By on July 23, 2021

It’s been a few weeks since I sold the Golf Sportwagen back to the dealership from whence it came, and it’s still there if any of you would like a very clean Golf with no present water issues. Since then, I find myself peering out the kitchen window at the empty driveway space where the Golf used to reside. And it makes me have many thoughts, impractical thoughts.

Given I don’t have dependents of human or animal nature, I’m thinking it might be time to own something a bit less practical than a wagon. Before the Golf wagon was a Subaru-cladded wagon, and before that was a Chevy Tahoe truck wagon. On the basis of being less practical, I’ve been considering some requirements and ideating on potential candidates. No spreadsheets in process yet, but soon.

The first consideration is cost. This new (used) ride must cost the same or less than the cash I got back from the Golf, as I’m not investing a greater sum into this secondary car. That’s $22,500 for the record. I’m not interested in any vintage rides that don’t have seatbelts or air conditioning and are equipped with carburetors – no old Pontiacs for me. Reliability matters, as I’m not all that into constant maintenance on something flaky or too old, where parts must be scavenged from a you-pull-it. It probably shouldn’t be a car one might consider “classic,” as it will be parked outside in Ohio weather, always.

I’m open to things with two doors, but not really interested in hatchbacks. I’m definitely not looking for a two-door SUV. My thoughts are focused primarily on a coupe or convertible. Aside from the purchase-specific requirements, there are the tw0 three basic limiters I’d apply to any car purchase: No black paint, no black interior, no manual transmission. Having read the above, I’m sure your fingies are just itching at the keys with suggestions, but before you have at it in the comments let me show you three cars I’m not considering.

The R129 Mercedes-Benz SL

The R129 SL is fantastic. I’ve loved the way it looked since I saw new ones rolling around when I was a child. The styling, WideTrac looks, the simple lines, two-tone – all of it. I think they’re a bit undervalued at the moment, and believe they’ll see big collector car bucks in the future. Cylinders of six, eight, or 12, take your pick as all look fantastic. Having said that, it’s not something I’d be thrilled about parking outside. From what I’ve read the six- and eight-cylinder models are mechanically reliable, but all suffer from the same maladies over time: Hydraulics. The folding roof, while a revelation at the time, is moved via complicated hydraulic cylinders. I believe there are 11 of them in total, and they need rebuilding periodically at great expense. I’ll have to pass on the SL. Maybe later in life.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata

“Miata is always the answer.” except when it isn’t. You may recall I drove one before the eventual GS purchase in 2019, a 2019 RF model. I found it was too small inside, too loud, rode too roughly, and didn’t seem like an everyday usable car. Those are my views and not the views of TTAC or any other Miata Club Whatever enthusiast. It wasn’t the type of car I’d ever want to own; comfort is more important to me than a lightweight car. I won’t be taking my coupe or convertible on any tracks, only the backroads and interstates of Ohio and the Midwest generally. Miata is out.

The Lexus SC 430

Yes, this seems like an obvious choice. But as I’ve said before, the SC 430 has all the right ingredients cooked up in an awful way. I’m not interested in the final SC, and I’ve spilled plenty of digital ink telling you that previously. Most of the time a commenter comes back with “But it’s reliable!” and views that as an adequate counterpoint to the fact that I do not like the SC 430. You all will just have to accept this. If it looked excellent, like it very well could have been in the hands of better designers, we’d have a different story here today. I probably wouldn’t even need to ask you for suggestions.

Now I’ll turn you loose so you can get to suggesting, and telling me I’m an idiot for not wanting a Miata and the best cars are from the Sixties. Until next time!

[Images: Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Cadillac]

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195 Comments on “Where Your Author Considers Purchasing Something Less Practical...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Two doors and maybe convertible?

    You forgot to include a regular cab 4×4 pickup with a canopy.

    • 0 avatar
      96redse5sp

      2015 Cadillac ELR. I know, I know. But this one is no Cimarron. The ELR is the prettiest car to come out of Detroit (Hamtrammck) in recent memory, the interior is gorgeous, their steep depreciation curve has now bottomed out And is on the cusp of a rebound,, they’re REALLY rare, economical, and hopefully share some mechanical parts with the more common Volt (but don’t tell anyone).
      And if you get your foot in the door now, you could get the ELR AND upgrade your electric for a charger…

  • avatar
    ajla

    That’s a tough one. You are a very discerning buyer and although you are looking for *impractical* I also know that you aren’t a major hotshoe.

    What’s the reliability like on the Jaguar XK (of either generation)? If it’s an acceptable level for you I feel like one of those is probably your sweet spot.

    Beyond that, not sure. Maybe a Mustang GT that’s optioned more to the luxury side?

    • 0 avatar

      The gen 2 XKs are a bit out of budget unless they’re very early and high miles.
      The gen 1 is in short supply generally (nearly 0 coupes around), and they all seem to come with “needs XYZ” disclaimers.

      I’m not sure the XK is reliable enough to warrant messing with it.

  • avatar
    mpalczew

    I’m in the same boat. SC430 looking like my eventual choice as well. However, I like the way it looks, it’s a classic. I’ll see if I can get a bumper sticker that says “Worst car . . . In the world”. Definitely don’t want to deal with Merc reliability anymore. Especially not an SL. I agree, Miata is great but rather cramped and not the most comfortable.

    There’s BMW 3 and 4 series convertibles as well. (I don’t want to deal with German engineering, I like road trips that don’t leave me stranded).

    s2000 is even more cramped than the miata

    Lexus is350c, is a decent option.

    Infinity G37 Convertible should be ok.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      I have a 2005 SC 430, bought used when it was 1 year old. (My neighbor has a 2002). They are very reliable. The color makes a big difference in how it looks. Ours is silver/black. They are very reliable and very comfortable to drive. They are great freeway cruisers. If you are looking for a sports/track/dragster, look elsewhere. If comfort, handling and reliability are important, take a look. One absolute necessity is to immediately remove any run-flat tires (OEM) and get some decent Michelin or Continental rubber.

    • 0 avatar
      ras815

      It’s probably because of all the time I spent seeing those in Florida, but the SC430 just SCREAMS “early bird special” to me. I drove one years ago for a weekend rental, and it was utterly…unremarkable.

