By on August 2, 2021

Today’s article is a follow up to the one from about a week ago, wherein I outlined my current used car shopping idea: something fairly impractical with two doors. The article racked up 195 comments thus far, and I’ve read them all and taken notes.

Let’s get down to your suggestions. First up are the cars I won’t be considering.

The comments on that initial article ran the gamut from helpful to unhelpful and participatory to triggered, just like you’d expect on The Internet. All suggested cars on the list below have been eliminated from consideration, with one slim maybe in the mix. In the order I noted them:

  • Jaguar XK8/XK
  • Infiniti G37
  • Ford Mustang GT
  • Audi TT
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Saturn Sky
  • Mercedes C-Class
  • Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ
  • Minis
  • Buick Cascada
  • Toyota Solara
  • Saabs / 9-3

Of this list, there are a few cars I’d file under the Not For Me heading. These include the G37, Mustang, Challenger, Sky, various Minis, Cascada, Solara, and Saabs.

The G37 coupe and convertible are good looking, their styling has aged pretty well, they’re reliable, and they’re in the budget even in convertible format. But after years of ownership of a VQ35-equipped M35x, I’m sort of done with that VQ paint mixer engine noise, Infiniti’s dated interiors, and poor local dealership service experiences. With these go any 350z and 370Z ideas, too.

Mustang and Challenger deserve a mention together. Both are decent enough cars (I like the Mustang more) and are plentiful on the used market and affordable. The Mustang GT was the single most suggested vehicle in the comments. And while I like it for what it is, I can’t see myself as a Mustang driver. Same goes for the Challenger, a car with which I’ve had hundreds of miles of first-hand experience. The Challenger’s looks don’t appeal to me like they did when they were new in 2008, and though it’s comfortable the pontoon boat handling isn’t really what I’m after. The Challenger’s poor rear visibility is also an aspect I recall not enjoying.

The Saturn Sky is an interesting idea, as the better-looking alternative to the Pontiac Solstice. Overall, I’m not particularly interested in a soft-top convertible as this vehicle will always be parked outside in Ohio. While the exterior of the Sky still looks good today in my opinion, the interior is absolutely appalling in every way. Next!

I’ll mention Minis in with the Buick Cascada. I couldn’t tell you how many different Mini models are available today, because I’ve never been interested in the brand. I do know the brand has drifted pretty far from the original idea of the Mini two-door, which was played out after its modern rebirth by about 2008. The Buick Cascada was yet another Opel failure from GM and was like the second coming of a 1999 Chrysler Sebring: rental fodder and Floridian transport. No thanks.

Solara and Saab go together because they start with S. I see many people in Solaras here in Ohio, top-down and living their best life. I’m sure they’re affordable and reliable, but it’s not anything I’d ever want to own. I never liked the Solara’s looks after the first generation, and the first-gen coupes were used up long ago. Saabs are good-looking, and the convertible 9-3 was popular for quite some time. But it was soft top only, there weren’t any coupes, and I’m not willing to search for ever-scarcer Saab parts and their requisite dedicated specialist mechanic.

The other cars on the list above are in the I Like, But There Are Problems category. Within are the XK, TT, C-Class, and the 86/BRZ. I’ve always liked Jaguars, and the XK8 and XK both look great today (former more so than latter). The XK8 coupe sold about a third as many examples as the convertible, and the ones for sale come with disclaimers that always say “needs xyz” or “just spent $4,900 fixing abc.” They’re also at least 15 years old now. Newer XKs are out of budget unless they’re high miles, and that seems like a bad idea too. Whenever I visit the interior of the late 2000s XK, it always looks more dated than I remembered.

The TT started looking cool in its gen-two format in 2006, but I’m not giving VAG any more money at this time. I’ve also owned an old Audi more than once, and they always grabbed onto the old wallet fairly quickly. The C-Class coupe has the same issue as the TT, in that I absolutely do not like the W204 generation that ran through the 2014 model year (2015 for coupe; there was no 2016 coupe). The new generation coupe (W205) from 2017 looks very sharp and has an excellent interior, but is pretty scarce within budget. It’s a maybe at this point.

