By on June 29, 2012

Me? Boring???

To Steve:

My name is Alex and I currently own a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser 100 series.

It is my 3rd one (99, 2001 and this 03) as well as a 93 (80 series). I am a diehard Land Cruiser and Land Rover fanatic. I also have had my fair share of Range Rovers, which I have finally learned to appreciate from a distance as I cannot afford to continue to repair them on a weekly basis.

My 03 Land Cruiser has 158k miles, which is nothing for these cars and looks showroom new for the most part. I also refuse to give the truck up. Period. However with gas being where it is and trying to preserve the Land Cruiser as long as I can, I’m thinking about adding a vehicle to the stable for a daily commuter.

My only requirements are it being reliable, somewhat fuel efficient (well, anything better than the Land Crusher) and fun to drive. I’d rather go with a more vintage car that may be slightly more expensive to repair as it will be different and way more fun to drive than a boring econobox.

I like the Starion/Conquest, but there might be some reliability concerns, or maybe a 3 series (E36). I want to keep this under $5,000 and have factored that in with higher repair costs. I know I definitely do not want a Mustang or Camaro or generic. I’d like something that sticks out. Rust issues are of no concern in Southern California, so no worries on that. If you have any other odd ball suggestions, please help me out.

Steve says:

My first instinct when anyone mentions a cheap little vintage runabout as a daily driver is, “Do you fix your own cars?”

Let’s say you have limited knowledge. You know your fluids. Can perform your own oil changes, and can catch the small issues before they become big. If that sounds like you, I would look more towards a 1990’s vehicle that was widely produced instead of a 1980’s vintage that had a limited run. When the difficult issue comes to the fore you want it to be easy to fix.

Since you already have the ‘big’ vehicle, I would look more towards the compact side of the world… the ‘affordable’ compact side that doesn’t involve complex electronics or multiple trips to European specialty shops. There are a lot of good compacts from the Clinton era, and chances are that the vehicle’s condition will be a far better indicator of your happiness than the type of model.

Assuming that all things are equal in the condition world, my number one pick would be an NA Miata. They are by far the best bang for the buck vehicles of that era if you’re looking for something that is sporty, vintage (but mechanically robust), and reasonable to keep. A lot of older folks also tend to hang on to these vehicles as Sunday drivers,  and although they may ask for a premium, the quality of the product and the prior owner is often worth that investment.

What else would work? It all depends on the owner. As I go through the usual list of suspects… 300Z, RX-7, 3-Series, Eclipse/Talon, Integra, BMW E36 models,  all I see for you is a near 20 year time period where anything can happen. A lot of kids rag these vehicles out and even older owners start skimping on the maintenance when they get bored of driving them.

Keeping all things relative, it’s best to buy an older vehicle that is garage kept and doesn’t come out of the homely cave twelve months of the year. So my vote is for a Miata. Shaken not stirred. Good luck!

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60 Comments on “New or Used? : Seeking A California Vintage...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    Get a motorcycle.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I second the Miata/MX5. I’ll sell you my 2007 w/26K miles – oh, wait – you said $5K…never mind…mine’ll cost you $12.5K…

    Moving on…

    If not a Miata/MX5, what about a…well, what was small, efficient and fun to drive back then from the 1990’s? A Ford Ranger XLT 5 speed, that’s what. You just won’t get anywhere very fast if it has the 4 cyl, but if you commute on LA’s freeways, that won’t be a problem.

    As to a car? Maybe a Taurus SHO? A Camaro RS? A Mustang? A Corolla S? A Nissan 240 – those are nice – a buddy has a 1997 he’s owned since new. I think a Z car may put you over the top for a good one.

    Good hunting. After all, half the fun is in the searching!

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Based on a friend’s experience with a twin-turbo Z, I would recommend to stay far, far away. Very good performance for the day, but working on anything in the engine bay is a nightmare.

      E36 sedan or miata gets my vote.

