By on September 2, 2010

Your faithful editor just dodged a bullet. And no, not from our owners, who might have wondered why I just took off for the better part of a weekday. Truth is, for the past several hours I’ve been trying to buy a car I don’t particularly need… but now it seems that circumstances have forced me to postpone my rash decision. At least until Saturday. And though it’s always best to consider big purchases thoroughly before pulling the trigger, this car has simply been lodged itself in my brain, screaming at me to buy it for the last several days. I like to think of myself as a fairly reasonable person, but I find myself stripped of objectivity, common sense and practicality, all of which have been replaced by slobbering, single-minded lust. In fact, I’m so unreasonably set on this acquisition that I’m not going to even say what kind of car it is, for fear of jinxing the deal (feel free to guess though… unless you’re one of the two people who actually know).

Now that you’ve had a taste of the madness that’s afflicted your loyal devotee automotive truth, I invite you to crack open a judgment-impairing beverage and let me know what car you might buy in the throes of automotive insanity. Keep in mind that this is not a lottery fantasy question… you should be able to acquire this car in real life (you just might not want to tell your spouse, children, or financial planner until it’s too late and madness has become reality). Alternatively, tell us about the impulse buy that taught you to overcome the insanity of blind automotive lust.

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107 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Is Worth Buying On Impulse?...”

  • avatar

    I must exercise discretion and caution around any used Panthers, especially those in former black&white stripe. I would also be hard-pressed to avoid floating a (very) bad check for a 1966/7 Caprice hardtop or one of the last Regal/GNs of the 80’s.

  • avatar

    It is not a matter of which car it is.  It is a matter of buying a car at a price that will let you recoup your expenses if the lust turns cold.  Though I needed money for tuition and rent back in grad-school, I bought a ’67 Sunbeam Alpine because I had always wanted one, but more importantly, I knew that at that price I could quickly resell it.  Fun for a year, and then I got my money back.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    While I am unsure of any particular vehicle I’d buy in car-lust, I can say it would probably have the following characteristics:
    1. Manual transmission
    2. Old enough so that if it breaks down, it’s no big deal
    3. Cheap enough so that if it is totaled, it’s no big deal
    4. New enough to be free of constant repairs
    5. Probably Japanese in origin
    Who can turn down the simplicity of an 80s Celica, or the charm of a lightly used 90s CRX?

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Any year Jaguar XJ sedan, with any given engine.  I know the bum transmissions can be replaced with more reliable units (without replacing the Jag engine) and I know if anything goes horribly wrong mechanically I could drop a SBC in it no problem.  And that’s what keeps it in my mind, the ease of an upgrade.  I could just hear my Angel now; “You want to spend how much for a new engine and transmission for a car you just paid WHAT for?”  The thing is it’s just financially possible.  Which is why I can’t look at a British Racing Green model with a tan interior without drooling.  As long as it’s cosmetically perfect inside and out, it doesn’t even matter what is right or wrong with the drive train, I have to stop and stare.
    I actually have a saved eBay seller that is in Phoenix (around 500 miles away) that specializes in selling Chevy 350s attached to TH350s matched to the rear gears you specify.  Sigh…

    • 0 avatar

      Back in ’02 I had the chance to buy a ’89 Jaguar XJ12 in British Racing Green with tan leather for the princely sum of $3,500.  It had been traded in at a Kia lot my friend was selling cars at at the time, and due to high mileage, a flashing CEL, and lack of functional AC is was going straight to the wholesaler.
      I was in my final year of college at the time, and I didn’t really need a new car, so after taking it on an overnight test drive, I had to reluctantly decline.  Looking back, I don’t know if I dodged a major money pit or if I missed a great deal.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      Yep, like you, Dan, I’m a sucker for the xj6 sedans.  One night, after a couple of beers, surfing ebay (which really should qualify as porn) I found an interesting one – a 79 XJ6 with a BB Chevy already installed.
      A couple o’ clicks later, and that baby was mine.
      Whoops, this would become a very expensive mistake, because nothing exceeds like excess.
      Yep — a “puny” BBC should be replaced with a “real” big block (crate 502; not willing to leave well enough alone, just had to jab a big ole’ lumpy stick in it).  That means it would, of course, need a strengthened transmission and rear end.  Thousands of dollars and many months later, I have the jag all set to go.  And heck, while your at it, you should really add some nitrous — Chevy claims the 502 loves power adders.
      So now I have it … English good looks with a hooligan NASCAR mill.  Late at night on a long straightaway, we should really see what it can do, you know?
      So, apply the linelock, fire up the power plant to about 2500 RPM, smoke the tires good, and away we go – through first gear, nitrous comes on at about 5000 RPM, and all of a sudden a very large explosion from the rear and the car is sliding sideways down the road.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
      Turns out 30 year old jag suspensions that started their lives with a heavy six that barely made 150 foot lbs of torque really aren’t designed to handle upwards of 600.   And that, my friend, is when I had to come clean with the wife about my little, uh, “Ebay purchase…”

    • 0 avatar

      @Educatordan: Agreed. XJ6 Series III.

  • avatar

    Hmm… an unrestored and rust-free MGB, or a Series III Land Rover.

  • avatar

    My guess for the car – a corvette C5 – ZR1 – Carlisle was just on maybe you went?