      I think I’d much prefer an IS350c, but the price on those has really taken off given the relative rarity over the 250. Decently usable back seats do come in handy in a ‘vert, not just for passengers but for cargo/pets.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        The personality changes if you hit the “power” option, and turn off the traction control. They are heavy, though, and a bit thirsty. So nice for commuting, and sublime on a summer evening right around sunset.
        My SC430 has not replaced the Miata, though. Both the Miata and the SC430 get loads of compliments, keyboard warriors notwithstanding.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    996?

    $20K still gets you a decent one, auto trans and convertible are both less desirable so your budget goes farther. My personal opinion is these are about done depreciating so you probably could enjoy for a couple years and get back what you paid.

  • avatar
    CammerLens

    I recently read an article — gosh, I can’t seem to recall where — titled “You Would Be Crazy To Buy A Used Car Right Now.”

    That $22,500 could have a lot more buying power a year or two from now.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t think the segment I’m shopping here is particularly a part of general used car market stuff. But I don’t plan on overpaying.

      • 0 avatar
        phreshone

        So you’re in the 10-12 old two door market (which does have very limited demand, but limited options) – been looking there too in the past 6 months

        2010ish
        350 SLK
        Audi TT or A5
        370ZX
        Infiniti G37
        Mustang GT

        slightly older
        Boxster – with all caveats associated with IMS
        C-5/6 Vette

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “But I don’t plan on overpaying.”

        But you likely will, even with all cash.

        I have toyed with this, but have no place to store it and still have a 240 to restore.

        https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/for/d/kittanning-1991-capri/7343704420.html

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My opinion, expressed as meme, superimposed on Corey’s face:

    JUST GOT RID OF A CAR WITH A PAIN-IN-THE-A** ROOF

    CONSIDERS R129 MERCEDES SL

    This one’s easy: Miata, or maybe an extra clean C6 ‘Vette. But wait until used car prices aren’t an acid trip.

    • 0 avatar

      Specifically says not considering up there. Did you read the whole article?

    • 0 avatar
      C5 is Alive

      “Extra clean” C6s are still priced well above Corey’s $22.5K threshold.

      That would put him in a clean 2003-2004 C5 – possibly with a few grand left over – but his auto-only limitation relegates him to one with the rather lousy 4L60E.

      Plus, I just don’t see Corey as a ‘Vette Guy.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t see me as one either. Maybe a special edition or later C4 or something. And that’s a maybe.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I was going to say C6. I know you can get them at that price but probably not “extra clean” as you say

          If you don’t need the Z06 22.5 gets you some of the nicest C5’s out there.

          But Having just gone through driving a bunch and grabbing one, I can’t recommend it if you must have an automatic. The 6 speed one in the C6 is so much better if you have to have one. The auto in the C5 takes you back to the past, but not in a good way.

          I did love the C4’s looks, but I couldn’t see living with it every day.

          What about the Pony Cars? Pick the one you like the best and rock on…they all have their merits and they are all pretty livable day to day and the automatics are solid, especially in the Dodge.

          • 0 avatar
            SirRaoulDuke

            Honestly there are still very nice C5 Z06’s out there in his budget, it’s worth the look. That’s where I would put money, Z06 one owner that bothered to put some miles on it, private sale.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “Plus, I just don’t see Corey as a ‘Vette Guy.”

          Not for another 25 years or so

  • avatar
    Luke42

    A Jeep Wrangler 4xe is impractical enough and convertible enough to belong on this list.

    I like Jeeps and PHEVs, but have no practical use for a Jeep PHEV. Impractical!

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    How about a domestic?

    2011-2014 Mustang GT coupe. Automatic or manual. Port Fuel Injected 400 horsepower Coyote. Good transmissions. Iconic looks. If you find the 2013-2014 you even get the good headlights and taillights.

    Trick is finding ones that are unmodified. If you do, you find something that any Ford dealer can fix and same engine and transmission as F150 means parts availability.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Corey, you’ve said almost nothing about what it is that you really are looking for, except just the logistics of the thing. Those are not the same thing.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    As above I’d go for a Mustang – though I’d recommend the Gen V ones. We have my Dad’s 2006 red-on-black manual ragtop in the family and it’s still running perfectly and still pulling hard. I’ve done fluids and tires and a battery on it and that’s all. As a bonus you’ll spend considerably less than your budget on such a car.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    All wheel drive challenger with sunroof.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’ll give you something else to think about. Career.

    When I was in school, my classmates were looking at careers coding in cobol and Fortran on mainframes and minicomputers. I managed to go with UNIX and C. When microcomputers and later PCs came out, I bought one and started to learn to code on them even though coworkers thought they were a joke. UNIX and C became Linux and C++. Today, VAX/VMS Cobol programmers can still find work, but there are far more jobs available for C++/Linux.

    Right now, ICE writers without EV experience are the COBOL/RPG/VAX VMS/ programmers on mainframes and Vaxes of the automotive world. There’s a new platform that isn’t perfect now, but in a few years, it will dominate. How long do you stick with the old before getting experience with the new?

    If you do go with an EV, just stay away from anything with an air-cooled battery and less than 200 miles range. If anything, you wouldn’t have a lack of source material for articles. I realize EVs certainly don’t fit into everyone’s living situation at the moment, but, you should at least think about your next vehicle from a career perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Oh, and if you don’t go for the EV, I’m firmly in the Mustang convertible camp. If you have the time and skills, look at a Factory Five 818C build. Lots of article material.

      https://thefactoryfiveforum.com/search.php?searchid=6114491

    • 0 avatar

      I do not at present have any charging capability at home. My house is old enough that it would require a complete wiring do over to put in a charger.

      Also, I have a regular career that’s not car related! This is just some little fun writing time.

    • 0 avatar

      I would think Corey’s budget would completely eliminate this possibility.

      Certainly any electric car in the $20k range would have under a 200 mile range.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I started with Z80/x86 Assembly languages before I learned C and C++. Then Java and Python too. Well I did FORTRAN also – mostly differential equations a.k.a. Schrodinger equations. And some Schoonschip, a little bit. So forget ICE, buy Tesla and start with Assembly.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Seems like a Mustang GT is the answer. I’ve had them often as rentals. Fast, fun to drive and sound great. Comfortable over the road for 2. Decent reliability and at least it’s a domestic so repair costs when it does break are reasonable.

