By on May 3, 2014

stick1

5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand

I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end.

Nobody knows how to drive them except for those folks who are either too middle-aged, too arthritic, or too affluent to buy an older car with a manual transmission.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s five vehicles that have become the equivalent of heavyweight paperweights at my humble abode. The funny thing is I like driving them all… I just wish I wasn’t two stickshifts away from driving a different handshaker every day of the week.

They are….

corolla1

2007 Toyota Corolla CE – Wholesale 4k, Retail 5k

I gave this Corolla brand new tires, an interior detail, and a new antenna. It has returned the favor with 29 dealer records and… well… have I mentioned the fuel economy yet?

When you buy the premium vehicles in this business, you always get three options;  good, fast, and cheap.

You can pick any two of the three.

corolla2

 

A car with good demand will sell fast, but you can’t buy it cheap.

 

A cheap car can sell fast, but you don’t always get a chance to buy them in good condition and chances are if it is, it’s not a popular car.

This Corolla has officially served as my decoy car. The one that everyone thinks they want to buy until they find something with more options (it’s a base CE), more miles (145k), or, inevitably, an automatic.

I don’t care. With all the in-town driving I do, and with the honor of having 4 police precints within a 5 mile radius of my workplace, I need a car that will keep me out of trouble while having at least some fun until the points on my license go down. This one does the job and yes, I would have rather sold it by now.

beet1

2002 Volkswagen Beetle TDI  Wholesale $2500, Retail $3500

Right engine. Right leather seats.

The wrong transmission for everyone’s teenage daughter.

beet2

I flipped a 2002 Jetta not too long ago. Ergonomically, the Jetta was about three parsecs ahead of this Beetle. The dashboard on this thing seems to go on forever, or at least three feet of forever. The interior is as cheap as it is kitschy and, well, parts of that interior are the same lime green as the outside.

I should have known better then to buy a lime green Bug. But about a year ago I struck gold with a zonker yellow Beetle. So I thought that a green one could be an acceptable weird color alternative.  It’s not!

Everything works (miracle!), but this one just sits and ponder that decades old VW question,  “To break? Or not to break?”

solara1

1999 Toyota Solara – Wholesale $2250, Retail $3000

Now this one hit all of my buttons for my highway travels. Plenty of space. Comfortable for long trips. A V6 / 5-speed combination that effortlessly cruises down the interstate at an 80 mph clip while barely breaking a sweat. It only has one itty-bitty problem. After I took it down to Florida to see family, and up to Detroit to see the auto show, someone hit it. Figures!

The good news was that this  beige on beige Solara wasn’t badly hurt  at all. A tow square from an SUV pierced the plasticized bumper at a red light. The driver had almost blown through the red in front of a cop, and then decided to back up without looking. An act of stupidity that was hopelessly compounded by the cell phone attached to his head.

solara2

It actually worked out to my benefit.  The old bumper had  already been scuffed up hard thanks to the errant parking escapades of the prior owner. 1990′s coupes always wind up with those scuff marks on the bumper because the paint was put on wafer thin back then  and never held up.

It’s also an SE model, which in 1990′s Toyota-speak means that it has a cassette player only… no roof… and plastic wheel covers. SE really meant “Subtraction Edition” back in the day.

97civ1

1997 Honda Civic EX – Wholesale $2000, Retail $3000 130k.

One owner. Sunroof. These Civics were incredibly popular up to a few years ago.

These days they still are here in the ex-urbs of Atlanta, but only the automatic versions. This particular one has the usual cosmetic issues. Some paint wear on the hood, flaking,  and a crack on the front bumper.

97civ2

 

It’s also owned by my brother-in-law. So if I tell you any more negatives, I’ll quickly find myself outside the “Circle Of Trust”. It’s a good car. Really! Oh, and the battery’s dead.

maz1

1994 Mazda Protege – 60k original miles  - bought for $775 two years ago.

This is a bad, bad car. A terrible car. It’s like an ancient venereal disease. A horrific ride of almost Roger Smith-ian proportions.

maz2

But I absolutely love it. Why? Because it was the cockroach of compacts.

I had financed it and got it back. Twice. After it came back to me in an almost Kevorkian state, I fixed it up again and retailed it.  I only had a thousand in it and got over $4500 after two years of tough owners. So naturally, I love this one the most.

But what about you? If you were to handshake your way into the penurious plenitude of older stickshift vehicles, which one would you chose?

Note: The Beetle and Protege sold earlier this week, and I have to confess that my only exposure for these vehicles has been drive-by traffic until recently. I wanted to finance them (well, all but the Protege), but thankfully, I am buying a lot more late model vehicles these days instead of older stuff. If this keeps up I’ll probably continue to chronicle these older rides, but I will be back to my old focus of retailing newer ones.)

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134 Comments on “Hammer Time : Pick Your Stick!...”


  • avatar

    the site’s contact page doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    You need a lot up here for those cars. People in New England (i.e. cheap bastard Yankees), still buy and drive manual transmission cars. Any of those would sell in a heartbeat up here, ESPECIALLY that Kermit Green Beetle TDI. We LOVE our VWs.

    Having spent a fair amount of time in the hellish Atlanta traffic, I really don’t blame folks down there for not wanting sticks. Not such an issue up here in Northern New England. And for proper Bostonians, a little pain builds character.

    • 0 avatar
      blau

      Took the words right out of my mouth. I live in Cambridge, Mass, and in my neighborhood a lot of manual, TDI Beetles would sell out faster than an Elizabeth Warren book signing.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Cheap bastard Yankees. Yup i fight that mold and proud of it!

    • 0 avatar

      Some of us Bostonians actually LOVE driving sticks. I drive an ’08 Civic with a stick. The only slushbox car I’ve ever owned was a ’63 Impala that a colleague of my father’s gave me in ’72. It had a differential that wasn’t all that long for this world.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      Oh please. I used to live in Framingham and on my parking lot you could count the number of manuals with one hand. And two of those were usually my cars. Most of the non-immigrants I know wouldn’t know how to drive a manual and those few that did know rarely chose to. Taxachusetts manual intake was very very low. With all the gigantic pickups and SUVs that were rarely or never offered with a manual it’s not a surprise.