      • 0 avatar
        CA Guy

        +1 – if he buys a Z, it should be a naturally aspirated model if he wishes to keep costs down. My 300ZX Turbo was a fine car but it often seemed as if every part was unique to the Turbo model and was more complicated to install. I grew to dread those calls from my Z mechanic saying “the repair will be [X amount of money] and will take [x hours] to install; now, if it were a non-turbo, the part would only cost [Y amount of money] and I could do it in half the time.” My cousin had the non-turbo twin of my car and it cost much less to keep running. Great cars if he can find a well cared for example.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Corolla S was just a trim package. Corolla XRS got the hot-dog motor from the final Celica GTS.

  • avatar
    adame24

    I would go with a late 80s or early 90s BMW e30 3 series. The 325 is pretty reliable and gets okay gas mileage plus they are a lot of fun to drive. The is models have nice nicer wheels and sport seats. Maintence should not be that bad especialy if you are a diyer. Rust free should be easy to find in southern ca and $3000 should be enough for a nice clean one, 5 grand should get an immaculate one with BBS. The E30s are classic and do not receive as much abuse as the E36 I would think as you do not see as many kids in E30s. They are often owned by BMW enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      +1 to this. If you like BMWs, and live where rust is not an issue, the e30 is simply a better built car than the e36. The interiors hold up better, they are simpler, and there is not much in it performance wise. If anything, the lower ultimate limits make them more fun. For truly frugal fun, find the rare and desirable ’91 318is. Twin-cam 16V four, significantly lighter than the six, so it handles beautifully. The e30 M3s little brother. I have owned two and would buy another one in a heartbeat. Drive it like you stole it and still get 35mpg. They may not BE fast, but they sure FEEL fast. $5K will get you a nice one, and a bonus is they have no timing belt to deal with, and hydraulic valve lifters so they need less maintenance than the sixes.

      • 0 avatar

        I own a 325is 1989 E30. The 6-cylinder version does have a timing belt, so take note.

        Also, they are pricey to get repairs done by a shoppe if you can not do them on your own. For example, on mine:

        Radiator Fan Replacement – $250
        Condensor – $725 (original condensor was fine, but high-pressure hose blew and stripped connector)
        Front Windshield – $265
        Bearings – $80 (replaced myself)

        BMW’s are complex machines to work on, they are excellent driving machines where, especially in the E30’s, everything is married in perfect harmony to achieve this; but at a price of complexity compared to econo boxes.

        I’ll continue to keep my E30 stock and in excellent condition until I die. Just be prepared for the upkeep.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        Current owner of a ’91 318is here. I got lucky, and a friend of mine was selling it, after he’d rescued it from the auction lot at the CarMax dealership he worked at. I was seriously considering a 318ti or a Panther platform car before that.

        It’s required a lot more wear-and-tear parts to be replaced than the Japanese cars (2 miatas, a 240SX, 85 Corolla GTS coupe) I’ve previously owned, but it wasn’t difficult. Given what’s been replaced, those parts are good for another 100k miles.

        Highly recommended if you can find a good example.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Bluebrat

        On what planet do you live that you think the prices listed for those repairs are pricey? That counts as DIRT cheap compared to anything more modern. A/C condensors can easily be in the couple THOUSAND dollar range, as can windshields. A radiator fan for a Saab 9-5 is over $500 just for the part.

        e30s are only slightly more complicated than a Volvo 240, which in turn is only slightly more complicated than an anvil. I suppose if your frame of reference is a ’82 Corolla or something the BMW would seem complicated and expensive. The newest of the e30s are now old enough to vote, even the best are going to need some maintenance.

      • 0 avatar

        krhodes1:

        Easily done:

        My 2003 Ford Explorer:
        Windshield: $50
        Condensor: $75

        1989 Ford Escort
        Heater coil: $98
        Windshield: $25
        Front bumper: $75

        :)

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      I’ve gotta disagree a little bit. From poking around the market for the past couple years, I fear that the e30 is quickly becoming the new 2002. Good ones are getting shockingly pricey. And the bad ones are being driven into the ground and scrapped. I’d say that $5k might find him a decent one, but great ones are easily bringing in five figures now.