  • avatar

    How about the one I did buy totally on impulse recently? An absolutely rust-free, nice paint Alfa Romeo GTV6 with a crunch-free gearbox(!!) that was but 30 miles up the road from me. Saw it in the club forum, couldn’t resist. Good price too, but she will certainly keep me busy for a few weeks sorting things out. haven’t had time to turn a wrench on her all summer due to work travel, but on vacation all next week. :-)

  • avatar

    The NB (2nd gen) Mazda Miata; double wishbone, light weight.

    The convertable part holds me off, but every time i see one with a hard top on the street my blood rushes.

    • 0 avatar


      I just bought an NB Miata with a hardtop no less. This week in fact. High miles but great shape and really well maintained. I just couldn’t say no for the price.
      Don’t need it. Have to keep it in the driveway. My wife, already angry at the purchase will probably back into it at least once a week pulling out of the garage. Can’t wait to autocross it.

  • avatar

    Hey, The owner of the garage where I get my 1977 short bed C-10 fixed is selling his BMW 2002 Tii. A bit rich at $6500 – but a really sweet ride and yes I’m tempted!

  • avatar

    1958 – 1961 Ferrari 250 TR
    1936 – 1939 Mercedes Benz 540K


  • avatar

     The Oshawa Auto Fest was last weekend. A guy had a 61 Canadian Pontiac rag top with a 261 inline and three on the tree. A For Sale was sign laying on the seat. If it had been a 62? Lust would have ruled.

  • avatar

    I’ve bought my last couple cars partly on impulse.  When gas was really starting to climb in ’04 I was looking for a way to get out of my Montero before I had to put $1,000 worth of 60K service and new tires into it.  I stopped at a lot to check out a 3 series that I had seen in the paper, and after finding it a bit too rich for my blood, left with a Mazda Protege5 that I scored a great deal on, even though I really didn’t know anything about it.  The test drive on that car sealed the deal for me, and it was a great vehicle for the next six years.
    When my general lack of paying attention to the maintenance schedule and hard driving habits finally caught up with the Mazda earlier this year in the form of a looming $3,000 minimum to put four tires, two rotors, four pads, new shocks, and some major AC work, I planned on leasing a Fusion Sport, but my plans were derailed when someone traded in a cherry loaded Kia Amanti with super low miles that I could do a two year buy on for less than the payments of the two year lease on the Fusion.  I did take the time to google around a bit, and finding that they are generally very reliable cars, and reading Michael Karesh’s review made me pull the trigger.  Thus far I’ve been happy (knock on wood).
    All that being said, I miss the old Montero.  I have a soft spot for some of the older underappreciated SUVs.  If I saw a Montero (not the abomination that was the Montero Sport), an Isuzu Trooper, or Acura SLX with low miles for the right money, I would be tempted to pick it up as an extra vehicle to haul a utility trailer around.  If anyone ever trades in an Isuzu VehiCross for the right price at my lot, it’s mine.
    I’ve also kept my eyes open for Mercury Marauders or Lincoln Mark VIIIs.  Unfortunately the only ones I ever see are garage queens that have the price tags to match their owners dedication to preservation, or the ones I can afford that have already been beaten to near death and driven into the ground.

  • avatar

    There is an early 90sFreightliner FLB Daycab single axle in the livery of a defunct Freight carrier near my house.  It could be had for $3-4k and would be the mother of all dually pickups once I took off the 5th wheel and gave it a stakebed.

  • avatar

    I don’t believe any car is worth buying on impulse. But I can only say that because I’ve purchased so many on impulse, that the desire to perform the act is out of my system.
    Where do I start? The 1990 MR-2? Red, expensive, noisy, small, ended up blowing its alternator a week after I signed the papers…but it was pretty.
    How about my 2000 Contour SVT, Red, expensive, noisy, small, dead reliable and very, very fun…when I actually wanted to have fun. The rest of the time, the car flat out exhausted me.
    I bought two Z’s, a 1974 260 and a 1978 280. Never did anything with them. Sat in them a few times.
    I also picked up a 1983 GTI, silver with blue Recaros and the crank sunroof. I drove it like a maniac for about 5 months. Then parked it.
    1985 Corvette, gray on gray. Very pretty and fun to drive. But had numerous cooling issues (one of which resulted in a 3rd degree burn on my right bicep), an acrylic top that was slowly cracking, and an electrical gremlin that would SHOCK THE LIVING SHIT out of anyone who dared attempt to fix it. Lost it in my divorce.
    1998 Eldorado ETC, Polo Green, 300hp Northstar…perfect condition. I put many, many miles on it, and the only reason I don’t consider it a complete success, is that I traded my perfectly good Montero Sport for it…a trade I still regret…
    2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, white on gray, my first truck, my first 4wd anything, at the time the most expensive vehicle I had ever purchased, could tow anything, my girls loved it…average to low fuel economy, an impossible vibration right at freeway speeds, needed an expensive water pump and timing belt service around 90K, so I traded it on the Caddy. Bad move, should have ponied up the cash, fixed the Montero, and drove off into the sunset.
    1988 Pontiac Fiero, rescued from the junkyard for a couple hundred bucks, spend a few months restoring it to like new, then drove it many thousands of miles, with the goal of keeping it forever. Would have kept it forever until the Honda Fit came into our lives…so I ACTUALLY sold it for a profit. And I kind of miss it.
    2009 Honda Fit Sport AT, red, practical, fun, great fuel economy. Purchased through the kindness of the Federal Governments C4C program and money borrowed from the Chinese, that my great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will be paying back.
    2007 Mazda CX-7, black cherry, wife fell in love with it while I was shopping for a Mazda 5…so we wrote a check for it and drove it off the showroom floor…
    1972 VW Beetle, dark blue, rusted so bad the driver’s seat would move if you pushed on the rocker panel. Here’s a helpful tidbit: eBay’rs LIE. At highway speeds, the car burned a quart of oil every 60 miles. Really. I was taking it from Cleveland to Chicago. At the 60 mile point, the car would fill with smoke, as if on fire. My daughters still have nightmares about that trip. I had to threaten bodily harm to the seller (I knew where he lived – good thing to know) before I got some of my money back. After a hard summer of driving the crap out of it, I junked it. Actually laughed as they trucked the POS away.
    1983 Olds Toronado, great car, one owner, drove it a few weeks and then sold it for three times what I bought it for.
    I think those are the highlights. And in all honesty…I feel strongly about this…I will never buy another car on impulse again. I’m done. Just let me drive what I have and go off gently into that good night.
    So I no longer endorse the madness, but I truly understand it.