      San Francisco, on the other hand is full of manually shifted vehicles with tons of old clunkers still running around like cockroaches. All of these cars would be sold very quickly here. My personal choice would be either the Protege, Civic or Solara. As for Beetles – I like mine air cooled only.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Let’s be honest. Stick transmissions are only good for racing. Whatever money you initially save by forgoing the added price of automatic (when new), you lose on in trade, a small resale market and most importantly, clutch repair costs. Clutches wear out and the cost of replacing one equals what you would have paid for an automatic transmission in the first place. Now, you have invested in a car that cost the same as an automatic but is worth less due to it being a manual. You would have been better off getting an automatic, for at 60-70 K miles, you would not have to pay for a clutch replacement. I have had 5 cars in my life that were sticks. At the time, I used to believe the slush bucket nonsense pushed by car writers, but after driving in stop and go, bumper to bumper traffic for years, you quickly realize how stupid having a stick is. By owning a clutch you lose in driving aggravation, poor resale value, repair costs, and now fuel efficiency, as automatics are rated more fuel efficient than manuals. Again, on the open road, not an issue with a clutch, tell me how wonderful they are in rush hour.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        I’ve never worn out a clutch in hundreds of thousands of miles. I drive in rush hour rt.95 traffic near Boston every day. In the past I’ve generally owned my cars long-term (final-owner club.) Driving an automatic aggravates me as I like having linear control over the engine’s connection to the road, so I don’t think I’m losing there. Manual transmissions are ideal for my commute, moreso than racing. I’ll take a sequential if I’m going racing. Resale value might be affected if trading at a dealer, but the right buyer will pay more for a rare manual. I’d rather control my own fuel economy rather than being told I need to lug my engine all the time.

        These arguments are the very most dumbest. How about people have preferences? I’d wager that many people who can’t drive a manual would prefer it if they learned. Seen that before. More likely they’ll never learn, so the take rate will continue to drop until it’s only cheap little sports cars marketed to “real drivers” which have them.

        I see plenty of manuals everywhere, though the demographics of ownership seem to skew wealthy for some reason. Unless it’s a loud Honda or Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Manual transmissions wear out faster then automatics? Who taught you how to drive? I put 160K hard miles on an ’85 Civic with no clutch issues. Granted most people would rather drive an automatic but maintenance cost would not be the reason why. When an automatic dies you are out $2K easy, as you pretty much can’t service them.

      • 0 avatar
        plunk10

        250,000 miles on an ’04 Honda Accord, commuting in heavy Washington D.C. stop and go traffic. Never replaced a clutch. I don’t see where the problem is. Furthermore, using a clutch means my brakes last 80K-100K since I’m not constantly riding them while most others are. My coworker’s ’12 Camry just lost an auto transmission at 40K miles with the same commute.

        I think it really depends on the driver.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        ‘Stick transmissions are only good for racing’

        Wrong. Manuals are good for so much more. Every small car is made better by a manual by providing power where its needed when you need it, not when the auto decides to. It’s also the BEST anti-theft design in American cars given that most car theives have no clue how to row it themselves. You can jump start a manual. A manual saves you money at the dealer at time of purchase and during maintenance (no fluid to change, no parking lock to break).

        But most importantly the 5spd actually makes that Beige on Beige Solara INTERESTING. Now picture your super-leggy new girlfriend picking you up in that vehicle wearing high heels and a short skirt and is looking forward to getting you alone. Only good for racing he says

  • avatar
    segfault

    You might try eBay and/or TDIclub if you get another TDI. People pay crazy money for those, often sight unseen, even if they have a zillion miles on them.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Americans can’t drive sticks, but wanna be citizens mostly can. You need better marketing to the immigrant communities.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …my five-speed turbobeetle sold within minutes of posting the ad in san antonio, and now drives back in mexico where it was built…

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        If you post a manual pickup truck or the right sedan on Craigslist where I live here in South Carolina, you will get a cash offer for your list price from one of the local Mexicans within a few hours.

        If you post the ad in Spanish, 1 hour; tops. I’ve seen it happen at least a dozen times.

  • avatar

    With a mild body kit and some nice wheels I’d rock that Solara like a Japanese Yanqui. Dressed up right, that would be a car I would enjoy looking at every day for a long time and the best part is that, to everyone else – especially the police, it would be practically invisible.

    Something like this, I think: http://autostyle-usa.com/xv20camrysolara/KMN11G71060001/

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      +1. I didn’t even know they made a Solara V6 5 spd. This would actually be a pretty cool daily driver — especially with a TRD supercharger kit.

    • 0 avatar
      Slowtege

      Those Solaras may have had “restrained” styling, but I like them (and thus agree with your pick!). And this one is official Solara Unicorn Status: V6, 5-speed, NO sunroof, as they seem to all have sunroofs for this 6’5″ driver). I’d take it in a flash. A nice lowering, some clean 17s, a twin exit higher flow muffler, and maybe a front lip/chin spoiler (like OEM but lower) and it’s an even better looking car.

      As a nearly former driver of a 2nd gen Protege, the first gen would be my next pick. A ’90-91 DX AWD 5-speed would be the best of them, if one could ever find one…

  • avatar
    bikephil

    I hate jap cars, so none of them for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I’ve had good experiences with Japanese cars, particularly Toyotas. I’ve also had good experiences with Fords, though they were different tools for different jobs than the Toyotas. The only lousy experience I’ve had was a Volkswagen.

      I can’t say I get where the hatred of “jap” cars makes any sense. My Sienna was made in Indiana, a few hours from where I live. My former F-150 was made in Canada, IIRC. My VW was made in Mexico. Cars aren’t made where you’d think. What even qualifies as a “jap” car anyway, unless you’re like 95 and were there in 1945?

      The cars in this article are from an era where the Japanese manufacturers were the only ones offering reliable compacts for grownups. Thats why they’re still around, still serving the as,e function.

  • avatar

    Pistol Grip

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    RE: Civic coupes not “in” anymore

    Today’s 18-29 something wants a Jeep or an SUV as a first car. Wranglers are all over Chicago’s Wrigleyville, or in suburban driveways if still living with parents.

    Instead of getting a Civic coupe, they want a Jeep with off road mods, not speed mods, even if its just for snow storms.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Yeah, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a slammer, I almost miss them.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      In urban areas near where I live, the 90′s to early 2000′s Civics, Integras, Accords, Celicas, and similar cars with fart can mufflers and goofy looking camber are everywhere, far less than Jeeps. The quality varies, some are obviously gussied up beaters while some are well done and can actually perform, but 2 door Civic hatches with a manual are a common sight.