    I often think of getting a less practical car. I have a hard time thinking of finding something I’d rather drive than my GTI however. So, I’d be looking at a Miata as is it just that much more basic and raw and the small package more appealing than the Mustang in my situation.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    You said less practical, not totally impractical, so I’ll rule out a Beck 550 Spyder which is an improved, but still quite faithful, replica of Porsche’s 550 Spyder race car from the mid 1950s. Twice your price, two year wait, manual transmission only and no air. It is a convertible, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      A serious suggestion would be a low mileage Infiniti G37 with the premium and navigation packages. Having had my G37S coupe for 13 years, I’d like to find something new and different to replace it. New and different isn’t hard. It’s finding something better even after so many years. At this point, the leading candidate is a Tesla Model 3 Long Range. However, there’s no guarantee. I’ve been enthusiastic about more than one car only to be disappointed on the test drive.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Just looked over the 161 comments the last time you asked what car to get. And now I read your latest set of requirements for something impractical, as per the Lewis meme.

    I pretty much gave up advising anyone about what car to buy decades ago. Nobody listens, they’re all certain they know best.

    Surprise us all. Who needs public acquiescence for their choice? I sure as hell don’t. And neither do you. Spreadsheets? A ha ha ha. Right.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    Maserati Coupé Cambiocorsa and have the coolest whip in town

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Pontiac Solstice / Saturn Sky

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    You obviously need a Eunos Cosmo in your life. Dunno if a 20B is within your budget these days, but a nice 13B should be attainable.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    When it comes to impractical, I have lots of recommendations. I know you’re concerned about maintenance costs, but if you’re feeling a little daring you need to consider a C-Class coupe or a 1- or 2-Series BMW. For something you can expect to be more reliable, I suggest looking at the Infiniti G35/G37/Q60 coupe, or Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe can probably be grouped in there as well. For American brands, it should start and end with the Mustang GT. Not a Ford fan? Then I’d consider a CTS Coupe, ATS Coupe or GTO. I suppose a Corvette wouldn’t be the worst idea. I’m indifferent on the Challenger. Please don’t buy a Camaro.

    • 0 avatar

      I will check out the C, don’t care for BMW generally with few exceptions. The FRS and BRZ hold their value too well, which really surprised me. They’re about out of price range, even the old ones.

      Would consider ATS coupe, they seem hard to find without black interior, however.

      • 0 avatar
        Rocket

        Too bad you don’t want black … the mileage on this one almost seems too good to be true.

        https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=589210339&vehicleStyleCodes=COUPE&city=Kalamazoo&state=MI&zip=49001&location=&modelCodeList=TTRS&driveGroup=RWD&transmissionCodes=AUT&searchRadius=0&marketExtension=include&minPrice=18000&maxPrice=25000&isNewSearch=false&showAccelerateBanner=false&sortBy=derivedpriceASC&numRecords=25&dma=&listingTypes=USED&referrer=%2Fcars-for-sale%2Fcoupe%2Fkalamazoo-mi-49001%3FmodelCodeList%3DTTRS%26dma%3D%26driveGroup%3DRWD%26transmissionCodes%3DAUT%26searchRadius%3D0%26location%3D%26marketExtension%3Dinclude%26minPrice%3D18000%26maxPrice%3D25000%26isNewSearch%3Dfalse%26showAccelerateBanner%3Dfalse%26sortBy%3DderivedpriceASC%26numRecords%3D25&clickType=listing

      • 0 avatar

        It’s weird how the C and E coupes both cost the same now at the same relative year.

        The E has the advantage of hardtop action.

        https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=593601991

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Maintenance might be a little high, but my heart and wallet would go to the Audi TT. Get one with the DSG and Quattro and you’ll have some fun.

    How about a used FR-S or BRZ? I test drove one and they would make a good, reliable weekend car, especially if the MX-5 is still (sigh) off the table.

    With both of those cars, a set of sticky tires and the Hocking Hills = insane fun.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, I am still happy with my ’08 A5, which has been quite reliable.
    I would probably have been even happier had it been as S5, but the combined gas mileage of the S5 was 18 mpg vs. the 24 mpg of the A5.

    I also liked the CTS coupe of that vintage.

    I had a TT before that, but the base model I had was too slow. There are of course upgraded models that are faster. With the hatchback, it was not even impractical, and Quattro has kept me out of trouble on slick roads for both Audis. (Sure can’t say the same for my old Supra Turbo!)

    But I have not owned a car with an automatic since the ’64 Riviera, so I can’t speak as to how much fun any of these cars would be with an automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      I hadn’t thought about the TT. They’re sort of a non-entity around here, never see em. I’d require a very specific sort of service history with one of those.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        I think new, the TT is a little overpriced, especially when you can get the same running gear (but not as nice of an interior) and depending on TT model in a GTI/GLI or a Golf R. But if one is off lease for a good price, or has been babied and garaged. I don’t know if anything from the VAG is off of your list given the Golf/VW dealer experience, but for a weekend car, maybe?

        I only see 2-3 TTs on a regular basis here, and one of them is owned by someone down the street so that helps. So you won’t see it coming or going each day. In your price range, it’s likely going to be the base TT.

        I just priced used Golf Rs in the Louisville and Cincinnati area. Oof…some are as much as new.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        You really going to jump into another VAG ride?

        • 0 avatar

          Not likely. I’d have a Mercedes first before another VAG.

        • 0 avatar
          theflyersfan

          @Art – I look at the VAG as I look at Hyundai/Kia.

          A lot of people like H/K because they get a lot for their money. They are loaded with tech, people do like their styling, good warranty, and improved reliability. However, where I see the critics get harsh is the inability for H/K to put it all together in one package, with the exception of some Genesis models. There seems to be something lacking – it would be chassis dynamics, steering feel, braking feel, suspension tuning – something just says that they crammed all of this in to meet a price point and then call it a day. For a lot of buyers, that’s OK. They get it to 80%.