  • avatar

    Being a tightwad who is risk aversive keeps me from making impulse purchases.  That said, during early 2009, when cars had big time rebates and discounts available, I almost traded in an 8 month old Mazda 3i for a new Mazdaspeed3.  The deals were almost too sweet to resist.  I told myself that if Mazda puts another grand in rebates on the Speed3, I’d make a play for one.  They put another $500 on it.  It wasn’t quite enough, and I passed on it.  I’m now happy that I did, because the money that I saved puts me that much closer to owning a home, which is a lot more important in the long run.  Once I’m a homeowner, then I can blow a little money on something fast and fun.

  • avatar

    Being married to a wise and frugal woman, there is no car worth buying on impulse.

    But the one car I/we bought on impulse was a new 05 Honda Odyssey (sorry – not very exotic).  I never even test drove it.  Our old car had broken only 1 day before leaving on vacation, so I convinced her we should just get a new one immediately.

    Long story short, we couldn’t really afford it, and the thing ended up in lemon law court since it was such a lousy car.  We should have just rented a car for the vacation, and fixed the old one.

    If I could find a 71 Pinto 1600 (my first car) I might buy it on impulse, in a Papa John’s sort of way.

    • 0 avatar

      Hm, I’m married to a frugal one as well.  We usually almost always drive a ton when seeing relatives which is why we rent a car.  The wear & tear is cheaper to do while renting.  Our last rental was 2400 miles in 10 days (to see the relatives) for $320.  On top of the $0.13/mile we spent to drive it, it also saved us $125 in gasoline over driving our car.

  • avatar

    Any car or truck along a country road or highway that looks fairly straight and is priced ridiculously low.  My 1989 Town Car, 1 owner, (then) 155,000 miles (now 172k), other than a little rust and dry-rotting tires, perfect.  $300 was under scrap.  Other than the tires, I haven’t put $300 in repairs into it yet.
    Why buy on Impulse?  It may be gone 30 minutes later.  Wanting some time to think about that $800 1989 Mustang GT that ran and drove kills me to this day, especially when I saw it literally down the same road 2 days later listed at 4500 OBO.

  • avatar

    Anything older than 2006 with an M3 badge on it. I cannot afford one that is newer than 2006.
    Must resist!!!!

  • avatar

    An ’03 or ’04 Audi S4 wagon with a 6-spd manual.  They’re rare but they’re out there.

  • avatar

    I’m an indecisive and cheap bastard so I have never purchased a car on impulse. It takes me a painfully long time to make a decision on most anything I spend money on.

    …But if I found a killer deal on a low mileage G8 GXP or ’03-’04 Mach 1 Mustang…I’d probably still hesitate until it was sold and then kick myself.

  • avatar

    If I saw a nice first-generation Miata in either Laguna Blue or Sunburst Yellow I’d be tempted.  Very, very tempted.  Yes, dear, I know I already have two Miatas and I don’t need another one…

  • avatar

    Ah, yes, JCK. A Series III Land Rover. One that uses less oil than gas. And that comes with a set of ear plugs.
    I went down a hill in my ’73 one day and my passenger’s eye glasses fell off and hit the inside of the windshield.

    • 0 avatar

      I learned how to drive a stick in a ’65 Series II 109. Exhausting to drive, but exhilarating, too. A Series III… with a fairly whole engine and intact chassis- now that would be sweet. Good thing there aren’t too many of them left around upstate NY.
      My biggest regret from about 35 years ago was not buying a Series III 88 that, turned out later, needed only a distributor cap to get it running again, for $500.

  • avatar

    An Impulse is never worth buying.

  • avatar

    I don’t buy on impulse. It’s just not my nature–at least if the product is more than a c-note, and unless the price is much less than what it’s worth. My head’s got to buy in for me to part with the money. And my head’s a tough customer. That said, a really really really really good deal on a Boxster or Cayman might tempt me. Or a really really really good deal on a ’65 or later Peugeot 404, preferably a wagon. Or a really really really good deal on a latter day integer. Yes, yes, I know, three totally different cars.
    Anyway, as I said to the woman at the Ben & Jerry’s, lead us not into temptation
    But your own temptation was certainly high class–not surprising considering the nice things said about your maternal family members in a recent CC.

  • avatar

    An Evo VIII.