  • avatar
    CriticalMass

    91-94 Nissan Sentra SE or, better, SE-R. 2000 model year also good. Still dirt cheap with more positive psychic feedback than a Jackson Brown album.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “Psychic feedback”–that’s a good phrase, but I think it maybe puts too much metaphysicality into Browne’s work. Might I suggest “restrained desperation”? Of course, it doesn’t really work with the Sentra metaphor.

      • 0 avatar
        CriticalMass

        Wasn’t reaching for metaphysicality but maybe something akin to “feel goodness” would be appropriate. Done right, SE-R’s are invisible and extremely gratifying to drive for a compact 4-cyl. The latter day 510 if you will, FWD be damned. Like Miatas they offer evidence that big horsepower is not required for entertainment. And light weight (relatively) is the leading factor that satisfies in both.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’m surprised you had trouble selling the Beetle. I thought any TDI was popular used. I think it would easily sell in the SF Bay Area – manuals are more common than you would expect out here and lately diesel is priced in line with 89, occasionally it’s cheaper than even 87.

    Civics are also perpetually popular – or at least craigslist prices them like they were made from solid gold.

    I don’t think the Solara is on anyone’s radar in any form. I always thought the Accord coupe was far more popular. I’m not sure if historical sales figures support this, but one is still made while the other isn’t, so there’s that.

    A stick shift Corolla is strictly for cheapskates. Unless it has been dramatically improved since the ’99 5-speed my sister has, it’s awful. I’ve had all manuals for the last 15 years, and I would switch to an automatic before owning one of those.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Every one of those cars would probably sell in a weekend here to a kid, except for the Solara.

    $3k for the Civic (most stolen car in the US) without fixing all the cosmetic blemishes could be wishful thinking.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Do you mean to say that only a very few people are coveting my Civic coupe? That the lack of not just a proper slush box, but also no ABS or traction control do not make the mid-twenty year old male driver fantasize about doing some real authentic driving? No?

    Consider me offended.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I wouldn’t be offended if I was told nobody wanted my car. That’s fine by me–what other people want or don’t want is of no consequence to me. I’ll want my current vehicle until shortly before it starts to fall apart, then I start wanting a different vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        This is great, about the last thing I think about when buying a car, in fact I never think of it at all, is resale. Buy ‘em, drive ‘em until they’re just about used up and give ‘em to someone in the family who needs an extra car

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Lie2me, +1. If I’m buying something I intend to use it to its fullest. If it has to be crushed when I’m done, so be it. As long as the vehicle is paid off anything it is worth when I’m done is gravy.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Exactly.

          I find it funny when people talk about saving on cost of ownership and then bring up depreciation. If you want to save the most money, drive it into the ground, till it’s worth nothing. Not only does it save you the most money, it also removes the entire hassle of figuring depreciation.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    I think you have it right. Old folks want ease. So does the new generation. I CAN drive a Model T Ford. Advance the spark, advance the throttle, crank it and hope you don’t break your arm. I did learn to drive on a stick shift, but today I don’t need the aggravation. The younger generation in the U.S. wants a modern product. Send the stick shifts to the third world at an appropriate discount.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You imply that, at some point, the “old generation” didn’t want ease. We’ve always wanted ease. What the new generation really wants is ease, or if they can’t get that, difficulty so that they can feel superior to those who have ease.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      At 68 years of age, I do want cars that are quiet and comfortable. However, I’m not lazy enough to drive an automatic. Our current three cars are an Infiniti G37S coupe, a Ford Focus SE and a Subaru Legacy GT wagon. All three have manual transmissions. So did their predecessors going back more than 40 years.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Well, I’m 68 and I used to favor stick-shift, but after I bought my first all new truck, a 1988 Silverado 350 with all the bells&whistles, I’m never going back to a manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Your use of the word “lazy” implies that you see those who can only drive automatics as slightly inferior.

        Only in America do we consider it a point of pride to be able to drive a manual. Everywhere else just does it, without being boastful.

        And I’m sorry if I’m just tilting at windmills and painting you in a bad light. It’s just that I get so tired of people ragging on other people for not using a piece of technology unavailable in the most popular appliance-cars.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Congratulations, highdesertcat. I apologize that you will not receive a trophy for your win. Perhaps a cookie with your name on it instead?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          redav, sorry bud, I missed that one. But that can happen since I’m not on the internet much these days.

          Real life has overtaken me and demands much of my time. Real Estate sales support demands at least 12-16 hours hours of my time 7 days a week, in support of my wife and her family’s business.

          PLUS, my ENTIRE LAN (run on XP-Pro) went down shortly after April 8 because of a 32-bit/64-bit driver needed but no longer supported on XP-Pro. platforms.

          Imagine browsing or commenting with an iPad Air run over an Samsung Galaxy S5 4G Hotspot connection. That’s what I’m doing. Oh, the pain, the pain!

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Failing to retard the spark on ‘T’ and ‘A’ Model Fords pretty much guarantees you’ll be hurting your arm or wrist before long….

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        The Model T was originally designed to be cranked, so it had a hand throttle and spark advance as well as a hand choke. The planetary transmission was just weird to the modern sensibility. Don’t put your thumb around the crank handle unless you are willing to lose it.

        The Model A was essentially a modern car. Anybody who can drive a stick shift can drive a Model A.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “The interior is as cheap as it is kitschy and, well, parts of that interior are the same lime green as the outside.”

    “Everything works (miracle!), but this one just sits and ponder that decades old VW question, ‘To break? Or not to break?’”

    I think your sales pitch needs some work.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Up north, with all the hills and such, a stick in a small, low hp car makes a lot of sense, not so in the heavy traffic areas of So Fl or around Atlanta, you burn your clutch and throw your left knee and there goes the money you saved.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    I think that the market’s a bit different up here in Quebec. In the past year I think I’ve sold about 40% manuals – the TDI Beetle would be an easy sell (I kinda want it for myself!). What I’ve observed about the manual market: it has to be under $20,000, diesel and manuals when I was at VW were just as easy if not easier to sell than the autos. We sold a manual FWD Patriot in the past two months, as well as a manual Mazda 3, manual ’07 Focus with 105,000 km on the odometer (admittedly less than $4000)… just got a manual 2011 Audi S4, I think it’s a good car to have with a stick though. I had a client with a really nice T5 AWD manual V50 who would get a new Volvo if she could find one in a stick… but we don’t offer them anymore. Sad.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Stick = land line = paper docs. Not completely gone but in decline. Don’t think stick’s gonna go the way of window crank.