          VAG is the same thing. They know how to build and make a solid, serious, German looking and feeling car. Solid thunks with the door, comfortable, efficient, stylish without being over the top or “faddish,” and carrys a good brand name. But, while they can sweat the details, they only get to 80% as well because it’s a constant crapshoot with their quality and repair costs. How many threads are there with VAG owners describing either a hellish 60,000 miles or 150,000 almost troublefree miles? Unlike H/K, they can build a cohesive package. However, they can drive you mad with issues.

          All that said, I personally, knowing this is going to be a weekend car, probably would take the plunge again just to get a good driver’s car and take the chance that the water pump won’t fail or the windows will roll up in a downpour.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            So in your mind what manufacturer gives you 100%?

            If you buy a Lexus you get reliability but you also you need to spend big bucks (over $75K) to get comparable performance (at least until maybe the IS500 comes out).

            If you buy a Euro brand you get the dynamics but they are comparably expensive and still maintenance divas.

            If you get an American or Korean brand you do get some tradeoffs like you listed but usually exchange for a lower purchase price.

          • 0 avatar
            theflyersfan

            Ajla- I don’t think any one carmaker nails it, but others have fewer tradeoffs. With Toyota/Lexus, excellent reliability and reputation that many are willing to pay a little extra for. Plus their real SUVs and trucks compare well to everything else.
            Honda/Acura. Very much like Toyota but with a little more style. Overall, they rate high in quality, price, and reputation.
            Before BMW started losing their way around 20 years ago, I would put them here as well.
            There is no perfect car. But I think these cater to the most people with the best overall driving experience, quality, engineering, and cost.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I have immense respect for Toyota/Lexus and recommend them to folks all the time.

            However, I personally want a vehicle quicker than what the RC350/IS350 offers and don’t have RCF/GSF/LC500 money. So that is where the trade off happens.

            Maybe the IS500 will solve the issue, we’ll have to see what it costs. However, sub $50K on a G70 or Scat Pack or CT5-V can be a decent salve to those brand’s tradeoffs if the Lexus costs a porch renovation more money.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I’m ending this. Gen V Mustang or any Citroen 2CV.

    Pick one.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Fox Body or go home!

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Alons enfant de la patrie.
      Le jour de gloire est arrivé.
      Contre nous de la tyrannie.
      L’étendart sanglant est levé
      L’étendart sanglant est levé
      Entendez vous dans les campagnes
      Mugir ces féroces soldats
      Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras,
      Egorger vos fils, vos compagnes
      Aux armes citoyens! Formez vos bataillons!
      Marchons, oui marchons,
      Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons, sillon.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    You know, there is a one time contributor here that has a Lincoln Mk VIII. For 22.5 you could probably even sort the suspension.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    If you really want a wild ride take you 22k and go all in on Dogecoin. You wont soon forget it. You get excitement everyday and bragging rights if it goes well..lol

  • avatar
    ras815

    Almost bought an ’92 SL500 last summer. Gorgeous color combo of sea blue/caramel seats. But of course it had the exact issue you described, and the power top was “inoperable.” If I had a friend or a garage pulley, I could manually remove the heavy hardtop every single time (and hope that it didn’t rain on the drive). Or drop potentially thousands on a fix. But nah. It’s also starting to show its age in other less flattering ways – it isn’t particularly nimble, has abysmal fuel economy, and so on. But some days I do wish I had tried it for a little while, just for the thrill of driving a once-$150k (inflation adjusted) car for well under $10k.

    As for the SC, I’d probably take an IS350 convertible or a Volvo C70 instead (second gen, post-refresh). The SC is utterly uninspiring and definitely a “Del Boca Vista early bird special” mobile.

    The 2nd gen C70 is surprisingly practical, even for 4 passengers. Absurdly comfortable seats, ample trunk space, mind-blowingly excellent Dynaudio premium sound system, slick hardtop, etc. The turbo is a pleasure, and I’ve heard the Polestar software optimization is even more of a hoot. Unfortunately, the FWD limits some of the fun, but alas, nobody’s perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      IS350 over a C70 – certainly over the example of the 2003 C70 convertible that I own. It’s hot garbage.

      • 0 avatar

        Interested to hear your C70 Volvo experience. They seem a little bit flaky to me, and you don’t really see them without interior issues.

        • 0 avatar
          ras815

          I currently have a 2011 that has just about every trim option on it from that model year, from blind spot detection to the premium sound option (WORTH IT). The only interior issues are some flaking plastics in places like the door handles, which I’m sure could be treated fairly easily by an interior details.

          Otherwise the interior all seems to have held up very well, and mine has over 100k. If you can find one with the Nordic oak trim, it’s like riding in a piece of modernist Swedish furniture.

          I regularly gets compliments on it, presumably since it isn’t fairly common these days and it never had a follow-up model to make this one appear dated by comparison.

          The reason I would call your attention to it is for your desire for comfort – the seats are phenomenally supportive, both front and rear. Overall driving ergonomics are quite good, too, apart from the inherent limitations of the FWD. It’s a well-designed, usable and fairly unique ‘vert.

          As for maintenance, it uses a lot of shared engine/drivetrain parts with the C30/V50 models, so it isn’t difficult or terribly costly to keep in shape. I imagine it is better than a BMW of that era, but worse than an IS.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks for the detail. I will give the Volvo a look. Finding a clean one might be a tall order.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            C70 MK II is interesting but not without drawbacks, the chief of which IMO is the dealer will likely own your rear end and I’m sure there is a special “roof tool” as there is for C70 MK I. Rahal in Warrendale charges $168/hr and for reference, I was told it took five hours to replace my window regulator and reprogram the roof on mine.

            I’ll also point out the really clean ones are commanding prices straight from the Dr. Seuss universe.

            @ras815

            “The first-gen is an ancient vehicle by modern standards.”

            Oh def a PITA but offers so much more, including trunk space.

            This past weekend at PVGP:

            https://ibb.co/r2KNd1v
            https://ibb.co/5Y7Bw4n

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision

          @Corey Lewis

          My C70 isn’t a terrible car, really. My main issue is that I’d need a bespoke Vida/Dice diagnostic rig and a Windows laptop to continue to work on it, as OBDII and a hammer will only get one so far. The LTFTs and STFTs are out on my example, just for starters. It has great power – with the commensurate torque steer – and it’ll surprise more than a few far newer cars. The ride can only be described as ‘plush’, with the shifter precision best described as ‘shit’. This car didn’t invent understeer but it has perfected it.

