By on June 20, 2014

versa

No nav.

No leather.

No premium or power nuttin’.

All yours for $12,800 before fees, tax, tag, title.

You don’t want it? Don’t think you’re alone. Strippers have represented America’s premiere unsellable car for quite a while now.

Everyone says that they just need a car to get from A to B. But easy credit and low monthly payments have made basic low-end models as popular as a 2014 Toyota Camry L and as hard to find as, well. I’ll put it to you this way: there are now three L models available in Atlanta for a population of six million.

Don’t think that Toyota is alone on this. There is only one Nissan Versa S with a five-speed that you can buy here for less than $13,000. Not one trim level. One car. When Honda was busy liquidating the last of their 2012 Accords for the new generation, my nearby Honda dealer still had two base five-speed Accords on their lot. One had been there for 10 months and the other had remained unloved, and unsold, for nearly a year and a half. They were each bought for only $17,300 which sounds like a fantastic buy, except that a few months later I would see an identically equipped 2012 Accord go through the auction, with fewer than 8,000 miles, sell for all of $10,000.

It didn’t have dents, dings, damage or even dowdiness. It was just a base car, and these days, base cars don’t sell.

There are a lot of reasons for this lack of attention to what I now call, the disappearing stripper. An article I recently wrote for Yahoo! pretty much highlights the financial mindset of today’s customer versus those of just a decade ago. It’s a different car market out there. The economy may still be in the slow growth to recession mode here in the USA. But we still like our creature comforts, and the good price really comes second these days to the “affordable” monthly payment. So long as loan terms remain long, and interest rates remain low, that better equipped car will usually only cost an extra $20 to $50. Even cash strapped buyers can afford that wiggle room.

I always get emails from folks who want a deal, and I always try to tell these folks  to hit em’ where they ain’t. But few folks are ever willing to take that plunge. So far in 2014, I have known only one guy who was willing to buy a stripper car, brand new, for cheap money. $14,000 out the door for a Mazda 2. If he had been in one of the five states with no tax, he could have sliced another $1000 off that price.

He bought it right. So let me ask you. Would you have taken that deal? How about a base MX-5 or a Mazda 3 with nothing but a stickshift and that olfactory new car smell? Before you instinctively say yes, take the time to go online and look at the vehicle as it is so equipped.

Would you ever pay for a stripper?  If not, then just feel free to share your story of a stripper you once owned and rode on a daily basis. It’s a Friday and we can all use the laughs.

 

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308 Comments on “QOTD: Would You Ever Pay For A Stripper?...”


  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    The only time a base model vehicle makes sense is if you’re getting it for a manual, and even *that* decision is making less and less sense.

    Why buy a new car if you can’t swing one with options? My Equinox is an LT which is a decent mix of both, but if I had it to do all over again I’d have saved the extra couple grand to swing a 2LT or LTZ, if I’m completely honest.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Because not everyone buys a car for the toys inside of it. If a well-optioned car is worth the price to you, go for it, but a new car is more than a Bluetooth connection.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Today’s ‘Stripper’ isn’t your Grandfather’s stripper. The base level content of today’s vehicles is pretty comprehensive.

        I still figure cars with out most of today’s popular ‘must have’ options. No NAV, heated seats, etc, or anything that adds really unnecessary weight.

        Just figured the builds on a 228I, EcoBoost Mustang, and C7 Corvette. Only performance options were checked. No need or desire for the treasure draining Foo Foo stuff, though, sunroofs are nice to have, especially at night.

        All three of those vehicles have extensive standard content.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      I depends on the car. If you are getting a modern day station wagon like an Equinox then you are hopefully buying a car for your wife (and I say that in a very generic way that could refer to either party in a straight relationship or the “wife” in a homosexual or lesbian relationship). Your wife probably wants heated seats, built in navigation, power lift gate, etc. bullsh_t. As they say, happy wife happy life.

      On the other hand, I got the stripper version of my car for $20K flat new. 305 HP, power locks, power windows, A/C, ABS, front and side airbags, 6-speed manual, navigation and satellite radio (full disclosure: the last two come from my phone). So far pretty happy.

      With regard to the article, I should point out that there is a big difference between the “stripper” Versa and “stripper” Mazda 2. While both come with A/C, the base Versa does not come with power locks and windows, while the base Mazda 2 does. As Spartan/stoic as I pretend to be I would not buy a daily driver without power locks and windows.

      • 0 avatar
        spreadsheet monkey

        “I got the stripper version of my car for $20K flat new. 305 HP, power locks, power windows, A/C, ABS, front and side airbags, 6-speed manual, navigation and satellite radio”

        What car is that?

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I have to agree here. When we bought my wife’s Mazda 3 we got the lowest trim hatch with the sunroof they sold at the time, which also gave us the bigger engine and Bose system. It was all we thought we wanted and completely met our needs.

      In retrospect, the extra $1000-1500 to upgrade to the next higher package with the dual zone auto-climate, heated seats, and leather(ette?) would have been completely worth the money and have only been around an extra $20 on our payment, which was a 0% loan as well. Looking back, I think we should have upgraded.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Ir makes sense if you want a track car (i.e. Miata) or a Jeep Wrangler, which should be set up the way YOU want it, not the way Chrysler options it and puffs it- unfortunately, i have never found a stripper Jeep- they are ALL maxed out with crazy extras. So, the ONLY alternative (for me) is a USED Wrangler, which then must then be stripped and re-done.

  • avatar

    You’re right. No one buys these cars.

    No.

    One.

    No matter how much of a screaming deal behind rough book it is, never, ever, ever, EVER buy a stripped version of an undesirable car in an ugly color like the Versa you have pictured.

    The only interest you’ll ever get on it is the accumulated interest you pay to your floorplan while it lingers forever alone on your front line, a testament to your failed gamble.

    I’d prefer (and have with success) to buy a midlevel or high-spec model at an aggressive price with a ‘problem’ like prior paintwork, existing cosmetic collision damage, or – best of all – auction-announced ‘structural damage’ with a clean Carfax than a stripper.

    Hell, I can sell around prior airbag deployment and/or a title brand easier than crank windows and blackout wartime austerity trim.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you, but you’re thinking more on the business side of things. These things can/do sell well as cheap beater/starter cars, but not for big money.

    • 0 avatar
      bdaniels_us

      I must be the exception to this rule. I commute in a 2010 Accent Blue I purchased new in December 09 at a time when I did not want to have to purchase a vehicle. Having no choice but to buy a car I wanted something with a warranty I could pay cash for. Now at 60000 miles it has been the most reliable car I’ve ever had while in dollars adjusted for inflation it is the cheapest new car I’ve ever bought.

      I am now looking for a base model 2nd long bed pickup. I like the Tradesman, I’d be happy with an F-150 XL. I want it for work. Good luck finding one of any brand and good luck finding a dealer who will order one even when you have a pre approved loan and a good deal of cash to plop down as a down payment.

      I understand floor planning. In my business career I worked for Ford Motor Credit followed by the dealer finance and credit card arm of a outdoor power equipment manufacturer. Strippers used to serve the purpose of getting people in the door to up sell them to what they really want while allowing you to sell something to the hardened cheapskate like me.

      I do not need luxury options, I need to carry conduit , tools, and ladders.

      • 0 avatar
        Justice_Gustine

        My line of work purchases trucks and vans in huge volumes. When I started all new trucks were strippers – no radio, no AC, stick shift, bias ply tires, vinyl seats and metal dashboards.

        Looking at what rolls in with company logos these days makes me shake my head – all equipped with power accessories and creature comforts of a Happy Van conversion of the 70s.

        Good luck in your search

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Steven, you would be amazed at how many customers will lease a new or buy a CPO base A4 or 320i. The A4 base is well equipped but with FWD and a CVT it is not all that sporty. The base 320i is truly base. These folks come in two varieties, either they are stretching mightily to afford a German luxury car or they can afford it but are frugal. I sometimed try to direct them towards VW but the lure of the badge is overwhelming.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @cdns

      I see tons of low-end A4’s or 3 series running around.

      Ah, the crux of the entry level luxury lease.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The C5 Corvette would leave my eaea ringing after an hour on the highway. Can’t me ever drivingr a Japanese econobox just been for that reason. They more sound deafening and more NVH.

    • 0 avatar

      I think in that case, base /= stripper.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @Flybrain

        But it does, though. I personally see nothing inherently superior in a modern day 3 series compared to any of it’s competing domestic or Japanese competitors that would cause me to want to spend $35-40k on a BMW with no actual options.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          If you don’t get what makes a 3-series $15K more than a Camry, enjoy the Camry and spend the $15K on whatever makes you happy. I’d rather walk than drive a Camry every day.

          In the grand scheme of things, my 3-series is what passed for poverty spec in ’11. No I-drive, no nav, no AWD, no autotragic transmission. I did spring for the better speakers. Would likely not have had leather if they hadn’t tossed it in for free that year. Drives like a dream though.

          People in Maine do buy strippers (cars), but it might be the Quebequois influence. Lots of one-mirror Versas roaming around, and manual transmission everythings that you can get one in. Down South is different, I truly think people are more driven by appearances than they are here. Bless their hearts… And of course, driving in Atlanta sucks donkey balls.

          • 0 avatar
            smartascii

            I dunno about that. I have an ’11 3-Series, and it’s a pretty great car to drive. But when they bring me the loaner-spec 2014 320i while mine’s being serviced, well, that car makes tuffjuff’s point for him. There really isn’t anything about it that makes it $10k better than the competing non-luxury offerings. The materials cheap, the drive is average, the features are nothing special, and I don’t care what BMW, Mercedes et. al. claim about vinyl being an acceptable substitute for leather; it’s not. The upshot is that, unless things change by then, I won’t be a repeat BMW customer.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @smartasci

            To each his own. I like the f3X about as much as the e9x cars. I do agree that the base car has been softened considerably. I would buy a sportline f31 where I did not feel the need for the sport package on the e91.

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            “People in Maine do buy strippers (cars), but it might be the Quebequois influence.”

            This. Base model compacts seems to make up 90% of the cars sold in Quebec.

            Then there’s the stripper influence! Bada-bing!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, there is a pretty big difference between a “base” A4 or 3-series BMW, and a “base” Nissan Versa, with crank windows.

    • 0 avatar
      timcc23

      I think a base 320i is actually a pretty nice car. It’s still RWD and handles very well. It has the normal stuff you expect on a car (power windows, push button start, decent climate control, etc.) plus I think even the base comes with a small LCD screen and iDrive. Compared with a base A4 or Mercedes CLA, it’s a much more compelling lease or purchase. When I test drove one, the power wasn’t overwhelming, but it was plenty for spirited city or highway driving. I wouldn’t lump it with other “stripper” base cars, even in the entry-level luxury segment.

      • 0 avatar
        cdnsfan27

        The base 320i is a nice car, with a stick and the M Package it is a lot of fun too. Try finding one equipped that way though….we are going to have to order that one:)

        • 0 avatar
          windnsea00

          My friend traded her 2011 328i in for a 2014 320i when her lease was up. She is not a car person but she actually preferred the E90 interesting enough (steering and 6 cylinder engine) after driving the F30 for awhile now.

          We took it out to Palm Springs a few months ago and averaged 38 mpg from LA and 35 mpg on the way back, not bad as I drive pretty quickly. Steering really is lackluster but ride quality is very nice.

          Waiting to drive the new M3/M4, that should take care of any of my reservations!

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      When Steven said “stripper”, I thought of cars like the one pictured, the base Versa, or a barebones Kia Rio. The base model of most prestige brands are well equipped to start, and aren’t strippers.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I just looked at all the cars in this class and ended up buying a stripper Passat. It got a very similar options list to the A4 I bought in ’03. What it lacks is automatic climate control and electric seats, both things that I’ve had malfunction on prior German cars. It also has cloth instead of leather, but Audis / BMWs / Mercedes come with vinyl and make you pay extra for leather anyhow.

      I would pay more for a car I enjoyed more, but my base model is 100% of the pleasure, with fewer gizmos to worry about, for about half what an A4 would cost. BMW and Audi make nicer cars for >$65k, but in the $30 – 50k range their driving dynamics just aren’t that differentiated any more.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I don’t think you can get base level german ‘premium’ cars at all in the US. The base model here in most of Europe would be a 316d sedan, or A4 1.8 ,offcourse manuals, with cloth interior.
      I’m not gonna tell you what these cost here in Norway (hint, it’s close to what you’d pay for a C7 over there)…
      (this is the country where all the 2.8 v6 fwd Audi A8’s were sold…)

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Not a chance.

    A CPO or lightly-used ALMOST ANYTHING ELSE would be a better choice for most.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    I bought a six year old stripper in 2001 that was 6 years old and had 60,000 miles on it for $29,000. Cloth seats, no radio or audio of any kind, no AC, no sunroof, no navigation, no spare tire or jack, and a plain old key to stick in the door. It did have a folding rear seat and electric windows and door locks.

    It was a 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight.

    So yes, I would buy a stripper.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      That’s a really good example, actually.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Is this your daily driver, or a toy?

      • 0 avatar
        djoelt1

        Daily driver for first 5 years I owned it. Toy since then. It was tough driving across CA’s central valley in the summer to get to the Sierra Nevada for vacation. Quarts of Gatorade were consumed!

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I hear ya. I rode my motorcycle from Chicago to Alberta to Atlanta once, and when in Oklahoma in August I had to stop for water every 90 minutes.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            I used to ride across America before I got run over and the Desert heat wasn’t too bad on a Moto ~ I’d wear an old Army jacket with flannel underneath and stop to soak myself completely every two hours , evaporative cooling .

            -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I can’t remember how much it was anymore, but when we were looking for a car for my mom, all she really cared about was it wasn’t little, and it had A/C and a decent radio. The local Chevy dealer had a bunch of base ’77 Impalas in June of 1980, in several different colors with pretty much no options except A/C (Maybe standard then) and the cheapest AM/FM radio Delco made back then. I had never seen Impalas or “Caprice Classics” equipped like this before or since. Crank windows, cloth seats, nothing else. They had between 25 and 40K on them, and were for a very nice price with a 1yr/12,000 mile powertrain warranty. She picked out 2 of them, a marroon one and a light blue one, both were exactly the same, but color. The maroon one had a odd trans fluid smell, so we bought the blue one. I think it was about $2200 plus tax. The car was great until just about the time we were about to sell it as we were moving, and wouldn’t need it anymore, and the transmission went out. I had a friend who ran a trans shop, so it wasn’t too expensive to fix and when the guy who bought it saw the trans had been replaced a week before, he was sold. We had the car 2 years and if it hadn’t been for the trans failure, we would have almost broken even on it. I think the only thing that we put into it was a battery.