    I lusted over an STI until I drove an Evo. I got close to pulling the trigger twice. Instead, I bought a new V6 Accord for the wife, and when my old SHO finally died, purchased a new Saab 9-2X Aero during GM’s Saab blowout (8k rebates made it 3k less than a WRX).

    Although I have a hatchback and am totally modded (TBE, fuel pump, injectors, intercooler, and big turbo), every time I see an VIII or IX I wish I had that instead. The Evo even had a bigger back seat…

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Ariel Atom. I know, I know, it’s not a 100% real car. I pulled the trigger when I got the email that there were only two Honda K20 motors left and that the rest would be built with Ecotecs. Never mind that I was unemployed, had just bought a flip house (go go crazy mortgage market 2006!), was going deep in credit card debt, and had no idea if I could even register the car in my state. By the time the car came, all that was sorted out (except the registration). I didn’t get to drive it much, but what a thrill when I did! Totally worth it. I still miss it.

  • avatar

    My last impulse automotive buy was an ’85 Volvo 240 wagon and to this day I regret the purchase. I picked it up in November, 2008 after selling off my ’03 Golf TDI (a car I regret selling). My first mistake was looking at the car at night… in the rain. It looked okay in its light blue Volvo goodness with the steel wheels, trim rings, center caps and an honest to goodness manual transmission with electric overdrive.
    I loved the car when I bought it and loved it even more when I put the snow tires on and attacked my winter driving, finding IPD swaybars on both ends while doing the swap. I was so in love that when I discovered the rotten floorboards I made an appointment to have them fixed. I had delusions of doing a Volv8 swap and was looking for a donor Mustang to give up its engine and transmission.
    Then the car died, twice. The first time it didn’t die so much as the rear camshaft plug blew out (a common issue with this vintage of Volvo). I had the car towed back to my house, replaced the plug and installed this nifty little plate to keep the plug in place that I purchased from my new friends at IPD. The second time it died I never got it running again. Turns out that the main wiring harness runs UNDER the engine along the crossmember and they commonly go bad. I found this out after I became so disgusted with the car that I gave it away. The first time I ever gave a car away that wasn’t in boxes. I ended up with an ’06 Dakota Quad Cab (a gas hog, but at least it didn’t handle worth a damn) that I ended up trading in on an ’07 Passat wagon for my wife (I now drive her ’03 Jetta TDI).
    To this day the word “Volvo” cannot be spoken in my house. At least I still have my old Volkswagen Fastback in the garage. Another one of those impulse buys. I’m also poking around the forums for a Mk1 Jetta. Impulse buying is a disease that never goes away.

  • avatar

    I bought my current playtoy on impulse, a faded mint green 1977 Chevy Malibu Classic sedan for the princely sum of $400 last year. It ran, badly, leaked tranny fluid badly but would move forward under power, had the proverbial ‘Cold Air!’ A/C that would quickly get the interior down to arctic levels. No major dents, all the trim, and an interior that smelled of stale cigarettes and a car that’s been closed up for way way too long.
    Did a quick tuneup on it, and put in a spare transmission I had for such a thing, upgraded the radio for $30 bucks for a junkyard Delco AM/FM Cassette and some bargin bin speakers to replace the factory AM radio. It’s now the most reliable car I’ve got, considering it’s stone simple and very little to actually break on it.
    I also bought a 2000 Contour for $250 and fixed it up while gas prices were crowding 4.00 drove it for a year, while it’s better mileage than the Explorer paid for itself, then sold it for 2 grand to a dealership employee.

  • avatar

    God help me, but if I ran into the right Renault Le Car and had money in my pocket, it would come home with me. I’ve had them before, and while there’s definitely issues with regard to servicability (ask me about replacing the starter…) they’re a hoot to drive. One of the leading example of “more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow”. And Damn! but they’re slow. And shod with bicycle tires.

  • avatar

    Well, I spent $4000 on a Dodge Diplomat because it was going to get turned in during the C4C program.  I also bought a high-mileage 1992 Bonneville SSEi I saw under a tree because it was black with gold wire wheels. Kind of a “Bandit Bonneville”. That only cost me $900 though.

    Other cars I would be powerless against if given the opportunity to buy include:

    -Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3
    -Buick Reatta
    -Ford Taurus SHO (manual-equipped)
    -Chrysler Tc by Maserati
    -Shelby GLHS
    -Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Scamp
    -Isuzu VehiCross
    -Pontiac Grand Prix GTP 3.4L (God help me)
    -Pontiac Grand Prix turbo
    -Pontiac 6000 STE
    -any Firehawk
    -Multiple examples of the 2nd and 3rd Gen  Firebird/Trans AM


  • avatar

    If I stumble across a local 1988 or 1989 BMW 325ic 5 speed in decent shape, heated seats, without obscene miles, at a decent price, it would be hard to resist.  As long as it isn’t red (the dude in Used Cars was right.  Red cars are bad news) or black.  Delphin Grey with a tan interior would be drool-worthy.

  • avatar

    I could fall for pretty much any Porsche.

  • avatar

    I have an irrational urge to buy an E28 M5 which I really have no need for.  Prices aren’t bad (not like E30 M3s) and a few that I’ve seen online have low miles and are in great shape (unlike almost every E30 M3, especially in the lower price ranges.)
    That being said, I’d probably be more likely to buy a Miata on impulse (because they can be had very, very cheaply) if my wife didn’t absolutely hate them.