The Scion/Toyota FR-S/86 and Subaru BRZ surprised me when I went looking. Even the earliest Scion examples are nearly out of budget, and they’ve seemingly all been stanced, crashed, or on their seventh owner by now. They also offered only a black interior. Newer examples are too expensive and have held their value much better than I’d expect.

There you have it, full detail on my thought process on all these eliminated vehicles. The singular maybe on the C-Class moves it to the Yes, Good Idea list we’ll discuss next time.

[Images: Ford, GM, Toyota, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz]

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70 Comments on “Where Your Author Considers Many Impractical Used Car Suggestions (Part I)...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Knocked my suggestions out from last week, but I’ve got one more given I was a previous owner.

    If it’s a weekend driver, look at an RX-8. If you’re narrow at the hips, look even harder for the R3 edition with the stunning blue paint. That edition comes with seats so narrow that anyone over the age of 12 or not an F1 driver might have issues with.

    Not everyone is cut out to be a used RX-8 driver, given the extra maintenance involved and the extra care and “rules” for rotary ownership, but the sound and smoothness at 9.000 RPMs is soul stirring. Plus if you don’t put many miles on it, it won’t bankrupt you at the pump.

    [edit] – I’m trying to remember if you stipulated an automatic. If so, maybe this isn’t your car because you’ll lose a bit of power and over 1,000 RPMs at the redline.

    Good and un-modified ones are getting hard to find and you might have to recreate your Onwards to Ohio With a New Car drive again, but I miss that car. I don’t miss the poor mileage and no torque, but for fun, it has it in spades.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I would be extremely surprised if Corey was a good fit for RX8 ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The scariest thing about an RX-8 is finding someone who can work on them. I was interested for a while despite all the quirks and reliability issues, but the lack of any local mechanics who advertise work on rotaries out an end to that idea.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d have to think a used RX-8 that hasn’t been down the tuner path would be a pricey unicorn.

      • 0 avatar
        toplessFC3Sman

        Some of them, certainly the R3’s, can be pricy but in general the unreliability of the S1’s, dealer policies of just replacing the engine for any type of issue (they had lots of ignition coil failures and some cat failures that got a new engine anyway), lack of low-end torque and “scariness” of the rotary keep prices low on non-special-editions.

        The best were definitely the S2’s from 2009 onwards – a little more rare but they come with many of the reliability fixes for waterpumps, coils, oil injectors etc straight from the factory. I picked up one in nearly stock shape (someone hacked HID’s and blue LED interior lights into it, but that was about it) about 2 1/2 years ago for $4500 after a dealer flooded it and didn’t want to deal with it anymore (I de-flooded there on the lot and drove it home), but it’s been perfectly reliable since then with lots of track use.

        I doubt it’s going to be Corey’s choice though… it seems like anything that may need a wrench spun or specialty knowledge (see Saab above) is probably out.

        With that in mind, how about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    E46M3 convertible

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Save your money and put it towards a car that you really, REALLY want at some point in the future or do what I’ve done several times when I wanted something fun, but totally impractical, buy a motorcycle

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    One other thing I forgot to add. Saw one of the latest Everyday Driver episodes over the weekend. They were comparing relatively low mileage and almost stock Japanese sports cars from peak Japan. 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo, 1992 JDM Mazda RX-7, and 1998 Toyota Supra Turbo. Given their comments, you can’t go wrong with any of those cars.

    If you have plenty of time for your search, and are willing to travel to get one, there are still some out there that haven’t been destroyed by crappy mods or have sky high mileage. Plus you’ll get the real feel of pre-digital cars…part of the reason I like the RX-8 so much as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know that any of those are in budget if not modded or beaten to death!

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Supra…no chance. Especially the turbo.
        RX-7 is a maybe. Mileage might be high but then the odds are the previous owner took care of any rotary engine issues (I know…see RX-8 comment above, but for a weekend car under 10,000 miles a year, it should be good to you.)
        300ZX TT is likely. I understand prices are starting to rise so this might be one of those cases to get in now. The car the reviewers drove over the weekend was listed (I believe) at $25,000 and it was under 100,000 miles. I think it was closer to 70,000 miles and looked new.
        I drove my uncle’s 1991 300ZX TT a lot and had a blast just tearing through the flat, straight farm country with no traffic, no traffic cops, and a side glance for any wandering livestock. To this day, I still regret not buying his when he made me a good offer, but at the time, I had nowhere to put it and insurance would have been catastrophic.