      I always wondered who bought all those strippers, and why..

  • avatar
    hiptech

    My unofficial prediction for these will be sometime in the not so distant future these cars will be coveted… by some ppl.

    Once autonomous cars take hold and become popular there will come a time when “the last of the non-autonomous” cars (i.e. no lane departure, no self-regulating cruise control, no self-park, no accident avoidance or similar features of any kind) will be in demand (by some ppl).

    I don’t know if there will be a definitive cut-off point as all the autonomous car “baby-steps” features are slowly being integrated into newer cars but stripper cars may well be the last hold-outs.

    I can see it now, twenty years hence Barrett-Jackson will be auctioning off a pristine “give-away” stripper for $500,000 all because it was one of the last non-tech laden, non-autonomous cars sold in America… maybe

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      I doubt it – you don’t see anyone paying 500K for an old Model T Ford – hell, you don’t see anyone paying 50K for one. Because they’re not particularly RARE. Old cars only bring large $$$ if they are rare AND desirable (what constitutes “desirable” is another matter entirely…)

  • avatar
    agent534

    Power windows are a must these days for me. Other than that, I would get as little other options as possible other than a key requirement here or there, like a specific engine upgrade.

    If you really wanted, you can still get a Jeep Patriot without AC!
    How is that for a stripper? I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the only car available without AC on the market today.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I’ve actually paid about $20 for about ten minutes with a “stripper”.

    They like $1 bills, too.

    Oh!! Oh, poverty spec’d cars. Oh. Ooops.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I dunno, last time I did this they would shun you if you held up anything smaller than a five…

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      Most strippers are really nasty (not in a good way) human beings. In my youth I played in RnR bar bands for a living, and the places I played were usually where they liked to hang out on their own time. Trust me, nothing permanently destroys the fantasy quite like seeing strippers after they get off work and start drinking…

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Actually, both the strippers I knew pretty well were pretty good people. Both started out with nothing, and ended up doing pretty well.

        One had an abusive dad (But of course!), and she ran away at 14 and basically passed for 18+, until she was 18, dancing in a string of clubs from Dallas to Vegas, where she stayed. She was 35 when the owner of the club she danced at gave her the news that she was being “demoted” to the other club they had (I thought this was crazy, since she was fantastic looking). She was pissed off so badly about it, as it would have basically dropped her take home money by 50-60%, she just quit. She went back to school, and now is a well respected substance abuse counselor.

        The second one was from Yugoslavia, and came here as a college student and wound up losing her college money and having to struggle to get by. She worked at BK and KFC for a while, and when she hit 21, she got a job at one of the casinos as a cocktail waitress. She got pregnant and ended up a “Special Guest Star” stripper making the rounds in AZ,NV, and SOCAL areas. She lived across the hall from me and I had no idea she was a stripper until one night she was the “Special Guest Star” at the dive strip joint I hung out at a lot from 19 to about 21 years old. I’ll never forget her face when, just as she was about to take her top off, she saw me. She told me afterwards, in almost Latka from “Taxi” bad English, how, “I have baby with no daddy, and I need money, so I streep!”. She ended up marrying some guy who owned the HVAC maintenance company that serviced the clubs she danced at. She went back to school and is some kind of social worker now, and her English is quite good these days. She’s held up very well, and looks great for about 60 or so. Her little kid, who used to scream with a wail from hell, is about 40 years old, and is a quite wealthy guy who holds a bunch of patents in plastic manufacturing.

        • 0 avatar
          hybridkiller

          Those are nice stories, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. The sub-stereotype of the dancer who’s putting herself through law school is actually pretty rare. The very well-paid feature dancer / internet porn star is also not the majority of dancers/strippers.

          In the course of playing RnR bars for the better part of a decade I probably saw hundreds of them in their after-work mode, and the vast majority were alcohol and/or drug abusers, some with violent tendencies, who were clearly very damaged human beings. The “nicer” ones were usually just hard core exhibitionists craving attention (daddy issues, whatever).

          Don’t get me wrong, if a woman has the looks and a thick enough skin to put up with the sleaze bags that they deal with, then I don’t fault her one bit if she can pull down upwards of 500 a night – it’s a tough job, and they earn every penny.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Not anymore. My first car came with nonassisted steering, no a/c, no radio, 4 speed manual transmission, but that was back in 1974. Considering how long cars last now, there’s no reason to get the one with no equipment, the TCO over the lifespan of the car just isn’t that much different.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      It depends. One of my cars is well-loaded. The other one is a ’72 Beetle which has only one option – a hand-cranked sunroof. I looooove driving ze Beetle. I owned an R-package Miata before which is a base car with factory suspension goodies. For certain specialty cars it’s ok. I’d even buy a new base Miata because lightness is important. However, would I have my ONLY car in base? Probably not.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but a strippo like a base Nissan Versa also has less power equipment and accessories that can break. That stuff costs money to fix.

  • avatar

    As a DD to accompany a nice/fun car, I would strongly consider it.

    • 0 avatar

      I acknowledge stripper does not equal base, but look at the options list on a totally base Accord LX Sedan with a manual:

      Interior Features
      Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control with Air-Filtration System
      i-MID with 8-Inch High-Resolution WVGA (800×480) Screen and Customizable Feature Settings
      Rearview Camera with Guidelines
      Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®4
      SMS Text Message Function5
      Power Windows with Auto-Up/Down Driver’s Window
      Cruise Control
      Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted Cruise, Audio, Phone and i-MID Controls
      Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column
      Map Lights
      Fold-Down Rear Seatback with Center Armrest
      160-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with 4 Speakers
      Pandora® Compatibility6
      Bluetooth® Streaming Audio4
      USB Audio Interface7
      MP3/Auxiliary Input Jack
      Exterior Temperature Indicator

      Thats not a bad list at all.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    I’ve bought poverty spec cars. Part of the decision was to avoid electronic gremlins which come with well-spec’ed cars, esp for cars that I intend on keeping for quite some time.

    I got a base 3rd gen Outback for $18.5k. No worries about hot leather seats or burning out heated mirrors and such. The only amenity was auto.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “The only amenity was auto.”

      Me too. With everything else you get in a “stripper” today, further options are just empty calories.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Just had a ’97 plymouth towed away. The roll down windows always worked, as did the manual locks. Don’t ask me how the manual transmission failed, but somehow the cables broke (this was long before its death due to radiator+too many little things to count). The biggest “option” was AC.

      A great car for a long time. The ride was first rate, handling was good, engine was peppy (you had to spring for Euro money if you wanted manual+V6 in those days). I didn’t need to pay for the rest.

      The flip side of things is that it is essentially a false economy. In the modern economy, cheap things are pretty much expensive things that have cheaper badges and features deactivated. It literally costs more to make a stripper than a full featured car (especially since you have to build in the controls to allow you to assemble manual windows and such along with power controls), so why do they make them? Sure, Porsche makes them, but they sell for even more than the base model, so the economics remain fine.

      Mostly, it comes down to marketing and IP laws. But I honestly think if the US population had to choose between branding and simply having everything at full spec, they would choose branding every time.

  • avatar
    Christian Gulliksen

    The world has really changed, along with the features that are available in almost any car. My first new car was a 1989 Volkswagen Fox coupe, standard-issue white paint, manual windows, no radio. The sole option was air conditioning. Once I installed a stereo, I didn’t feel as if I were driving a stripper because — except for power windows, maybe — it didn’t really lack anything that most cars had.

    Today, though, you can get navigation and heated seats in almost any subcompact, and knowing that is the reason I wouldn’t buy a stripper. Why go without when it’s not necessary?

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Having grown up with a stripped Mitsu Colt in the 80s, modern “stripped” cars are luxurious and fully packed by comparison.

      One of the cars in my stable is a “stripped” model. But it has power windows, power locks, AC, cruise, CD player (w/ MP3/WMA reading capability), rear defrost, front defrost, little LCD that shows MPG, miles to empty, etc.

      The same car two model levels up adds a moonroof, leather, nicer stereo + speakers, multi-CD player, heated seats/mirrors, and fake wood trim. But it would have been something like an extra $8k?

      I think you’d have to look at the entry Germans to see more of a “stripped” car.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Re: poverty spec’d cars, I wouldn’t say power locks and windows are even considered lux items anymore, I would call them “convenience” items, at best, considering they are basically standard (so it seems).

    As far as a car being completely stripped out, hell no. I’ve had my share of stripper models, and I’m not doing that again.

    The stripped out cars I had were as follows:

    99 Jeep Cherokee (still had 4wd, a/c, 4.0L, which I believe the inline six was only offering anyway). Actually only had TWO speakers in front doors, no speakers in rear for occupants in back. Had steel wheels with center caps. <-Good stripper

    02 Escort. Last year. Still had a/c, power nothing. Wheel covers. Pretty crappy. <-Bad stripper

    Gramps had an '83 K5 Blazer. Roll down windows, push locks, but had a/c and an AM/FM radio (which may have been an option?) and 4WD.

    350 engine with the worst vinyl composite crap seats you've ever seen. Pretty sure it was sparingly optioned, if not poverty spec’d. Loved that rickety old thing, damned tank.

  • avatar
    ajla

    (Assuming you will allow me to have air conditioning, as I live in Florida)

    Stripper compact or smaller: no
    Stripper full-size: yes
    Stripper truck or SUV: definitely.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Agree on the truck, my 2009 Ranger – 4 cylinder, 5MT, crank windows, regular cab, rubber floor covering, cloth seats, am/fm radio, steel wheels. Only options are ones I would not buy without, ac, cruise (cruise package included tilt wheel). So close to a stripper.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Darn right I would buy a no-option car!

    Navigation – that’s what maps are for. “Infotainment”? Puleeze. How about a radio?

    Power windows, door locks, seats? Not necessary.

    Yes, I like leather seats better than cloth, but if I was short on cash I would plunk my butt down on fabric and be perfectly happy.

    I guess I am coming from a different place than the rest of you with all your concerns about resale, and payments, and whether the car looks cool in front of my one bedroom apartment. Twenty-five years ago my wife and I decided to buy new, base model cars; pay cash for them; and drive ‘em till they fall apart. The fanciness level of our cars has gone up a bit, but we also own two houses free and clear, only one of us works a job, and we have nicely funded retirement accounts.

    The American public has been sold a bill of goods with fake cheap credit and all the benefits of a life of indebtedness. Try getting out of that box. You may like it. Then when you get to be a middle-aged fart like me you can just go buy whatever you want, without all that attachment that gets humans into trouble again and again.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      +1

      The first new car I purchased was a stripper (no A/C even) because I just don’t like debt. Apparently, Turf3 and I are siblings from different mothers. I think a substantial cross section of our fellow Americans could adopt this idea and save themselves from an endless string of payments. Unfortuunately, we seem to be tilting in the other direction with more cars being leased.

      All that said – give me a stripper with three pedals, no A/C, crank windows and a good radio.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Damn, same wavelength, turf3!

      And my favorite summer shirts are a batch of striped & checked seersuckers I bought in ’98. Button downs collars, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      There’s some rare truth right here, excellent post.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      First question for turf: do you have children?

      I’m looking at Ford’s web site, the price difference between a Fusion S and a Fusion SE is slightly less than $2000. The difference between a Focus S and Focus SE is about $1300. If the car lasts 15 years, how much is that per year to avoid the stripper?

      One of the things my car has is a trip computer, and it records time in addition to distance. I usually reset it when I fill it, which in my case is about every eight weeks since I’m mostly using electricity. I find I’m spending around 10 hours a week in the car. If I’m going to spend that much time plodding through traffic I’ll spend the extra $125 a year to get the additional stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The other thing to remember is that Ford doesn’t always have rebates on the “S” models. Good luck finding one at a dealership too. Someone is better off buying an SE. Right now, there is a $2500 rebate on the Focus in my area that does not include the Focus S.

        • 0 avatar
          PartsUnknown

          The rebate thing is probably true, but the dealer closest to my home in the Boston area has five Fusion Ss on their lot, with plenty of others at dealers in the area. I agree the SE is a better car with useful upgrades for not much dough, but if someone wants an S, they can probably get it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The dealer that I usually go to has 413 Fusions and no Fusion Ss on their lot. They said they don’t order them because the SE is cheaper for almost everyone.

            Out of their 138 Foci, they have one S sedan that is $300 cheaper than their lowest priced SE sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        From what I can tell, though, the SE doesn’t get you much over the S — a power driver’s seat and satellite radio being the obvious ones. The catch is you can’t *add* options to the S.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I will disagree one Navigation. I have maps in my car, but I view Navigation as a 8″ moving map attached to my car. IT IS AWESOME. I don’t need it for directions, but its nice to have when you are making a route change because of traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        Sounds like a dealer thing then. 413 is just a pantload of Fusions. Wow. What dealer is that?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Some are dealer ordered cars that haven’t hit the lot yet. Still its a large dealership. Its Pat Milliken Ford in the Detroit area. Western Wayne Country, the home of Ford and many of its factories, has four or five HUGE Ford dealerships. The two largest volume Lincoln dealers in the country are within 10 miles of each other too.

    • 0 avatar
      maxpowers

      Honestly curious, if you’ve driven base model cars all of your life why do you read and comment on a car enthusiast site? I’d think the allure of working an extra year or two for a nice vette/911 would be too much for me to pass up.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        I know the question wasn’t directed at me but the most fun I have had driving was a stripper. Base VW beetle and the fun started after I installed the Judson supercharger and headers.

        I have owned a vette as well. 75 ragtop with 350 and my next favorite car. Both those cars were manuals with nothing much added. Today I won’t buy another car without AC but otherwise prefer to crank my own windows.

        Each of us is unique and take our pleasures where we find them. I think I am addicted to reading enthusiast sites but normally do not feel compelled to comment. I have driven some real junk and take a lot of comfort driving with no need for fancy stuff.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    The last new car I bought was a stripper, crank windows, 5 spd manual, manual mirrors, etc. AC was the only option. They don’t exist anymore. For example the base model 2014 Accord has dual climate control, alloy wheels, touch screen infotainments, etc. No such thing as crank windows anymore.