          That said, it’s a great cruiser. The engine is pretty quiet, even with the top down; it pulls hard at low revs; and looks good to the hoi polloi. The rear seats are fairly small due to both the horseshoe safety ring and roof mechanism and, with the wind deflector installed, useless.

          Mine has great A/C and heat and the roof works flawlessly. I don’t know if these attributes are common in 18 year-old cars but I somehow doubt it.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, not giving me much faith in old Volvo!

          • 0 avatar
            ras815

            Again – you have a 2003 C70, right? It’s not even worth comparing the two generations of this car.

            The second-gen C70 (2006-2013) wasn’t a “update” – it’s an entirely different car (i.e. a hardtop convertible rather than a soft top) built on an entirely different platform (S40) designed during a different iteration of the company (Ford ownership). It’s confusing that Volvo even kept the same model name, frankly.

            And it’s the only one worth considering in Corey’s search. The first-gen is an ancient vehicle by modern standards.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “My main issue is that I’d need a bespoke Vida/Dice diagnostic rig and a Windows laptop to continue to work on it, as OBDII and a hammer will only get one so far. The LTFTs and STFTs are out on my example, just for starters.”

            LTFT/STFTs?

            “Mine has great A/C and heat and the roof works flawlessly. I don’t know if these attributes are common in 18 year-old cars but I somehow doubt it.”

            Something in the A/C is poorly made third part and eventually needs replaced (condenser maybe?). We had to refill mine and in about 900 miles its held up, but I’m told its a major PITA to replace this part as its buried in the dash.

            My roof’s storage door decided to lock after coming back from the dealer, but it was sorted in one visit to my mechanic though he said they had to remove the rear seats to unlock it.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            @28,

            STFT = Short-Term Fuel Trim
            LTFT = Long-Term Fuel Trim

            Big picture, oversimplified: Take 100% less the fuel trim % reported on your scan tool (‘Live Data’ mode) and translate to a letter grade. Gives you a good idea of how satisfied the engine computer is with life at the moment. [I know this because my daughter *had* to have a Jeep product; but will say that her 2010 Liberty is doing great at the moment – zero misfire counts on our old friend Cylinder 2.]

            More detail than you need (but I did just print this out to file away for future reference):
            https://www.aa1car.com/library/fuel_trim.pdf

            [Check Engine Light is Pass/Fail only; Fuel Trim %’s give you insight into exactly where you stand.]

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @ras815

            Correct, they are not at all the same car. I’m sure that Volvo kept the designation the same to entice buyers of my car to be buyers of your car later on. Gnome sayin’?

            @ToolGuy

            Bang on. I chased down some intake air and vacuum leaks on the car and sprayed the MAF a few times. The values are now better but the main issue was that some clot had been running regular gas in it. The ECM pulled timing and kept it there, I think. On 91 Octane the STFTs are back to normal and the LTFTs are coming back around, too. Our 17 year-old boy, who has the most seat time in the car and is my test driver on it, says that it pulls hard above 3500 RPM now. The timing was so retarded on 87 that it wouldn’t rev hard and would further pull timing at higher RPM. Gonna do the fuel filter(s?) and five (?!) plugs this weekend and get the ole’ girl back to spec.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Toolguy

            Thank you.

  • avatar

    I guess you will buy Cadillac XLR. It’s photo comes first in your list and you did not say that it is not an option. XLR might be exactly what you need, unless you are ready for Pontiac G6 Convertible. If I was you I would buy undervalued stocks or mutual funds. Well may be not right now but after economic crash.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Alfa Romeo Guilia

    Two point oh tee, UConnect GUI, 8 spd auto.

  • avatar
    jimbo1126

    I think the answer is right here in the comments. E Class coupes are sweet, and they aren’t quite the maintenance hogs that some other MBs are. Enjoy yours, Corey.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    Mustard Saab 9-3 Cabrio like this one: https://www.saabnet.com/tsn/members/gallery.html?memberID=6911&do=show&id=51779

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Thoughts:

    I – You are still on the rebound and should wait awhile – but you won’t.

    II – Why do you hate America?

    III – Mustang is obvious choice.

    IV – This will end badly but it is going to happen (per my smallest and least impressive crystal ball).

    V – Your instincts are correct regarding Miata. [Knew a guy who really really really wanted a Miata and finally was able to get a Miata and really really enjoyed his Miata until a Much Worse Driver in a Much Larger Vehicle slammed into his Miata and put him (and his spouse) in the hospital.]

    VI – There are 89,412 other things you could do with the money in 2021 (random example: Peak Television)

    Supporting rationale for III (Mustang, you choose the vintage):
    a) Production volume, parts availability, length of production run, problems are known and workarounds established, aftermarket availability.
    b) You don’t see yourself as a Corvette driver, and the Universe stands opposed to the articles which would be written if you were to purchase a Cadillac convertible.
    c) If you are going to buy a used Ford, buy one assembled at the plant where other Ford vehicles are sent to be fixed. [ALTHOUGH: Turns out that much of the conventional thought surrounding this is a complete fiction – per the link]
    https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/ford/2020/12/23/ford-f-150-repairs-seat-belt-flat-rock-uaw/3994000001/
    d) Lots of places to get it serviced, many opportunities to customize it to your personal preferences.

    Enjoy the ride.
    https://youtu.be/3LPWpzNWO88

  • avatar
    multicam

    Are there Boxsters in this price range? Or would they be instant maintenance no-go’s?

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Mini Clubman? Though I guess Corey wouldn’t want to deal with German engineering for a while after the Golf. There’s also a Civic coupe but it’s probably not his cup of tea, and he specifically said no hatchback so Mazda3 is out too.

    I would say a gently used example of an IS C or a G37 coupe might be the safest bet.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      There’s also Cadillac ELR and ATS coupe that’s fairly inexpensive these days.

      • 0 avatar

        I have never liked modern Minis, nor do I like the ELR.

        ATS is possible, needs to be an earlier one.

        • 0 avatar

          I like ATS. It is truly modern personal luxury coupe. The other day Bill had Toronado on review. With original tires! Its a beauty to behold.