    Shows though, if you don’t follow the herd you can find some steals. Sadly my hemorrhoids would have stained all of those light interiors…

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “The way of the window crank”? It’s still around.

      The absolute best would be some sort of half-and-half system, where it’d be power, but if the power died/car was off/electrical gremlins/etc., you could still use cranks.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Perhaps someone at the car companies has thought of an access port in each door.

        Alas, just as with glovebox lights, the tint “brow” at the top of windshields, and other little “details,” the bean-counters probably nixed this possibility.

        (Speaking from experience with Hondas on the above examples. Furthermore, my previous Hondas (all with sunroofs) had an access port in the roof above the rear seat and a tool in with the jack which could close the sunroof in the event of a motor or total electrical failure. No more! If my sunroof goes tango-uniform with the glass open, I’ve gotta get to a dealer ASAP, at any cost, lest I come back to a soaked interior!)

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          BMW used to let you crank the sunroof closed in the event of an electrical failure. A hex wrench was supplied in a trunk-mounted toolkit for this purpose.

          The trunk-mounted toolkit is long gone. I’m not sure, but I think it died with the 2002 7 series. Given how carefully costs are cut these days, that toolkit seems quite extravagant.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            You can still buy the tools to fill the toolkit from BMW, including the sunroof wrench. I did so for my ’11. Cost $50 or so for everything. silly, to have to do that on a $45K car, but I really can’t blame them. How many buyers ever even looked at that toolkit? 1:1000? Maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      And with that, I will never again buy a used car with a black interior.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Solara all the way baby.

    Six cylinder/ 5-Speed combo is just like heaven.

    Those wheel covers just about kill it for me though.

    If (and only if) you could get alloy Toyota wheels cheap enough, could you not jack the price up a notch?

    Wheel covers are the automotive equivalent of Lucifer, Satan’s Son. I hate the way they look, hate the way they sometimes fit uneven, how sometimes one side pops out further then the other. They look God awful when they are missing a big chunk out of them. Also, I give special mention to those tasteful individuals who put those cheesy Auto-Zone chromed plastic faux wire wheel covers on (remember those?). Yuck!

    Also, unfortunately, wheel covers go on wheels that take the small, skinny tires. Little wheels wrapped with El Cheapo blackwall all-season tires. “Douglas” branded tires. Et cetera. Bummer.

    I think if you’d shoot for cars that have alloy wheels altogether, these puppies might flip faster; however, you are the professional here, not I.

    By the way, I’ve met very few Toyotas which were unreliable. Let alone champagne-colored ones.

    Thanks for sharing, Steven. Good luck, Sir.

    Especially with that lime green over khaki Beetle. The fact that its TDi further adds to its “leave me alone”/acquired taste weirdness.

    Hope you’re keeping your dealer plates on that “bug”. You’re gonna have it for a while… lol

    By the way, a family friend who owns a large used car dealership told me the following: “black always sells”.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s because black is the best color for a car, even if it is a complete PITA to keep clean.

      I add my praise to the Solara, excellent ride and unless its high high miles reasonably priced. Pity others don’t see that. I also like the Mazda just because its a survivor. If that were a Subbie Loyale oh baby you’d get me excited.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    The Mazda sure speaks to my inner Scrooge. Only 60K miles, no rust I can see and that beautiful ’90s greenhouse.

    It epitomizes anonymous and I’d research its reliability but I’m sure that in WI the mechanicals would far outlast the sheet metal.

    Best of all, as a boring, icky third car it would free me from our family Diktat:

    “Thou mayest have no Car which the entire Family cannot driveth.
    ‘Cause like, Emergencies happeneth.”

    So I could has a stick again :-D

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Thou should teacheth thy family members to driveth thy stick

      Yeah, right like that’s going to happen

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Remember the cowboy movie cliche where the grizzled old prospector is trying to pull a mule that’s all dug-in and straining backwards?

        Way back in the day I did begin to teach an older sister. I drove to a nice, big empty church parking lot where she would take over to get the hang of the clutch, first, second and reverse. Did that a couple of times and I said, “Well, now, let’s try the street. We’ll just stay in this neighborhood, slow and safe.”

        First couple of blocks, dandy. When we had to hang a left at a stop sign to stay on the quiet streets, she popped the clutch, panicked instead of just stomping on the brakes and managed to steer smack into the left rear quarter of a beautiful ’73 Toronado parked curbside.

        Ooh, the lady who owned it was mad.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          ” instead of just stomping on the brakes ”

          … and the clutch, both feet, BOTH FEET!

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Too beginner to process that. I’d have settled for screeching to a halt and killing the engine instead of smacking the Olds. She *was* an experienced driver with automatics.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You know, I can’t imagine someone who can’t drive a stick. Being in a situation where I’d have to drive a car with a stick and I didn’t know how would be beyond my comprehension.

            “What do you mean you can’t drive, do you have a license?”

            “Yes”

            “Then drive the car”

            “I can’t”

            “Why not?”

            “It’s a stick”

            *Facepalm*

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            You can’t imagine? My my, your capacities for imagination seem severely limited.

            =
            I mean, yes, you can’t really “drive” until you can row your own. Or at the very least, understand the physical and mechanical processes going on when certain controls are manipulated.

            But to use such exaggerations as “I can’t imagine” or “beyond my comprehension” denigrates both your own abilities and those of people around you.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Turn of phrase, but no, I don’t think I know anyone who can’t drive a stick. My 85 year old mother can drive a stick

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I can’t be too derisive of people who won’t/can’t drive stick because I well remember my first efforts in an old GMC pickup.

            Fortunately I did my learning way out in the boonies on dirt and gravel roads. The few people who drove those roads didn’t bat an eye at a 13-year old in an old truck.

            I popped the clutch, killed the engine or panic-steered while lugging it a few times but with no consequences except clinging weeds I soon got back my confidence.

            There’s a special kind of zombie-faced, paralyzed fear that will hit learners when the least thing goes wrong. The last thing they need is an overreacting teacher blustering at or withering them with scorn. That’s why after the first couple of rides with the old man I learned to sneak the truck out when he wasn’t around :-D

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            How does an “experienced” driver panic and not steer the car properly and/or brake? It’s not like the rest of of the car (besides the clutch) is different.