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    I, for one, love “stripper” cars. As an obsessively frugal (or as some might say, “cheap”) individual, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a rock-bottom dirt-cheap version of a new car. My first new car was a stripper ’93 Ford Ranger – appliance white, steel wheels with little dogdish hubcaps, stick shift, no AC, no radio, no power steering, no carpeting. Just a vinyl bench seat and a rubber mat tacked to the floor. It’s still my favorite of all the cars I’ve owned. I’d by another new “stripper” car in a heartbeat, if the wife would let me. Which she wouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I drive the 2001 version of your Ranger – rubber floor and all. I love it. I don’t care that it’s got scratches and dings all over, because it’s a strippo, base model cheap piece of crap, and I love it. There is a stereo in it, but only because it was installed by the previous owner.

      Personally, I love strippo cars/trucks, and there are some benefits to owning one. It’s the least likely to be stolen, even if you leave the keys in it. The standard transmission is much cheaper to repair or replace. Resale value doesn’t matter, because it was purchased super cheap to begin with. It makes you focus on your driving, because there’s nothing distracting your attention.

      And, as a 4 cylinder budget model, it sips gas compared to its V6/V8 brethren. Try driving a King Ranch for two weeks between $65 fill-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I occasionally draw a Ranger stripper from the motor pool, they’re great. Ford should build them forever. Although no radio and AC is going too far, and it doesn’t cost much to include them.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    I will have owned my base Miata for 20 years this December. Manual steering, but it does have air. The lack of amenities can be a plus for a roadster or a Jeep, but not a pure commuter.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    I stole my 2013 Mazda6 Sport as the redesigned ’14s were rolling in. Sticker was $21,500, paid $17,000. Even as the lowest model in the 6 line, not sure you could call it a stripper – 6 speed manual, power windows/locks/mirrors, A/C, 6 speaker stereo, cruise, tilt/telescope wheel, outside temp gauge, not to mention the “small” stuff that is sometimes not found at this level, like articulated trunk hinges, map lights, projection headlights, covered cupholders, etc. I loathe the plastic wheelcovers, but, sure, yeah, I bought the stripper.

    A story for another day, but the 2nd-gen 6 is a criminally underappreciated car.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I rented a couple of 2nd-gen 6es. I liked everything about them except the cheap dash plastics and the brakes, which seemed under-specced on the base models I drove. They were very good handlers for FWD, and the 5-speed automatic was in tune with my brain.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I have a rental 2013 Corolla as we speak. It is optioned very oddly to me. Keyless entry, power heated heated mirrors, A/C, Bluetooth, but also crank windows and no cruise.

    Obviously when I bought the Verano, I went for a “semi/premium” car. But if I was going for a more basic model, my musts would be; A/C, keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, locks and mirrors, and at least a tape deck so I can listen to my iPod. Not sure if this denotes a stripper, but at this point I consider these really basic options.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    I see lots of Canada Value Package Dodge Grand Caravans around. $20k is a pretty good price for 7 seats, a decent interior, and a pentastar.

    My car-buying philosophy a little bit out of whack with this mentality in that I try to wind up in the lowest trim package of a middle-range brand. I want the build quality, but none of the electronic crap that’ll later break or be obsolete in 18 months. I also don’t want to have to worry about getting keyed in parking lots.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I would absolutely try and find an MT Patriot or V6 Journey with the options noted in my above post if I needed a larger box shaped utility type vehicle to supplement my Verano.

    • 0 avatar
      TorontoSkeptic

      This is my thinking, a lot of the “cutting edge” electronics are going to be laughably out of date in 3-5 years. Just as “premium” navigation systems in a 6 year old luxury car now look dated, a lot of those supposedly amazing touchscreens and apps will look terrible pretty soon. And forget repairing them.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        Exactly – a lot of them also have no place on a car either – they’re like the ubiquitous digital clocks endlessly blinking a polyrhythmic 12:00 that seem to be included in every cheap kitchen appliance on the market (“really, on a potato peeler?”)

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      As a British guy viewing the North American car market from outside, the base model Caravans stand out as the best example of a modern-day stripper. As you say, $20k for 7 seats, a good engine, and a few essentials (A/C, decent stereo, power windows/locks) is a great deal.

      These basic models are often dismissed as “showroom bait” to get people in the door and buying a fully loaded car, but I’d be interested to know the model mix, and find out just what percentage of sales are attributable to the entry level model. Particularly with minivans, I imagine the stripper model is an important part of the range.

  • avatar

    If you can give me a Buggati Veyron Super Sport (or Aventador) with cloth seats, no navigation and no moonroof for $30,000 – I’ll buy it RIGHT NOW!!!

  • avatar
    319583076

    I bought a used 1993 Toyota pickup a few years back. 100k miles, 2wd, 22re, 5 speed, and exactly one option of the window sticker (which was still in the glovebox) and that option was sliding rear glass. No AC and no passenger sideview. It had an aftermarket head unit and a bedliner. No frills transportation. It remains one of the best vehicles I’ve ever owned. It always started and it always drove. I think I put 15,000 miles on it in about 18 months. I sold it on Craigslist (after offering it to friends who now regret passing it up) about a year and a half ago for the same price I paid for it. I “upgraded” to a 1996 Cherokee.

    That vehicle really made passengers light up. Everyone smiled when they got a ride in it, everyone enjoyed cruising around in it. I really enjoyed driving it. I don’t think most of us will ever have a similar driving experience.

    There’s something to be said for purity, at least for those of us who have tasted it and are hungry for more.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      It’s amazing how well a sliding rear window can obviate AC.

      A simple thing which is also solid makes me happier than any glitz.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Except when its over 40 degrees celcius with the humidex, and you’re sitting in a traffic jam.

        Proper ventilation is great, provided you are moving.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Oh, absolutely…there are those times. I just assume AC is standard anymore and I wouldn’t be without it.

          I just get a kind of weird nyah-nyah rush from leaving it off as much as possible. But only in a car! At home and at work? Chillerama!

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      I have nearly the same truck: 1992, 2wd, 5 speed, 22re, 5 speed. Weirdly optioned with carpet and radio but no A/C. Fantastic vehicle that still doesn’t smoke or leak oil at 105,000 miles. I remember you could buy these trucks new with no a/c or rear bumper.

      You can still buy this truck new from Toyota, except I think air and rear bumper are standard. Still has crank windows. Another thing they have in common is the sucky bench seat. That alone is enough reason to get an access cab.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Mine didn’t have a rear bumper!

        The other thing passengers constantly commented on – visibility. Low belt lines and large windows make for an airy cabin. I get that comment from a lot of people that get into my “new” beater, too. I guess it’s just another one of those things that non-enthusiasts don’t see as a change until they experience the difference between today’s cars and those of a decade or so ago.

        And…one more story. After a few months of driving my truck, I ran into some issues with clutch engagement. I bought a new slave cylinder for something like $12 and it took about 30 minutes from the time I decided to replace it until the job was done. It turned out the problem was the master cylinder. I bought a new master cylinder for something like $12 and it took about 15 minutes from the time I decided to replace it until the job was done. At the time, Toyota had been using the same master and slave cylinder on nearly their entire lineup, I presume a lot of the other parts are the same way. Widely available, cheap parts, and plenty of room to do work with regular tools.

        They don’t build cars like that anymore…

  • avatar
    kmoney

    Never cared about navigation at any price point and could live without AC, but I don’t think I could do without power windows and door locks. Fortunately it seems like most manufacturers have found it cheaper to just put the last two into all their cars regardless of trim level.

    My parents always loved to buy stripper models back when they were more common — and when they had all the little blanking plugs in the dash to remind you of all the options you could have purchased. More than anything I think this made me realize that it’s worth spending a little more for something you’re going to end up spending a decent amount of time in.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    When we think of a “Stripper” we’re in a time warp. The stripper of 2014 is vastly different from that of 1994, 1984, or even 2004.

    Today’s stripper has power locks + windows, auto, A/C, cloth seats (upgrade from vinyl), cruise, a CD player and FM radio.

    What it DOESN’T have is Nav, sunroof, DVD, leather, climate control, and safety gizmos like radar cruise control.

    To answer the question, no I wouldn’t buy one. I keep my cars a long time, and I don’t want to regret not getting an option every day I drive. I’d rather spend a little more and get something I will enjoy for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      mechaman

      That’s what I’m sayin’. I was telling a co-worker that there used to be a manual ‘emergency’ in cars with power windows (well, some). Haven’t seen one in years. How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm and all.. it’s probably cheaper to make power windows/locks and such. If you have to be in it for a while during the day, it may as well be pleasant. No one buys an uncomfortable home..

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You can still get cars that don’t have any of those. My old coworker bought a new ’11 Accent without a radio, A/C, or power anything.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    My friends just bought a new Versa (cheapest new car in the USA) because they burned up the motor in their old Accent and didn’t have the money to fix the motor or buy a beater. Which also means they don’t have a down payment.

    They’re not buying a car at a price, they’re buying a car at a price per month.
    A/C, automatic, electric windows and cruise add $72/mo onto the otherwise $235. Dealers don’t hardly even carry the stripper and if you get any discount whatsoever that could cover the difference anyway.

    If you’ve got cash for a new Versa, you’re probably the person who would instead spend between $5 and $14, on a well equipped +/- 10 year old car, and keep the rest in the bank.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I would (and do). AC is the only “luxury” I have any interest in. Keep the power windows, locks, steering, etc. Keep the sunroof, nav, leather, auto climate, but give me a clutch pedal.

    My only problem is that I buy used subcompacts, so I may not have much to pick from when I go shopping towards the end of the decade.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    As recently as 2002 (I believe), we were shopping for a first car for my future wife. We must have looked like poor college students, because the salesman at the Ford dealer ushered us into a stripped Focus. It was stick, roll-up windows (in 2002! – she could hardly believe it!), manual locks, FM radio, it may have had AC. They were trying to unload that thing for $8000 new.

    We went for a test drive to humor the guy a bit. The stick shift knob came off in my hand – I kid you not. The salesman grabs the knob out of my hand, sticks it back onto the stick like nothing happened. It was hilarious.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    When I order new cars for myself, I make a habit of optioning up a brick of lot poison that could only satisfy me. Not just strippers, but weird options on higher end cars. Like a Charger R/T with the performance track pack in bright white with a red interior but no roof. The price with those options puts it right up there with entry level SRTs. When looking at a Charger, would you pay just a wee bit more for the 6.4L? Most would.

    I’ve also ordered fairly well optioned vehicles, but with cloth seats and stick shift. I pity the fool who didn’t know they even made that model with a stick and buys it at auction.

    I’d buy a stripper for myself, I would. If I could quite literally get a modern muscle sedan with the big engine, but cloth, stick shift, and roll up windows, I’d order one. I don’t even care about A/C. But I’m the oddball, the anomaly. The average buyer wants as much luxury for as little as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Danio, if you grew up where I did, you’d care about A/C…definitely! Here in Denver, it’s nice to have, but not necessarily needed.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      A police package Charger is really the only car like this.

    • 0 avatar
      CriticalMass

      “Hit ‘em where the ain’t” is a fantastic strategy. I once walked the lot of a Porsche/Audi dealer with the sales rep and looked at most, no, ALL, of the new Audi 5000’s in stock. This was 1986. At long last I asked about that other one, over there…. A 5000 Turbo with a stick. I knew immediately how the look is in the eye of a lion who just decided he was hungry. It had languished there for six months and I (cough) let him talk me into buying it (cough). Monroney at $28K+, it went out the door with me for $21K and lifetime oil changes. And all that because I had walked that lot on Sunday while they were closed and scoped the only Turbo stick there. Looking to hit ‘em where they “ain”t”.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Nice. Those of us who value the oddballs can certainly find bargains if we do our homework.

      • 0 avatar
        mechaman

        Ah, the 5000. Loved the one I had, even though the previous owner had beaten it within an inch of it’s life.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          There seems to be many of us who purchased, and loved Audi 5000s. They don’t always love you back though.

          • 0 avatar
            CriticalMass

            I think I must have been codependent with the 5000. She was a garage queen to be sure. Best money I ever spent was the $1000 I paid for the extended warranty (that I could afford only because of the good deal I got buying the car). I added up the bills at the end of five years and between Audi and whoever was backing the extended warranty the total was about $8000 in repairs of various sorts ranging from water and fuel pumps to valve guides and much A/C, electrical and others in between (the turbo survived though). And I missed her when she left (snif), I’m tellin’ ya, codependent!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Oh are we gonna have Audi 5000 day again?

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        My 1st and 4th cars were Audi 4000s. Great cars. The 1st one got dinged up by an idiot in a parking lot and went to the crusher. The 2nd one got impounded in Tijuana and somehow, incredibly towed back to the US before it disappeared from my radar. Ignominious ends to great cars.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My first car was a 5000. I also dated a girl that drove a 4000. Oddly enough, she later became a stripper. English degrees apparently don’t pay the bills.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Gotta have EITHER A/C or power windows. Had a really basic Chevy S-10 (that I loved), but HATED the crank windows, too hard to reach the passenger side while in motion.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A weird thing that I’ve talked about in Comments before is the couple from my church; he’s a general-practice lawyer, she’s a homemaker. I graduated from HS with their oldest daughter, and ran in her circle of friends for a bit afterwards.

      He would always buy the top-line Oldsmobile-whatever (he had at least a Ciera and 88 LSS (his last one before Olds bit the dust), and I think his daughter told me he had always done this), but with no options checked. Usually, A/C was included, along with a tape deck and rear defogger, but no remote mirrors, cruise or the like. OTOH, his wife liked Pontiac Bonnevilles, and those were always optioned to the hilt!

  • avatar
    etho1416

    I bought a stripper 2009 Corolla at the peak of the recession. Technically it came with AC and extra heating vents to the back seats but to avoid those you would have to custom order one from the factory.

    Why did I do this? Well I only drive manual transmission cars, don’t have much money, and needed to tow a small sailboat. The corolla was one of the only cheap cars that still has a tow rating (2000lbs). And finding a manual on a non-stripper car is getting harder and harder to do.

    My next best option was basically a Forester, but at the end of the day Subaru was not budging an inch on price. Whereas the corolla was discounted $3,000 and before taxes it came out to only $13000. A forester would have been around $20k.

    I installed my own cruise control in it, which was the option I really care about and honestly it meets all of my needs. I don’t need power anything and prefer the simple radio and controls.

    I just felt that I should either get my dream car (technically a new forester or used volvo V70 wagon) or get the barest bones car to meet my needs. Something in the middle would have just been a disappointment.

    When it comes time to sell it I am sure I will regret it but I have a feeling that I will find some other like-minded soul to sell it to. And I feel like buying a bottom barrel car helps me out with depreciation because it just does not have the far down to go. It is still worth around $8k for a private party sale according to KBB.