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    Save your money and wait until the new 4 cylinder supras become available. You won’t regret that

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    2013 328i Convertible, low mileage, 20k. (CarMax).
    #winnerwinnerchickendinner

  • avatar
    Undead Zed

    Sorry to see the Mustang dismissed as an option. For a coupe, I’ve found my 2014 V6 to be thoroughly practical and reliable. Trunk space is surprisingly ample, and the seats fold down to leave plenty of room for flat-pack furniture and the like. The rear seats are cramped but will fit two adults in a pinch. Main complaints for me come down to a rough suspension, clunky software, and a poorly designed grommet in the A/C intake trough that needs to be cleared of debris semi-regularly.
    Also, not sure how it is up in Cincinnati, but here in Houston S197s are almost as common as Camrys. Being a “Mustang Guy” is about as distinctive as being an Astros fan.

    So with the pony being disqualified, my suggestion would be…a Lexus IS-C 350. For a short while Lexus made the IS as a 4 seater hard top convertible! In my opinion it looks much better than the SC and it won’t command the same prices as newer Lexus 2-doors. And with it being a Lexus, it’s likely to be in great shape for its age with a good maintenance record.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Impressed/surprised that neither of my choices were dismissed outright.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I’ve only driven three of the cars on your list, and you are 100% correct in eliminating two of them from consideration.

    The Solara is, hands down, the most boring car I’ve ever driven. It literally made me want to fall asleep. I guess that’s a testament to how comfortable and smooth it is, but man. BORING.

    The Sky (in Redline form) was one I owned. Super fun to drive, dreadful to own. I don’t think the interior is as ugly as you say, but it is unbelievably cheap. How crappy does a car have to be for the radio buttons to stop working and the cupholders to break? I have a 1970 Triumph that has more reliable electrical components. And don’t get me started on the design of that soft top… there’s a reason you rarely see one around town with the top down.

    The 86/BRZ/FR-S is the one I’d put back on the list and think about increasing your budget to get one. Love, love, love this car. Came close to buying one myself, but I found a heck of a deal on a Civic Si. Maybe just wait a little while until used prices get back under control…

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    Never ever forget this web site’s advice: Never own a German vehicle without an in force factory warranty. If you feel so strongly about the Benz to disregard this advice, price a water pump. You can’t buy an MB water pump at NAPA, has to be the dealer. This will bring you down to earth in a hurry.

  • avatar
    marc

    As owner of a Lexus IS convertible with over 100,000 miles, I think you can imagine my recommendation. I have a 2010 250. I can sell it now for more than what I paid 2 years and 40,000 miles ago (although that seems fairly common right now). Eventually looking to upgrade to a 350 from one of the last couple years. So if you buy one, I want regular updates! Happy hunting!

    I do have a soft spot for the SC 430, ungainly styling and all, but I think you ruled that one out last week. Cars I always associated with the AARP set get more and more appealing each year.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I was thinking Jaguar F-Type but I have seen many below $40k. They’re less problematic than the XK and quite attractive.

  • avatar
    blackEldo

    Technically not a coupe, but there WAS a three-door version of the Saab 9-3, just not the final gen–so technically a 900.

    Might I interest you in a Viggen?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I just thought of a couple of 2 dr. coupés.

    Chrysler Crossfire.

    Hyundai Veloster

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    Let’s be honest here, 22K while not insignificant is not a lot of money to spend on what will amount to a nice secondary fun car. All the excellent suggestions that you have received have been shot down for one reason or another and at this point this series is starting to get tired. The way I see it you only have three options. Option A get a motorcycle as it is the best bang for the buck, option B if it has to have 4 wheels just get the nicest Miata you can find within your budget, or option C just save your money until you can afford whatever it is you actually want. Honestly at this point this is as interesting as reading about what a celebrity had for dinner last night.

    • 0 avatar

      “this series”

      It’s the second post.

      “All suggestions shot down”

      False, I have an entire list which will be Part II.

      “This isn’t interesting”

      My articles are clearly labeled as to their content in the title and introductory sentence or two. If you’re not interested please don’t click/read.

