Choosing A Second Car

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
choosing a second car

I’ve recently decided I need a second car, even though I am, in fact, only one person. Car guys get it: different cars serve different purposes, and the second car will be a weekend toy. My girlfriend isn’t as sympathetic despite possessing 26 pairs of shoes, each of which look exactly the same to the naked eye.

The budget for my new car is ample by car guy standards, or roughly equivalent to six Ford Contour SVTs. That’s a standard unit of measure for car guys, unless you have less than a Contour SVT’s worth, in which case you just say you have enough for one Merkur XR4Ti.

At today’s going rate of about $4,000 for a decent Contour SVT, I have around $24,000 to spend on my next car. While most people would suggest I stretch my budget a little and visit my local Scion dealer to buy an FR-S, I’ve decided I want something slightly more interesting. Not that the FR-S isn’t interesting. Please don’t send angry e-mails.

There’s no need for an SUV, as I already have one of those. It gets 12 miles per gallon and has full-time four-wheel drive – perfect for tackling rough Atlanta winters that primarily consist of drizzle and complaints from transplanted Floridians. I also don’t want a family car. Partly because I don’t have a family, but mostly because I don’t want my girlfriend to get any ideas. Or extra room to transport shoes.

Basically, I want something sporty.

I’m leaning towards an E30 BMW M3, although buying one means you have to deal with the kind of person who’s selling one. In other words, no single E30 M3 has ever been greater than the one they’re selling, they’re doing you a favor by even listing it on AutoTrader, and they’re sure everything works except the turn signals, which they’ve never used.

There’s also the Acura NSX, except there are two caveats. One, I’m not Asian, so cruising around would make me feel like Larry Bird on the ‘79 Celtics. Two, every single NSX in existence has been heavily modified. That alone wouldn’t stop me except that most NSX owners are of the opinion that modding an NSX is like redoing your kitchen, meaning every “upgrade” is worth what they paid and then some. This analogy is taken way too far by some NSX owners who make spoilers out of actual kitchen tables. IKEA is cheaper than Wings West, yo.

I could get a first-generation Cadillac CTS-V, except I already had a first-generation Cadillac CTS-V, and driving it felt sort of like vacationing in Croatia: it’s good, but they still have a lot of work to do. They completed that work for the second-generation CTS-V, by the way – but to the great relief of Atlanta-area parents, and to the detriment of its gas station owners, I can’t afford one.

There are many tasty late-model German sedans in my price range, like an E39 M5, a supercharged E55 AMG, or a B6 Audi S4. Unfortunately, there’s only a two-week period each year where any of those are actually running, and it’s usually when I show up for the test drive. I wouldn’t mind an SLK55, but all my friends say it would make me look like a woman. When I remind them it’s the 355-horspower AMG model, they revise their assessment from “woman” to “butch lesbian.”

Of course, I could go the obvious route: I could get a Corvette. But I’m not qualified for that, since I haven’t been to dental school. I don’t have enough tattoos for an early Viper. And I’m not suitable for Mustang ownership because I don’t grunt enough during televised football games. It’s the opposite problem with the Mini Cooper, which is possibly the only thing on earth I’m too manly for. And I sleep with stuffed animals.

So I’m stuck, and I welcome any suggestions that could help resolve my dilemma. Maybe the FR-S doesn’t sound so bad after all. Or maybe I’ll take my six Ford Contour SVT budget and buy … six Ford Contour SVTs. Hell, I might even have enough left over for a Merkur XR4Ti.

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  • Duffman13 Duffman13 on Jan 22, 2013

    When I think of sporty, I think of something that might make it to an autocross or the racetrack at some point,. Looking at this set of requirements, here is where I would go: Porsche 993 911 in decent condition. Early 2000s Boxster S then get the IMS fix done. American -C5 corvette, Z06 if you want a track car -Mustang SVT cobra, look for a year that has the IRS if you want to track it. Add convertible if that's your thing. Should fit in well in Georgia. BMW -M3, E46 in OK condition, E36 in great condition, with room for track mods -Clownshoe or Z4 M coupe/convertible Japanese -Newer S2000. Needs a proper rollbar to be tracked though. -Miata. The answer is always Miata. You could get a newish NC, or a Spec Miata prepped NA or NB -370Z and leave some cash on the top for cooling system and brake pad upgrades if tracking the car is on the table

  • Ccd1 Ccd1 on Feb 07, 2013

    Wow! About 160 comments and only 2 votes for the RX-8! About $24,000 or less will get you a 2011 RX-8 R3 with low miles. This car would still be under warranty unlike most of the other cars mentioned here.

  • MaintenanceCosts This is now our fourth 20th Anniversary GTI, and the third of those four that had major structural modifications for purely aesthetic reasons. I didn't picture Tim as the type to want to join the STANCE YO crowd, but here we are?
  • JMII This is why I don't watch NASCAR, it just a crash fest. Normally due the nature of open-wheel cars you don't see such risky behavior during Indy car events. You can't trade paint and bump draft with an Indy car. I thought it was a sad ending for a 500. While everyone wants a green flag finish at some point (3 laps? 5 laps?) red flagging it is just tempting people too much like a reset button in a game.The overall problem is the 500 is not a "normal" race. Many one-off competitors enter it and for almost every driver they are willing to throw away the entire season championship just to win the "500". It sure pays way more then winning the championship. This would be like making a regular season NFL game worth more then the Super Bowl. This encourages risky behavior.I am not sure what the fix is, but Indy's restart procedures have been a mess for years. If I was in charge the rule would be pit speed limiter until the green flag drops at a certain place on the track - like NASCARs restart "zone". Currently the leader can pace the field however they wish and accelerate whenever they choose. This leads to multiple false and jumped starts with no penalty for the behavior. Officals rarely wave off such restarts, but that did happened once on Sunday so they tried to make driver behave. The situation almost didn't happen as there were two strategies in the end with some conserving fuel and running old tires, driving slower with others racing ahead. However the last caution put everyone on even terms so nobody had advantage. It always gets crazy in the last few laps but bunching up the field with a yellow or red flag is just asking for trouble.
  • Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
  • Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!
  • EBFlex For those keeping track, Ford is up to 24 recalls this year and is still leading the industry. But hey, they just build some Super Dutys that are error free. Ford even sent out a self congratulatory press release saying they built Super Duty’s with zero defects. What an accomplishment!