    Plus with 100k miles on it already I plan on just driving it forever.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you keep cars long enough, they all have the same resale value: $400.

      • 0 avatar
        etho1416

        Very true. But I guess if a car was purchased for $13k versus $20k, the cheaper car still wins in the end. At least in terms of some sort of reverse “return on investment”.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Absolutely. My experience is that how much you spend for maintenance, depreciation, and repairs on a car is most affected by its original purchase price.

          The only caveat I’d add is that if you buy new and sell withing a few years, that jacks the cost up as well.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I rode a stripper for seven years; HEY-O.

    Well seriously, I did drive a stripped beater for seven years and only recently replaced it with a near identical one with minor “upgrades”. These include: power locks, working a/c, and traction control as a bonus, and in the initial deal went from CD player to radio. So would I buy a beater for 12,800?

    Absolutely as long as it includes:
    -Automstic transmission.
    -A/C.
    -2.0L Gas I4 at minimum, prefer multiport over DI (SOHC, DOHC, or OHV).
    -Reasonable quality steel to last ten Northeast winters.
    -Radio/CD.
    -Power locks.
    -Power steering.
    -Four conventional steel wheels with conventional tires.
    -VISIBILITY.

  • avatar
    pbxtech

    I had an S-10 stripper. It was black and lack of air conditioning ate me up during the summer here in the Midwest. I need air, PS and PB.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      AC, PW, PB, PS – it’s like I’m reading the Recycler again!

      The machine shop that I worked at in college had an S10 (with AC I recall) – it could really scoot with the V6 and slide out the rear end at will. Always liked that thing.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I make a good living, getting on in years and I want a nice car to drive around. Leather, heated seats, nice stereo those are some worthwhile options. Still I’m kind of cheap and not too keen on paying the thousands for a package that mostly is just GPS, especially when you can get a nice Garmin for $200 and it comes with free updates.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The large number of comments demonstrates just how contentious this is.

    Three years ago I purchased a ‘stripper’ sedan because I wanted a manual transmission. Got a great deal but later found that it has sat on a lot for 11 months, which created some problems.

    Have owned a lot of Dodge Caravans. The best was a nearly stripped 1993 model as it had the 3 speed transmission which unlike all the other transmissions Chrysler used from 1992 to at least 2005 did not cause any problems. The other Caravans that I owned (3) all had tranny issues and all were ‘upscale’ models.

    This week in Southern Ontario Hyundai is advertising their Elantra L (stripped down version) for under $12k.

    In most instances I prefer the lower end model as you get many if not all of the internals of the mainstream model without any of the unnecessary and expensive to repair frills.

    Don’t want Satnav. Have kids and a dog, so no leather. Power windows add weight and break. Prefer a manual.

    In my mind buying the loaded model is a waste. Why load up a Camry to the same price point as an Avalon? Or the old guys who used to load their Buick or even Pontiac to the point that it had the same content and nearly the same price point as a Caddy?

    Go for the better car at the lower price point.

    So my model has the same engine, suspension, dash, electrics, A/C, safety equipment (air curtains, ABS, ESC), ports for I-pods, warranty etc as the more expensive model for a much lower entry point.

    What’s not to like???????????

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    On the opposite side of the spectrum, my MIL fully optioned a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee (what are those things that short people use to step up to a tall car – running rails? yes, even those). The final price with tax was something north of $35k. Let’s just say she’s one of those people who could never say no to people. Especially those “nice salesmen”.

    Google says that this is $56k in 2014 dollars. Criky.

    The electronic gremlins and busted oil seals made her sell the car with only 40k miles on it. I got her $7000 for it and that was considered very generous at the time.

  • avatar
    raminduction

    I think this question may have other implications, depending on the type of car and the need. The only items that I would look for would be power mirrors, power door locks, and mebbe a/c. For a performance car, all I want is RWD, plenty of power, a 5 or 6 speed stick, a great suspension, better brakes and a lsd, and, if available, q/r manual steering. Forget the stereo, electronic crap, luxo-pimpo packages, etc. Why buy a pimpmobile posing as a performance car? If I’m buying a commuter/beater, then pretty much the same applies: good power, manual tranny, good suspension, but an am-fm-cd stereo and electric mirrors, and mebbe a/c.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    2012 Mazda5 Sport… 6-speed stick and not one option. $17,500 out the door. Give me a stripper like this any day!

    The Mazda5 is vastly under-appreciated and even the stripper is adequately, if not generously equipped (AC, Cruise, PW, PL, Power Mirrors, Remote locks, Stereo). Real-world 31 MPG (an admittedly gentle country-road commute accounts for the majority of the miles); seats 4 comfortably and 6 in a pinch; huge cargo and (also under-appreciated) rear sliding doors.

    What else does one need for a commuter?

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Great cars. I like the older exterior styling better, but the newer interior better than the older. I see one or two regularly on my commute and have tried to talk two different young couples with new homes into buying one of these. They both rejected the 5 as a minivan. One bought a new XB the other bought a Fiat 500. O_o

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Depends on how much of stripper model it is. If it’s got a 5 speed, power windows, cloth interior and the right number of airbags, sign me up. Chances are the ‘DX’ model will out handle, out accelerate, and get better fuel economy that an ‘EX’ model. At least that’s how Honda’s work (given teh same engine/tranny)

    Power windows are a must. I hate having to get out of the car to roll down the passenger side window. Also, if it doesn’t have AC and it’s raining outside, I always crank the passenger side a tad to dehumidify the car. Also, I think the hardware weighs about the same as a manual windows.

    It’s easier to supe up base models at least with Honda’s. If you want power, take a B18 or K20 with a LSD and swap it into a DX model. Can upgrade to big brakes by using Accord knuckles/calipers/mounting hardware. Add anti-roll bars front and rear and yer set!

  • avatar
    wang chung

    I just looked up Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic lowest trim, they’re both offered with power windows, power locks, A/C, bluetooth, cloth seats, MT.
    If i were into one of those brands i will gladly take their lowest trim. However i see some commenting about lower model’s the headline doesn’t say anything about taking the lowest model. Some also compare German brands to economy brands as far as Germans lowest trim go, they come loaded with nice options, after all they come from luxury brands.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I think it depends on what a stripper means to you. To me today’s stripper is something like a base Versa with manual everything and no A/C or radio. I don’t consider my Impreza a stripper because it has power/remote locks, A/C, CD/MP3 with aux. input. Power windows 4 wheel disc brakes, etc… The prior I would only buy in the form of a work truck. Obviously I did buy the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        In the US anyway, the current basest Versa comes standard with air conditioning, Bluetooth, and a CD/AUX radio.

        I think every vehicle in the US comes with a radio now save for maybe an available credit option on a fleet van or something similar. I can think of like 4 offerings that don’t have standard AC.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    I would happily drive something with just AC, a radio and power windows and locks. However the wife would not appreciate such a car and as we share a vehicle….

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The GF got the stripped XV, but that was because she insisted on a manual, and only the base model has a manual.

    I’d get a stripper on a truck if the “stripped” model still had steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo that I can replace with a better unit, and then I’d call a Katzkin installer to get a leather interior….

  • avatar
    laphoneuser

    In 1989, as a sophomore in college, I bought my first new car, and it was a stripper. Honda Civic Hatchback, in red. Since I was at the UofA in Tucson, Arizona, the only option it had to have was A/C. Otherwise, it had manual mirrors and door locks, manual windows, steel wheels, and a FOUR speed manual transmission. I’m pretty sure it even came without a stereo, but if it did, it definitely only came with two speakers in the door (I ended up buying an aftermarket head unit and four speakers).

    I paid around $6800 for it, if I remember correctly.

    It was a great little car, with an incredibly refined (albeit underpowered) engine and fantastic rear seat room for its size. To this day, I can remember friends commenting on how much room they had back there.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Even the Civic EX Sedan (which was introduced as a new trim in 1990, and which was a Civic Si chassis with the Sedan body on it — dayum, my Mom’s just loved to rev, even with the slusher, and handled like a roller skate) still didn’t come with a standard radio or rear speakers. However, unlike today’s Hondas, everything was pre-wired–the most difficult part of the rear speaker install was cutting out the package shelf. There were three grades of radio available–1000, 2000, 3000. The first was just a bass-less AM/FM tape deck, the 2000 was only a little better 20w unit with anti-theft, and the 3000 was the equivalent of the units found in the high-end Accords.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Nope, not ever. I want FULL options and a stickshift. Only strippers I want to deal with are dancing on a pole somewhere.

  • avatar
    redav

    “No nav.” No problem. I don’t use nav, anyway. (My latest car has nav, but I haven’t put an address in it yet.)

    “No leather.” No problem. I prefer cloth.

    “No premium or power nuttin’.” That depends. I expect power windows & locks. I don’t care about power seats. But if cruise control is missing, I won’t consider it.

    And therein lies the rub. Car makers know what sells and what doesn’t, and they deliberately leave off deal-breaking features (like cruise for me). Strippers aren’t meant to sell.

    At one point in my life (early 20s, in school), I certainly would have taken a stripper model if it was a good deal and been happy to do so–I didn’t even have a car for most of my early 20s so the basest of the base would have been an upgrade. Back then, creature comforts & convenience weren’t a priority. Saving money was. To get a brand-new car with the important stuff (safety, efficiency, reliability, etc.) at a steep discount would have been perfect.

    But as I aged, price stopped being the driving factor. I can afford to get what I want, so I don’t need to settle. If I wanted to buy a first car for my kids, that Mazda2 would get deep consideration. Would I give it a second thought for a commuter for myself? Absolutely not.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    Why not just take the bus, bike and such? I told a radio host in Chicago years ago that his complaint about automakers held no water: he wanted to know why they couldn’t make a basic (like this) good mileage car. No one wants them. My raggedy old ’03 Taurus has more luxury features on it than my late fathers’ ’90 era Caddy. Standard. And given parity in price, features, etc.,(most) people are going to pick the vehicle they like, not necessarily the one with lowest fuel use, best safety, and such.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Depends on what you mean by stripper. I certainly don’t want to ever go back to the bad old days of stick shifts, crank windows, and no air conditioning. The number of cars on the market which look like that suggests that I’m not alone.

    But in 2014 with those penalties 10 years banished from even the basest of base models, the only option that I generally want badly enough to pay for is a bigger engine. The rest, I not only don’t want to pay for but generally wouldn’t want even if it were free. I’ve bought three new cars in a row with manual cloth seats and that suits me just fine.

    This makes the new model of option packaging that forces you into $8-10,000 of filler options to get the good engine absolutely obscene to me. People who bought the loaded models all along may not notice, but I sure do.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    If it has rear disk brakes a stripper is a good value.
    If not, the manufacturer is making sales numbers.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    My then 14 year old daughter caught a ride in a friend’s Chevy S-10 about 10 years ago. It was hot so she manually rolled down the window. Being hot, she needed to check her face so she folded down the passenger visor to check the mirror. There was none.

    She then asked my friend “gosh how old is this thing?”

    It was a current model year-I’m guessing 2004 or so and he had just bought it a couple months before.

    Not only had she led a sheltered life-she has had a sheltered vehicle experience life.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    There was this one in Reno I dropped like $500 on, I’d pay for that again.

    Wait, what was the article about?

  • avatar
    TW5

    I would buy a stripper, but buyers beware because many strippers are not really meant to be bought. Strippers are designed to alter buyers’ perceptions and make them more amenable to optioning.

    During the Long Boom, no one seemed to care that strippers were a waste of time and money. Since the Great Recession, buyers seem less interested to pay for them and manufacturers are less interested in building them. Honda DX trim is gone. Colorado/Canyon will not be built in regular cab configuration. All manufacturers are limiting powertrain options as well.

    I recommend strippers, but you have to know what you’re getting. If it’s a true low-cost efficiency oriented product, then go for it. If it’s a 3-door $15,000 Yaris L, steer clear.

  • avatar
    April

    Earlier this week I was out looking for a replacement for my 211,000 mile 1997 Honda. First I went to a nearby Toyota dealer to check out a Yaris. None on the lot but instead of checking to see if they had any yet to be delivered they tried to upsell me to a Scion xD (for $2000 more plus $400 in worthless crap add ons ). Onto a Mazda dealership to test drive a Mazda2. After waiting 15 minutes for a sales person to help me (there were several standing around cutting up with each other) I walked out. Over to a Honda dealer where the most inexpensive car was a loaded Fit for over $18K.

    After two hours of shopping I’m already tired of the indifference and tricks.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m surprised they didn’t want to show you a Corolla.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        The cheapest Corolla they had was just shy of $20,000. My budget is no more than $16,000ish.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          *Wow*

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Althought it is not the gold standard of compacts like the Civic/Corolla, Ford will sell you a Focus SE for $16,000ish.

          • 0 avatar
            April

            I was looking hard at a Fiesta base for a time. I may give the local Ford a shot.

            Speaking of the Civic, that Honda dealer had four identical coupes. One Red, Black, Silver, White. All $19,710. Very nice but way out of my budget. :/

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            You should be able to find a 2014 Fiesta SE hatchback for under $16K. An SE with an automatic and heated seats/mirrors and electronic temp control will sticker about $17.5, but I’m sure you could knock them down $1000, plus there is a $1000 rebate.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          My local Chrysler dealers are selling the 2014 200 LX for $16,000. Yours might be too.

          • 0 avatar
            April

            2014 200?

            Yuck.

            (plus I have this thing for inexpensive hatchbacks)

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            April,

            Have you considered a 2013 Honda Fit? There never was an official 2014 model even though Honda was steadily producing them. We bought one 2 weeks ago that the VIN shows was built 7/14.

            We got ours for a total of 16.5K but that included Honda Care and Auto Armor paint protection. I think the lowball was 15.2K. We negotiated a bit but all pleasantly.

            If your local dealer has any “2013”s on the lot I’ll bet you could get a great price because all the buzz is about the 2015s.

            Oh, and my wife walked up as I was typing this and said, “Tell her I’m a doctor and I say she should buy a Fit”. (OK, she’s a PhD, not MD)

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “2014 200?

            Yuck.”

            It’s practically a luxury car compared to the other trash you’re shopping at that price. I sort of understand the desire for a hatch, but a 200 has more cargo space in total than a Yaris seats folded.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Who walks onto the lot to buy cars these days? I recommend doing as much up front online as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        Oh, I did the online thing. Checked out and built different configurations of the cars I was interested in (Fit/Yaris/Mazda2). As far as the Fit I was already there having service done to my car. Plus the Toyota and Mazda dealers were next door.