          • 0 avatar

            Lie2me, how about the opposite situation? About 15 yrs ago a friend who is by no means a car enthusiast bought a Cicvic auto. It was about the time autos were starting to appear again in Brazil and his allegation for getting one was exactly the non-driving involved. Anyway out we were in the country and we got to a remote waterfall for a swim. Where it was time to go back to the farm., he fliped his keys at a group of us, jumped in another friends car and started off. We all yelled, “we can’t drive this!”. They stopped he said just turn it on and accelerate. We got in the car, turnês the key and nothing. After a copule of tries we got out of the car and waited as their was no signal in that área. Aftar 30 or 40 minutes they câmera back. What’s wrong he asked. It won’t start we replied. He got out of the other car, we showed him what we were doing and he laughed, “you gotta step on the brake” them left again and we made our way back to the farm.

            I think the reason we didn’t step on the brake was that we were on flat ground and the “fear” of the “new” tech.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “How does an “experienced” driver panic and not steer the car properly and/or brake?”

            I don’t know… maybe they don’t. Perhaps my anecdotes are suspect.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Marcelo, I don’t think I would repeat that story to anyone. You could get your Mancard revoked for that

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I’d buy the Solara myself if I had the cash. There was a 2005 or 07 here locally a few weeks back on CL for 6 or 7 grand… I had to be talked out of selling the Kia. It didn’t have the V6 though.

    I’m shocked the Beetle took long to sell. TDI + stick usually means people are knocking your doors down to get it.

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    Wish your lot was closer to Oregon–I could really use one of those cars to teach my 15YO son how to drive a stick. Cheap to insure, cheap to acquire, easy to maintain (OK, maybe not the beetle).

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic would be a good choice for that. Old enough to be cheap, ubiquitous enough to make finding parts easy if you needed them.

      The Mazda was one sweet handler in its day and I guess would be a good buy if you are afraid the kid will destroy it. Liability insurance only, if you hit something son, you walk instead of drive.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        I disagree. A Volvo 240 would be the best. By far the easiest manual car to drive I have ever tried.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Old VW bug is the easiest…

          “Put it in gear”

          “Which gear?’

          “Doesn’t matter, any gear, pick one”

          “Do I need the clutch?”

          “Meh”

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            A Ford F-350 flatbed with 300 I6 and 4.88 rear axle will start in 2nd no problem, can be started in 3rd on a flat surface or going downhill, and won’t stall in 4th at speed as slow as 5 mph.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    As far as value, the mazda and Solara would be my two picks.

    A friend of mine used to have a ’91-vintage Mazda 323 GT hatchback. It was reasonable on long road trips (unlike the Civic), everything worked, and the only thing that ever broke was a cam seal that was so old and dry, it fell out, likely due to the car having only been driven 65,000 miles when he bought it in 2004. Not sure how they are overall, but it wouldn’t be a bad car to toodle around in.

    The price delta between the Solara and Corolla is kind of surprising, but I think that would more than cover the V6′s additional fuel consumption for a few years, if one compares both of those cars.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    $3500 return on a Protege? What kind of reserve do you need to stay in the black- 50%? I’m hoping that was just the unusual circumstances of one particular car that wanted to stay at your place. They may seem like millstones, especially when they’re approaching their birthdays, but as your coda showed, a butt for every seat – eventually. Besides, I haven’t got a mental picture of you panicking on the 30th. Georgian used stores can get flooring, right? They probably would ask for your firstborn as collateral, as well as 2.5%, but you would cover payroll. Try finding one that will give you 10 days to bring in the title and floor a few twice. Now that makes for some interesting bookkeeping. Out of trust? Never.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    I, too, live near Cambridge, MA. Every one of those vehicles would sell within minutes up here, especially that TDI Beetle. That Corolla would sell, no prob. Even that skunky Protege would move, because reliable beaters are popular with illegal aliens. (MA is a sanctuary state, after all.)

    Seriously, check out any independent used car lot in MA. Anything halfway decent and frugal with 4cyl is snapped up, even Saturns. What’s left are “creampuff” Caddy STS’s, Bimmers with incorrigible electrical problems, and Ford Explorers of every vintage.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    That Protoge is sweet! Too bad I’m broke and you’re not closer.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    What engine is in the Civic? I guess shipping costs to Norway would be a deal-breaker, but at least it’s a coupe. Certainly not many of those in that generation over here. (plenty of 1.4 hatchbacks though)

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    My Truck, My BMW and my Miata are all sticks, and I slog through LA traffic in all of them…but it is getting kind of old. My 1999 Manual transmission Mazda Protege sold on craiglist within the hour when I put the ad in spanish.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I would take an ’03 Vibe. I wouldn’t mind the Corolla, either, but I need the tail end to open up and let stuff in.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I recently sold a 5 speed ’02 Focus ZX3, took all of two hours. I may have underpriced it a bit at $2700, but I wanted it gone.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I had an 01 with a stick. Loved that little car. Not fast, but fun.

      I’d go for the Solara too. Had an 88 Acura Legend sedan with a stick. And a V6 Contour with a stick. Way more fun than their auto box compatriots. V6 power and shift it yourself? Yes, please.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Depending on the mileage, $2700 is a pretty good price. I sold an ’01 ZX3 5spd earlier this year and could only manage to get $2300 with a ton of maintenance done. But it was painted no-sale yellow.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I hated that yellow. Mine was “30 day white”, but it was the only one around that was fully equipped with a stick. My sister nicknamed it the Egg.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    Funny, as someone who wants to relearn how to drive a manual (it has been about 9 years since I last drove one), I can never find a car to do so on. No way am I going to burn some random person’s clutch on a test drive or damage a friends car so I am stuck with the automatics. I can’t seem to find great used car value that has the stick. The panther and h/ w bodies don’t seem to have a stick.

  • avatar

    Sorry Steve, none. If the Beetle was gasoline, maybe. Diesel, no.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    I’ll give $2000 CDN for the Civic. Bumpers and whatnot are easily fixable. It’s valuable as the trunk doesn’t have a wing so no holes. Those always get picked clean at the JYards. Front knuckles are worth quite a bit given they take the bigger 10.3 inch rotors versus the LX or DX. The row your own makes this car indestructible. The only thing you gots to do is seam seal the rear quarter panels behind the wheel wells. Then you’ve covered the rust issues.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I am forever astounded at just how terrible the stick in the Corolla is, especially because the Matrixes I’ve tried have never seemed half as bad. In theory, the automatic might actually be preferable (one of the few cars where that’s the case), but then there’s no good reason for me to get a Corolla anyhow.