    • 0 avatar
      Saaby D

      Been there done that.  Here’s what you need to know.

      As with a SB chevy in a Jag, the E28 is a modified 528.  The exhaust manifold heat from the I6 fries rubber steering components  on the RH side with amazing regularity.  RH tie rod end and idler arm every 18 months.  The engine block is prone to developing cracks at the tapped holes for the head bolts.  Found this out when I had a burnt valve replaced.  The 1988 US head and timing cover are not the same as the 1987 European block (double row vs single row timing chain, respectively).  88 head fits on 87 block, but with a chronic oil leak that was only fixed with high temp aluminum epoxy filler.  when all was said and done, $8k complete engine rebuild.

      I drove my for about 80000 mi before deciding to stop feeding that horse, bought/financed it for about $20K, sold it for $10K.  Nonetheless, a Sunday AM ride in the rural midwest averaging 103 mph is unforgettable.

      Now YOU know, too.

  • avatar

    Nice JR pic.

  • avatar

    I leased a 2008 Miata on impulse.  I just returned it last night.  It was great fun, no hassles, and turning it in too 15 minutes and $0 dollars!

  • avatar

    1967 Pontiac GTO w/4 speed
    G8 GXP w/manual
    69 Chevelle
    E30 M3.  This is a sore spot as there was one for sale in the commuter rail lot (some station car) and I missed it over some stupid girl…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My father owned a Chevelle with a 396 and a manual transmission and although I was born in 1977, my mother drove that car for most of the time she was pregnant with me.  She still says to this day that it would fishtail from a stop sign in the snow while in 3rd gear.  No wonder I grew up a “gear head.”

  • avatar

    My impulse buy: A 2006 Jaguar XJR… NEVER AGAIN will I buy on impulse. EVER. It was a nice car though.

  • avatar

    Saab 9000, either an early SPG, or Anniversary Edition or later Aero. Manual would be ideal, and it would have to be good shape and under 100k miles. (Interestingly, we impulse-bought just such a vehicle earlier this year.) Beyond that, I’d likely cave for a similarly lightly-used 900 SPG.
    I’d probably also be powerless against a good-nick Volvo 780 Bertone, any well-cared for Jaguar XJ6, a manual Lincoln LS, a Mercedes 190 AMG, or the right Merkur XR4Ti. The list goes on, I’m afraid. Everyday on my way to work this summer, I’d go past a creamy yellow Lincoln Continental Mark IV. It was a beast and likely an awful car in many ways, but I loved it. Another car I might just be tempted by would be a low-mileage, early ’90s Audi V8 Quattro. They seem to be tough to come by, however — there are none currently listed on eBay.

  • avatar

    Try not to laugh everyone, but I got burned buying a Pontiac Fiero.  Lesson learned.

  • avatar

    Not good to buy on impulse.  But my list…
    A nice C3
    Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP
    Buick GN
    And… actually an SSR.  I really liked those.  Too bad it was based on a TrailBlazer. But, it had to be a model with an LS2. Not the first two years that had the 5.3L Vortec.

  • avatar

    Was very tempted to buy 2001  E39 525i Touring for $6K, but it had 250,000km! And having two friends who had E34 and E36 money pits, I settled for a low millage Bull (aka Taurus). Not without problems, but at least parts are plentiful and dirt cheap at junk yards and online. Just avoid stealerships! Of course you can’t compare it to the BMW, but I’d rather have money at the bank.

    Also wanted to have a Volvo XC70 or a Lincoln LS, but thanks to True Delta I’ve changed my mind.

  • avatar

    For me it would have to be a 2004 Corvette Z06 LeMans Edition. My wife knows I vow to one day own a ‘Vette, so she wouldn’t be surprised to see me pull up in one. She’d be plenty angry, though.
    My ’08 GTI is paid for, and I could trade it in and not end up with too big of a car note, but I think knowing how easy it would be to pull the trigger is what makes it so scary to think about. That must be what M.A.D. feels like.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    1990’s Japanese sports cars.  Turbo V6 300ZX, Supra, awd turbo 3000 GT, RX-7, NSX!  How did they lose the thread so badly in the ’00s?  Leaving the field to hatchbacks with hotted-up engines?

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    Just the other day I bought a red Land Rover Discovery 1 on impulse. After years of talking myself out of such an impractical and potentially financially draining Land Rover purchase, this one was so cheap that the risk practically dissolved.  Ive wanted one for years, looked at lots of them and red with tan leather is a favorite combination.
    I love it.  Now I have my eye out for another one, maybe an early Range Rover .. which I really dont need.
    Of course if it fails me I will just start driving the ’51 Olds again :-)

  • avatar

    I’m a sucker for a well taken care of 88-91 Civic Hatchback w/ little rust (though these are now hard to come by).  Great blend of light weight, versatility, reliability and easy swap candidate for some great engines.  Also very easy to work on and cheap parts.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The ones I caught:
    1979 Audi 5000
    1976 2002 tii
    1980 Fiat X 1/9
    1966 Rambler American
    The one that got away (and I regret):
    1995 Honda del sol si

  • avatar

    There was recently an NSX listed locally, under $30K with around 60K miles. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but if I’d have given in to test drive it, I’d probably be trying to make garage room to store it through long winters.
    I also have a weakness for old Mustangs, but I’ve never owned one.