        P.S. I always thought they wanted people to walk in. With their big swanky showrooms with plenty of salespeople hanging out drinking coffee. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I do. I do my research online to get an idea of what I want, but I won’t make any decision without driving one and seeing how things work. I nearly bought an Aztek–until I discovered it couldn’t even get out of its own way–then a Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix)–until I discovered it was even worse than the Aztek. I looked at the Jeep Liberty (too expensive), Dodge Durango (too big AND too expensive) and finally a Saturn Vue, which drove amazingly well for being an introductory-year SUV with a 2.4L I-4. I hadn’t even considered the Vue online.

        The point? I will almost never purchase a vehicle without driving one first–and I don’t mean by renting it. I can tell a lot more about a car by looking at it in person and driving it than I can by reading an online brochure.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Buy a 2014 Nissan Versa Note. It’s not the cutest or most sophisticated, but $16,000 in my area would fetch a fully-loaded 2014 SV (alloys, bluetooth, CVT) with money left over. Dealers are trying to clear out the rest of the 2014 inventory and they aren’t hesitating to put lots of money on the hood. If you really wanna go cheap, you can get a stripped S-trim with 5-speed manual for under $12,000

      • 0 avatar
        April

        I’ve thought about the Versa SV. During my trip to California (SJC) I had one as a rental. It was a decent car but I wanted to cross-shop the Fit/Mazda2/Yaris before I made my final choice.

    • 0 avatar

      It wasn’t how it worked in my town last time I did it. We have 2 Toyota dealerships, one at the north side and one at the east side. The Eastern side owners bought the north side a year ago, so we have a monopoly now. But the culture is still different. East guys were typically indifferent, but the north guys were quite happy to sell me a Yaris for $15k (it was the new one with the conventional instrument cluster). Eventually I bought a $16k Fit. BTW, I noticed that xD was significantly more expensive than Yaris.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        I noticed that with the xD the Toyota salesman was trying to push me into. It seems they would rather sell something management wants cleared out than find something I preferred.

  • avatar
    George B

    Depends on price and the cost of features that can be added later. Are the base seats comfortable, or do you need to go to a higher trim to get the right adjustments to avoid back pain? If you want a sunroof or a more powerful engine, those options have to be built into the car. Wheels and tires , on the other hand, are easy to change later.

    I’m seriously considering buying a Honda Accord Sport and adding the leather seats and upgraded sound system myself. It would be a more attractive car for less money than buying up to EX-L trim. Also gives me the option to buy easier to clean non-perforated leather.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I had the same thought. I like the way the Sport handles—and I’m not even that concerned about handling normally—as well as the appearance package and nicer wheels. I’ve learned that I could even forgo navigation since most sat nav systems suck after about three months of ownership. And I told myself that I’d just upgrade to an aftermarket leather interior…but then I realized that the Sport doesn’t have that nasty bath-towel cloth that I hate so much…and that it has nice cloth. The sound system I’d probably upgrade myself.

  • avatar

    I will also for the record say I DO indeed have a stripper. My ’76 LeSabre Custom 4-door hardtop has the following options:

    A/C
    AM radio
    455 cid V8

    That’s it. Straight bench, no tilt wheel, nothing. Just the biggest possible motor in the cheapest possible car.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Thinking back, the last time I bought an absolute stripper vehicle, new, was my first pickup. 1991 Dodge Dakota. 2wd, four cylinder, five speed, and the radio was an aftermarket Pioneer AM/FM/cassette installed by the dealer prior to delivery. Added a fiberglass cap over the bed.

    Started my sutlery business with it, ran it for the next five years. Once I realized that I’d be doing re-enactments in Florida as part of the annual sutlery circuit, and having to drive off-road in any kind of weather to setup, and needing more room in the bed for inventory, it got traded.

    For a ’96 Dakota. V-6, automatic, 4WD, power windows, A/C, fiberglass cap, whatever Dodge’s reasonable factory stereo was at that time. I was spending too much time on the road to do the cheap route.

    Nowadays, I still prefer cloth interiors and manual transmissions. However, I consider A/C necessary for stormy days (don’t use it otherwise), need a good (not great) audio system, and can appreciate power windows. Which sounds like my Scion xB. My idea of a basic car.

  • avatar

    Keepers buy strippers. People would drive up from the next MSA down the highway to see and sometimes even buy this unobtainable object (<'10 Hyundai Accent base) from the dealer who claimed to sell three per day. The other two dealers of the brand would rather have markup and cope with fewer of those stupid, annoying customers interrupting coffee time.

    Among the lessons Americans cannot learn, you cannot sell what isn't in inventory.

  • avatar
    Newsboy

    Bought a stripper last year. Fiat 500 Pop, base model, only option was automatic. Sticker was $17,950, got it for a hair under $15k after incentives. Could have had a manual transmission for $13k and change.

    The base model 500 includes:
    – Leather steering wheel
    – Cruise control
    – Bluetooth
    – MP3 compatibility
    – Power windows and locks
    – Keyless entry

    I’d hardly call that a stripper.

  • avatar
    340-4

    I would.

    I grew up with strippers.

    First new car in 1996. Still remember how amazing it was to have power everything.. cruise control.. AC! Good lord! FWD!

    This time around I bought a new stripper. Base ’14 Charger SXT AWD. Only option was the spoiler.

    If they made it with manual windows, locks, etc. I still would have bit.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes I would buy a stripped Versa as a commuter car because it would have air and a radio. I really don’t care how much my vehicles are worth because I keep them at least 10 years. Also I would prefer a manual with a small car like the Versa. Look at the base model of the Mitsubishi Mirage it comes with electric windows & locks, air, and a decent stereo which not too long ago would have been considered a well optioned vehicles. Again on a smaller vehicle I would prefer a manual. I would buy a comparable equipped pickup for weekend errands as well but most of them come with automatics.

  • avatar
    ItsMeMartin

    Would I ever pay for a stripper? Oh hell yes. Actually, there is not a car on both the American and my domestic Polish market that I would buy in any trim level other than base.
    Why?
    Mostly because of reliability. My experience with cars is rather short due to my age and financial standing but if there’s anything I learned during those years it’s that more equipment options equal more things to go wrong. It’s a cliche, sure, but I am often surprised at how many people disregard that fact when buying their turbocharged luxobarges with self-leveling suspensions and power everything even when all that separates them from having to park their new pride and joy under the tarp is one of those gadgets giving out (which often coincides with – who would have thought – the warranty running out).
    Some may say that cars now are more reliable than ever, and – by extension – buying those extras is less risky than it used to be. They are when you are comparing an ’82 model to a ’14 but less so when you pit an ’04 and ’14 against each other. Many will probaly disagree but I think that most producers have peaked quality-wise about a decade ago – give or take a few years (some, like Volvo and MB earlier, the Koreans later) – and have been going downhill ever since. There is pretty much nothing that today’s cars can do better than the class-leaders from 10 years ago. So what did the producers come up with to mask their regress? Disposable luxury, short term savings by the use of downsized, fragile engines, and electronic gadgetry – all staples of upper trim levels.

    The second reason that I came up with is rather personal and subjective and I know I’m going against the market trends here. It has to do with styling. I’m sure everyone can desribe the current automotive fashion – a lot of chrome, aggressive styling, blacked out windows, huge wheels, a lot of leather and aluminum, minimal ground clearance, touchscreens, and the omnipresence of colors black, white and gray. At least for me, the base models serve as welcome distractions from all of that. Base models often look modest, clean, and no-nonsense. They don’t try to impress anyone. They don’t pretend to be something they aren’t. And when I’m looking at two similar cars – one base and one loaded – I know that once the novelty factor will have worn off, I would be glad knowing that I have traded some minor inconveniences for the big wad of cash in my pocket.
    Just to clarify, I’m not talking about upmarket brands who almost always try to make their base models look and feel fashionable – slightly less so than their more expensive offerings but fashionable nontheless.

    I can see that many of you are reluctant to even entertain the thought of buying a base model of a car. It seems to me that you are looking at the matter from the perspective of someone who tends to lease new cars for the length of the warranty period and changes them at the end of it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but it’s a dangerous road to take for someone who has a less stable financial situation. The proliferation of various devices meant to make the act of using the car easier and more pleasant often results in less affluent people believing that the can, too, demand that their new purchase have them, despite not being aware of the hidden costs of operating a car equipped with them. I, personally, frequently meet people who believe that the cost of car ownership depends almost exclusively on its purchase price and fuel consumption, regardless of the equipment it has. Only when those gadgets give out do they notice that not all that glitters is gold.
    So if you have the means to enjoy all the equipment that your car has – do that. Click those buttons, touch those screens like there’s no tomorrow. For the others, well… If we were to believe the economic prognoses, it doesn’t bode well for neither me nor most of you, Americans, so it might be beneficial to lower our expectations a bit because what we consider to be necessities now might turn out to be luxuries in the future.

    So, as I said, I personally am a fan of bare-bones, stripper models, and there’s not a car on the market that I would buy in any form but base. I wish I could practice what I preach but right now it seems that the S40 is with me for the long haul, even if it doesn’t exactly conform to what I just said a good car should be. It’s fortunate that it’s holding up rather well, even though a stripper it ain’t. So it seems like the only thing I can do now it head over to the Dodge site and look at the base (AVP) Grand Caravan saying longingly to myself: ain’t that a beauty…

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I’ve kept my last two cars 10.5 and 12 years. I will keep the current one for a minimum of 8, and most likely 10 years. I still have no interest in the base model, the extra money per year isn’t that much.

      • 0 avatar
        ItsMeMartin

        Sure, the longer you keep the car, the more important it is to have it just like you would want to. You would pay for equipment, I would pay for a beige interior and a bright color. And in your case, the difference between the trim levels would probably amount to what? 20 dollars a month? I hear you.

        There are just many people for whom more equipment means more comfort. For me, they’re usually more trouble than they’re worth, especially electronics.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I bought a new Explorer for my wife, who is in her early 50s, last fall. I wanted her to get an XLT, she wanted a Limited. I asked her why, she said, “cooled seats”. She got her Limited.

    Cooled seats seem silly to me, but I’m not a woman in my early 50s.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      My problem with the Explorer XLT is that when I option it up to levels I want, the Limited and especially Sport are similar in price.

    • 0 avatar

      If I was choosing options on a car I would take cooled seats before Nav and a lot of other stuff. They are simply awesome when you get in a hot car with leather cools your but right down.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      I used to give my buddy so much grief about his heated seats until I got a chance to use them. The heated seats were a blessing after walking a mile and a half in a blizzard before driving 5 hours. They are a requirement now.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Everything’s relative. Your example of the stripper Honda is a cautionary tale. That is, if you plan to sell your car at some point before it collapses in a heap of rust and congealed grease, you have to think about resale value. So, the “great deal” you got on a new stripper may turn out to be not so great when it comes time to sell or trade it. For everyone else, they need to keep in mind what most people expect in a particular car . . . and pay for that. Certainly, that means power windows, door lock, air conditioning and — except for certain sports cars — an automatic transmission. In the so-called luxury or “near-luxury” that also means leather seats. Much as I would be personally tempted by the manual version of the Accord Sport, I would hesitate to buy it. The reality is that the car is not that sporty that the presence of a third pedal would not be a detriment to any subsequent buyer.

    As a point of perspective, my parents who were frugal and tracked their weekly expenditures to the nickel, always bought strippers . . . at least until Dad bought a new Volvo 144S in 1969. Even that didn’t have a/c (a good thing, based on my experience driving those cars equipped with a/x). In the 1950s and 1960s, strippers had rubber floor mats, no radio, no clock and you paid extra for a passenger side outside rear view mirror. Of course there were no power windows or power locks and the base 6-cylinder engine with 3-speed column shifted manual.

    The only extras my Dad bought were, eventually he paid for a 4-door, rather 2-door and he paid for the more expensive heater, which allowed fresh air into the cabin. The base heater recirculated cabin air.

    I think car dealers stock 1 or 2 strippers, so they can advertise their low price and get some traffic. It’s literally a loss leader.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I have a 2000 Corolla CE with auto, power windows, locks, and A/C. All it is used for is commuting 36 miles round trip, and running errands around the suburbs. We have a minivan for the family.

    It currently has 182,000 on it, and I’d replace it with the exact same equipment level, other than I’d like heated mirrors. I don’t even need power mirrors.

    If the Elio doesn’t pan out, I’m looking at a Mitsubishi Mirage late next year when the Corolla cracks 200,000 miles.

    I can understand the argument of buying used to save money up front, but I’m hoping to retire when the next vehicle would be right around 16 years old, so very low operating costs over an extended period of time seems smart to me.

    Every time you buy another car, the government takes their 7% sales tax.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    On something like a Mustang GT, it’d be awesome to delete the CD radio, delete the “power group”, AC and possibly get manual steering too. Wheels/tires stay, same GT suspension and fog lights. But I’d still get it with the track pack, 3.73 gears and Recaros.

    They did offer the LX, on Fox Mustangs till ’93, that came “stripper” or loaded, but still offered the V8 and GT drivetrain/suspension. After about ’89, they did force Recaro style seats on all V8 LXs

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      I beg to differ. A mustang GT is a nice street car. If you want a racy car for the street sans radio, power steering, etc, get an Elise, Caterham or Ariel.
      Removing that stuff from a Mustang just gives you a very uncomfortable daily driver that is still heavy and clumsy (relatively speaking)

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        What’s “clumsy” about no AC, lack of CDmp3 and other gadgetry? And I don’t consider the cars you mentioned ‘real cars’.

        Even for parallel parking, power steering is not even needed. Even on a heavy truck. You just wait until it starts moving to steer, if say, you have to go back and forth a couple times. Then you oversteer to make up for it once you’re moving. It takes a little bit of talent, more than muscle.

        I started driving with manual box steering and even today, I won’t steer until the car/truck is moving. It saves on tire wear, compared to cranking the wheel from lock to lock, while stopped. But that’s how most drivers steer.

        • 0 avatar
          See 7 up

          I’m saying that a Mustang doesn’t become a sports car per se by removing the things you state (i.e. stripping it). It is still relatively heavy and clumsy. I am not seeing what is gained by removing the radio from a Mustang that weighs 3500+ lbs and will never get much below 3300 in street legal trim sans intensive bodywork and soundproofing/interior deletes.

          If you want bare bones sporty car, there a much much better cars to get than a stripped mustang. I guess I just see it as something like an AMG S class. Why? Its a luxury car. Why try to compromise and make it a bad sports car and a bad luxury car by installing sporty suspension.

