New Or Used? : The Passion Of The Chrysler

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
new or used the passion of the chrysler

The Lord Needs No Restraint

Gentlemen, there’s some automotive/emotional baggage that I need a resolution for.

I’m finally in a position to replace a Celica with something that will possibly see an HPDE, and the occasional autocross. I have $9000 to spend. Although the Celi drove beautifully, it wasn’t a viscerally thrilling car and I’d like to learn the dynamics of a rwd platform.

It will mostly serve as a weekend car/alternative to my DD pickup.

Fuel economy and number of doors I’m not concerned with. It just needs to have a comfortable cabin, shift/handle well, and make me want to take it out for a drive with no destination, like the Celica did.

When I presented this conundrum to my friend, he threw me a curve ball in the form of offering me his 2005, very low mile Dodge SRT4 for WELL under my budget ceiling and it’s market value. Not the rwd sports/sporty car I had in mind, but fun in its own right with plenly of capital left over to push it into high HP territory. The car is factory stock, with a clean service history (friend is a Chrysler technician).

What are your thoughts, biased or otherwise? Should I reconsider one of the popular choices? Hold out for greatness? or pounce on a wicked deal(that will be around for a while)?

Steve Says:

I would pounce on this deal.


Well, in my case it’s because I could nearly double my investment by financing it out to someone who is a little less picky. SRT4’s and other affordable sports sedans of the mid-2000’s go for utterly insane amounts of money. We’re talking enough proceeds to buy a new mid-level compact sedan with cash left over for your first year’s worth of insurance.

Your case is different since you’re trading $9,000 worth of savings for a long-term divestment. You buy. You keep. You lose money. But gain a bit of fun and freedom in the end.

To figure out if this is the right decision for you I would do three things.

1) Drive the vehicle for an hour or two.

Offer to fill the SRT up with a full tank of gas, let your friend in on the dilemma, and just spend a couple of hours driving it in different environments. Figure out if this vehicle is a good fit for you.

2) Visit a few enthusiast sites.

One of the reasons why I decided to keep my little 1st gen Insight, and sell everything else, is because I found a community that was agreeable to my interests. The folks at VWVortex are far different from the Insightcentral crowd, who in turn are more hands on than the Planet Lexus community.

Are you the type that can get into this type of car over the long run? A few evenings reading about the car in question can make you far more aware of the long-term ownership experience than a simple test drive.

3) Will you invest?

No one wants to invest in a Chevy Aveo. They want the car to run, hopefully, and nothing more.

A performance machine goes by a far different set of financial criteria.

Tires? Preventive maintenance? Premium parts?

All this and the inherent defects of the vehicle will go hand in hand with the ownership experience.

The true question you have to answer is, “Am I willing to invest thousands of dollars to keep this car in tip top shape as the years go by?”

That’s the question only you can answer. I wish you luck in whatever you decide.

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2 of 35 comments
  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Jul 31, 2012

    Some weird comments here. Steve is right. At the price you are talking about, just about any "performance machinery" you buy (Mustang, Miata, S2000) is already on its second owner. When you're buying a car that old, you're buying how it was driven and how it was maintained. Any cheap first-owner car, with maintenance records has a big leg up on the others, especially in a performance car. The question, which Steve also addressed, is whether you like this car, which can only be discovered by spending sometime with it. Like all performance cars, it has a distinct personality -- that's one reason people like performance cars -- but you may or may not like that personality. This car is about as far from, say, an S2000 as you can get. This car's engine is q torque monster; the S2000 has to have the piss revved out of it to make it go. This car also has 4 very nice seats; the others don't. Does that matter to you? Finally, consider operating costs: insurance, fuel, maintenance.

  • Mnm4ever Mnm4ever on Jul 31, 2012

    If you like your Celica, you might want to consider an MR2 Spyder. Great track and weekend car, like a Celica with RWD. The SRT4 is a cool car and very fast, but I could never get past the Neon roots of it. That being said, its cheap and very fast, and for a track rat its probably a great choice. I wouldnt want to take advantage of your friends deal though, it would be wrong to buy it and sell for a profit. If you decide to get it, you should keep it.

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