  • avatar
    black turbo

    Most of the six Saabs I have right now were impulse buys. I knew I wanted something like them, and when they came up I snapped them up even though I didn’t really need them at the time.
    92 9000S Black 5-speed, bought on vacation because it was raining and I couldn’t go to the beach, found it on CL and ended up driving it back 500+ miles to home after owning it less than 24 hrs. Favorite and most reliable car I’ve ever had.
    94 9000 CSE, found on CL, decided I needed a beater, and went at got it 130 miles away with a tow dolly and a friends pickup
    87 900 4DR and 90 900 Turbo Conv. bought these cars for parts because my dad gave me an 87 900 Turbo Conv that needs a motor and interior
    most recently, I picked up an 86 900 SPG on CL. got for 300 because the owner didn’t know what it was, had it listed as a 9000. I’ve already begun a full restoration of the car and expect to be working on it for the next few years, since I’m attending college away from home and only get to work on it in the summer when I’m off school

  • avatar

    A friend just got himself his midlife crisis car: a blown NA Miata with 240 whp, an LSD and a full track set-up from a fellow autocrosser. His wife isn’t too happy, either.
    Vote goes to an Isuzu Impulse, just because.

  • avatar

    My last impulse purchase was an ’87 Honda Accord with a “UC Santa Barbara” decal on the back window. Did you know college kids skimp on maintenance and beat the hell out of their cars?  What a money pit that one was!  Now, this “Star Fleet Academy” may be a very good school, but I’d think twice about buying a car that belonged to a student.

  • avatar

    The car you really want and can afford is the car worth buying on impulse.  I bought a new Mini Cooper last year thanks to Cash for Clunkers, at the last minute my clunker didn’t qualify due to a paper work snafu. Bought it anyway,  12 months later, no regrets.  I love the car, and life is short.  If you want it and can swing it, buy it.

  • avatar

    My father impulse bought a white on black ’92 Mercury Capri XR2 while out getting an air filter for the lawn tractor.  It got him back into convertibles and directly led to it being replaced by a Vette…and another Vette…

    I impulse bought a blue ’89 Honda CB-1 for my first motorcycle.  It was a race bike that had been converted back to a street bike and (when finally running) was the balls.  And nobody knew what it was.  Eventually got tired of the hive-of-very-pissed-off-bees race “exhaust” drone and intelligently bought an SV650.

  • avatar

    911 carrera 2 S with Sport Chrono package…. that would be my impulse by…i think but i love so many cars out there that i think i would be in the same boat as you are now….
    as for your choice, my guess is a CTS-V……

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    It’s difficult to know you are making the right decision when you have spare cash burning a hole in your pocket and you have a passion for cars. It’s worse when you don’t have a dime. Once I saw a replica of a car that I made a lot of first love in come for sale, but I dickered and lost it, and regretted the hell out of that. Couple of days ago I got an unexpected offer of a 1989 BMW 5 that I know all the work history of. I called a transport company and took it. A friend called me crazy! My wife asked where would I park it? I worked for a day making space, parked my old ride against the back wall of the garage, and now I’m looking forward to the subtle sweet experience of driving one of my old favorites.

  • avatar

    While I was living in Denver, I was faced with the choice of two cars: A clean E30 M3, or a ’91 Audi 200 turbo quattro 20v – the testbed for the first S4s.
    One test drive of the M3 and I was in love. But it was going to be my only car, and the truth about this car was, there was no way I was going to get through a Denver winter without pulverizing the car and probably myself.
    I bought the Audi. It was a great car. But if I found a clean M3 for the same price now, I wouldn’t hesitate.

  • avatar

    Easy. Mine was/would/will-be-again a late 90s FIAT Coupe 2.0 20VT (almost certainly yellow again) only next time I’ll have saved up for it instead of taking out a loan, so that I’ll be able to afford to keep it!
    Ed: I’d say act on your impulse – I can’t think of any other inanimate object which has ever made me smile as often or as much as that car did.

  • avatar

    A guy had a 61 Canadian Pontiac rag top with a 261 inline and three on the tree.

    Geez, Mikey, you let me down…how could you turn your back on one of the last production flatheads…in a ragtop no less!

    In answer to the question…any 60s Riviera, Toronado, or Eldorado.

  • avatar

    Once a year or so, I spot a (reasonably) straight first-gen Sentra SE-R in a parking lot. If it seems relatively rust-free and unbutchered (rare and getting moreso), I tuck a business card under the wiper blade with an offer to buy the car. Then I wait with mixed emotions wondering if the owner will call. Why mixed emotions? Because up here in MA, even if an old Sentra looks decent, it’s sure to be a rust-pit beneath. And the A/C never works, and the tranny pops out of 5th gear, and the headliner sags, and on and on … I’ve owned 3 of these cars, so I should either A) know better, or B) buy one, strip it to a bare shell, restore it properly and never sell it. Great cars!

  • avatar

    I am always checking out Autotrader for 2001 Mustang Bullitts. If the prices come down any more, I’m gonna have a hard time resisting. I know, I know…..completely irrational.

  • avatar

    My old 1964 Chevy Impala SS convertible, yellow, just like my avatar that I owned 40 years ago when I was in the USAF in northern California for my entire 4 years! Buy it in a heartbeat! I often wonder if it’s still around somewhere?

  • avatar

    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I had a ’67 SS396 Chevelle (back in the day as it’s said) and it would fishtail through third gear on dry pavement. That’s the nature of the beast! I bought mine used for $975 in 1973; it would be $45,000+ at least today, tough one for an impulse buy.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.”  The same applies to automotive purchases.  I would never consider either marrying or buying a car on impulse.