        • 0 avatar
          W.Minter

          Corey, Mini F56 Coopers S Convertible, simply as the rational choice:
          – 6sp Aisin auto (the earlier model years)
          – Excellent steering
          – Okayish ride (500+ miles trips, why not)
          – REAL convertible. Drive it. Forget everything else
          – We own a 11y old R57 Coopers S turd (from new and reaching EOL with us): the Peugeot engine is laughably fragile, but everything else is fine. The roof still is in good condition although it never sees a garage from the inside (never, really) (and yes, it’s dry inside)
          – Pracitcality is unbeatable: Fits “up to” 4, but the trunk and the backseat combined offer the cargo practicability of a large vehicle – the main reason why we won’t get a Fiata or an F-Type or a Boxster or a 996 Targa or a Z4

          OR:

          Abarth 595C w/ auto
          THE SOUND!

  • avatar
    Mackie

    This is painful. Can we please see some actual journalism instead of calls for purchasing suggestions from your readers? Just pick something FFS.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’d go the Mustang route if the only option is a car. I’d buy a couple of motorcycles if it were me buying toys. A KTM 890 ADV R and 350 EXC-F would be my choices.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m in a similar situation but I’d like to keep it around $15k and top down motoring is a must. I could go to $20k but it would have to be the perfect car at that price. I’m also not going black on the exterior no way no how ditto for greys and I’d rather not have a black interior. One other difference is that I do have a wife and it is intended as something for her to drive as well.

    I ruled out the Germans as I don’t want to deal with one of those that is 10+ years old. I ruled out the Miata for the same reason a comfortable cruiser is what I’m looking for not a sports car. I feel the same way about the Lexus, just don’t like the looks.

    So I’ve narrowed it down to a T-bird or a Mustang. If it is going to be outside all winter the Thunderbird’s hard top might be a good thing. Of course you need to have a place to store it in the summer. For me it will be a 6 month car and will get stored inside over the winter.

    For me the T-bird is slightly in the lead since the majority of Mustangs for sale around here right now are black, silver or grey.

  • avatar
    dwford

    All these comments and no one mentions the obvious solution:

    Buick Cascada

    You can easily get one within your budget. They will be new enough to not need repairs. You can tune the engine if you need more power. And really it’s a German car so you won’t miss the VW.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Engine from Hungary, transmission from Mexico, convertible top system from Austria. Assembled in Poland.

      So about as “German” as the Wera screwdrivers I bought (based on an AvE youtube recommendation) which were manufactured in the Czech Republic [and are Very Disappointing].

      Total cumulative U.S. sales (all-time) of 19,431 means Corey won’t be able to choose his color (or obtain service parts) [exactly zero alternators currently available on rockauto.com for a 2018MY; your choice of one starter motor from one supplier].

      Buick Cascada was never sold in Canada [The Greatest Country EVER], which proves it isn’t very good.

      After driving his Cascada [for 8.5 weeks], where does Corey go next? Does he follow Opel to Stellantis? Buy a Buick 4-door SUV (since that’s all there is)? Your well-meaning recommendation sets Corey up for Future Confusion (when he clearly needs Clarity).

      Don’t go chasing ‘Waterfalls’, Corey [or any other vehicles with Spanish-inspired names].
      https://youtu.be/8WEtxJ4-sh4

      (I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all but I think you’re moving too fast)

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        My Chevy Cruze hatchback is similarly “german.” German as in uses expensive oil for no good reason, and is oddly complicated to do routine maintenance on. But I haven’t found it hard to find parts, and even though it threatens to die every day, in 157k it hasn’t actually done it yet (and I beat the crap out of it). Since it’s a GM car, the Cascada probably uses the same common parts used in most GM vehicles, so I doubt finding parts will be an issue.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          @dwford,

          You said:
          “I doubt finding parts will be an issue”

          after I said:
          “exactly zero alternators currently available on rockauto.com for a 2018MY; your choice of one starter motor from one supplier”

          If the part is an alternator, that *IS* an issue, right now, today. [An issue which will get worse, not better, over Corey’s ownership period.]

          By contrast, we have our choice of 8 different alternators and 12 different starter motors available on rockauto.com for a 2010 Mustang 4.6L V8.

          (I like it when people disagree with me. I like it better if they bring supporting data for their position.)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Engine from Hungary, transmission from Mexico, convertible top system from Austria. Assembled in Poland.”

        We are the world; we are the children.

    • 0 avatar
      ras815

      The only “solution” a Cascada provides is to the problem of how to instantly demonstrate to others that you don’t care about cars, driving or quality.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    How about some “old school built-like-a-brick-shithouse” Japanese style coupes like the SC300/400 or Legend? You can get a lot for your money. I always thought the E320 convertible was a stately car without most of the electronics MB soon added to their stable.

    Of course the Mustang GT convertible would be a lot of fun too.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    You want a reliable, comfortable 2-door and/or convertible? I can’t think of anything that meets these criteria as well as a Solara. It *does* kinda look like you’re on your way to the 4-o’clock blue plate special all the time, but I’m not sure how much you care about that.

  • avatar
    texasjack

    Wake up. My 2004 sc430 has 98000 miles and has been totally reliable and very quick. Just ask the punk in the mustang I dusted off yesterday. Anyone who buys a VW deserves the pain that goes with it.

  • avatar

    I too was going to suggest the Buick Cascada. It’s a newer German engineered two door convertible that’s in your price range and can be had with a non-black interior.

  • avatar
    AmsterCub

    I’d go for a 20010-12ish Saab 9-3 convertible. You could find one fully loaded for under 20K. Seats 4 so it is still “kind of” practical but will still have a lot of sex appeal and is a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I double dare you to buy a German car out of warranty. On the plus side, you will get LOTS of material for future articles.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    My wife and I were in this same quandary a few years ago. We wanted a coupe. Found a CTS coupe and still love it. Dead reliable, the 3.6 is a great engine. The stereo is outstanding. Also something you don’t see every day.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    SC430 the 2UZFE is turbine smooth and will run forever, nice wood and leather inside, you can’t see the outside while you’re driving it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ll say that you don’t really want a cloth top convertible. With being parked outside year round the top will deteriorate quickly and it will become a burdensome expense. Also, Ohio weather is much like Northern Virginia weather. Cold and crappy in the winter and miserably hot in the summer with about 10 ice days in between. It’ll either be too hot or too cold to put the top down. Or you’ll be worried about it raining. Eventually you’ll wonder why you ever wanted a convertible in the first place. I say this as the husband of someone who had to have a convertible which has probably seen 2000 miles in the last 3 years. And I post this from the beach house we’re renting to which we drove in her Forester instead of the convertible.

