the car roadworthy no new paint jobs or total restorations necessary. If the car is further away than 250 miles (500 miles round trip) then the cost of an overnight motel stay and/or truck transport must be covered in your budget. Because they vary from state to state and would give some players an unfair advantage, don’t worry about fixed costs like tax, licensing or basic inspection fees unless the ad specifically states that the car will need special repairs in order to pass an inspection.
You can find your car from any public source, and links will be appreciated by everyone, I am sure. In the interest of fair play don’t tell us about cars that only you can buy. So if your grandma isn’t willing to make everyone a killer deal on her 1986 Grand National, then you can’t use it here. Also, just to keep things fresh and attainable, let’s not consider ads older than 30 days.
Finally, please also give us some insight into your thoughts. We would all like to understand your logic so we can better make fun of your odd predilections.
I’ll go first. Here are three that I have chosen to start the conversation. They appear in no special order.
1994 Subaru SVX Coupe – $2,850 OBO (Hamburg, NY)
AWD Coupe LSI model. Boxer 3.3 6 cyl 230 horsepower Approx 120,900miles
Automatic, Moon-roof, Dual exhaust, Power windows/locks/mirrors/power driver seat, Leather seats good condition. Also has new battery, breaks, power steering, timing belt, axel shafts, motor is phenomenal/very reliable vehicle all the way around! Some rust on doors as can be expected with its age. Starts right up.
This Subaru sits less than 30 miles from my house. It is well under my budget and it is a model I have been interested in since I saw one on the street in Japan back when they were new. They look cool and the performance numbers seem decent. The downside is that I don’t know much about them and I am not really all that excited about a sporty car with an automatic transmission.
I understand that Subarus have a tendency to be complex and fragile. This car is an odd ball and I am sure parts would be tough to get. Still, the price seems right and I have never been inside of one. I would, at least, go look at it.
1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z – $4500 (Pittsburgh, PA)
Clean Daytona Shelby Z. Turbo, 4 cyl, 5 speed, AC, 71k miles, perfect seats, good tires, fires right up, etc. NO rust! Just needs a battery and inspection.
It’s no secret that I am a sucker for Turbo Dodges, but the truth is that the Daytona rarely makes it onto my short list. To be honest, I have always thought they were a little overwrought and tried too hard to look like the Chevrolet Camaro of that era. This little car, however, jumped right out at me as a killer deal. If it is as clean as it looks in the pictures, I am confident that I could travel the 180 miles to Pittsburgh, drop in a battery and drive it right home.
Bonus points that this is a real live turbo Dodge with the manual transmission. There are more pics on the ad, including several interior shots, of which I have added just one, below. The inside looks just as pretty as the outside, don’t you think? I always wonder about cars like this, it’s 26 years old, why wasn’t it used? If it was here in town, I would be over there like a shot.
The only downside to this car that I can see is that it was right about 75K miles that the head gasket in my Turbo Shadow let loose. I would be worried that I could be stuck doing one on this car before too long as well. That said, I have a lot of experience working on these cars and I know that I could do the work by myself. Still, at $4500 this is close enough to my ceiling that I would be a little worried about my budget. Also, I would almost be ashamed to bring it up to Buffalo and expose it to the elements.
1981 DATSUN 280ZX 5 SPEED – $4300 (Ogden, NY)
1981 DATSUN 280ZX. 5 SPEED, 6 CYL, One Owner, 98,300 Original Miles, No Winters, Great Condition ~ $4300.00 ~ OFFERS WELCOME ~
Wow! No, seriously, Wow! This is a drop dead gorgeous little Datsun. It looks pretty nice in the photos and other than a cracked arm rest I don’t see a single problem here. Sure, it’s not a 240Z and it isn’t a turbo or a Special Anniversary Edition, but it is a head turner in a stunning color I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I love the fact it’s a stick.
This little girl sits less than 60 miles from me right now. If it was closer, I’d go over to take photos and maybe finagle a test drive. Man, my wife would be mad at me if that came home. It would be hard to tell the seller “no” though.
OK, you’ve seen my three choices. I could sit here a lot longer looking for obscure deals but if I did that I would never get to see what you come up with. Let’s have some fun!
Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.