Where Your Author Considers Purchasing Something Less Practical

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
where your author considers purchasing something less practical

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 [s]tw0[/s] 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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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jul 26, 2021

    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.

    • See 11 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 27, 2021

      @ajla I would feel bad about parking such a beautiful classic car outside all year round.

  • Eng_alvarado90 Eng_alvarado90 on Jul 28, 2021

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 29, 2021

      @eng_alvarado90 Hard to find with high enough miles to be in budget, without black interior.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.