      Thank you for your input.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So…

    Audi TT is out because you’re (understandably) put off by Ze Uzed German Car maintenance issues, but a used Mercedes is a “maybe”?

    Me no comprendo…

    I sense you want an IS convertible (and I would too) but I’d have to think the pricing on those is nutty too. I think you’re best off waiting out the used-car insanity, personally.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      The only thing that would scare me about the IS convertible is the retractable hardtop. There are a lot of motors and gears to worry about, and the high potential of leaks would wear on me. Never mind the fact that it has a bad case of bubble-butt needed to store the top.

      I have to agree with FreedMike with this one – unless the perfect car comes along, the one with the beam of light blazing on it Griswold Christmas tree style, I’d wait for the prices to ease up a bit and you should have a huge selection to choose from.

  • avatar
    Kyree

    You’re a discerning buyer. I think you should get whichever well-cared-for Boxster or Cayman fits your budget. Porsches are pretty timeless and generally don’t look like you’re trying too hard.

    Failing that…perhaps the XLR. I know it’s dated, but it’s a hardtop convertible and you’re unlikely to see yourself coming and going, as in other cars.

    Finally, I might suggest the previous-gen (2010-2016-ish) Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe/cabriolet. You could get either the E 350 or (later) the E 400, but the smart money is on the former; it’s pretty bulletproof.

  • avatar
    j lu

    Egads.
    Asking total strangers to recommend a vehicle for you is fundamentally absurd. If you happen to have a close friend who knows you, your family, your lifestyle, (driving and personal), your budget, how often and/or where you maintain your vehicles and just happens to be a car aficionado, they might be able to offer a few relevant suggestions.
    To toss this request to absolute strangers will get you nowhere and yes, will invite some off color suggestions. You need to decide what vehicles YOU would most likely choose and perhaps then ask readers if they owned any of these and if they might give you insights on each. Do your own research on the pluses and minuses on each by searching on the web, novel, yes? I trust that you did not find your significant other by asking strangers to recommend a suitable partner for you, at least one hopes so.
    I think sometimes you folks do this so that you have something to write (and gripe) about. Much akin to someone speaking only to hear his head rattle.
    You can do better than this. Wow!

    • 0 avatar

      The purpose is to come up with ideas generally, which I will then narrow down via research. I’m not buying every car suggested, nor am I asking “pick for me,” which I thought was clear, you know? It’s a fun post to invite comment. If you dislike such articles just don’t read them. :)

      Especially given you signed up just to say how you hated the content.

      • 0 avatar
        j lu

        Funny….
        To clarify, I registered with TTAC some time ago and just received a new password. Nowhere in my comments do I express “hate” for your article. I do point out that having strangers with no personal information about you, select a vehicle for you to be absurd and that is true. Perhaps though, after your VW debacle, these kind and knowledgeable readers may be of more help than I thought.
        Best of luck in your search.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Fact is a lot of us do know of Corey’s general taste in cars and the fact that he changes up his fleet fairly frequently with a varied choice of vehicles.

          Also it is good discussion fodder for an article or series of articles. As it stands Corey’s content is better than much of the other stuff on this site (and he isn’t one of the professional writers, he has a day job) It doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about what he really wants.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    To be quite honest, not one of the used cars discussed appeals to me, for multiple reasons. Then again, I’d probably be far happier with a Jeep Wrangler (either JL or JLU) than almost any of the suggested cars and far beyond those actually mentioned… with one exception: I DO want a Saturn Sky… as a ‘toy’ car.

    (edit:) Then again, a Fiat 124 would be fun, too.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    I’ll throw the CTS coupe in the ring again. Can be had in manual or auto, RWD or AWD, and Performance or Luxury package. The 3.6 is a great engine IMHO. The radio can be recorded which is an odd feature, but being able to rewind live radio has come in handy many times. The BOSE stereo is very very good. The turning circle is astonishingly small. The swiveling headlights are entertaining. Only made for 4 years, and they only sold 50k or so of them, so it’s not something you see every day. In black at least, people tend to get the hell out of the left lane much more readily than they do when I am in my white Transit Connect work van. Performance handles quite well, but also cruises very well. Looks MUCH better in person than in pictures. If it had not been a trade in at my local Ford dealer, I never would have considered it, namely because I didn’t like the way it looked in pictures, and secondly I never fathomed WANTING a Cadillac.