      That said, the online support and parts availability is second to none.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I second either the Miata (1994-1997) and the BMW E30 or E36.
      I had a Miata Black&Tan (Black exterior, tan leather int and tan top) and loved it. ’94 and newer gives you a larger motor and the availability of finding a ‘R’ model which has a little stiffer suspension, etc.

      If you look for a E30, choose 1987 and newer, as the older models were built mainly with gear ratios intended just to give better fuel economy at the cost of performance. Look for the 325iS model, which is a 2dr with BBS, factory spoilers, fogs, and really nice leather sport seats, or if it’s a 1990-1991, the 318iS which is all this stuff but with a nice four cylinder replacing the six cylinder.

      Yes, in the case of the BMW, parts and service are expensive, but buy the absolute best condition car you can, and think about doing some of the future repairs yourself, if you can.

  • avatar
    MarionCobretti

    The Miata seems to be the low-hanging fruit in this discussion. But if you want something from that vintage that’s fuel-efficient, fun to drive, and *different*, how about a Nissan NX2000? They were essentially goofy looking 2+2 Sentra SE-Rs with T-Tops and the same great SR20DE motor. They’re reliable, pretty fuel efficient, and damn fun for front drivers. There’s a nice manual trans model on AutoTrader right now with only 63k for $5450 (alas, it’s in Arkansas). It might not be as easy to find as an NA Miata, but it will definitely “stick out.”

    If that’s too weird or hard to find, how about a 5th-gen (’97-’01) Prelude SH? They’re unkillable, and although rarer than their Civic/Accord brethren, it’s often easier to find one unmolested.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      +1 on 1997 – 2001 Honda Prelude. Low center of gravity, good handling, reasonably reliable, and available under $5000. A tall ex-girlfriend owned one and I remember it having lots of leg room.

    • 0 avatar
      jconli1

      Full agreement on the NX2000. It often gets overshadowed by the SE-R, but the T-tops and useful hatch space made it far more enjoyable and practical IMO. Just like the SE-R, it had great torque and sharp handling stock, and upgrades abound if that’s your thing. The best part is they just keep going. Mine had 160k on it when I sold it, no issues whatsoever. Still regret letting it go. A friend’s SE-R had 300+k and was still a strong autocrosser.

    • 0 avatar

      I have an NX2000 in midnight blue, 112K, new front struts, Nissan plug wires, and muffler. Looks like it should be in a museum. Always garaged. Custom rolling wooden rack for T-Tops to protect them. Never raced or wrecked. Handles very well. I have logged 28 mpg. city (with AC) and 36 mpg. road.

      Reason for selling: bad back, cannot sustain the low seat. Other than that I HATE to sell this car.

      Editor’s Note: We’re not Craigslist. Sorry. But we do accept free donations and other goodwill offerings.

  • avatar

    MR2 Spyder would be my choice.

    • 0 avatar

      The MR2 Spyder isn’t a cheap upkeep, and the lack of cargo-space compared to a Miata is a hindrance due to the rear/mid engine placement. You get two small boxes behind the seats.

      Also, the interior is, IMHO, duh. But, they are brilliant fun to drive, a little more so than a Miata, I dare say! Also, just to note, the MR2 Spyder does have a bit more legroom for us taller folks than the 90’s Miata (I always wished my ’94 had one extra click to go back).

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Can’t find a good example for $5000.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    You’ve just written the spec sheet for a Miata.

    Try one and a CRX. You’ll know whether you prefer front or rear wheel drive afterwards.

  • avatar
    Mike

    *ahem* my good friend, I believe you need a first generation (’93-’96) Lincoln Mark VIII. More distinctive than the Mustang, and more comfortable. Good examples can be had for $3k, and you can put the rest into fixing the headlights, control arms, and air suspension. :) Once that’s done, you will have a fast, reliable car that gets 25-28 mpg on the Interstate. It may be wise to draw the line at ’95 though, because the ’96 has some one-year-only parts due to the addition of OBDII.