    The coupes aren’t likely candidates either, just not quite practical enough. The Protege would get my interest if there was one that clean up here though – I had one of the related Escorts, and that was a fun little car. Frankly, I’d prefer a hatch or wagon, but the Mazda was 2 doors only (for that generation at least), and Ford didn’t see fit to offer the hi-po Mazda engine outside of the 2-door GT and the LX-E sedan.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Many’s the time in the last few years when I’ve almost purchased a Honda Accord V6 6MT (2005/6/7). I still lust for one. Only one problem: you
    can only get them as an EXL, which means sunroof, and I cannot abide the
    lack of headroom in cars with sunroofs.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Hey Steven, good points, though for me, what would tell me NOT to buy any of these cars is high mileage. I only buy vehicles with under 100K miles- old school, but that’s how it is. As far as stick shift: all my kids drive stick, and I also have both stick and auto on my cars. But what keeps ME from buying another five speed is my wife, who has no idea that one should change gears occasionally! If she can’t drive it, then I won’t buy it. Oh, and yes, the Mazda only has 60K but early Mazda vehicles just weren’t as well made as current cars: my wife’s Mazda 323 barely went 90K miles before the motor gave up.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    I will preface this by saying that I am 32 years old, and an odd bird. I will only drive stick ever. I have not paid money for an automatic car ever. I am actually a little harsh on the matter; a car company can either offer me a car with a stick shift or go pound sand. And when I say stick shift, I mean 3 pedals. I am paying 10′s of thousands of my hard earned dollars into this purchase and I will get what I want.

    Now that’s out of the way. In direct answer to your question, the Solara V6 is awfully tempting but it’s got the cursed 1MZ-FE V6 engine. Grassroots Motorsports recently did a build with a 1999 Toyota Camry V6 5MT. In short, it didn’t go well; they ran into the expected oiling issues. They tried to correct it with an oil catch can and an extended oil capacity and some other mods but it kept starving of oil.

    So if I had to pick one, hands down it would be the Civic. The first car I owned was a 91 Honda Civic DX sedan with a manual transmission so I have a soft spot for Civics. Also, I strongly prefer coupes. The icing on the cake here though is the D16Y8 engine, sporting what was probably one of the best intakes ever fitted to the Honda D engine from factory. That baby will sing right up to its 7,000 RPM redline. The power and torque peaks sit nice and high on the tach just where I like them (power at 6,600; torque at 5,500). Plus the curb weight is a svelte 2,400 lbs and it has the wonderful Honda double wishbones front and back. Honestly, if I had one my tail would be wagging right now just talking of it.

    Now I have answered Mr. Lang’s question directly. Of the pick of the sticks presented here I would take the Civic. The real answer however is none of them. Mr. Lang is absolutely correct. The few of us who still drive stick typically wish for something sportier. I certainly fit that stereotype. When I was looking for a used car I did not buy the Civic. I wound up with the Civic’s “A” badge wearing sportier and sexier brother, the Acura RSX nee Integra.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      You should have no problem finding something sporty with a three pedal setup. However, if you are looking for what my friend Eric calls a transportation appliance with a clutch, that may become problematic over the next decade.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Yeah larger sedans are taking a beating in that regard, while there’s decent resurgence in the compact market.

        But there’s a lot of chicken-and-egg syndrome too. When the only MT model in a lineup has plastic hubcaps, roll up windows (I couldn’t believe that existed on a 2013 car until I saw it myself) a shitty radio, no moonroof and not even cruise control, who the hell wants it in the first place? So no one buys the POS because it has less soul than a Radio Flyer wagon. Then the bean counters (way too many MBAs in this world) say “see, I told you! Nobody wants a manual!”

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I suspect that VW, Mazda, Honda, Ford, Fiat, and Mini will keep putting manuals in their smaller cars, along with Nissan, who always seems to want to have a price leader in their lineup. The rest I suspect will drop them for all but their sporty cars.

          For a while I thought that dual clutch transmissions were going to push manuals out of the market, but it seems like more makers are going to multispeed conventional automatics and CVTs instead. I think this bodes well for the future of manuals in sporty cars, because no one’s going to put a CVT in a sporty car, and if that maker doesn’t have a dual clutch transmission in their lineup, the 3 pedal setup is the way to go.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The new WRX is available with a CVT. I think the manual will have a much higher than average take rate with that car, but reviews generally say the CVT works well in it.

            Of course, that means asking the CVT to simulate gears. Makes me wonder what the point is. It sounds like buying a Mac and then using only Windows software via Parallels.

    • 0 avatar
      calgarytek

      @DevilsRotary86:

      Not to be ‘nitpicky’, but the Civic of that didn’t have double wishbones in the rear per se. It had a trailing arm set up with an upper link and a lateral link. The Accords of that era had a more of a double wishbone setup. It seriously looks like the car was set up for 4 wheel steering. All it missed was an actual steering rack.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’m hoping our Jetta makes it until the Mustang is paid off….. probably not going to happen though.

    That piece of garbage is getting replaced by something small, slightly-used, good on gas, and a manual. It’ll be my commuter car. Right now I’m leaning towards a Fiat 500, as their dropping pretty fast in price on the used market and there are some real nice optioned low mile examples in the $10-12k range already. Seems like a chunk have the stick shift too.

    But, I’m going to check out the Elio car when it comes out. Go for the manual in that, but if I hate it I’ll probably revert back to the Fiat.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I think most people who are stuck having to buy a sub-$5000 car with near (or over) 100k miles would not want to spend another $1000 to replace a clutch (unless you have the service records to prove it was recently replaced). I tried to teach my sister to drive my 4-spd Fiat 128 (back in the day), and I swear she took 5,000 miles off that clutch in a K-Mart parking lot.
    This applies to timing belts as well, if the buyer is savvy enough to consider it.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Cheaper than replacing an automatic transmission, which can cost more than the car did, once you’re at that price point.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I have noticed that the marketplace doesn’t value things like timing belt replacements very weill. On the clutch replacement issue, there are plenty of cars that will go 200,000 miles on the OE clutch. In my 40 years of stick shift driving, I’ve only replaced one clutch, and that was shortly after purchase of a 240Z that I knew needed a clutch when I bought it.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    These manual vs. automatic articles inevitably end up in a Hatfield vs McCoy commentary from the B&B. For Steve, who is in business to make money, the issue is how much risk is he willing to take on a manual? In the United States, the fact is that the desire for manual transmissions is declining to a very small percentage of the driving population. As older generations age out and stop driving, and newer generations have fewer and fewer opportunities to even see a manually operated transmission vehicle, does it make economic sense to Steve to take a chance on a manual car, particularly if it isn’t a sports car (where manuals are still accepted as being more “pure”)?

