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Cory Wolfe

Hypothetically Speaking...

65 posts in this topic

As the title says, this is mostly hypothetical... as in, if by some rare streak of luck I am able to afford to purchase a decent vehicle. Basically, I'm looking for suggestions/ideas/opinions.

I want something that's reliable, economical, easy to live with, and fun. To start, I want suggestions that hold true. Anyone can make a case in favor of a, say... Sunfire or Blazer... Doesn't mean they're worthy of purchasing. Reputations beyond what a few GM enthusiasts think should be taken into consideration. The same goes for any manufacturer. I don't want any 'blinded by bias' suggestions. Personal experience is another thing. It's probably the most telling and most diverse matter. As long as you keep away from J-bodies, S10's, and anything powered by a Quad4, the latter part won't need to come into play. :P Listing the pros and cons of vehicle suggestions would be helpful as well.

Currently, I'm seriously looking into Miatas. They're not the most winter friendly vehicle, but neither is the Beast. As far as I know, they don't have any reliability problems. Thoughts?

Any Suggestions?

Edited by blackviper8891
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From what I hear, they're pretty reliable... but where you live you might want the hardtop one... not the ragtop :P.

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you haven't actually defined what you need the vehicle to do. Just A to B with you and a few small items? Occasionally one passenger? More? Want to be able to haul stuff from the home depot for projects? Drive across country, or just across town? You mentioned snow... how much, and how well does it get cleared?

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Miata's are useless.

Just spend cash on the Millenia which has a trunk, and a back seat.

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Miata's are useless.

Just spend cash on the Millenia which has a trunk, and a back seat.

It's a moot point, as I'm putting money into it whether I decide to keep or sell it.

you haven't actually defined what you need the vehicle to do. Just A to B with you and a few small items? Occasionally one passenger? More? Want to be able to haul stuff from the home depot for projects? Drive across country, or just across town? You mentioned snow... how much, and how well does it get cleared?

None of that matters much in this hypothetical situation... Reliability and economy are what I'm mostly looking for, but in a fun/sporty package. All other matters come down to personal preference. If I'm considering a Miata, however, that should answer your question as to the needs of the vehicle. The most passengers I'm going to carry is one, the biggest cargo I'm going to haul is a single duffel bag, and I'll drive it mostly around here with a few trips. As per the snow... Generally, it's nothing that your ordinary FWD compact can't drive through.

I'm obviously not mistaking it for a large luxury SUV, guys, I'm quite aware of their size and capabilities. :P

Edited by blackviper8891
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Sounds like you've fallen in love with the miata, and have decided it meets your needs. As long as you aren't like a few people I've known (I have no idea if you are or not) and are shaping your car needs in your mind to fit the car you've decided you want. Most people could use a little more room than that for their only vehicle (which I'm assuming this would be) for the occasional errand that takes up more than the space of a small duffel bag.

So, if it truely meets your needs, the miata could be fun, and I've never heard any horror stories about its reliability. Just be sure - there are some other great small coupes and convertibles that would also be high on the fun factor & a little higher on the utility factor.

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Miatas are cool and I'm sure, fun, but small, and I'm not sure how they are in snow. Do they have open differentials, or posi? I'd suggest a Civic coupe or hatch if it was owned by an adult (double-wishbone handling and Honda reliability), or perhaps a Saturn S-series coupe. The only thing I've heard negative about the S-series cars is, some of them burn oil. I'm sure PerdueGuy can give the lowdown on S-series longterm reliability.

A security and maintenance concern with any convertible is the top. If you get a Miata, make sure the top is in good shape or you'll have another expense right away. Other than that, I don't know of anything negative about the Miata... I guess you've been to Miata owner forums to check for mechanical issues.

Edited by ocnblu
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Have you considered the N-Body Malibu... Low mileage V6 units can be had for cheap and they are JD Power's Best Pick for Reliability in the Midsize car class.

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WWW.miatanet.com is your friend. If you get a first generation car beware of the short crank issue on 90/91 cars. If you get a 99 model beware of a main bearing problem with some of these cars.

Really decent cars and one will probably be my njext automotive purchase....I'd rather buy a Cooper S However I can buy a great used Miata for $4500-8500 and a decent used Cooper S will set me back at least 15 grand...but that's beside the point.