    If you don’t do this, then get a Fiat 500 Abarth if only for the hilarious exhaust sounds. You could probably buy 2 of them with your budget for when one is in the shop.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’m surprised everyone thinks “impractical” is a sports car, luxury coupe, or convertible. If you don’t need to haul anything, a F150 is impractical. So is a panel truck.

    Since you have another family driver, a Chrysler 300 sedan would be an impractical second car – unless you get a black one with tinted windows so people think you’re a drug dealer or pimp. That could be fun!

    People need to open up their definition of impractical.

  • avatar
    Eliyahu

    Someone at TTAC had a Honda Accord coupe. If it wasn’t you, is this too practical? Or since it’s just for limited use, a Chevy Volt is almost coupe-like in its backseat room. A weather proof extension cord would do the trick-no need to rewire the house. Cadillac slso had a coupe, but I can’t see you in that.

  • avatar

    I still insist in XLR. Maximum Fun for minimum $$.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    The fact that you are not considering a Mustang GT tells me you are just not a domestic car fan. Mustang GT is fast, refined enough and in your budget but for some reason you don’t want it. I can only think because you think it is domestic.

    For you there is only one choice. Get a BMW 2 or 3 series coupe. Probably the four cylinder because you are not into performance (otherwise why reject a great modern V8 and manual or good automatics)?
    After you have to put up with BMW maintenance costs you learn your lesson and you will for ever not talk German again.

    Case closed.

    • 0 avatar

      “…tells me you are just not a domestic car fan”

      I did dismiss the Mustang, that does not mean I don’t like domestic cars. I’ve owned a couple, both of which happened to be GM. I’d certainly drive a new Navigator or Aviator (can’t afford). If you told me to pick a new full-size truck I’d pick GMC or F150.

      And when Pt II comes along you’ll see there are a few American cars on the list of things I like.

  • avatar
    BEK-NJ

    Have you considered the 2nd-gen Volvo C70? It’s a convertible without that soft-top issue for your climate, looks pretty good top up or down (it’s aged well), & is fairly distinctive. Comfortable, safe… Possible?

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    Can’t believe my choices are still unscathed. From my previous post I suggested:
    -Infiniti Q50
    -2nd gen Chevy Volt
    -Cadillac ATS sedan/coupe
    -Acura TLX

    I know, black interiors abound but I think the right one may show up, just wait for it

  • avatar

    I guess I lead a dull life. I am anxiously awaiting Part 2.

  • avatar
    the duke

    Corey, I know you said no two door SUVs, no Nissan VQ V6, and no soft tops. But I’m going to recommend something with all three anyway – the Murano Cross Cabriolet. They can be had with less than 50,000 miles at or below your price range. When was the last time you saw one? The are just so off the wall crazy it would be a great impractical second car. I know you like off beat odd-ball vehicles and they don’t get more off-beat or oddball than this. But unlike a Maserati GranSport these are cheap to maintain.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    Some notables that are not on this list and would be fun:

    Cadillac ATS coupe – very decent handling, RWD or AWD, manual 2.0T is lots of fun (the V6 is too, but auto-only), less fussy looks than many of the competitors, and GM parts availability & pricing. As a coupe, the small size works and I really don’t get the hate over the gauges.

    Hyundai Genesis coupe – 2.0T or V6 availability, AFAIK they have been pretty reliable and handled well, and are fairly unique looking without being ugly or aggressive

    Volvo C30 – Don’t know about the reliability on these, but I always liked the 2-door semi-hatch look

  • avatar
    Aymamacita

    Hi Corey, I reset my password just to throw in my 2c. Perceived reliability is just that and no more for used cars. I really think you might be really happy with a 986 Boxster/ Cayman with a meticulous owner, maintenance records, higher miles, and no “service due” looming for a while. I think if you shop smart, take your time, find the right seller, and pounce when you find the right one, it could work.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Staggering.

    https://www.duncanimports.com/used/Cadillac/1988-Cadillac-Allante-5e421d1a0a0e0ae85f1750cf7de5c4ab.htm

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