    For that matter, I like the Ranger idea too. I’ve never had more fun in a pickup than in a ’94 4×4 with the 4.0 and a 5-speed. That one could be hit or miss on your “better” mileage requirement though.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    You’re going to think I’m crazy and or joking, but a first gen Toyota Echo with a 5 speed manual weighs nothing and is pretty quick. I’m serious about that last part, 0-60 times are in the 8 second range.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/toyota-echo-road-test

    The tall cabin looks stupid from the outside, but makes sense when you’re on the inside as you can wear a top hat on the way to work, if that’s your thing.

    These cars were generally hated by everybody, despite being amazingly reliable, so you can pick one up on the cheap. Fun? Eh, maybe a stretch, but it’ll hit your 5k mark easy enough and outlast your LC.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      +1, grzydj. The amount of hate the Echo and Yaris engender on “enthusiast” sites is comical, especially since they exhibit the many of the positive qualities of 1980s Toyotas that those same enthusiasts claim are lost. In real-world driving, the 1NZ-FE is a great engine, and these cars have a shocking amount of interior space. Once you’re inside, you realizes how far astray designers have gone in the Canyonero/Bumble Bee Camaro Era.

      Sad to see this family of cars succumb to the high beltline trend with the XP130 design.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I’ve been kinda casually looking to pick up a nice Echo, and all I seem to find are autotragics that already have close to 200k on them for $4500.

    • 0 avatar
      EchoChamberJDM

      Just sold my Echo MY2000, 4 door, 5 speed, 180k miles a few weeks ago. Put it on Craigslist, had 15 calls in 2 hours, first guy who showed up paid cash. Priced at KBB “excellent” price. Didn’t even drive it, just started it up. Had all service records, it was my baby. People called me up begging me to sell it to them, not to the guy who showed up and bought it. A great car, 40 mpg, just like a Prius without the hybrid silliness. Ran like a top, nothing on it to break. As used cars, they are extremely popular and a good one goes quick a a good price.
      Turned around and bought a used 2003 Saab 93 sports sedan. Same price as the Echo. Much nicer car, driving in style now. Full leather, all the safety equipment,quick as the wind with the TURBO, and I don’t look like a dork driving around town.
      My Advice? Forget the Echo. Get a Saab. Parts are readily available as long as you stick with the 93, make sure it was well kept, and pick it up CHEAP!

      • 0 avatar
        bikephil

        Wow, baaaad idea on the Saab. They suck. The 2000 9-5 wagon I owned was the most unreliable and poorly built car I’ve ever owned. 2 blown turbos in 80k miles, wouldn’t start for no apparent reason, blown DI cassette twice, etc etc. Better have a BIG repair fund if you intend to keep that beast for long.

    • 0 avatar
      EchoChamberJDM

      Bikephil – agreed, Saab 9-5 esp 2000MY is the worst. A money pit if there ever was one. 2004MY+ are much better though, and I have seen a few go for under $5k on ebay.
      My 2003 9-3 seems to be rock solid, all service records, former CPO car. ANd I was told by the local dealer to “stay away from that year. Feeling adventurous, I bought it anyway. So far so good. But, in this case I would recommend a 2004MY or newer.

  • avatar

    Let’s be a little more specific on the Talon recommendation!

    The regular stock Talon is abysmal to drive with one of the dumbest manual clutches our there.

    The Turbo, however, is a lot of fun. But, it’s not very reliable, and a bit pricey to maintain.

    I love the look of the Talon over the Eclipse of the same year. Great sound from the stock turbo too.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    E36, i would say a 328is. Why?

    -Cheap. There’s no “E30 cult car” tax – you get a lot more car for your money than an E30, they’re the “middle child” so to speak. The E30’s are priced high because of the collectibility, the E46’s cause it still looks new.
    -Modern *enough*: you get a lot of modern features that you’ll come to appreciate. Power windows that work. auto climate. power seats. “Goodies.”
    -Not *too* modern: not only is there a dipstick, there’s a transmission dip stick! You can change all the fluids yourself! They’re easy to work on!
    -Timing chain: I love E30 325i’s, but timing belts suck. Also, VANOS is fun.
    -Parts availability: TONS of it. Due to the similarity between the M3 and normal E36, many M3 parts are direct fit upgrades. The 328is itself includes better suspension (springs & swaybars), and an LSD.
    -Awesome: it’s not a Miata.