Make shure you unzip the rear window if you put down the top. The interior is a little dark and gloomy with the top up and they do have a nice blind spt with the top up. They make a replacement convertible top with a larger rear window area if you don't like the blind spot, but expect to pay for a top and an install (prob 600-800 to get it done right ) if you want this.

Watch for rust around the rocker panels on older first gen cars. Easily fixed, but a problem none the less.

Good luck and keep us posted. The Miata is one of the coolest cars of the last 20 years IMHO. You might also check out WWW.Specmiata.com for info on the Miata only racing series run by the SCCA nad NASA. Also, there is a pro series called the MX5-Cup that runs current generation Miatas.

Also, check the timing belt. Needs done every 60,000 miles, might as well do the water pump when you do this. It is about a $450 service if you pay someone. All Mzda motors are non-interference so you won't destroy the motor if it breaks, but the car will stop moving.

Glad to have at least one other Miata lover here.

Chris

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A Miata would be fun...watch the top as they said before...also make sure the car was not flogged to near death and needing a clutch NOW or some other mega repair upon purchase. That goes for every used car so no big deal.

Boy, to go from Miata to something else...not a lot of options. How do you feel about f-body's since you like RWD? They can be picked up cheap with a V6 and are actually pretty damned good in the snow ( I have owned three ) Drivetrains are dead honest and reliable, and I can say they would fare better in a wreck than a Miata. T-tops are a throwback to another decade, and are kinda fun. You can pluck a decent V6 or V8 1990 - 2002 anywhere from 1500 - 4500 for a non abused unit. Hell I still find really nice 1986's for next to nothing and they are like new!

Your Cutlass is also a great car with a little bit of work. Probably not the fuel miser you are wanting though.

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I'd drive a Miata in the winter... blizzaks & common sense are all you need.

But that's me, you have to figure out weather your skills in the snow, RWD

or otherwise, are going to outweigh the frustration of the Miata's super-low

ground clearance & lack of practicality. Even though the Miata is a much

better car to work on than the Millenia parts might get expensive, and you

have a habit of throwing in the towl quickly. This might be a bad combo. if

you buy ANOTHER car before you ever sell your other Mazda moneypit.

Edited by Sixty8panther
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I'd drive a Miata in the winter... blizzaks & common sense are all you need.

Well that's two strikes against the Miata then....but seriously.

get an old civic inside of your price range. once you start earning more money then aim for the miata or the 318i.

I know you won't take most of our advice, but a W-body would suit you just fine for now. They're reasonable on gas, very reliable with the 3800, terrible resale so you can pick one up cheap, relatively inexpensive to repair, and reasonably safe. Perhaps something like a 1994 Cutlass Supreme Convertible or a Pontiac GrandPrix coupe

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1986-1999 Pontac Bonneville,Buick LeSabre,Oldsmobile 88. All powered by the 3800 SeriesI/ II V6 and the Pontiac/Olds can have the supercharger. I've had one of each and can say they should be looked at as a benchmark for quality. The H body cars are full size comfort and prices can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending of condition and options. Oldsmobile dont hold their value well, so they can be a bargain. Buicks and Pontiacs did hold their value so expect to pay a little more. I think the Supercharged 88 LSS is the best of the bunch with its combination of luxury and power.

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Sounds like you've fallen in love with the miata, and have decided it meets your needs. As long as you aren't like a few people I've known (I have no idea if you are or not) and are shaping your car needs in your mind to fit the car you've decided you want. Most people could use a little more room than that for their only vehicle (which I'm assuming this would be) for the occasional errand that takes up more than the space of a small duffel bag.

So, if it truely meets your needs, the miata could be fun, and I've never heard any horror stories about its reliability. Just be sure - there are some other great small coupes and convertibles that would also be high on the fun factor & a little higher on the utility factor.

Nah... In the year and a half that I've owned my Millenia, on only one occasion did I use the rear seat for purposes other than... well, stuff. As well, on only one occasion did I ever use the trunk to its full capability and that was when I went camping at the Homecoming. In previous years, I hauled all my stuff with my ATV, so I'm quite good at getting around issues like that. :P

I'm still open to suggestions, that was the point of the thread, not just to make a case for the Miata. If you have a vehicle in mind that you think matches my simple criteria, post away.