          To me, a no option Mustang GT is one of the BEST street cars out there. But it will get old quickly if things like stereo, AC, and power steering are removed without much performance benefit. At the track, one would need to go much farther and then it would really be horrible on the street.

          BTW – I own 2 cars with power steering. What you say about steering true and good practice, but it is a much safer practice as well. One should never move the steering wheel before moving if at all possible (very few scenarios require this). That said, manual steering doesn’t always mean better steering.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Heavy yes, but clumsy, compared to what? A ballerina???

            It’s got moves that baffles the M3…

            But I’m looking at it in the nostalgic sense. Even Bullit’s Mustang didn’t save much weight or cash at the point-of-sale, by not having ever available option. There wasn’t much else you could get, but you’re missing the over all point of keeping it as simple as humanly possible.

            Today, vintage Mustangs with big engines and every delete option taken, are as sought after as the fully loaded ones with every factory option possible, that were very rare at the time too.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I miss the “old” days before “packaging” where you have to pay for a bunch of stuff you don’t want or need to get the option really wanted/needed. This is why I purchased the F350 “stripper” (which I still own) new in ’99: Crew Cab XL, 7.3L diesel, 6-spd manual, 2WD, SRW shortbed. Paid $26.4k; stickered at $31.6k. Only options were chrome bumpers, A/C and idle controller (but no spare tire). I found that it was already wired for options I wanted (I installed cruise control for $21 in Radio Shack supplies, added extra rear speakers using existing pre-wiring), a pre-filter for fuel and a spare tire w/bracket. 266k miles later I still have it, equipped as I really wanted it and never missing powered this and luxury that. Just bought a 2014 Outback bottom of the line 6-spd manual “stripper” and intend to do the same, adding only want I really want and need; I got a heck of a deal on it as it was also unloved on the lot. The only thing to add to this one are factory fogs to make it my car.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    What’s hilarious with this article is that there’s one commenter on these boards that INSISTS that “strippers” are the favorite vehicle of choice for “bottom dwellers and cheapskates”. I wonder how he responds to this (I haven’t looked to see if he has…yet.)

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    My Boxster S is a complete stripper model. No options at all.

  • avatar
    charski

    I recently bought a stripper, in the form of a new 2013 4 door Jeep Wrangler. 6 speed manual, no power anything except brakes and steering. It has A/C, and a hard top and a stereo though. More than meets my needs of hauling four people and gear around.

    I think the most basic strippers I’ve ever driven were a ’74 Corolla, 4 speed manual, with an am radio, no A/C. It was my dad’s, and he had a “you wreck it, you buy it” policy, and I fit the bill on that one…

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    I think manufacturers have caught on to this with manual trans cars. They can force a lot of people that don’t want an automatic into one just be relegating the manual equipped car to “stripper” status. Then they can complain that nobody buys manuals and they can take them off the market.

    I think they are making a big mistake. Although I’ll agree, the manual market is small, nobody is buying manuals these days to be frugal. Put the manual trans options on your best drivetrain and option it up as standard. I know this driver would have easily paid $2500 more for any car I bought if that is what the stick option cost at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      These days, for the most part, manuals go into two types of cars: price leaders and sporty cars. Ford, Honda, and VW seem to be bucking this trend somewhat, especially VW, in that they still install manuals in some of their sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Agree. I’m looking at the Mazda CX-5 6MT, which can *only* be had in base trim – they won’t even paint it an actual color, only black, gray, and another gray.

      You *can* get the base (Sport) CX-5 in red or blue, but ONLY with automatic. I still haven’t figured that one out.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Colors, or lack there of, I can live with. But why oh why does Mazda not given the manual CX-5 the 2.5l? Same with the Mazda 3, but I hear that is changing. Perhaps it will with the CX-5 too, which should just ditch the 2.0l

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Ooh, I should have included Mazda in the list, I forgot.

        On the rare occasion that I go car shopping, Ford, Mazda, and VW are where I start looking first. I’ve never found a Honda passenger car that I can get comfortable in. We did have an Odyssey for eight years, that one did work for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’m betting Mazda expects the people who buy the 6MT version ONLY buy them to get them Tuned and Skinned. Hell, even I would get something skinned to hide that ugly grey.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    Stripper:
    1964 Opel Kadett wagon. 36HP, 4 speed, heater.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Canadians are obviously a bit different from Americans, and stripper cars aren’t regarded as some sign that you have had your genitalia removed.

    My best pal is extremely well off, and he and his son just leased themselves a couple of new Mazda3s.

    The son got a basic model with 6MT and some package that gave cruise, alloys, leather steering wheel and shifter. The father, who drives 300 miles each weekend to his country home, winter and summer, leased the cheapest one available, replacing a troublesome Golf TDI wagon. Either one is under $250/month.

    Of course, both have rear disc brakes, A/C, electric windows and power steering standard anyway. The 3 drives better than the 6, IMO, despite nominally being the same car underneath.

    The dealer tried to get them to buy the base 6 for next to nothing extra, so they drove them but agreed with me. These Mazda3 cars list for $19500 and $21,000 Cdn, btw. Just as nice to drive as a CLA 250 with the added benefit of a bigger back seat and some, instead of none, outward visibility.

    When I read of things like Versas and Fits optioned to these prices, my mind boggles. The Mazdas are in a whole different league being, you know, actual cars not sardine cans. Compared to a new Civic, they are far better to drive with better steering, handling and ride. A 2 minute test will demonstrate that to anyone who is not an a*shat.

    So, both father and son are delighted seeing as they both have left legs able to depress clutch pedals, and the cars don’t seem like poverty bin specials inside, anyway. The father prefers it to the old Golf on the highway as well.

    Round these parts, half the Mazda3s on the lot are manuals, so you don’t get special deals by waiting a year while a desperate sales manager paces up and down trying to figure out when his sole manual stripper will sell. And 16 inch tires are cheap to replace.

    Mazda2 class cars, Fiestas, Sonics, all that kind of stuff just founder by comparison. Who is going to give a s**t what you drive anyway. Are you supposed to drive Mercedes just because you can afford it, to impress who, exactly?

    Here you can spend $33K on a Mazda 3 with the bigger engine, a suite of dubious electronic assists, giant wheels and other fripperies like sunroof, GPS and leather, while impressing exactly not one soul.

    Except yourself and your self-perceptions of how others view you.

    • 0 avatar
      ItsMeMartin

      The last 3 paragraphs are so true. When I see people buy expensive things in order to impress someone, I often wonder: What makes them think that anybody cares about what they have or drive?

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        My buddy and I once brought a couple of girls home from the bar who were unimpressed with my Mazda3. It was irrelevant though, because what they were most unimpressed about was our complete lack of nose candy.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Both of the cars I’ve owned have had crank windows, no AC, ABS or other safety gizmos (well, the Miata does have dual airbags). They were both used, but in either case I could’ve had more bells and whistles, but preferred affordability and condition instead. If it were my priority, I could swing something like a new FR-S or Mustang Track Pack, but at this point it’s just not worth it to me. With my fairly average income, I think that having $20k in the bank and no debt give me more freedom and happiness than a fancy new car purchase could.

    I’m willing to bet I have more fun in my ’99 Miata than most guys do in their new $30k+ cars, anyway, and it’s a reliable ride. The 15″ wheels (which I’m reasonably sure the original owner upgraded to from 14″ steelies – that’s how base this car is) are cheap to wrap in performance rubber every 15k miles, and not much breaks on it, because there’s very little that *can* break. What do I care if I have to wind up the windows myself?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    There are 2 things that practically speaking my wife need: AC and automatic transmission, because we live in a hot metro.

    Other than that, bring on the no nav, crank window car. I’m still driving a 95 Corolla stripper.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    If Tiny Tim from “A Christmas Carol” was alive and of age to possess a driver’s license, little Timmy’s own vehicle would be the poverty-spec’d Versa.

    In fact, Little Timmy would be sharing it…. *sniff *sniff (tear)

  • avatar
    Jeff Snavely

    I just bought a new 2014 Ford Focus hatchback (manual) for $12,900 ($13,650 out the door) – MSRP was $19,500. Ford was offering $4250 in rebates ($750 of that was for military) in addition to the regular dealer discounts.

    This car is far from a stripper (has bluetooth audio streaming, USB port, nice digital displays) and is of course far nicer to drive than a Fiesta or the Versa in question.

    It is an amazing amount of car for the money.

    I don’t know why anyone would consider the stripper especially the Versa in general.

  • avatar
    Occam

    I bought a stripper GMC Sonoma 10 years ago. I wanted a basic compact pickup, and it was the last of the Sonomas left in the city (the Canyons were on their way).

    Rubber floor, steel wheels, gutless 2.2L. The only ‘features’ were A/C, extended cab, and the FM radio. It was a great little runabout/commuter/junk-hauler, and consistently pulled 24-25 mpg. I got rid of it because I moved to a snowy state and wanted something with AWD (I had a job where I couldn’t just no-show when weather hit).

    I always assumed I’d be able to find another fuel-efficient 4-banger compact pickup in the future. I wish I’d kept it now.

  • avatar
    deanst

    show me an accord with under 10,000 miles, less than a year old and a 6 speed manual for $10,000 and I’ll buy it.

    The only option I have any interest in is a panoramic sunroof. I might even be willing to pay extra for crank windows.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    What type of person buys a stripper car? A SMART person. A stripper car can be much more reliable than a loaded model.

    Stick-shift over auto-tranny? Good move. No fluid changes every 30k miles. No $4k tranny rebuild at 130k miles. Better fuel economy under real world conditions (throw it into neutral on a hill and coast using only drops of gas). And no sudden acceleration either!!

    Crank windows will never go bad. Manual seats will never short out. Don’t need a leaky moonroof or sunroof. Aluminum wheels are a waste, as are larger tires. Don’t need nav, don’t need leather.

    But as others are noting, it’s hard to find a stripper car anymore. A power windows assembly made in China is as cheap to produce as a crank-windows assembly nowadays (thanks to those dexterous and hard-working young Chinese girls making 3 bucks/day, bless their hearts!).

    The only option I insist upon is a/c. Everything else is superfluous. I have a base Fusion, stick, but it still has power mirrors, alloy wheels, ABS, traction control, tilt/telescope, and other junk I don’t want.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Aluminum wheels? Please tell me how they are less reliable than steel wheels.
      In fact, one could argue aluminum wheels make the car more reliable as the suspension will likely last longer without the addition unsprung weight. Plus aluminum wheels don’t rust, nor do they dent as easily and typically balance better (again – suspension reliability). Both steel and aluminum wheel are equally difficult to repair.

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        Off-road: I won’t do aluminum wheels. They dent too easily and can break, both of which I’ve seen happen. A bent wheel of either type can be limped home, but with a broken one you’d better have a spare and have only lost one.

        On-road: I’ve never lost a steel wheel to a pothole, but I have lost two aluminum ones. I do prefer them in on-road applications, though, since wheel covers are massively annoying.

        I’ve never had a problem with rust on steel wheels that weren’t dementedly (30+ years) old.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      While you can shift into neutral and coast down hills using “drops of gas,” you could be using “zero gas” by leaving the car in gear and just getting off the throttle. Every fuel injection system, manual or automatic, since the 80s cuts power to the injectors when the computer detects that the car is coasting.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Crank windows will never go bad. Manual seats will never short out.”

      You just haven’t owned enough N-bodies. Although I guess the manual adjustment lever on my Grand Am breaking off in my hands wasn’t technically a “short out”.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Ive had to replace two window regulators in my time, one on a crank window car and one on an electric window car. In both cases it was the regulator. I’ve never had a motor or switch fail.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          This. Often, when the motors do fail, it’s because the regulators have become so worn, or the grease has dried up enough, that the windows become difficult to move in their tracks and cause the motors to burn out.

          That said, my crank windows have become hard enough to turn that a motor most likely would have given up by now. I just crank them a little harder until I get around to opening the door panels and lubing up the works.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “Crank windows will never go bad.”

      I’ve seen it happen. And new parts weren’t even available for it like with the two vehicles that I replaced the power windows on, neither of which was expensive or difficult to DIY.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      Reading forums of provincial Russians about morale superiority of the “Russian Word”, the Americans and Jews, the Russian inventions of intent, tv, radio, etc stolen by the sleazy West – I thought only Islamist can over spit them in ignorance. But no, of all the people, Americans(!) Are the not-to-distant-runner ups!

      1. I thought cheapskates, people with lack of imagination, and students by stripper cars.
      Smart? They buy the safest and most comfortable/sporty in terms of performance, NVH, efficiency, assigning appropriate weighting to the category deemed more preferred.

      2. My 2014 Mazda 6 has a maintenance-free automati. 98% of these transmissions will survive beyond 130k miles. On my car and supermajority others.

      3. Hey, if you have non opening windows and fixed seats, they will NEVER go bad. Crank mechanism can go bad. Manual seat adjusters can wear out. Did you think of that?

      4. Moonroofs leak? It’s dangerous to leave a house

      5. Hey-hey-hey!!! You know how much it costs to replace an A/C in 10-15years?

      6. Lastly, you realize how much it costs to replace the car when the time for that comes? If you don’t buy one now, than you save on not having to replace it later! And if your cost of living is $75k a year, then if you die just 5 years earlier, that’s a savings of $375k. SMART.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Not that this is exactly a car someone trying to save money would buy, but a 2014 Chevy Corvette 1LT (lowest trim) is a pretty good deal and is very well loaded for being a base model.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    A stripper? Hell no! Them hoes ain’t loyal.

    Oh wait. You’re talking about cars…

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I want the kind of ‘strippers’ you could get back in the day, when all options were ‘free game’, more or less. Back when you got Plymouth Road Runners and Coronet Super Bees. All the engine, none of the flash (except some decals and a inyl roof to put the ‘glass hood on.
    I used to have an ’83 Sierra XR4i which, despite being top of the line when new, had no options at all. No sunroof, no electric windows and no power steering. Must have been very very rare, and it probably contributed somewhat to it’s long life (300K, and 5 crashes) before I had to give it up. (a lightweight unibody can only take a certain amount of rust and damage repairs, not to mention the stress of really bad roads for 25 years…)

  • avatar
    vvk

    That’s the only way I like it. The only exception is BMW. Sport package is an absolute must.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Isn’t the Toyota Camry L designated for fleet sales, per Toyota? Seems logical only a few would be in an area for retail sale that are new.

    I would love a stripper four door for my soon to be driving daughter, I only ask for Bluetooth handsfree and power locks. Yes, a manual tranny is just fine along with plain old FWD and regular old light bulbs, no LEDs needed. Power windows would make me smile.