    For me, the joy is in the anticipation….my last car purchase, I knew what I wanted and spent two years planning for it, saving for it, and shopping for it.  That was 4 years ago….and now I know what my NEXT car will be….which I will buy in 2012….will spend the next 18 months doing the same things….planning, saving and shopping.  These are USED car purchases, I am talking about, not new.

    I guess it comes down to a matter of faith…I believe that when the time is right, and I am ready, have done all my homework and know the vehicle I want inside and out, foibles, quirks, design pluses and minuses, know what to look for and what to avoid, it sets me up for YEARS of happy motoring….

    Actually, it kinda is like marriage, now that I think about it….making mistakes in both can be expensive.

  • avatar

    I’m a full on believer in impulse buys if you can do it. We have a passion for cars, we should show it. My impulse buy was a new RX8 in 2005, which I just decided one day on my way home from work I was going to buy. If I had my way I’d have an annual impulse buy, but alas marriage is the great killer of such things. The impulse buy I’ve been tempted by but not done is a Wrangler – I love the looks and the image and could live with the ride – but I think I’d end up tiring of it as a daily driver.

    I think your impulse is something American from the early 80’s.

  • avatar

    I just bought a 2002 Collector Edition Trans Am convertible 6-speed. It’s yellow with black wheels and goofy graphics on the sides. It’s a clown car and there is no logical reason for it to exist other than be a cartoon version of the last Trans Am, which were cartoon versions of cars in the first place. It’s so over the top ridiculous, but since Trans Ams and even Pontiac are dead, I figure if I am going to own any Poncho, might as well be silliest one (the 70s birds were silly too, but this one stomps those performance wise). I was shopping Trans Am vert 6-speeds anyway, but I call this one an impulse buy because my wife wanted me to get a “big boy color”.

  • avatar

    C6 ZR1
    ’11 Mustang GT500
    M3 of any vintage
    ’11 Jag XKR
    Pop-up headlight era NSX
    Last gen Prelude SH
    Corrado VR6 or 16v Scirocco (the other Giugiaro beauty, along with the Impulse)
    ’65 Pontiac Catalina Convertible
    Grandpa’s old ’61 Morgan +4 (sold by my dad before I had the means to buy or maintain it)
    Grandpa’s old ’71 P1800 ES (sold by my grandpa before I had the means to buy or maintain it)
    Austin-Healey 3000
    Cayman S
    A Volvo 740 wagon with a stick and a supercharged Ford 4.9 dropped in it
    E63 AMG
    Triumph TR-6
    E24 6 series
    E28 5 series

  • avatar

    Evo VIII. Walked into the dealership on my birthday, drove out with the car.

  • avatar

    Bought a loaded ’96 Contour V-6 SE, manual immediately.  It made dumping my old automatic Accord easy.  Quick little car (it seemed then), and the handling was pretty impressive in the SE.  Cruised easily @ 101MPH for hours as a buddy and I drove it to New England from San Jose.  Some great stories in that trip.  Zero problems until wanna-be car thieves broke into it in a garage near the Wang Theater in Boston.  We must have caused them to scatter before they could boost it.  Not knowing it had been tampered with, it overheated on the way home and was never the same again.

  • avatar

    I could see being a moron for a boxster s, if I were to walk by the wrong (right?) dealership and see one. As often as it’s praises have been sung at TTAC, I’d quite like to own one.

  • avatar

    A 2006+ Lotus Elise w/ touring package priced under $20,000 with less than 30,000 miles.

  • avatar

    I’d buy an original 79-80 Rx-7 if I could find one in decent condition at a decent price. This was my very first new car, sold after getting married to my first wife because we needed money for a refridgerator. 

  • avatar

    My wife has forbidden me from buying any more 1966 Chryslers.  If I find one for sale for the right price, I could find somewhere to hide it though.
    This spring I spotted a likely candidate sitting in a driveway about an hour’s drive from my house.  Mint condition and rust free, with original paint even.  It had just been rolled out of the garage where it had been sitting for about 15 years.  The kid I talked to said his grandfather was planning to sell it as soon as his dad finished doing a brake job on it.  I left my number but never got a call (unless my wife answered and didn’t tell me about it).

  • avatar

    I responded to a Volvo CEO thread about 2000-2002 Bentley Arnage Red Line’s being available for ~$40k in the states, and 2005 Continental GT’s for ~$60k. For the next couple hours I researched everything about those models. The urge to buy was herculean. Fortunately, I decided that I had other things to do with the money than buy another car.
    I also have a soft spot for the 1999-2005 Q45, 2003-2004 M45, Phaeton, any XJ, and any XLR.

  • avatar

    I have no idea, but I will know it when I see it.  If an impulse purchase can span the space of a few days, I have bought several cars this way.  The criteria: it has to interest me, has to be in unusually nice shape and has to be very reasonably priced.  Between the ages of 17 and 27 I owned 7 cars.  All but the first was an impusle purchase, meaning that I didn’t really need another car, had become disenchanted with what I had, and stumbled across something that I decided that I could not live without.  In my defense, they were all old and inexpensive.  I still remember the one that got away because I was in college and broke in 1981: an immaculate gold 1970 Newport 2 door – 57K with air.  I still remember that car and would buy it today.