    I’ve continuously owned manual transmission cars for thirty years now, but I have to say that resale prospects have declined to the point that I would probably not consider getting another unless it was a 911 or M3 or MX-5. I might lease a non-sporting manual transmission sedan like an Accord or Fusion, as that would transfer the resale issue to the dealer after I was through with the car. CUVs and SUVs are pretty much universally automatics, so the point is moot in that segment.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Though I’m about two years away from returning to the US, I do find myself (already) thinking about the car I want to buy when I do. And while a new Wrangler (manual tranny, soft top, steel rims, hand crank windows) was my initial “go to” vehicle, the thought of plunking down $23k for a vehicle that gets roughly 20 MPG is losing some of it’s appeal. I want to be able to: a) buy a car outright, b) do so for under $12k and c) get a manual transmission. American-made would be icing on the cake, but those seem few and far between. Maybe by then a decent Sonic will be available. I want the practicality of a hatch (or wagon) as I also work with dog rescue groups when I’m back in the States. Guess that doesn’t leave much wiggle room, but I’ve got some time!

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That will buy you a late model Sonic, Fiesta, or Verso, or a fairly recent Focus or Mazda 3.

      It will also buy you a 2008 or 2009 five speed Camry. God help the seller, the marketplace ain’t gonna do much for them.

  • avatar
    stephenjmcn

    Here in the UK, and the rest if Europe, the manual transmission is the norm. Small engines, historic reasons and all. You can opt to pass your driving test on an automatic-only basis, but this bars you from driving manuals at all unless you resit the test.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Three sold since Thursday.

      The Protege and Beetle sold for $1500 and $3500 respectively and the Solara was financed.

      The Civic is a consignment-ish type of deal for a family member. I did manage to get 4 Affinity tires for $230 on that Civic and that fellow ended up getting a hand me down Lexus right before getting all the maintenance up to date. The Civic should be good for a while.

      One thing I’ve learned from all this is that sticks can’t rely on drive-by traffic anymore. Rural areas used to be more friendly, but not anymore.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Don’t you think a green Beetle, 2-door Civic with visible damage etc in itself are hard sells for practical and other reasons? Especially at unrealistic asking prices? A used VW out of warranty, 2-door impossible to use for families…..

  • avatar
    wsn

    It’s like growing your own wheat…
    All I can say is that sure there is a lot of pride.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      We grow our own wheat…just not right now ’cause the prices are bad. We’ll stick to corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa like every other year.
      Wheat doesn’t produce as much dust as oats when harvesting or baling the straw, and the straw cuts cleaner in the baler, and it smells nicer.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Because immigration “reform” is a priority of both parties, I see the market for these vehicles drastically improving over the next 5 years. As someone said advertise these in Spanish and they’ll be gone in hours!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    My last car was my first auto It just got to be too much in Houston’s bumper-to-bumper traffic and commuting. The new car has a CVT with steering wheel shifters as placebos. It works well enough as a novelty.

    My Saab Aero “weekend car” has a 6-speed – it’s great because of reduced weekend traffic. But in daily commuting just get me there with the least amount of drama.

    In nearly 40 years of driving I’ve always preferred the engagement of a manual. Obviously if I was out in the sticks I’d have a stick…just a lot more fun to drive.

    I’m surprised your area Atlanta high school/college boy subset hasn’t snatched these up…

  • avatar
    7402

    Sorry, Steven. A car properly advertised on craigslist that doesn’t sell in a week in a major metro area is priced wrong for the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      If you believe that the average turnover for used cars has ever been 7 days, then I would love to hear yourrationale.

      This business, like any other retail business, doesn’t depend on price as much as it does on salesmanship. Even on Craigslist, you need to differentiate yourself.

      My overhead is minimal. But even with that along with my purchasing and writing talents, the retail side of the car business is extremely challenging. This is why over 80% of what I buy these days winds up going through wholesale channels. Most consumers favor either buying from a franchise dealer (that sells their brand of choice), a big box retail superstore such as Carmax, or an organization that tries to market themselves as the deep discounter of the car business.

      On the retail side, this business is consolidating to a far greater degree than even I imagined five years ago. Funny money and size (not price competition), are the main forces at play.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        That’s unfortunate, but it seems to be the way of the world now. In my area, we’ve had a couple of small repair outfits close their doors, and another trying to transform itself into a classic car shop. It doesn’t seem like a general repair shop with fewer than about six bays can stay in business.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      Pretty much. I found, test drove, and bought my car on there the day after it was posted. I was the second test driver and the only one with cash on hand to buy it on the spot, unlike the others that were trying to scrounge up the money.

      Most of the cars you’ll find on CL are massively overpriced because those are the ones that will never sell. It makes the used prices look much higher than they actually are.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “This Corolla has officially served as my decoy car.”

    I can’t believe that such a strategy works still in todays environment, personally I’d use a weird old car or something to draw in people, I don’t like the strategy, but at least a weird car would be more honest.

    As far as what stick I’d buy, it’d have to be a Volvo 244 with a 5-speed stick, preferably a turbo, it’d be more of a weekend car so shape not be a big concern.

  • avatar
    George B

    Steve, the red manual transmission Civic Coupe is the most desirable of the group. The color is timeless and it’s fairly inexpensive to keep running. I would guess that it would be the easiest to resell in the future. Gen-X nostalgia potential.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    As far as value, the mazda and Solara would be my two picks.

    The Corolla is unexpectedly pricey! I think I’d probably pick the Solara first, since I can DIY a lot of the maintenance.

    A friend of mine used to have a ’91 Mazda 323GT hatchback. It was a fairly pleasant car, all told. I don’t know how most of them fared, his was an extremely low mileage example bought from a used car dealership.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    Out of this list I’d take the TDI Beetle. A manual with a diesel would have serious street cred here in spite of the fact it’s a Beetle and a horrible color.