    Get an old Pontiac – specifically a 2005-2006 GTO. You can get it with red or blue colors in the interior, it has a dead reliable LS2 with bulletproof 4 speed auto. The seats are incredibly comfortable, front and back, and by now, any of the weak points are likely to have been addressed – and none of them are major or will leave you stranded. They are great to drive on the street and they’ll thrill you whenever you want them to. Most have kept low mileage due to speculators early in their lives and $22,500 will get you a near perfect example that you won’t be afraid to drive. Finally, the values are just starting to go up. You very likely could buy one now and drive it for a few years and sell it for what you paid for it, if not more.

  • avatar
    techteacher7

    How about a 350Z or a 370Z? Prices are all over the map, but if you’re patient, good convertibles do show up in your price range.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I don’t really expect it’s what you’re looking for, but I for one would greatly enjoy an article series about life with an SSR.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I like the idea of a pony car, something like a Dodge Challenger or Mustang GT. Easy to service and repair, good enough reliability, have a following that keeps up the resale and a lot of fun. Also, they are for the most part comfortable, every day cars.

    And the numbers these cars put down are pretty amazing. I rented a 6 cylinder Mustang convertible, it blows something like an old 5.0 V8 to shame (even though I would still have to have a V8). So even the entry level stuff for cheap is still a lot of fun.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      That’s what most don’t consider and get caught up in the romance. “Man it’s rare and wow you never see any!”
      That’s probably because they’re permanently casting shadows behind the imports repair shop.

      One of the great things about pony cars is they’re RWD plus a (final drive) gear swap is cheap and easy with dramatic results if it didn’t already come with 3.73s.
      V8 and 4.10s are an absolute hoot.

      The problem with Fox 5.0s is they came with a 2.73 final. The “secret menu” allowed (ordering) 3.08s but that’s still pathetic. Think about how small and light they are.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        It was to comply with CAFE nonsense. A gear swap is absurdly cheap and is how they should have come from the factory.

        Amazed how many people overlooked that mod in that era, maybe take a 1 mpg hit to get a vehicle that feels 1,000 lbs lighter.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It was more of a “correction” than a mod. Besides tire shredding, pin you to the seat performance, the cars just worked better. And sounded better. Plus great engine braking.

          Stock, the gear spread was goofy. Resuming speed, you were always falling into a huge gap, say 3rd would bog and 2nd was a little too low.

          I did most of my driving at 55, boulevards and clogged freeways and 5th/overdrive wasn’t usable until 65 MPH and 4th had it revving uncomfortably high.

          The Fox 5.0 worked so damn good with 3.73 gears, you’ll swear it was designed for it. Whole other car.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    E93 M3 might work.

    Mustang is definitely a financially safer option and more appropriate for someone shopping by spreadsheet.

    • 0 avatar

      I shop by spreadsheet to track what I’m searching for, and the various prices, links, colors, etc. It’s not exactly power and servicing cost metrics.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Got it. The E93 hard top is supposed to be surprisingly reliable. Same for the DCT. An M3 won’t harass you with constant maintenance and down time, but it certainly has some big ticket items to keep you up at night. Might not matter if you don’t drive it much. Most of these have hit their depreciation floor. Available with colors, inside and out.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    If you are going to get less practical, there is only one way to go. Get the best 911 you can get your hands on, then enjoy life.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    The above sounds like a “Daddy” car. Not practical, but something for the weekends or to shuttle between work and home to stroke the ego.

    If there were dependents at home, the unspoken message would be “don’t touch it and don’t even ask to dirve it”!!!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Import a Skyline?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      R32 GT-Rs are double his budget, and the R32 GTS-Ts are mostly above it also.

      One under-the-radar suggestion: 2nd-gen Acura CL.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Shows how much I know.

        I figured it at least ticks the impractical box. Personally I just find the novelty of a right hand drive vehicle in the United States amusing, though I’m not sure how much I’d want to put up with it on a daily, or semi-regular basis.

  • avatar
    celica0774

    “…no black interior…” is gonna be difficult. Seems like -everything- has black by default. Budget a couple grand and you can have a shop put in whatever color upholstery you want.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I know you don’t love hatchbacks, but maybe the C30’s styling is unique enough to consider. Also 5 cylinder engine. It’s a car with personality.

    Maybe an Accord coupe with the V6, though I bet even the coupes have inflated prices in this market.

  • avatar
    tane94

    I’d suggest a Mini S hardtop or convertible. You get a BMW turbo four with the S, and if buying the hardtop, lots of storage space with the back seats folded down. Use it as a 2-seater. Same with the convertible albeit with much less room for luggage. Either way, sporty fun for you and that special someone.

  • avatar
    tane94

    I’d suggest a Mini S hardtop or convertible. You get a BMW turbo four with the S, and if buying the hardtop, lots of storage space with the back seats folded down. Use it as a 2-seater. Same with the convertible albeit with much less room for luggage. Either way, sporty fun for you and that special someone.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    A two-door convertible and you want comfort over lightweight. I’m shocked that the one true answer hasn’t sprung up yet. You have to go with the best convertible ever from Nissan… the Murano CrossCabriolet! Plenty available for under $20K!

