New or Used? : Freddy Krueger And The Talon Edition

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

I am in need of some car advice.

I’m working with about $2000 or so and I’ve found some cars in my area that I’m interested in.

They are a 1993 Eagle Talon with 86k miles for $1800, 1996 Ford Thunderbird LX V8 with 130k miles for $1400, loaded 1999 Taurus SE with 133k miles for $2100 and lastly, a loaded 2002 Ford Taurus SES with 115k miles for $2200.

Now I’m currently a college student and I’ll be graduating this December. I don’t have a lot of money to work with and I’m looking for what, I feel, is the best overall deal, not only in purchase price but the upkeep as well.

This car has to be able to take me back to school for my last semester starting in August (I’m about 4 hours from my home), fit my college stuff in back (we usually rent a van) and last me for a while until I can make money and hopefully get something nicer.

My logical mind is telling me to rule off the Talon and Thunderbird purely on age, but the owners say they’ve been maintained regularly and the Thunderbird is also a spare car its owners want to get rid of quickly. That could mean more room to talk numbers. Plus, I’ve always loved that body Thunderbird.

Both Taurus’ have sunroof and spoiler and are pretty nice overall. But, for some reason, I’m just not feeling them as much as the Talon and Thunderbird. What would you do? When I go home for Spring Break in a couple of weeks, I plan on looking at the cars if they’re not sold and hopefully make a move and take it back down to school with me if all goes as planned.

I feel the Talon with 86k miles could, potentially, still have a lot of life left in it. On the opposite end, I feel the 2002 Taurus would be the best move overall. I’m just not sure. Help!


P.S.: I’ve already looked up the fuel economy estimates, gotten insurance quotes, safety equipment and researched the reliability/problems for each of the cars. I’m a car fanatic. This probably wouldn’t be as hard if I didn’t like so many types of cars. I can honestly see any of them in my driveway and would have no problems with owning any of them.

Steve Says:

A normally aspirated Talon can be a fun vehicle to drive. I bought a black one for only $500 about 7 years ago that had similar mileage. Sold it for $1800 about a week later and thought that all was well with the world.

Well, a few days later, I get one of the creepiest calls of my life. The same guy who I sold the car to starts cussin’ and threatening me for selling him a lemon. We’re talking about, “You’re lucky I’m a Christian, because five years ago I would have beaten the ever lovin @^%#%!!! out of you, and oh by the way, #%$##!!!!!” type of call.”

I texted him back, “Tell me EXACTLY what’s wrong with the vehicle, and don’t ever threaten me again.”

He tells me of a ticking noise that sounds real loud. Almost like a knock. Apparently the Talons of this generation have lifter noise issues. I help him find the information online and he apologizes. All is again well with the world. With the exception of my nerves which are pretty much shot.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that the Talon will have a huge nuisance factor. 20 year old cars with sporting pretensions are not usually low cost propositions and Mitsubishi powertrains weren’t exactly a gold standard for quality even back then.

I would consider the T-Bird and either of the Tauruses so long as there is a Vulcan V6 in their engine bay. Get them independently inspected and take the best one of the pick. Oh, and make sure you take a long drive before making that decision.

Sajeev says:

For someone in your situation, ownership of a Diamond Star product might as well be the best reason for you to buy a bus pass. Because that’s what you’ll be using more than your car keys. Even if it’s a clean, not thrashed, non-turbo FWD model…I wouldn’t trust it to ever be reliable. Or not leak all over your driveway.

Tbirds are great, as this Lincoln Mark VIII owner will attest. But, depending on your state/county, insurance can be expensive because it could be considered a performance car just like a Mustang. And if it’s a 3.8L V6 with a neglected cooling system, expect headgasket problems.

So, odds are one of those Bulls is your best bet. Buy the Taurus with the best service records, best tires, cleanest interior, etc. Done.

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

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  • Corntrollio Corntrollio on Mar 05, 2013

    The Taurus is nice and big for carrying stuff. If you don't have furniture to move (with a van), it'll hold your whole room, even if you're a packrat. However, it does sound like you want one of the sportier ones. People always mention the transmission issues on older Tauruses than you're looking at, but my 1st gen ran to 180K on the first one.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Mar 05, 2013

    The T-Bird is a good value. For the priced of a used Hyundai you get Mustang GT performance in a somewhat more practical personal luxury cruiser with decent handling from the IRS shared with the Cobra and a larger trunk. Insurance is less expensive as well. The 4.6L 2V is reliable and there are a bevy of performance parts available. It won’t give you much trouble as long as the original plastic intake manifold was replaced with the aluminum coolant crossover.

  • ToolGuy Honda is dreaming. And resting on its 'laurels' (French for 'posterior').
  • SCE to AUX Here's some advice - slow down. That's a great way to arrive home safely, without a ticket, with lower blood pressure, and more economically.
  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.