A Miata would be fun...watch the top as they said before...also make sure the car was not flogged to near death and needing a clutch NOW or some other mega repair upon purchase. That goes for every used car so no big deal.

Boy, to go from Miata to something else...not a lot of options. How do you feel about f-body's since you like RWD? They can be picked up cheap with a V6 and are actually pretty damned good in the snow ( I have owned three ) Drivetrains are dead honest and reliable, and I can say they would fare better in a wreck than a Miata. T-tops are a throwback to another decade, and are kinda fun. You can pluck a decent V6 or V8 1990 - 2002 anywhere from 1500 - 4500 for a non abused unit. Hell I still find really nice 1986's for next to nothing and they are like new!

Your Cutlass is also a great car with a little bit of work. Probably not the fuel miser you are wanting though.

I'm keeping my options wide option. A lot of vehicles can be reliable, economical, and still fun/sporty. Doesn't have to be a tiny roadster like the Miata or an outright sports car. An F-body could work, but I'm not sure about the gas mileage, even with the V6. I'm looking for something that can breach 30 mpg, or atleast come very close to it. Like with Miatas, though, I'd have to find one that wasn't abused or driven hard... not an even task considering the type of vehicle they are.

As for the Cutlass, that's the thing... I need a car that requires little to no work that I can drive every day without worry. The Cutlass hasn't delivered.

I'd drive a Miata in the winter... blizzaks & common sense are all you need.

But that's me, you have to figure out weather your skills in the snow, RWD

or otherwise, are going to outweigh the frustration of the Miata's super-low

ground clearance & lack of practicality. Even though the Miata is a much

better car to work on than the Millenia parts might get expensive, and you

have a habit of throwing in the towl quickly. This might be a bad combo. if

you buy ANOTHER car before you ever sell your other Mazda moneypit.

The difference is.. I had no job when I was driving the Millenia. Even the slightest of costs were an issue. To be honest, and I've stated this before, it wasn't a money pit. The bulk of the needed costs are with things that wear and needed replaced for inspection purposes. Tires, brakes, etc. The Distributor was a minor cost in comparison. The inspection running out was a big reason why I parked it for good. If you call that a money pit, I'd like to know you call your own vehicles.

Well that's two strikes against the Miata then....but seriously.

get an old civic inside of your price range. once you start earning more money then aim for the miata or the 318i.

I know you won't take most of our advice, but a W-body would suit you just fine for now. They're reasonable on gas, very reliable with the 3800, terrible resale so you can pick one up cheap, relatively inexpensive to repair, and reasonably safe. Perhaps something like a 1994 Cutlass Supreme Convertible or a Pontiac GrandPrix coupe

As I said, I'm open to any suggestions as long as they meet my simple criteria. I'd drive a W-body, even, if I thought it was going to be reliable. They're a mixed bag from my experiences, I've heard good things and bad things about them. Some seem reliable while others just fall apart. Abuse plays alot into it, I would suspect. As well, the newer ones are more reliable and possibly out of my price range. A nice 97 Grand Prix would probably suit me well, but I've never found one around here for less than $5k. Not to mention, I'd really enjoy a manual transmission, not something that survived in W-bodys, but also not something I couldn't live without. Edited by blackviper8891
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The difference is.. I had no job when I was driving the Millenia. Even the slightest of costs were an issue. To be honest, and I've stated this before, it wasn't a money pit. The bulk of the needed costs are with things that wear and needed replaced for inspection purposes. Tires, brakes, etc. The Distributor was a minor cost in comparison. The inspection running out was a big reason why I parked it for good. If you call that a money pit, I'd like to know you call your own vehicles.

You're going to have those expenses no matter what car you own. Tires, brakes, fluids, etc. go bad after a while and need to be changed, and it isn't the fault of the car. That's no reason to dump the car. I think the cheapest solution for you is to get the Millenia in passable condition and just drive that into the ground - you'll get at least another year or two out of it with the mileage you drive - while saving up for a nice down payment on the car you really want. Keep the Cutlass as a background project that eventually turns into a weekend fun car.