    (My E36 has 181k miles and gets daily driven hard, every day.)

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Agree 100%. The E36 cars are a value sweet-spot, for the exact reasons mentioned. They’re a bit more soft and plasticky, but the same money gets you a better E36 than E30. Though be sure to find someone who really knows the model to help you hone in on the right model & year. The e36, especially early years, had a handful of problem areas to watch out for in certain models. I don’t know them all, but the aficionados sure do. (Or just spend some time on the boards…)

      Even good e36 M3’s can be had fairly inexpensively, though a hair above your budget.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Some Miata points from a former owner. If you live in SoCal, think about what the sun has done to the soft top. Also be calm about replacing one yourself; it isn’t hard.

    In choosing Miatas, the later NAs from 94-97, I believe, have the bigger engine and more structural rigidity.

    Lots of used replacement parts are available for cheap, and the car is easy to work on.

    Ladies appreciate this car more than car guys.

    The better driver you are, the more fun Miata is.

  • avatar
    graham

    BMW E30 is my suggestion as well. Having owned at least one E30, E28, E36, E46, E90 and E91, the E30 is far and away my favorite. Stay away from the E36!

    But better yet, just take all that extra money you’ll be spending on another car (purchase price, insurance, tax and repairs) and calculate how many miles you’d have to drive with your Land Cruiser to make up the difference. I bet you’ll come out way ahead just driving your beloved Land Cruiser instead of complicating your car life with another mouth to feed.

  • avatar
    Ihateusernames

    Z3… its a half E30 part E36, all roadster that can be had for not much money.

    It has the rear suspension from an E30, which made the M version a ditch seeking missle because of oversteer, planted front end, a distinctive appearance, and enough parts commonality with other BMWs that parts aren’t a bear to find.

    I Have had E30’s, I love them but finding a good one for under 5k is getting very tough, lots of terrible ones for shocking amounts of money are available.

    I had an E36 between E30’s, and I liked it, but didn’t love it.

    Leased a Z4, and it had no soul, so when the lease was up a got a Z3 and use it as a runabout, no regrets.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      On the Z3 front, as a Z3 owner, I tend to notice other Z3s. What I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of 4 cylinder Z3s. I have no idea why that is and haven’t looked at sales numbers for the 4-cylinder version as compared to the two 6-cylinder versions, the 2.8 and the 3.0 (which I own). The car is plenty fun with either 6 and the staggered wheels kill any snap oversteer, unless, perhaps you do something really dumb like stomp on the brakes in the middle of a maximum-G turn (never tried that). The question for the 4-cylinder models is what advantages they offer over a Miata, and the only answer that I can think if, is “a little more room inside.”

      The trunk is actually surprisingly big, and there’s a temporary spare underneath, out of the way.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    A 318ti from the mid 90s would be a good alternative to a hard-to-find E30 318is in good shape. They share the same engine and rear suspension, typically don’t have a lot of options (less to break) and are typically undesired because boy racers don’t have hatchbacks.

    MR2s of any vintage would be a fun drive too. Best one for your needs is probably one of the 91-96 non-turbos. They used torquey Camry engines in them, so not much to break.

  • avatar
    GT-86

    I wholeheartedly agree with the NA Miata recommendation. I have had a total of three of these scrappy little cars (and currently own a 1993 Limited Edition) and they are robust, simple, fun, and accessible. It’s a perfect compliment to the Land Cruiser.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    2007 Pontiac Grand Prix GT – Supercharged 3800 Series III V6.
    Cheap and reliable as hell and a great supercharger whine to amuse you.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    5K you says…
    If you are in not particular rush – take a look at SAABs. A well preserved 9000 with all the right boxes checked (well documented history, regular maintenance, no TCS, all electrics working, etc.)

    Another decent options would be a 1999-02 9-3 3-door and a Volvo 850 Turbo wagon of any vintage.

