I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.
She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?
I graduated from college six months ago and took my first real paying job four states away from my family and anyone I know. In the process, I needed a different car, as for the past four years I was daily driving a 1988 Pontiac Fiero Formula. While I love my Fiero and will never sell it (my dad and I restored it when I was in high school), daily driving a ’80s GM car is playing with fire. My parents were very gracious and were willing to sell me their 2013 Dodge Dart (Multiair, six-speed manual) for $8,000. I took it as that was the best deal I was going to find at the time.
Fast forward six months and I regret that decision.
I’m getting ready to move to the Kansas City to attend a professional school for a year. I’ve currently divested myself of all cars with the exception of my now daily driven toy which is a modified C6 Z06. This will be fine until about, oh say, November or December when the snow starts coming down and the roads get salted. So I’ve devised two potential schemes to address this.
Thank you for taking the time to read and answer this email, it’s greatly appreciated.
I have a budget of $6k and would like to buy a used car (automatic transmission). I really like the Scion tC models from ’06-’08 (I’m a fan of its smooth curves). Is it worth spending $6k on a car that has ~100k miles? I live in Silicon Valley and most the Scions I’ve seen for sale are in Sacramento or LA; I wouldn’t mind traveling a bit for the right car. By that measure, I love to drive and need a car that can take me all along the West coast as well as the weekly commute and won’t break the bank when it comes to repairs. Am I asking too much of a used vehicle? My 2001 civic made it through 235k miles, and while I prefer to stick to the Honda or Toyota family, am I missing out on a reliable American vehicle?
Again, thank you for the advice.
Back when I used to judge high school solo and ensemble music competitions for money in college, I seriously considered buying a rubber stamp that said “More dynamics.” I mean, every single kid needed to use more dynamic contrast (loud and soft playing), so I literally wrote “More dynamics” on every single judge’s sheet. The stamp would have been a YUUUUGE time saver. After about three months of doing the Ask Bark column, I’ve decided to buy two rubber stamps—one that says “Pontiac Vibe” and another that says “Scion tC.”
If you’ve been holding out on buying a Scion tC until the right special edition came along, this is your last opportunity.
Scion’s parent, Toyota, took the youth-oriented brand behind the woodshed last month, making the upcoming Release Series 10.0 version of the tC coupe an aerodynamic swan song. (Read More…)
El Jo writes:
Hey Mr. Bark,
I’m looking for a reliable sporty or sportscar that I could get for under $6,000. This would be a daily driver, so it can’t be totally impractical, and I don’t want to have to take it to the mechanic all the time. It should be stick shift and newer if possible, at least a ’90s model. I’m not planning any track days, so the car would be something fun to drive on the street and on occasional trips through the twisties. Some obvious suggestions are a Civic Si or an NA Miata, but maybe you have a more unconventional answer?
If you have any interesting ideas that stretch the requirements just a little, I’d love to hear those too. I live near San Francisco.
God bless you, El. Or should I call you Jo? Regardless, I’ve spent my fair share of time bombing around the Bay Area, and I have a few cars in mind that I believe you’d enjoy greatly.
“Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”
It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.
We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.
Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?
Irving Rosenfeld, “American Hustle“
The rental car lottery is a funny thing. Some days you win; other days you end up having your olfactory receptors assaulted by an invisible army of plastic-forming chemical fumes.
Faced with choosing between a Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Veloster this past Monday, I called our fearless leader: “Which one of these things do we need a review of?”
After Mark did a quick perusal of the site’s history, we agreed that, since our last Veloster review was over four years old, I would grab the keys to the visually, erm, interesting Hyundai.
It’s a decision I’ve been regretting ever since.
Imagine if you will.
The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products.
TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:
The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.
My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome. (Read More…)