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    ToolGuy …

    Should have said air cooled 911, 911 Turbo ( 98 and before ). But if you have to go water cooled, GT2, GT3.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I don’t know it you can get other than black interiors:

    CTS-V
    300-SRT8

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    What are 2003-06 Pontiac GTO’s going for these days? No convertible but you can get off the shelf Vette engine parts. I’ve seen some with red seats but I suspect most you’d find would have all black interiors.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Muhahahaha I started a trend!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Here is the deal:

    Given your climate, unless you are looking for suitable backup to your primary a garage queen soft top convertible which only gets six months a year use and can be had for cash is the move. There will be no XLR and you seem Corvette averse, so realistically these are the choices:

    R107 Mercedes SL (MY71-89)
    Fox Mustang 5.0 CONV (MY79-93)
    SN-95 Mustang GT CONV (MY94-04) or SN-197 (MY05-14)
    F-Body Camaro or Firebird CONV (93-02)
    BMW E30 CONV (MY82-92) or E36 CONV (MY93-99)
    E-body Reatta CONV (89-91)

    R107 Mercedes SL

    Classy, collectible, the pride of West Germany. The R107 boasts being a soft-top while offering a removable hard top which is great if your example has an iffy soft top when you first acquire it (and after the weather starts to change but you fancy a roof up jaunt). These are usually expensive AF but I have read about examples priced more toward their reality as 30-40yo cars. Finding the right one leaves plenty of cash later for recon, because of the pedigree a mechanic will always be available, and resale is always there. Main cons include semi-exotic, R12 conversion, need to turn a wrench occasionally whether its troubleshooting something minor or actually doing mechanical work.

    Fox Mustang 5.0 CONV

    Huge aftermarket, rising valuations, classic styling, well liked chassis, and shade tree friendly. The main con IMO is the AOD which you should just immediately replace. A/C can be converted but I’m not sure how complicated it is to do.

    SN-95 Mustang GT CONV or SN-197 (MY05-14)

    Classic 90s or 00s styling but can be had in 4.6/auto though I’d shoot 97+. Decent aftermarket, reliable drive line, and not exotic. R134a from the start, A/C should be no issue.

    F-Body Camaro or Firebird CONV

    Even the crappy F-body came with the 60V6 prior to 3800 taking over, though everyone prefers the various V8 you could trust a V6 in one of these (unlike Ford’s 3.8 Essex and 4.0 Cologne in Mustangs). Comes with R134a (except maybe in MY94, check).

    BMW E30 CONV or E36 CONV

    Nice chassis, the E30s are very well respected and like the SL, are new enough for modern conveniences but old enough they are not completely computerized. You specified auto though so a lot of that stick/chassis handling stuff the Bimmer people like doesn’t really apply, but for the right money you could be in one with all recon complete and still have plenty left.

    E-body Reatta CONV

    Likely a pipe dream at this point but you seem to like these and well the drivetrain, fuggedaboutit you’ve got divine authority. Main cons include unobtanium interior/body parts, pop up headlight motors which parts probably haven’t existed for in twenty years, R12, and obscurity by the general public. I’d add Allante but well, pretty sure that’s a no.

    Honorable mentions:

    XK8 CONV built after July 25th 2000

    I just don’t see it happening, please indicate otherwise.

    XJS CONV 94-96 with I6

    Saw a few this weekend, beyond stupid expensive now.

    C70 MK1

    Tough to find in right condition to money, plus known headaches.

    • 0 avatar

      Surprised IS C and SLK were not on the list there – both of those less flaky than a Volvo or E30 surely.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You either go all cash on something older but nice and then recon, or you buy something newer for 20K and hope for no recon – I don’t see much of a middle ground except on the R107 or perhaps a newer Mustang. I was trying to stay more with the former as its what I did and its worked well.

        IS C will be $$$$ but prob the best option if going high. SLKs are hit and miss and I have heard anecdotally over the years they can be a PITA and “real” owners buy the SL. Here’s one that I was considering recommending to a friend, but its a stick and that’s a no go for him:

        https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/d/dickerson-run-2000-mercedes-slk-sport/7349891345.html

        I’d also think with SLK (or IS) you’re in the same boat with an E46+ BMW or Volvo C70 1 or 2, very dealer and computer centric.

        What is your projected ownership period?

        • 0 avatar

          I find I keep things 2-4 years usually before I get bored.

          I’m only into the third gen SLK, which seems to have many fewer issues than gen 1 (too old) or 2 (don’t like the looks).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            A tad short, mine are typically 10 with a 5 year minimum, but nonetheless you need something that will appreciate and all that oddball stuff I named for the most part won’t after recon. Spend it all then on an IS because it won’t break you and you’ll get the money back out in 24-48 mos. I don’t think you can get a CPO on 00s stuff at this point, so its a tad limited on things like a 3rd gen SLK.

          • 0 avatar

            Yep, SLK would have to be a 2010-2012 era car to be in budget.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I know we already ruled out the R129, but:

        https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/ctd/d/pittsburgh-1992-mercedes-sl500/7356310050.html

        “It features the removable hard top with a soft top as well”

        Was there some version of this which did not have a folding hard top but sported a soft and removable hard top like the R107?

        • 0 avatar

          So the R129 was all the same setup: folding soft top and a hard top that was sucked onto the car via hydraulics. No bolts required to take it off, but you do need two people and a stand upon which to keep the top. I typed hard top up in the article, typo.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      How about a W124?

      The fixed roof coupes are a little rare (although finadable), but there seems to be a decent amount of cabriolets on the ground.

      hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/mercedes-benz/e320/2449926.html
      hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/mercedes-benz/e320/2506610.html

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    I know I’m super late to the party but here I come!

    1. Infiniti Q50. Sporty RWD/AWD sedan with a sweet VQ engine, reliable, good features and it’s a sedan with decent (but not abundant) rear legroom. 2014-2016 models can be had within budget.

    2. Acura TLX. Sweet K24 engine, reliable, nicely equipped and although FWD it drives really well. 2015-2017 models can be had within your budget.

    3. 2nd gen Chevy Volt. I know I know, this is a GM product with not that good interior quality and decidedly down market compared to the other two. But what the Chevy has going for it is stellar fuel economy, a very reliable hybrid powertrain, a distinctive design and although technically a HB, it doesn’t look like one. 2016-2018 models can be had within budget.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      Honorable mention: A 2015 or 2016 Cadillac ATS coupe. Those are super unpractical with the tiny rear seat, look classy for the price and it’s got good bones (Alpha platform shared with the Camaro). Driving dynamics on par with the Q50 despite only having a 4 cyl turbo for the budget. Definitely worth a look

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  • eggsalad: I predict that 79% of these will be fitted with hard tonneau covers and driven like the big sedans of yore.
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  • DenverMike: There’s so much turbulence up, down, sides, bed, that it hardly matters how aero the nose is....
  • Master Baiter: “Are Bolts more or less likely to catch fire than ICE vehicles?” I can’t imagine...
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