As I said, I'm open to any suggestions as long as they meet my simple criteria. I'd drive a W-body, even, if I thought it was going to be reliable. They're a mixed bag from my experiences, I've heard good things and bad things about them. Some seem reliable while others just fall apart. Abuse plays alot into it, I would suspect. As well, the newer ones are more reliable and possibly out of my price range. A nice 97 Grand Prix would probably suit me well, but I've never found one around here for less than $5k. Not to mention, I'd really enjoy a manual transmission, not something that survived in W-bodys, but also not something I couldn't live without.

If you really want another car, I second the W-body, especially the 3800-powered ones. They're pretty reliable, and when they do break they're easy to fix. Your best chance of avoiding abuse would be to look into a Regal LS or maybe an early Intrigue. An Impala would work too, but I just don't see you in one.

Whatever you decide, good luck :)

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As well, the newer ones are more reliable and possibly out of my price range. A nice 97 Grand Prix would probably suit me well, but I've never found one around here for less than $5k. Not to mention, I'd really enjoy a manual transmission, not something that survived in W-bodys, but also not something I couldn't live without.

That's kinda why I recommend the Cutlass. Manual was available, but rare. Might be hard to find, but not impossible. Just stay away from the 3.4 DOHC, it's a good engine as long as you luv it long time, but it's pricey to repair. Take a look at that Cutlass I linked you to for $3995. It's the 3.1 and automatic, but it's a red convertible and will likely be fairly reliable. Mine lasted at least till 160k before I traded it on the CTS... and that was with the 3.4 DOHC.

Stick with a 3800 and you'll probably be ok. Yes there were some bad ones out there, but they've been mostly weeded out by now. The 3.1 is ok, but it's a bit of a slug in these cars.

Point of advice. If you do get a W-body, and it's a coupe with the vertical door handles, start junkyard shopping for another pair ASAP. It wasn't a bad design, but the handles were made out of pot metal and can snap fairly easily. Worst case scenario you can still get the full mechanism from the dealer for about $125. I've spotted them on Ebay too.

It's not hard to replace the handle on your own with very basic tools.

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You're going to have those expenses no matter what car you own. Tires, brakes, fluids, etc. go bad after a while and need to be changed, and it isn't the fault of the car. That's no reason to dump the car. I think the cheapest solution for you is to get the Millenia in passable condition and just drive that into the ground - you'll get at least another year or two out of it with the mileage you drive - while saving up for a nice down payment on the car you really want. Keep the Cutlass as a background project that eventually turns into a weekend fun car.

If you really want another car, I second the W-body, especially the 3800-powered ones. They're pretty reliable, and when they do break they're easy to fix. Your best chance of avoiding abuse would be to look into a Regal LS or maybe an early Intrigue. An Impala would work too, but I just don't see you in one.

Whatever you decide, good luck :)

Heh, I'm not the one who blamed my Millenia... C&Ger's did. :P

My only issue was with the lack of a job at the time, not the car. I just couldn't afford to do anything with it. Right now, I just want something refreshing. The Cutlass got old very quickly with its neverending issues and the Millenia has been with me for a year and a half, through thick and thin. Both of them don't get great gas mileage either. The former's is absolutely pathetic and the latter's would be decent if I didn't need to pay for premium. I know it'll be a good car to me if I keep it, but with 175k, I can't expect the perfection I want. It's probably an unrealistic want no matter the vehicle, but I'd like to come close. I don't want to have to worry about things breaking and going wrong like with the Cutlass.

There still is a 50% chance I'll keep the Millenia, but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't share the driveway with something new.

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Well, as far as my cars being moneypits, let's see:

B-59: bought in April, 2007.

I've spent about $400 total on it other than purchase price.

That includes repairs, fluid changes & some cosmetic stuff.

Now I've driven the B-59 about 6K miles in the past 7

months and I'm not all that gentle with it. Granted those

long overdue radial tires will set me back $200 or so even

for a cheap set, after mounting/balancing.

The Mercedes has yet to need any repairs, despite that I

have spent a hundred bucks or so on it, Julie was annoyed

at the lack of a right hand side mirror & no vanity mirrors,

got those off a 300TD at the Junkyard & I also bought

a hood ornament for it.

As far as the Datsun... it's been two and a half years,

durring which time the Maxima took a 1 year long nap in

the carport.... having been started only once every three

or so months. So that's 18 months or so of it on the road,

all together having been driven about 28,000 miles &

counting. I bought the car for $300, & I have not invested

much into it, again even fluid changes included it might be

about $500. So I'm still well under a thousand bucks.