    They all will bring you tons of fun, unmatched exclusivety on the cheap, practicality and fuel consumption in the 30’s. They also are all very rugged and simple to work on. Parts are plenty, as well as community support.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      As a multiple, serial owner of Saabs AND BMWs for many years, and even a dues paying member of both owners clubs, BMWs are cheaper to run than Saabs, and certainly better to drive. But for a long time I put up with that because Saabs were so much cheaper to buy in the first place. But given that BMW has an actual dealer network with a properly functional parts distribution system, buying a Saab right now would be just plain silly. Though on the plus side, if they do get the parts situation sorted out, the huge depreciation in Saab values over the next couple years will make them stupid cheap. And they are fundamentally very good cars. Though personally a 9000 would be about last on my list.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      Acubra – spot on. I own a 9-5 Aero now, but I was going to recommend a 9000 Aero. So much fun to drive, great on gas, loads of room, easy to work on and you can blow the doors off of pissants in their leased 3-series BMWs while they’re on the phone making their manicure appointment.

      With $5,000 to spend, you can find a great 9000 owned by a true Saab lunatic who has already replaced the expensive stuff. Easy peasy.

      And to krhodes’ comment – the parts situation has been resolved. Saab NA has started naming US distributors and parts are flowing from Sweden.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Stay away from an old Mitsubishi – the Eclipse/Talon/Laser is the only car I’ve ever heard of with the dreaded “crank walk” where the crankshaft moves in it’s housing causing bearing failure. Miata is probably the best choice with the Prelude SH being good also – back in the day(late 90s)I read on article on how that was sort of the upgraded(new)Integra at that time.Also an early high mileage RSX may not be out of the question as well as the rare 2003 Acura CL 6 speed manual , but you won’t get one of those for anywhere near 5K unless you find a high mileage salvage titled example.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The Bronco II for sure. Unique. Hatchback utility. Seats 4. 4WD. Torquey little V6 in later models.

    Sure they’re a little tippy, but manageable. You just have to drive mindful of its dynamics. It’s worth it for their ridiculously small turning radius, ease of parking and natural off road ability.

    I really enjoyed mine and still have it.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I would suggest a Z4 or SLK. They are comapct, efficent, sporty and have a folding hard-top.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I had a 90′ Prelude 4WS that, even with it’s Honda Rust, was still an attention getter and with the 4WS handles with the best of ’em. Might be a little on the slow side compared to modern cars, but being a Honda gives it plenty of aftermarket potential and finding unmolested models should be easy since it was before the Ricer period. The li’l engine also leaves a fair bit of room in the bay so repairs shouldn’t be too difficult.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      There are two kinds of gen3 Preludes left: the ones that look like they lived in some old lady’s garage until last week, and the ones bought and trashed by kids too poor to afford old Integras and Civics.

      • 0 avatar
        mr_muttonchops

        I bought one from the latter, sadly. It only lasted me about a year and a half before everything decided to go wrong at the same time (in hilarious/explosive fashion). I miss it tremendously.

  • avatar
    C P

    Not sure what I would recommend. Hmmm Let’s see.. Ok.. It’ll come to me.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Oddball choice under $5000? Ford Focus SVT.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    gotta chime in with a used saab 9 3 or 9 5 would fit your price range and would get you a good shape 8 – 10 year old car that is fun to drive. good luck and let us what you get

  • avatar

    Hmm I dunno here. I Say in this order. Miata because you just can not go wrong. 300Z non turbo, ANY form of Prelude with a service history.. or the odd ball. Why not a Mazda MX-6 Sure they use lumpin truck engines, and are well iffy. But you do not see many around and they are not -that- bad of a drive. And the first gen GT can be a real hoot to drive if you do not mind hanging on for dear life. Or you can go a sensible route…

    *Prepares for flames*

    A first gen Subaru Legacy or Legacy Turbo Sedan. Cheap to run, solid as a rock, safe and they are a good drive if not a bit agricultural. Mileage is good, I average 30 in my NA wagon with a 5 cog box and my tools in the back, and they can be a hoot in tight stuff. They can also do some serious long haul mileage. NA cars engines with just a kiss and some love, last well upwards of 300K, transmissions for the 5 cog can last that long if when you do the clutch ya do the input bearing (2 hour job) and seal. The interiors are hard wearing and well, there are not many left thanks to Vanagon owners snapping good ones up to replace there rubbish wasserboxer engines. If he wants to come up to the Mammoth Lakes area and drive my wagon he can. It is still a hoot at 190K.