    I do want a tach and a dedicated temp gauge – considering both of those are now relegated to stripper status.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Would I? That’s all I buy. I haven’t had a car with power windows since 2005, and that was because it was standard on the performance trim, otherwise I would have gotten that stripped down too. I just don’t see value in the features of higher trim levels; what I do see value in are the thousands of dollars that I get to keep in my pocket by buying the lowest trim. I haven’t had any difficulty re-selling my cars, and they didn’t depreciate any faster than a high end model; you end up losing more in depreciation on the higher trim simply because it has more initial value to lose.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The only ‘loaded’ car I’ve ever had is my leased 2012 Leaf SL. Nissan didn’t even include cruise in the base car until 2014 or 2015 model year, I think.

    But most of my other cars have been fairly low-end trim:
    2009 Kia Sedona LX: Bought 1 year old for $17k. No Bluetooth, how primitive.
    2013 Kia Optima Hybrid: Bought brand new for $20k. No nav, how primitive.

    My first car – a 1971 Pinto – had an AM radio, vinyl seats, crank windows, and a manual choke. As a teen, just owning any car then (1980) was awesome.

    Today I won’t take anything without cruise, power windows, and Bluetooth, but that’s about it.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In 2004 we bought my 2004 Impala. A base model 3.4L w/sport appearance package (alloy wheels, upgraded cloth interior, trunk cargo net). It’s all I wanted, even got the color I wanted – Capuccino Frost, right off the lot. I loved that car, as many remember me going on about it.

    When we decided it was the time for a new Impala, Wifey insisted we get the top-of-the-line LTZ and nothing less! No more strippers, hence my Ashen Gray 2012 Impala LTZ.

    Amazing how fast one gets used to all the goodies, too. I love my ride.

    FWIW, my old 2004 is still going strong, too. A co-worker bought it.

    I have an idea that an OEM offering a true stripper would be more expensive in the long run, such as hand-crank windows, steel wheels & dog dish hubcaps, etc. would require separate assembly requirements. Well, you know what I mean.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I don’t think I’d hook up with a stripper – mobile, but I’m old and need creature comforts. The strippers usually lack one thing that you really need. It used to be air conditioning. Honda is really puzzling. The new Accord seems like a great car, and it is priced competitively with a Hyundai Sonata and that ilk, but to get heated seats in the Accord, you have to pay over $28000, about 6,000 more than the lowest priced Hyundai with heated seats.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Honda has always limited build combinations to a degree no other manufacturer will dare to try. It’s almost always sold heated seats and leather only as a bundle, and sold leather as a pretty upscale option. I think they will have to buckle on that for the next generation as heated seats are starting to get pretty universal.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Having leased a new Odyssey EX-L, I agree to a point. To me, the EX-L is what we wanted in our new kiddie mobile. Leather, heated seats, moonroof all standard, plus climate control, true Keyless entry and power hatch and sliding doors.

        The LX wasn’t enough and missed the sliding doors. The EX was better, but lacked leather. So the EX-L and all of the stuff with it was our only choice. I posted elsewhere that it’s all I could think to want, but I do wish I could get the HID lamps, the upgraded audio system and the vacuum from the higher trims as options.

        For comparisons, the Town and Country is well equipped from the base trim. But to get the heated seats, you had to add the Convenience Package. Trying to find a Touring(base) with just that package was nearly impossible. Moving up to the Touring-L (mid level) was easier, but many of them also came with the $1000 upgraded rear seat entertainment system too and other stuff. Moonroofs only showed up mostly on the 42k Limited and even then were rare.

        For me, Honda at least gets it mostly right in the options department. Hyundai can build more “value” in to their vehicles, great. But I’ve not driven any Hyundai or Kia that feels as though all the committees designing the thing were speaking to each other, especially in the ride/handling department. Every Honda or Acura I’ve had or driven, still reminds me of my first 89 Legend in some way.

    • 0 avatar
      turboprius

      Honda’s option combos make sense to me. The leather/heated seats appeals to the north, because of colder climates (usually). An EX Accord adds the sunroof, LaneWatch, etc. that you’d get on the EX-L, without the extremely hot leather seats.

      My mom has a RAV4; the leather is a lot more uncomfortable than the cloth in the Sport and Base models we looked at, it’s wrinkling (or whatever it’s called) at under 25K, and the seat heaters don’t do much. Meanwhile, my dad’s Rogue has cloth seats, and they feel like a TempurPedic mattress compared to the RAV4.

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        Why do you want leather in the north? Heated makes sense with leather, but I don’t see why you’d particularly want it in a car specifically for a cold climate.

        Personally, I prefer cloth if the environment will be either very hot or very cold, since it has less thermal mass than leather. Vinyl is a bit worse than leather in this respect. I would have opted for cloth back when vinyl was the base seat material.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Yeah, I’d take unheated cloth over heated leather on a -40C day. The cloth feels a little cool for a few seconds and then is fine, while the leather feels extremely cold until the heater finally gets it up to the point that it becomes unpleasantly warm.

          When purchasing my Mazda3 in ’04, I knew I was getting the GT hatchback but wasn’t sure if I should opt for the leather and/or sunroof. Every female I mentioned this to said they prefer cloth. I saved the $1600 and skipped both options.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nope. Life’s too short.

    My first car would be considered a stripper today, but was mid-trim when it was built in 1987: A/C, four-speaker stereo with tape, power mirrors, V6 engine option, and rims, but no power windows, locks, or seats.

    Every other car I’ve ever owned has been fully loaded, because there is always one feature on the highest trim/package I really want. These are the core features I’ll pay extra to get (although I’ve never owned a car that was available with all of them):

    – Uplevel engine option
    – Automatic climate control (preferably dual)
    – Heated front seats (wife will veto any car without them)
    – Sunroof
    – Bluetooth (has become very common)
    – Keyless start
    – Better headlights (LED > HID projector > halogen projector > HID reflector > halogen reflector)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    What is considered a stripped down vehicle today would be considered a well optioned vehicle 20 years ago. Most cars come standard with electric windows & locks, air, power steering, power brakes, stereo with USB for MP 3, carpet,intermittent wipers, some cases cruise control, some cases automatic headlights, some have automatic transmissions as standard, and many other features once considered options. If this is stripped then yes I could live with that because I already have most of those features on a 99 Chevy extended cab pickup. My definition of stripped does not include most of the things listed above that are now standard in a majority of today’s vehicles. Maybe I am less demanding of a vehicle than most people so long as the vehicle is safe, reliable, and reasonably fuel efficient.

  • avatar

    The last new car that I bought for myself (and not a family member) in 2010 did not have navi, power locks, or power windows. Cloth seats, of course. My favourite hard plastic. However, it has power steering and A/C. Also — the shame — it has a cruise control. Apparently there was no way to buy one without cruise control, although perhaps I did not examine the lot closely enough. Regarding blaming the 7-year loan, Steve may be on to something, because I paid cash. If they sold one without PS and cruise, I would’ve bought it. Unfortunately, my wife rides with me often and she demands air conditioning.

    A year after buying it, I added Bluetooth, because our state passed a law against cellphones. I did it the stupid way, but installing the OEM technology. Should’ve bought a new stereo at Crutchfield and saved a ton of money. At the time I wasn’t sure if I sell it soon, so I wanted OEM equipment. Misguided, I know.

    So yeah, there’s a little market for new “strippers”. Just perhaps not profitable enough outside of Montreal, Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      Petya, how about one with a carburetor and no power drum brakes at 4 corners. Would you have bought that if it was available?

      What about one without windshield, but it’d come with driving goggles with an MSRP $300 less?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I can’t imagine buying any new car but I’m old so sooner or later I imagine I’ll be forced to .

    Yes , I wold buy a stripper but I also don’t mind driving no AC slow old vehicles to Death Valley and Canada either , I’m stupid that way .

    $14 K out the door sounds pretty dang good to me .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Two features I will never buy in a vehicle:

    Sunroof – At 6’6″, they always intrude too much into the headroom (like 2″), and that’s space I can’t afford unless it’s a G-wagen or something crazy tall. Plus, they often have a very hard edge on the roofliner where the window is stored.

    DVD entertainment – Kids should enjoy the scenery, not be glued to yet another TV.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The only stripper vehicle I’d consider is an older, basic 2wd Toyota truck. And even then, I’d like A/C.

    I’ve never been in the position to pay cash for a car unless it was thoroughly depreciated. So to me, the car is always a monthly payment. But I’ve been able to get decent deals with our last few cars.

    If adding in the mid-trim or high trim with all the goodies is a few extra bucks a month, then it works for me. We bought our 08 Mazda 5 Grand Touring fully loaded except for navigation. We bought it new, but it sat for a year and Mazda was offering 3k off 08’s. So we paid new Touring money for a year old but still new Grand Touring. or mid trim money for the high trim car for those not versed in Mazda-speak.

    My 2010 Altima was a 2.5S that I leased. It was also a lot queen, it also sat for a year. A truly base Altima exists, but they aren’t stocked. In 2010, the base Altima gave up the Keyless Go, two speakers in the audio system and the chrome exhaust finishers. My car was a stripper in that it had power seat delete, but as others have mentioned, it was still power everything, Keyless Go (which I miss) and CVT and a trip compute. On top of that, it was a fairly comfortable, quiet and refined car. Sign and Drive lease outside the national program made it a good deal for what I needed. A stripper, but still not a one mirror, crank window, black bumper Stanza from the 90’s.

    We just leased a 14 Odyssey EX-L. We did without the rear seat entertainment system, but we do have leather, heated seats and a moonroof, plus a ton of other stuff, including the latest nanny devices. The EX-L is enough for me, but then there’s the Touring and Touring Elite. The only thing I’d wish for from the higher trim vans is the upgraded sound system. There really isn’t anything else, except maybe the vacuum and aforementioned audio system in the $10,000 more expensive Touring Elite that our already pricey EX-L doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    donutguy

    Back in 1979…I bought a 80 Ford fairmont with “0” options.

    Base 4 cylinder, 4 speed, no power brakes, AM radio, no rear window defroster,etc.

    It was the worst car and the best car ever.

    I drove it for 9 years, put over 120k of highway miles on it and didn’t replace anything except tires,oil, oil filters and air filters.

    Granted, when I traded it in on a brand new base Tempo (with air conditioning!) …there wasn’t much left of the body, the lower part of the body had pretty much rusted away, the paint was mostly sandblasted off and most of the interior had cracked due to sun damage.

    It cost 4300 bucks new and I’m pretty sure I got my moneys worth.

  • avatar

    I have one. I bought a 2012 basest of the base model Chevy Sonic, in ashy gray, it’s a 5 speed, sedan, with factory base stereo and crank windows. All of them come equipped with air. I paid just under $13,000. I purchased the car for my wife to replace our Mercury Villager. Sadly, Cindy passed away a few months later (cancer) and I was stuck with the car. I currently use it as my winter car leaving my impossible to drive in the snow GTI garaged, and will happily turn it over to my son on his 16th birthday, right about when I pay it off.

    All that said, I absolutely adore the car. Do I wish it had a better stereo? Sure, but I can after market one if that really starts to bug me. It’s quiet, fun to drive, fits my kids and all their crap. It’s reasonably good in the snow when the traction control is turned off and it has snow tires on. For $13k you literally cannot go wrong with one of these that’s new.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    No, I wouldn’t buy a stripper-model. I’d rather have a slightly older, but better-equipped version of the same car. Or better yet, a better car altogether. I’d rather have a 2011 or 2012 Maxima SV than a 2014 Sentra S.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    Hardly any of the cars under discussion qualifies as a stripper.Let me tell you about my dad’s ’66 Nova wagon. It did have powerglide and power steering, so perhaps that disqualifies it. However, this car had all the exterior features that once defined the true stripper, including blackwall tires with hubcaps, and minimal chrome. The interior featured flat plain vinyl seats, the steering wheel was bare metal, and the doors locked from the inside not with buttons, but by pushing the door handles down (a mechanism that never worked properly). The car hadn’t come with a radio; instead the previous owner installed a Sears am radio with no tuning buttons. My parents weren’t smokers, so I don’t remember whether the cigarette lighter was deleted, but many such cars came with a metal or rubber plug to cover the hole where the lighter was supposed to be.
    Many years later, I bought a ’92 Camry DX whose sole option was air conditioning. It was a bit plain inside, and had roll up windows and no power locks, and a basic am/fm radio with no cassette player. Looking back, I remember thinking it was pretty handsome car, and not unpleasant to drive, and that the interior, which would be considered institutional now, was perfectly comfortable.
    It’s of course all a matter of expectations

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My current daily driver is something approximating stripper-spec – no A/C, no power accessories, no cruise, but it’s for some reason got a half-decent looking set of alloys and a manual sunroof. It also technically has a CD player, but it broke a couple years ago, so I can now only listen to the CD stuck in there (or the radio). I’m not exceptionally bothered by the lack of stuff. If I ordered it new, I would’ve skipped the automatic for the sake of air conditioning, because it’s a two-door, and there’s just a mass of stagnant hot air in the back seat and hatch that pretty much never leaves all summer. And also, a stripper-spec car means a tiny engine, which is just about the saddest thing ever when saddled to a slushbox.

    That said, I’d prefer a four-door, and with that, I’d rather have power windows. That’s about as far as I really care about equipment. That said, most things that cheap tend to be sort of dull and meritless otherwise.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My wife’s 2005 Vibe is a no options model. 5 speed manual, manual locks, manual windows, CD and AC were standard along with an equalizer but no subwoofer without an audio upgrade. She had to custom order it and the dealer must have asked her four times if she knew how to drive a stick. It is approaching a 100,000 miles and other than the audio display starting to dim and the CD player dying it is going strong. Funny enough automatic headlamps were standard.

    My 2004 F150 Heritage was an oddball but that’s because they made many options standard to clear out the parts inventory that year. I’ve got manual windows and manual locks but CD/cassette and AC. Cloth bench and no carpet. I really love how its optioned because I want a “hose-able” floor but appreciate a decent stereo.

    My 2010 Highlander is a “loaded” base model. What I mean is that the VIN indicates “base” (NOT SE, or SPORT, or LIMITED) but it still has 8 way power drivers seat with power lumbar, V6 and 4wd, rear heat/AC, auto headlamps, 17 in aluminum wheels (including full size spare mounted on the same 17 in wheel) and three rows of seats. Its basically an SE minus the backup camera that was standard on SE/SPORT/LIMITED models. I know most of those things were standard on all models but its the sort of vehicle that makes you scratch your head and go, “Why build a vehicle that is ONE option away from the SE package?”