    As I have gotten older, I have still occasionally found a car this way, like the 89 Cadillac Brougham that a neighbor put up for sale about 10 years ago.  It is so much easier to buy the jewel that you stumble across than to actually go out shopping – particularly if you are looking for something old, nice and cheap.  Most of my best cars have been found by accident.

  • avatar

    May not meet the exact definition but I just bought a 1998 Toyota Tacoma pretty impulsively.  I had been looking for nearly 2 years for a truck at the right price to replace my beater 1987 Dodge Dakota but I had a list of standards, including could tow 5,000 lbs.  Had been mostly looking at used F150s and Silverados.  Then I saw the Tacoma and drove it, it’s from the “fat Toyota” years so well built and well optioned and drives grate, and gave me a nostalgic feel for my first ever new car, a Toyota Corolla.  Oh, and it was 1/2 the price of all the other trucks I’d looked at over the last two years.  I compromised (i.e,. gave up) on the towing and bought it on the spot.  My wife’s Explorer can do our towing.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    MY WIFE’S GRANDMOTHER’S (she’s 98..) 2001 LEXUS LS 430 Ultra-Luxury package @ 14,500KM ON THE CLOCK.
    She used to drive it to the golf course, supermarket and her doctor’s appointments. Now it’s driven perhaps 1x/2x mo. by my 70 yr/o mother in law to the  doctor’s office 10 minutes away from home…

  • avatar

    Late 80’s/Early 90’s Toyota Pickup in at least decent shape, 4WD, 5spd, preferably with the 22R-E.
    In salted Minnesota winters these becoming rare it seems. Although, the farther north I go, the more I find. Even though I have an F-150 for truck duties, if I run into one under a grand I guarantee I’d be driving it home.

  • avatar

    “There is an early 90sFreightliner FLB Daycab single axle in the livery of a defunct Freight carrier near my house.  It could be had for $3-4k and would be the mother of all dually pickups once I took off the 5th wheel and gave it a stakebed”

    Ian – yes me too on that one.  I’d like an old smaller rig (COE) to put an Alaskan Camper on it.  This would satisfy my inner red-neck which I do not deny exists.  However my practical wife, suburban home, and the fact that I am indeed a yuppie now prevent such pleasures.  So maybe I might settle for a mid 60’s Chevy flatbed with an I6 –  for yard work of course. 

  • avatar

    A one-owner, 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300D with 245000 on the odometer, bought off the wholesale line of Westside Chrysler in March 1998. The only signs of its age were its faded maroon paint, generally grimy interior, and a persistent clunk from the back end. It was on its original turbo; for that matter, the head had never been off the engine, and it still ran strong with very little smoke.

    Never before had I seen a car that I knew I had to have. I quickly snatched it away from three salesmen (who wanted to curb it) for $1200. A $250 rear half-shaft took care of the clunking, which I later learned was what prompted the original owner to trade the car in (for a 1998 Plymouth Breeze… that still makes me chuckle.)

    A thorough detail brought the interior back — no cracks in the M-B Tex seats, door panels, or even the dash! — and a buff-and-touch-up made the exterior look new. All told, I spent about $1800 on the car, including registration.

    I drove the Benz all over New Mexico that summer. I hadn’t intended to sell it, but a good friend who grew up in Germany fell in love with the car, as it reminded her of one her dad owned. So, four months later and with 253000 miles on the odo, later I let it go… for $3,500. A fair price, decent profit, and yet that was still over $2K under book!

    She proceeded to utterly thrash the car. The last time I saw it, it looked worse than it had on the wholesale line. To this day I still wish I hadn’t let it go.

  • avatar

    After my last impulse buy, I swore off ever doing it again. It was a Honda Accord with a “UC Santa Barbara” decal on the back window. Did you know college students don’t maintain their cars, and beat them to hell? That car was a money pit!  This “Star Fleet Academy” may be a good school, but I’d steer clear of a student-owned car.

  • avatar

    Impulse buy was a 1995 Mustang GTS in Canary yellow.  The GTS was basically the V6 trim level with the 5.0, T-5 and 16″ wheels from the GT.  Drove by the Ford lot and traded my 1995 Probe GT in about an hour.  Fresh out of college and living on my own, i.e. not the brightest move, but I still miss that car.
    Most of my later purchases have been informed ones, but I’ll stop to ponder any early Bronco with the white flares and tube bumpers, preferably with some polished aluminum Weld’s and big tires.  Others include Renault R5 Turbo, 1987 Grand National, Datsun 510, mid-80’s LTD LX.

  • avatar

    Its about time the owner of the internet’s best car site actually became a car owner. I hope the deal goes through, even though it’ll likely be a car I personally hate. I almost impulse-bought a slightly used Mustang back in ’07, but fortunately they wouldn’t budge on the price, so I ended up getting a much better deal on a far more family-friendly Charger. Right now as far as cars I could actually afford; the new Cherokee and Mustang 5.0 impulse-tempt me the most.

  • avatar

    My mechanical skills are worse than Jeremy Clarkson and I don’t really have the disposable income to buy a used car that doesn’t need major work. Plus I’ve never owned 2 cars, so I’ve never really thought of cars as an impulse but I could make.
    But if I could, a nice 2 seater sports car, like the old British roadsters, a miata, or a boxter would do very nicely.

  • avatar

    I was thinking M3s, but perhaps something more extreme is best. An Evora,

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