    I would avoid the BMW’s and SAAB’s unless you want to deal with there issues. There are also some sensible Volvo’s out there. If you want to work on it yourself.. well. I see the odd Pug 405 pop up here and there, or perhaps a hot Focus if you dun mind being lumped into that crowd. The Tri Star Turbos.. I would avoid less it is a 1 owner documented car.. 95% of them have been flogged by kids. There is always a Subaru SVX if you dun mind a slushbox.. and not many were made….

    Just some options, I await the verdict. Or the flames :P

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    You want oddball, I vote for a Pontiac Fiero.

    Really, you can find excellent choices for under $5000 with less than 30,000 original miles.

    Change all the rubber fuel lines & fluids and they last.

    I wonder what this one will bid to? Copy and paste…
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Original-1984-Pontiac-Fiero-2M4-perfect-condition-/180916172832?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item2a1f71b820

  • avatar

    I suggest a rust free ALFA spider Anything after 85 is fine, so it has FI. I have have 4, over 200K each, with minimal probs. You can even get a bad auto on the 91-94 series, but stick is great. Good mileage, parts available, timing chain not belt. Just got one as my cheaper back up to Jag xj8 and loving it, except need to fix ac and its 100 in IL now!

  • avatar

    Well since he said Starion and he wants something odd here we go
    Shelby Lancer
    Dodge Daytona Iroc RT
    Spirit RT (if you don’t know what it is look it up)
    Eclipse GSX (turbo awd FTW)
    Stealth RT
    3000GT
    OMNI GLH
    CSX VNT
    Original neon RT or ACR
    As said before Fiero or MR 2
    Had a CRX and other then not enough headroom for me a really fun car

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I can speak from experience on this as I currently own an 80 series Cruiser (1993), a Miata, and a bike. First thing I’d do is dump that Hundy and get back into an 80. But it sounds like you’ve succomb to the charms of that V8 and road friendly suspension, so thats probably not gonna happen.

    I vote for the Miata and here is why. The Land cruiser will last forever but it is like a piece of industrial equipment…It must be maintained fairly strictly to do so. As a Cruiserhead you probably get this. You owned an 80 so you know about all the little things that if you skip will become big expensive things (Birfields, etc). The 100 series is supposedly better in some of these respects but I am under the impression that they are still fairly maintainence intensive beasts. These trucks are not built like your average vehicle that is designed around a 300k mile life cycle. They are built to last indefinitely, with proper and vigilant maintainence. Which we have established, isn’t cheap. So you are either a fairly decent mechanic or are well heeled enough to pay a cruiser shop to keep your rig going.

    As such, the Miata is the perfect complement in that it is very cheap to maintain. Mine is a 90 with power nothing. They are overbuilt machines. I have 180k on my 90 and no issues aside from a slight water pump leak which, incidentally with the timing belt is about the most you’ll ever have to do to these things. The very early 90 models had a crankshaft issue that is largely overblown and really only an issue if you don’t follow the procedures doing the timing belt. Mine is of the infamous “short nose crank design” and I’ve had no issues. The stock 14 inch tires are cheap and upgrading to 15’s will still probably be cheaper for a set than 2 tires for your cruiser. I also owned a second gen MazdaSpeed MX5 and if headroom is a concern, go for the first gen. The cockpit is more spacious. They are slow by today’s standards but as a cruiserhead, you probably are friendly with the right lane anyhow.

    Watch out for Rust on the rockers on the first gen Miata…thats really there only known issue. If you are going to keep your cruiser and any 5000 dollar car on the road, the Miata is a great candidate. Also, the internet support will rival the extensive support the Land Cruiser has. If it has to be odd, I plan to paint my Miata Baruth Green one of these days.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Saw a flawless 1985 Celica GT-S on a bike ride this weekend, complete with collector plates and a 5-speed. Handsome car that is rare to see in unmolested or neglected condition. That, or a similar vintage Supra, would be a neat bookend to your Land Crusher.

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