    The close runner-up would be the Protege if I could get it for around what you did, since it’d be a perfect first car for my brother – cheap to buy, insure, and maintain, plus it has really low mileage.

    The others… Each has a very, very specific demographic. The Corolla is one hell of a ringer. It looks so good from afar, but it is wrong in every possible way. You’ll be lucky to get wholesale and your customers are going to be a very specific demographic. Almost every potential sale will be poached by a 99-08 W-body. The Solara is looking for a middle-aged guy that is single or divorced with bad credit and a job, but it’s competing with so many other cars out there. I bet it’d sell if you offered it extremely low to attract customers that you put into other cars, but at some point you’d find a guy that would buy it. The Honda doesn’t even have a target demographic, regardless of the transmission, due to the age and exceptionally-outdated body. I bet it would sell at the wholesale price, though, and probably would have an easier time than the other two.

    Did anyone else notice that most of these are 2-door cars? I think this compounds the problem since customers that truly need a car will want maximum practicality.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Damn that sucks because I don’t need a car and have no space for an extra. I would have scooped up the Solara or Civic from you! I know people that would have also bought those cars, but can’t drive stick and have no interest in doing so.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    I have a special place in my heart for Proteges of the vintage here. My first stick shift car was a lightly used black 1993 Protege that I bought in early 1995. I was determined to learn how to drive a manual after nearly 10 years of driving an automatic. After a few short lessons in his car, my wife and I bought the Protege and, after numerous stalls and shakes, got the hang of it. I LOVED driving the car — efficient, peppy, roomy enough for us (pre-kids) and completely reliable. I would put it up against any other Japanese subcompact of its era. Glad there are still a few on the road — although the number is dwindling and the ones I see have been beaten within an inch of their lives.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m surprised it took so long to sell that Beetle. Here in Maine I’ve had good luck selling TDIs with manuals, including a Jetta and a Golf.

    That Mazda would probably last one winter up here. I was shocked when I saw that you bought a 1994 Mazda that wasn’t completely rusted out. Then I remembered that you live in Georgia.

    My mother in law drove a ’93 Civic with a manual for a while but previous owner(s) were somewhat neglectful so she ended up getting rid of it because it would have cost too much in repairs to get it stickered. Now she’s driving a 2010 Accent ‘Blue’ with a 5 speed, which didn’t even come with a radio from the factory. Reminded me of an early 80s Honda when I found out about it.

    Don’t see many Solaras around up here, they’re probably all rusted out. I do see a lot of late model Corollas though. The bland car for people that like driving fridges on wheels.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    “I had financed it and got it back. Twice. After it came back to me in an almost Kevorkian state, I fixed it up again and retailed it. I only had a thousand in it and got over $4500 after two years of tough owners.”

    What in the world….

    How did the math work out? Is it because it is cheap to fix or is it because it is cheap to buy? Does it work with other cars if you have the right customers too?

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    As a consumer who has always preferred a manual transmission, I got an amazing deal on the best car I ever owned. It was a 1995 Acura Legend that had been returned at the end of a 36-month lease in July 1998. A friend who drove by the Acura dealership on his way to work every day saw it and mentioned it to me in January 1999. He knew that I had previously owned a 1990 Legend Sedan (also a 5-speed manual) and said he was amazed that this one had been sitting unsold for months. We both figured something must be wrong with it, but when I pulled it up on the dealer’s website and saw that it had a manual, I knew exactly why it was glued to that lot! It also had a second, slightly less fatal, flaw that make it virtually unsellable- CLOTH interior!

    I test drove the following day and fell in love. It had 32k miles on it but the white exterior and taupe interior were literally in “new” condition. They had it priced at $23,900 which was about $4500 less than the identical car with an automatic transmission. I offered $20k to take it off their hands and they refused to go below $23k I thanked them kindly, left my name and number and told them if they changed their mind anytime in the future and would accept my offer that I would welcome their call. If I was still in the market when they called, I’d be happy to take it off their hands.

    They called the following week and went as low as $22k. I reiterated my $20k offer and, once again, told them to let me know if they decided to accept at some point. But I also told them not to waste either of our time trying to get me to pay a penny more. Almost four months later, in mid-May 1999, the Used Car Manager called me and asked me if I was still interested in buying it for $20k. I told yes and he agreed. I went to my bank the next day and signed the loan docs and picked up the check for $21,266 ($20k plus 6% GA Sales Tax and $66 in Tag/Title Fees).

    That car was the LOVE of my life until November 2005 when a dump truck pushed me into the retaining wall on I-75N just outside of Atlanta. I smacked the wall hard with the front left corner which popped the airbags. Then the entire left side of the car made contact with the wall and I went another 300-400 feet before finally coming to a stop. To say that the car was mangled would be like saying the Titanic had a door ding from that silly iceberg! But I was relatively unscathed other than minor airbag burns and bruising from the seatbelt.

    I still consider the 2nd generation Legend one of the best vehicles ever built. I still miss it…


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    azmtbkr81 - I never thought I’d say this but the Avalon is an unbelievably nice car, especially for the money. I want one. It is really about 9/10 as nice as the Lexus ES....
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    mikeg216 - Add transmission fluid do not flush, same with the oil. Drop the pan change the filter. Swap out the rear axle and sway bar for a suburban 2500...
  • Re: Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset

    Zackman - The 1980s were a good time, but a lot of weird-sized cars came to market. Ford Tempo, these small GMs, Corsica, Beretta, etc. Yuppies bought the Pontiac Grand...
  • Re: Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset

    NoGoYo - @matador: Well the W250/W350 trucks usually end up at least slightly better off diesel or no, because people customize them. But nobody wants to bother with the...
  • Re: Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset

    Lorenzo - That’s what happened to my ’80 Buick Regal. The steering column was made of some pot metal that shattered with a whack of a hammer. You still have...
  • Re: Last First-Gen Volvo XC90 Rolls Out Of Torslanda

    ItsMeMartin - In a decent color? Isn’t it the same for almost all of its competitors? Every car nowadays seems to be found almost exclusively in: 1....
  • Re: While You Were Sleeping: July 15, 2014

    Mullholland - Nice work Jack. You make the boring housekeeping of auto journalism fun and engaging. Kudos to you sir for turning mundane wire stories into brilliant...
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    Vojta Dobeš - Not sure about that. Will it be as spacious/luxurious inside? Will it look as cool? The Colorado seems more like direct competition to Navara or Amarok to...

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