Those were the days, B&B; the days when cash flowed like rain upon me every morning and I had not a single responsibility in this world and if I thought it would be fun to have an extra Phaeton, I just got one. Alas, 2014 is a year of unvarnished reality on the hoof, coming my way. I’ll have medical expenses from my accident that would probably be sufficient to buy a new Siebener. Thrift and responsibility are the watchwords here, dear readers. So let’s set the “Expectations” knob on our car-choosing app to “Minimal”, and let’s de-select all those tempting silhouettes of 1988 BMW M6es and whatnot, and let’s begin.
Meet Your Buyers
It’s really just the two of us for right now. This might change, but we’re not expecting any new friends to hang out with us who have more than one daughter (or son), and many of the candidates for that position have none. So there’s no Brady Bunch in our future. Four seats would do nicely.
John’s primary requests for the new car, when polled, are that:
- The car be a Porsche
- And also a race car
- And faster than police cars
- And that it play loud music
Let’s assume he’s going to be disappointed on all or most of these counts. John’s dad’s primary requests for the new car are:
- Four doors
- As reliable as possible
- Above-Town-Car fuel mileage (defined as >23mpg in mixed us)
- Manual transmission if possible
- Not a penny above $30,000
Yeah, Dad’s all poor now. How they’re laughing over at the various forums. I have a ton of medical bills to pay and I’ll have very little time in which to pay them. While it would be nice to have, say, a CLS63, and I think I could probably make the numbers work in my head, this year we’ll err on the side of caution.
The Existing Cars
We have some cars already, which is good news:
- 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera 2
- 2004 Porsche Boxster S “550 Sypder Anniversary”
- 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SL
We also own some or all of a few four-cylinder race cars with numbers on the door. So we don’t need anything that fills a slot that is already filled. In other words, while a 335i Convertible would be nice, why not have a car that works better at the every day stuff, knowing that we can drive these other cars?
I should also mention that, regardless of the absurdly literal interpretations taken from my Z06 article by Jalopnik readers, I could not care less what I’m seen driving or what it says about my public image or my status in the neighborhood or anything like that. I used to roll a bubble wagon around the city while both of those Phaetons were sitting in my driveway.
Meet The Candidates
These are just some that come to mind. Please feel free to suggest something else.
By all reports, the Accord’s gotten its act together this year. That would be a good thing, because I didn’t like the previous one much. What do we get for our $23,515? Well, there’s the ironclad expectation that we’ll get some of it back, to start with. A five-year-old Accord with a manual transmission is a rare and desirable vehicle. The buff books like the car. It should be spacious, nimble, reliable, and probably pretty noisy. It also doesn’t actually come in any colors — black and silver are all you get with manual-transmission Accords, whether in “Sport” or “EX” trim. Incidentally, this car is already the winner of a mini-shootout that saw it put up against the 2014 TSX Special Edition 6-speed. For seven thousand dollars more, the TSX offers Japanese assembly and a better dealer experience but not much, if anything, else.
The Mazda comes in three colors — blue, white, and red — in addition to the Honda palette of non-colors. It appears to be equipped similarly to the Accord. Why get this over the Honda? Well, it has more panache, it’s more interesting, it’s not a Honda which in Ohio is a plus as everybody in the state feels compelled to own something from our hometown automaker. (This, incidentally, does not extend to actual Honda factory employees, who prefer the Ram 1500.) But you know the thing’s gonna rust and selling it will be a hassle.
Ooh, this is the best color yet — “Dark Side”, a green-flecked take on metallic black. And the Fusion is the best-equipped choice I can make. This is also the first car in our group of prospects that looks like a car that someone might willingly purchase, you know? The Accord would make you wince every time you looked at it, the Mazda would make you nod your head, but the Fusion would make you smile. I also suspect I can find some employee-level pricing on the Fusion if I look deeply enough into my family tree. What’s not to like? Well, there’s the Mexican assembly factor — and since this would be a factory order, I’d have no way to know if mine was coming from Flat Rock or Hermosillo. There’s also the matter of the rather under-stout 1.6L Ecoboost pushing a whole lotta car around. It would be nice to have confidence that the car would last for the duration of my ownership period, and the jury still seems to be out on the little Ford power-puffers.
The Dark Horse — Dodge Caravan R/T
My experiences with Chrysler’s current Pentastar minivans have been so positive I’m tempted to put my money where my mouth is, purchasing either this or the Chrysler Town&Country “S” equivalent. I’d get a vehicle that’s considerably less interesting in daily driving but which would have a lot more capability for band trips / school events / possibly living in if my insurance squabbles on some of those charges I racked up in the ICU last week. On the negative side, it would cost more to buy, more to insure, more to operate, and might be harder to sell.
Those are my current front-runners. Feel free to offer your suggestions as well. No doubt some of you have noticed the total lack of “hot hatches” in the group. Speaking frankly, I’d rather put a little more metal around the kid most of the time and if we’re feeling sporty, we’ll take the 911 out. Any experiences any of the B&B have had ordering or purchasing these specific vehicles would also be highly welcome. Thanks!