New or Used: Cefiro!

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used cefiro

TTAC commentator bumpy ii writes:

It’s definitely going to be used in this case. Anyway, I’m looking to pick up a fun weekend car in another 3-4 years. I like to plan ahead. Here’s what I want:

* 4 doors


* manual transmission

* normally aspirated inline 6

* (the kicker) curb weight under 3,000 pounds

* preferably built after the Reagan administration (most everyone had their emissions stuff sorted out by then)

From what I can tell, this narrows the list down to 4 cars (in order of preference):

*Nissan R32 Skyline

*Nissan A31 Cefiro

*M-B 190E 2.6

*BMW E30 325i

Am I leaving anything off? Any particular reason to favor or discount one versus another? Budget: I dunno, up to $10k if necessary. I’m in Virginia, and I’m willing to wait until the Nissans hit the DOT import exemption.

Sajeev Answers:

Why narrow your focus to I-6 motors? They are a bit slow by modern standards and are pricey to make more palatable, unless they are fitted with factory turbos. Oh, and they tend to wiggle like a wiener dog when they overheat, eating head gaskets and warping (aluminum) heads in the process. While I understand the premise of your quandary, all of these vintage racers will get their asses handed to them by a Fox Mustang (or LTD, since you want four-doors) with a full Griggs suspension, late model brakes with ABS and a souped up Windsor motor. Hell you don’t even wanna pick a fight with a 265hp, 6-speed (auto) Camry SE with a few chassis mods. There’s no better bitch slap than Toyota’s best Q-ship, especially from a 70mph dig: the 6 to 3 downshift is just nuts in that car!

And to be a real jerk, let me also tell you what 10 grand will buy in a tastefully modified 4th-gen Camaro or Firebird. They are the most underrated piece of “cheap” iron out there, even with the awful interior and terrible reputation from their collective owners. Buy one, twist the key and be better than 90% of the vehicles on the planet, even box stock.

That said, I am importing a brown Ford Sierra Ghia from the UK, so perhaps I need to encourage you. With the Sierra in mind, the only one from my list would be the Cefiro. If you are gonna be spanked by a new Camry, why not do it with class and style?

Hot Rod Griggs Fox Body LTD, son. Think about it.

Steve answers:

Inline 6? My good God man! What on Earth makes you want to drive an engine from the middle ages? Do you have some type of unique fetish for old Celica Supras and E-Classes?

Actually, I think a late 80’s MB W124 four door would actually be quite close with the weight and engine specs… but why? I’m sorry but I just have no love for the inline 6’s other than their supposed ease of maintenance (which is not nearly the entire equation when it comes to these old engines).

I would think about it some more. Years, many years. Maybe to the point of near death. If an inline 6 is a must have then just get yourself a nice old Merc or BMW for about 2 to 3k and just play with it for a while. There is no good reason to blow $10k on a proverbial Reagan era spec sheet.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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3 of 59 comments
  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Nov 11, 2011

    I totally get the straight six obsession. Anyone questioning, just listen to this clip. I don't care if I'll get beat by a new camry or not if my care sounds like that, and offers an e30 level of driver involvement. I agree its gotta be an e30 but good luck finding a good example. They are unfortunately becoming increasingly rare. The IS300 and M3 are good alternatives if you're willing to compromise on weight, the RX-8 on engine.

  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Nov 12, 2011

    Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions (except that one). The Cherokee suggestion was particularly amusing. Some specific points: The RX-8 is an interesting option, though the high-strung nature of the rotary is not a good match for my laid-back driving style. A good inline six has the feel and sound that can't be found in most other engine configurations. I am firm on the weight limit, since I'm already compromising by letting it go as high as 3000 pounds. Whatever I do buy will most likely be the heaviest car I've had, and I want to keep it as low as I can without gutting the interior. If I wasn't such a hardass, the IS300 would be my open-and-shut choice, but the US-spec IS300 (and the E36 BMWs) are over 3200 pounds. I want four doors, partly for easier access to the package shelf behind the front seats, and partly because I find coupe doors to be longer and heavier than I like. I've already done the 2-seat convertible thing with the S2000, and it's a wonderful car limited by the vehicle format (I have no chance of ever passing the broomstick test in it). The folks who said I'm looking for an E30 are right. I initially tipped the list in the W201's favor since four-door E30s seem to be uncommon and I figured that most of them would be turned into autocross warriors or Spec E30 cars by the time I go looking. The rarity and clunkiness of the MB 5-speed tips things back in BMW's direction. I do want an E30, but I think what I really want is a Japanese E30, hence my interest in the Nissans. Under the sheet metal, they were both built straight out of the Nissan RWD parts bin, so mechanical bits aren't as unobtainium as one might think. The Skyline is a bit lighter and has a better front suspension, but the Cefiro was built in a LHD version.

    • Ophelia Ophelia on Nov 12, 2011

      Old, light cars are a lot of fun. There's a rawness to them that I find appealing, but they probably seem like noisy, rattly old hoopties to the general public. :) I can totally understand the weight limit.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