I’m a working musician from NYC. I have a conundrum.
Since 1998 I’ve owned a 1989 BMW E30 ‘vert, which has served me well as a touring artist — it just hit 160k, most of those miles mine. However, all those miles have come at a price, between 40k timing belt changes and other occasional maintenance items, I wind up putting roughly $1500 into it every two to four years.
But I’ve always loved it, and it never let me down, until recently.
By the time you read this, I will have bought the last $100 car sold at a public auction… that actually runs!
This 1994 Ford Explorer XL has just under 94,000 miles and has been sitting at a local water department for a couple of years now. The exterior is nothing special, but the interior is surprisingly intact and well kept.
Which begs the question, what the hell should I do with this thing?
TTAC Commentator 28-Cars-Later writes:
I’ve got a small conundrum for Piston Slap. Winter is fast approaching and for those of us in the mid-Atlantic states this is a serious affair. My winter beater has been my trusty (but not rusty) ’98 Saturn SL/auto/164K, which in the spring started showing its age and developed transmission issues after seven years (and roughly 80K) of ownership. I’ve let her sit most of the summer save starting her up and driving her around the parking lot every 7-12 days but I’ve been trying to put off the inevitable investment of Bennie bucks. This evening I was offered an ’00 Subaru Outback/auto/186K to replace it for $2500 inc four new cheap tires and inspection. (Read More…)
This essay on Delicious Tacos, about the life and death of an $800 Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan, drove home one of the unfortunate realities of living in a snowy climate: it’s nearly impossible to find anything for $800 that hasn’t been completely consumed by oxidization.
Take a look at this piece of…
272,522 miles. No fooling. This 1996 Volkswagen Passat 5-speed sedan has traveled a distance nearly equal to 11 times the circumference of planet Earth.
It also visited the dealership well over 50 times during that time period as well. Which is just barely good enough for…
I haven’t recommended a new Lincoln in well over 20 years now.
With rare exception, the brand never lives up to the hype of whatever a Lincoln was supposed to represent at various times in recent history. The ultimate luxury coupe that was the Mark VIII. The import fighting LS. The Lexus/Mercedes wanna-be that was the Lincoln Zephyr. All of them were flops in the new car marketplace for a long list of good reasons.
Even the Lincoln SUV’s, then and now, seem to be little more than overpriced Fords with razor thin chrome accents. While the current alphabet soup of names makes it nearly impossible to recommend any new Lincoln without delving into a smartphone for confirmation that the MK-whatever is indeed an MK-whatever.
There is only one Lincoln truly worth it. The Town Car. An old one. A well used one. But maybe not as used as this one. (Read More…)
I’ve enjoyed for a couple of years now the articles you’ve written for TTAC and the insight you give on used cars and the business you work in. Since you do provide your contact information, I thought I’d write to ask a question relevant to my used-car-shopping situation.
The bidding kept going down and down at the inop auction. A sale where all cars are usually either dead or dying.
“$200! would-a-give-me $200! $100! $100! How about-a-hundred!”
Pretty soon the bidding went all the way down to $50. For a whole car! No takers. No sale. Until…
Saturn? Civic? Neon? A diesel owned by this long-time TTAC commeter?
For the longest time I’ve been trying to figure out what penny pinching prodigy earns the most keep. I’ve spent years pondering this question.
Well, more like a few dull moments at the auctions.
Congratulations!!! And my condolences.
You have just bought yourself a vehicle that may be worth more dead than alive.
Did you follow my car buying advice? Of course not! You wanted cheap to the extreme and now you got it. Bald tires. Doors that may be lovably ‘scrunched’ just a little bit thanks to those pesky inanimate objects. But hey, at least the ashtray still works.
Now you just have to figure out what to do with it?
I picked up a Forester for a song and a dance ($500) this past summer, and did brakes and an oxygen sensor. We have less than $750, total, into it. It presently has 256K miles (another reason I don’t really want to use it as a daily driver!) (Read More…)
What sort of upgrades would you recommend for a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited? I bought it to replace my 300CE, which was the feature of a previous Piston Slap. I am planning on keeping this one for the foreseeable future. The only problems with it right now are broken fog lights, the rear window wiper is frozen, and God-awful gas mileage. Aside from the wiper and the fog lights, is there anything you would recommend? (Read More…)
There’s a liberating feeling when you have to fix some interior component on a beater transportation car (e.g., my destined-to-become-a-track-car 1992 Civic DX) and you don’t care about color matching. Item #3,491 on the list of Parts Whose Failure Doesn’t Stop You From Driving, But Still Drives You Crazy: the glovebox door latch. (Read More…)
I have two essentially unrelated questions but both seemingly require something that I greatly lack: money. I’m a 22 year old engineering student in New Hampshire and have been around cars my whole life. Over the past few years, I’ve purchased several older motorcycles on craigslist very inexpensively, sorted the mechanical issues, cleaned them up and sold each on for a solid profit ($500 to $1000 profit per bike). While this has been fun, cars have always been my real passion. Working on motorcycles has given me the confidence to tackle a project of a larger scale, so I am seeking advice to realize two long awaited desires. I am currently working and making around $1000 per month and can play with about $200-$300 every month. Furthermore, I have access to my grandfather’s a large garage with pretty much every tool needed to do any automotive work. (Read More…)
I’m a university student completing their honours degree in screen production. My project for this year is making a short drama/comedy about a young man and his car (surprise, surprise!), so I’m looking for old, tidy cars with character.
My search has come down to a yellow 1983 Volvo 244 GL 3sp auto, offered to me for $500AUD with no registration – the pictures I’ve been given shows a very straight, tidy old brick, but it could respond well to a good polish. The bad? The car has been sitting around for at least a few months (could even be closer to a year…), which causes worries. I’m told it drove quite well before it was put away and the owners in question are quite mechanically minded and love their bricks, so I’m lead to believe it will be a good car. However, if I buy this car and it doesn’t work, suddenly I’m out of money and I don’t have a car for my film. So is there anything I should be wary of and check to ensure clean health? Any brick nuts want to chime either?
For you brick nuts, it’s an ’83 244 GL with the B23 and the 3 speed automatic. It’s done 280,000 kilometres/170k miles. I’m from Australia so I’m sure someone will school me on how we got the better bricks and USDM got shafted or something along those lines!
Speedy response would be lovely before I loose my money! (Read More…)