You try buying a Fleetwood Brougham, Firebird or a $h!ty

old Datsun and drive it for over a year, racking up hard

miles without spending $1K and you'll be in great shape.

Keep in mind that means having to roll up your sleeves

every few weeks and doing your own maintenance &

repairs, including the messy stuff like chaning rear end

gear oil & scapping nasty old valvecover gaskets with a

razorblade, and I don't have a garage to make it less

of a pain in the ass in December when it's 25* outside

or give me shelter when it's pouring cats & dogs but a

serpentine belt needs replacing.

If I had a nice, warm, dry garage to keep my car in &

work on my car at I'd be daily driving a 1930s car.

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Of course prior ownership and care is going to play a huge factor in the reliability of ANY car.

Others that I have thought of that could be fun to own:

A good condition WRX Subie.

Honda Civic Si.

VW GTI

VW Corrado G60

BMW 318Ti (or any old BMW 3-er)

Mercedes Kompressor Hatchback (Funky safe!)

Pontiac Aztek in the pea green metalic - Nobody would steel it

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Well, as far as my cars being moneypits, let's see:

You try buying a Fleetwood Brougham, Firebird or a $h!ty

old Datsun and drive it for over a year, racking up hard

miles without spending $1K and you'll be in great shape.

Keep in mind that means having to roll up your sleeves

every few weeks and doing your own maintenance &

repairs, including the messy stuff like chaning rear end

gear oil & scapping nasty old valvecover gaskets with a

razorblade, and I don't have a garage to make it less

of a pain in the ass in December when it's 25* outside

or give me shelter when it's pouring cats & dogs but a

serpentine belt needs replacing.

If I had a nice, warm, dry garage to keep my car in &

work on my car at I'd be daily driving a 1930s car.

My point was, the bulk of what my Millenia needs were things that every car needs at one point or another. The distributor was only one issue and I always quoted brand new parts when I estimated how much it would cost to get it back on the road. I'm sure I used cheap junkyard parts like you, I could spend less than $400 fixing the Millenia. Therein, lies the difference, and thus, calling it a money pit is wholly false. Edited by blackviper8891
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Have you gotten the Cutlass tuned up and a carb adjustment yet? Even a 307 should be good for 23-25 highway if you're not racing it.

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Then get the part you need on eBay or save up for it and get that car back on the

road, THEN once it's fixed throw it on craiglist, get cash for it and THEN move on.

That's logical, makes financial sense.

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Have you gotten the Cutlass tuned up and a carb adjustment yet? Even a 307 should be good for 23-25 highway if you're not racing it.

The best I ever got was 15, driving like a little old lady, when it was running fine. It's getting about 10 right now. Adjusting the mixture is out of the question and adjusting the idle isn't going to help much. The carburetor and the car itself has much bigger problems that tuning it up isn't going to solve. Even then, it isn't going to magically net me a 15 mpg improvement. 23-25 is a huge pipe dream.

Then get the part you need on eBay or save up for it and get that car back on the

road, THEN once it's fixed throw it on craiglist, get cash for it and THEN move on.

That's logical, makes financial sense.

That's the plan.

Besides, this is supposed to be a hypothetical thing, let's leave the Millenia and the Cutlass out of it. Those cars are irrelevant to this discussion.

Edited by blackviper8891
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Hmm, I was able to do 21 in an 85 Toronado with the 307 @ 65.

have you released the parking brake? :D:P

edit: Oh wait. Does the Cutlass have a 4-speed or 3-speed? My Toro had a rebuilt 4-speed with overdrive.

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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Well that's two strikes against the Miata then....but seriously.

get an old civic inside of your price range. once you start earning more money then aim for the miata or the 318i.

I know you won't take most of our advice, but a W-body would suit you just fine for now. They're reasonable on gas, very reliable with the 3800, terrible resale so you can pick one up cheap, relatively inexpensive to repair, and reasonably safe. Perhaps something like a 1994 Cutlass Supreme Convertible or a Pontiac GrandPrix coupe

We have a Cutlass Supreme ragtop like that as a pace car at the Columbus Motor Speedway. Every time I see that thing I want it in my garage.

W body makes a great car, only problem is that here in Ohio quite a fewof them have started to rust, just like everything else on the road.

Chris

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