    Today’s strippers are not penalty boxes. At least one reviewer has opined that the base new Sentra with the manual trans might be the better car because it eliminates the CVT that can annoy.

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    For me this is largely an issue of you-don’t-miss-what-you-never-had. 20-some years ago was the first time I had a car with cruise control – prior to that it seemed like an unnecessary luxury – but I swore I would never have another vehicle without it. Similarly, my current ride is my first car with Bluetooth – never cared about it before, but now it’s something I will never again be without.

    A guy I once met in Key West said it best: when asked if he wanted to go with a group of guys to a strip club he said, “Nah, if I can’t HAVE it I sure as hell don’t need to be LOOKIN’ at it”.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Sure, I almost did myself, BUT….

    It wasn’t a “normal” vehicle at all; it was a new Jeep Wrangler. When I was looking last year, the ’14s had just arrived. I didn’t want to go crazy price wise, however most Jeeps on lots aren’t stripped down, most are Rubicons, Unlimiteds (4 doors, Saharas and special editions such as the Arctics. Most of these were well north of $35k. Also I wanted a 6 speed manual. I did find a ‘Anvil’ (that’s a nice bluish grey color I liked) ’14 Sport with a 6 speed. The Sport is now the base Wrangler. It was a soft top, 16 inch steelies and all it had was A/C and a radio. That’s it. It’s MSRP was $24k. I almost bit, but I continued looking. There were others that were used, but those had the 3.8 OHV V6, I wanted the Pentastar V6. I would have also settled for a clean and not abused ‘TJ’, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath….

    As luck would have it, a ’12 Sport S hardtop came in as a trade into my dealership the next week, the Sport S is the next trim up and mine has power windows, locks and heated mirrors, cruise and keyless entry. Plus it had only 22k on it and it was clear the previous owner never took it off road. The only ‘sorta’ bummer was that it was automatic, but in retrospect I’m glad it is. The 3.6 Pentastar makes up for it.

    I got lucky, but had that not happened, I’d be in a stripper Wrangler for sure-I was even willing to forgo A/C since I live in San Diego.

  • avatar
    GST

    Just rolled over 10,000 miles on my 2014 320i. My strategy was to by the “base” 300 series and option it up.
    It has just about all the options. Great all around car! Easily gets 37-38 mph on freeway runs. Outstanding to have your cake and eat it too. Small enough for urban driving/parking yet very stable and quiet on the open road.

  • avatar
    carlvr87

    I work at a car dealer and I remember back during cash for clunkers we had a silver Kia Rio stripper on the lot and it had sat for a while. No power, no a/c, no power steering, not even a radio. I believe it stickered for somewhere around $11k and after all was said and done, the guy got it for $2,500! No money down except for the $4,500 he got for getting rid of his truck.

    As for me, usually I like models loaded up with leather, better sound systems etc, but I don’t like all of the new technology in cars(and I am 26). I just traded in my Subaru legacy on and Outback last Saturday. I wanted one of this generation before they were gone. Initially I was set on the Premium model but changed my mind last minute because I wanted to lower my payment. After only a week of driving it, I love it! Only complaint is the crappy sound system, but that can easily be changed. I would call this car a base, but not a stripper.

    It seems like most people who by strippers are either older people or people who just need a good A to B car and want something with a warranty and not have to worry about repairs. We don’t keep many base cars at work, but they are sometimes good lease cars. For example we don’t keep many Escape S models in stock because most people will lease an SE, but there are people that want them because they are so cheap to lease.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      I’m not intending to insult you. Just for the sake of the argument. If you’re 26 now and don’t like “all the technology”, just imagine what an old fart you’ll be by the time you’re 40.

      Food for thought

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    If you want to see strippers, you should visit Quebec! Lots of base-model spec cars too :)

    I have the “base-model plus A/C” Mazda2. They are everywhere here, along with loads of base-model Yarises, stick-shift Corollas, Civics with steelies and plastic hubcaps…

    A significant number of people I know only ever buy base model cars, it is almost customary here. The car’s going to be wrecked in ten years by the winter salt and the summer potholes anyway, so why buy anything fancy?

  • avatar
    dwight

    When I was younger I used to shop the base model of a car. Last stripper I bought was a brand new 2005 Chev Cobalt. The car had just enough goodies to make it worth while – but not air, no power windows, no power door locks. Now a days, I need my options. Currently, my MK4 City Golf just passes with a few options but next time I’m going all out on my economy car. Leather, heated seats, and all the required and/or unnecessary gadgets. As long as it gets good gas mileage, that is all that matters. Best bet is to buy a slightly used loaded than get a brand new stripped model.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Nice article. I have been thinking about this very issue. Considering a base, stick, roll-up windows Yaris or Mazda 2. Sort of like going back to my VW days.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    My Cayman is pretty much a stripper Porsche. No S, no options, no nav, no chrono. the worlds worst stereo system.

    It’s absolutely amazing.

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    I’ve owned several cars that could probably count as “strippers”, except with automatics.

    I made sure that the next vehicle I bought had cruise control. I absolutely hate holding my foot down on the gas for long trips. It gets cramped. Ditto for power windows, a/c, power locks and whatever else it has.

    Strippers are for those who either don’t have a lot of money or would rather drive a manual.

    I’m not rich either but like I said, no way I’m driving a car without cruise ever again.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “…no way I’m driving a car without cruise ever again.”

      +1

      …and Bluetooth

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I could tolerate a near complete stripper, assuming I could put my own stereo in which I’d do with almost any vehicle anyway. But the one option I don’t ever want to be without again is cruise control.

      I’d even take an automatic with cruise over a manual without, as long as it’s at least a decent automatic that doesn’t trip over itself when I floor it.

      I suppose I’d also end up installing my own alarm/keyless entry/power locks if they weren’t equipped, for the $100 or so that would cost.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      I hear ya on the cruise part.
      My son’s striper 2010 Cobalt coupe is a manual 5 speed crank windows, no AC and no cruise control. It was a good option to have a cheap new fwd car for the long drive for him from Detroit to Houghton (MI Tech) especially in the winter with a set of snows. However, we could not take the lack of cruise so I found a good speed shop in Saginaw (almost in the shadow of the old Saginaw Steering plant) that put a nice after market cruise unit on.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      You should try radar based cruise control. Amazing.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It depends on what the car is and what features it lacks.

    My perfect hypothetical stripper would have manual locks, no radio, roll up windows, no carpeting, no ABS, manual seats, no nav system, no headliner, no USB or power ports and key ignition.

    It would, however, have whatever the top engine in the model line is, with air conditioning, power steering and a manual transmission.

    I’m speaking of course of a properly sized and styled car here. Modern entry-level cars are dumpy exercises in forced perspective or giant rolling shoes.

  • avatar
    pb35

    My last stripper was purchased new when I moved to my current city and didn’t have a job (or car). I bought a 2005 Mazda 6 Sport Wagon. It only had one option, a body colored sport grill. Other than that, 5-spd., cloth seats, single disc CD player. I paid $19,500 + ttl for it.

    It was a fun car and I kept it for about 2 years. I wanted something a bit more luxurious so I traded it for a loaded Volvo XC90 in 2007 that we still have.

  • avatar
    jdogma

    Maybe not a stripper, but I had a V8 Chevy Monza with a 4 speed and no AC from the factory. It was a 2 headlight model with a fastback. Never saw another like it. With a Vette engine swapped in, it was great fun. Wish I still had it. Had a bud with a ’66 911 with radio delete and no options. I loved that it was a stripper and so did he. Certain high end cars are great strippers, and almost-strippers with just the performance stuff are highly prized.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Well, when you start talking about older ‘strippers’, my father was an insurance agent and because cars were “just transportation” to him, he tended to buy whatever he could find cheap and run it ’til it died. However, when he went independent he decided he needed to present a better image and went shopping for a new car. What he found was a 1971 Pontiac T-37 that someone had custom ordered with a V6, radio, automatic, AC and power steering–literally nothing else. However, the one clue that said this car was different was the speedometer–which read to 150mph. Apparently whomever had ordered it reneged on the purchase and it sat on the lot for several months before my father found it. It was perfect for his needs… well, a little more than perfect. And less.

      Anyone looking at the car or even opening the hood wouldn’t see anything special about that car; but could beat almost any V8–even modified V8s–on the typical city-block, downtown drag strip it was a cruiser with a purpose and it surprised a lot of people. I got to drive it a couple times while my own car was in for repairs and that little thing embarrassed a lot of my high-school classmates who thought they had the fastest car in school. While I never took the car all the way to its top end, on one ‘informal’ drag race I not only beat the other car in a quarter mile, but slowed to let him catch up and then walked away from him at a full mile. His car had the engine sticking up out of a hole in his hood, so he was sure he had the stronger engine. Of course, when we stopped he called me a liar when I’d told him my car only had a six and insisted on seeing the engine for himself. Bad mistake on his part–he had friends along who got to see what he did. A bone-stock out of the factory V6. But not the base V6.

      Now, I said the car was perfect for his needs in that it was cheap, good-looking but not ostentatious. It had one problem: It ate three transmissions inside of 20,000 miles. Now I think I know why, but back then even the dealership assumed that somehow the crankshaft and input shaft to the tranny were misaligned. The thing was eating torque converters. Apparently the guy who ordered it had specified a high-stall torque converter and hard acceleration ate the thing up. All I know is that even with that problem, I wish I had that car today.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Bought two strippers and am now looking at a new 2013 G37 sedan with auto stripper…

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    My car is stripped. I knew it had crank windows, manual door locks, and a cassette deck when I bought it, but I didn’t know it didn’t have cruise until I was driving home, nor that it lacked A/C (where I lived at the time you wouldn’t notice, let alone where I live now) until a couple days later. It is so stripped that I’d be surprised if it wasn’t special ordered that way with the intention of making it a track car, with that plan cut short by an accident very early in it’s life. It has exactly two power convenience features: mirrors and intermittent wipers. The same engine as all the others, though, and without A/C it probably has slightly more HP and less weight. I don’t think any dealer would willingly stock my car, even back then.

    The only way you can really pick out a modern stripper car these days is by the steel wheels and covers. Almost nothing short of a commercial vehicle gets them anymore.

    I can’t figure out why people would buy them new. Poor? Better to buy used. Cheapskate? Used.

    Then again, with the current premium on used cars, I don’t know why anyone buys used… Saving 10% on a car with a lot of miles on it and that many fewer years of warranty seems like a bad deal to me.

  • avatar
    kbmyers

    When my wife and I got married she had a stripped ’92 Prelude with no A/C. Good luck selling that in Southern California. When people would call about the ad I would start the conversation with “did you read the part of the ad that says the car has no A/C?” Most calls ended right there. I finally sold it to some parents looking for a cheap but stylish car for their son’s graduation. When they came to pick it up even the kid looked a bit crestfallen when he realized what it was missing.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    My car has leather, power seats, auto climate control, HIDs and a stickshift. I could do without leather, but the rest of the stuff is kind of a no brainer. I could do a stripper for a commuter, but then why bother with a brand new car for that at all? However for my weekend/going out/road trip car, I want creature comforts. I wish my car had navigation actually, that’s a huge feature I love.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I would and I did buy a stripper. I have a 4 mile commute each way. Also, the cost of the options is just way out of line. About $800 for the power window keyless entry option? No thanks. $200 and I might think about it. $4600 for 4X4? For $800, sure. All I got was 300 hp, AT, AC, cloth seats and AM/FM radio.

    I finally took the car on a 1200 mile road trip. I had to look at hard plastic the whole way. Sometimes I would even be forced to touch it. (shudder). As automotive journalists I don’t have to explain to you what its like to drive a ride without soft-touch plastic. It was just awful.

  • avatar
    gummaumma

    My first car was a stripper and it was perfect for my purposes. My parents bought me a new 2006 Accord “Value Package” manual. It lasted me through high school, college, and law school. Very few reliability issues even though I beat the hell out of it and then some for years and was involved in two moderate front-end collisions. Cost less than 17k new.

    I traded it in recently for a new loaded Jeep Cherokee and for some reason I will never understand they finally caved and gave me $4,750 on the trade in.

  • avatar
    kkop

    True strippers only exist on websites; I never see them on dealer lots. I don’t buy true strippers, but do buy stripper+ vehicles. First was a manual Challenger RT, base everything (except the engine). I liked the experience (and money savings) so much, I later bought a single cab Ram 1500: base everything, except the engine. I actually have come to like the cloth seats over the leather in our older vehicle.

    Both these models were desirable (to me) because they had everything you needed + the one thing you want (Hemi in this case) at a great price.

  • avatar
    insalted42

    A long time ago (sometime in the late 90s), a 10-ish year old version of myself was running around the Los Angeles Convention Center during the auto show searching out only the lowest-of-the-low priced cars. The most exciting part of the whole thing for me was always the thought that any one of the many Civic DX’s or plastic-bumpers Cavaliers had the potential to be my FIRST car, a very exciting thought for a pre-adolescent boy. My father, being a frugal man prone to nostalgia, would give me low-end price ranges to facilitate my imaginary car shopping and point me towards the Asian and entry-level domestic offerings to aid my search. I got excited about more Aerios and Escorts than would probably be considered healthy for a wide-eyed child in a car show that perpetually grants Porsche an entire building.

    This early fascination with low-priced cars has led me to consider buying a stripper or two. As a cash-strapped twenty-something TTAC reader, the promise of a new car for used car money can be really enticing. But with the cost of “premium”options like voice-controlled stereo systems and navigation touch screens dropping to attainable levels in entry-level cars and the used car market being what it is (ie: still extant), even I would have to answer “no, I would not buy a stripper.” That being said, the child in me still gets excited when I read about cars the Mitsubishi Mirage….

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Options content was where a lot of the Acura value proposition used to be.

    When I bought a TL back in 2004, there were 2 extra cost options: Navigation and summer tires (a manual was a no-cost option that got you brembo front brakes).

    IIRC, most Acuras were sold that way at that time. Every car was loaded. At least it was a way to distinguish the cars from the equivalent Hondas. Not that their cars are poverty spec now, but the “pay for this option to get that one” crap that Honda buyers are so familiar with is starting to creep in.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    I remebered that a workmate of mine told me that his brother never cared much about cars; he’d buy a beater for as little as he could get it, get the basics going, and drive it until it stopped or was too costly to fix. He’d junk it and repeat the process ..

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Unfortunately, not all of us can get away with that. We either don’t have the time, the skills, the tools or the location to do such work–or some combination of the above.


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