New or Used: Deficient in Practicality, Full in Spirit
As spring descends on Texas & a young man’s (OK, middle aged man’s) fancy turns to cars deficient in practicality but full in spirit, I bring to you the following dilemma for your consideration.
The parameters are simple, manual is a must, RWD is preferable, A/C is mandatory (this is Texas), price point should be less than $30K, pre-owned and pre-loved is fine.
The choices are narrowing down to classic marques and Japanese hot imports. In no particular order; Porsche 911, Lotus Elise, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru WRX-STI. Each has unique advantages and drawbacks. Cachet versus all-out performance, specialized services versus the local franchise dealer, low-tech tradition versus hi-tech cutting edge.
This is my case for you to ponder. Or perhaps there’s even a car or two I have overlooked (I already have a BMW 325)? Your input, knowledge and experience would be greatly appreciated.
You pretty much ignored one of the largest gaping holes in today’s new car market. The muscle car. Obviously you have some import leaning given your current choices which is perfectly fine. But I would consider broadening your horizons a bit.
There is a reason why the Ford Mustang outsells all of the cars you mentioned… combined. It’s an exceptional vehicle. If I were blowing $30k large on a ride it would be hard NOT to consider a late model Shelby GT500. A few weeks ago there was an ultra low-mileage one at a Carmax auction and everyone short of… well… me… went to see it. You will likely find that a 2007 model in the 20k to 30k odometer range will be in the $30k price range.
I won’t push you on a Corvette. Although that would definitely be on my list as well. I will say that a five year old Mercedes SLK 55 or a three to four year old Audi S4 would both be excellent possibilities. Yes they are as expensive to deal with as Elton John’s jewelry fetish, and the Corvette is an infinitely better ‘keeper’ vehicle than either of those two. But these models along with the BMW M3 and M5 should definitely be on the list.
Just make sure you are willing to invest in the high four figures after you buy any of these European models. You will need it.
Given your criteria, location and performance aspirations, you’re selling yourself short if you avoid a nicely-equipped (early) C6 Corvette. At least for a test drive. The Magna-Ride bits kill the competition, and LS2-FTW. The interior is more WRX than 911, but avoiding domestic brands on “cache” and “spirit” alone make me think North Dallas snob appeal. Which, even if I’m too young for a mid-life crisis, makes this Alief-bred Houstonian choke on his morning coffee.
But I get it: plenty of middle aged dudes go for GM’s plastic fantastic for ALL the wrong reasons. And that’s pretty lame.
You want a car with a soul, and the Corvette projects the wrong one. You can easily get a baseline 996 Porker, enjoy the $250+ repair bill for the failing headlight switch and a host of other service nightmares that aren’t so fiscally-challenging on a Corvette. But I would personally spend a couple grand over your budget for an SL55 AMG, sans warranty: expensive to care for and shockingly complex, but the best road burner for Texas highways. Both do not stop/steer/go like a Vette, but they come close enough and look like a million.
I say get over it. Buy a Vette, ditch the run-flat tires, put headers and a full exhaust, and be everyone’s boss.
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