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Fun but practical car for mid life man

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

vstevens

Really a sort of all around car. Kids are grown, don't need a 4 seater. Something interesting that might need extra attention. Comfortable seats and drive ability but also powerful and fun when j want it to be. Beautiful in a Feminine sense... rounder rather than boxey

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Interior styling / Exterior styling

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Hatch / Convertible

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town / Long trips / Fun toy

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 48000
Maximum age: 20 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from jrhesse

9:53 am October 4, 2016

New/Slightly Used: Miata or Alfa 4C

Those two vehicles sound like they fit the bill, albeit they may be lacking in the performance department. With it being a fun two-seat roadster these two would be able to give you fun and speedy when you want as they are light vehicles with a decently powerful engine (No V8 but little car little engine isn't terrible). As well as having our option for Manual or Automatic for driveability and added fun.

If those don't tickle your fancy a hot hatch such as a GTI could always be a fun little gem of a car to whip around.

Finally as far as what else you could get, you could always go mustang or camaro (Pony Car) used with the V8. Regardless those won't be as...feminine in style.


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Mazda MX-5 Miata
Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI
Ford Mustang

Response from DianeB

10:45 am October 4, 2016

Response from richardaz

12:17 pm October 4, 2016

This may sound like a radical idea but consider a 1995 or 1996 Nissan 300ZX. The car has received many awards, is reliable, curvy, easy to drive, fast, good seats, etc. I own a 1995 300ZX TT and love it. The one thing you should consider is that the engine compartment is so tight that it is not a car that most people will wish to work on it themselves. That said, the non-turbo versions are frequently seen with 100-200K miles and still running strong. Also, they are beginning to increase in value. Just be careful of any that have been modified.

Some of the accolades that have been heaped on the 1990-1996 300ZX include:

  • Car & Driver named the 300ZX one of the ten best cars every year from 1990-1996.
  • In 2004 Automobile Magazine listed the 300Z as "one of the 100 best cars of all time".
  • In 2006 Automobile Magazine named the 300ZX as "one of the 20 greatest cars of the past 20 years" and "one of the 25 most beautiful cars in history".
  • In 2010 GQ magazine named the 300ZX as "one of the most stylish cars of the past 50 years".

I recommend the latter years as there were numerous technical improvements made over the years. Due to the cost increases caused by the yen/dollar relationship, the 300ZX became quite expensive in the latter years and so they became more rare. For example, the most collectable is the 1995 turbo but only 707 were imported that year. OBD was added in 1996 and variable valve timing was removed. That makes the 1995 more desirable (in the turbo form) but either year would make a great option in non-turbo form.


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Response from vstevens

9:44 am October 6, 2016

Thanks for all the responses. The Miata is a consideration, in fact, the much older Fiat and Alfa spiders from the 70's and 80's have always appealed to me... in general, European cars. As far as American, the older fox body mustangs and c4 corvettes are ubiquitous and parts are available and relatively inexpensive. And the c4's yawning clamshell hood/bonnet makes maintenance less troublesome.

The Alfa 4c is truly gorgeous and likely still quite pricey in the used car market (although a short term lease may provide an avenue to consummation joy without a long-term marriage to high maintenance beauty that may lose its luster

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Alfa Romeo 4C
Chevrolet Corvette
Nissan 350Z / 370Z

Response from vstevens

9:49 am October 6, 2016

The ZX is a definite possibility, I've forgotten about some of the sportier Japanese offerings. The Tiburon is another I didn't think of ... maybe another consideration

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Alfa Romeo 4C
Chevrolet Corvette
Nissan 350Z / 370Z

Response from mkaresh

12:19 am October 14, 2016

Even if it was within your price range, the Alfa really isn't suitable as a daily driver.

First off, sort out if you want a sports car or a heavier but less agile grand tourer.

Among sports cars it's hard to argue against a Miata if it provides all of the performance and comfort you need. In some ways I prefer how the NC drives, but the ND (2016 and up) does ride better and is more refined. I don't know if you can get an ND within your budget yet.

A Volkswagen GTI with a much sexier body, the Audi TT might be worth a look. We have very little reliability data on these, but mechanically it's very similar to the GTI. If you won't be driving in harsh conditions or driving many miles, a second-generation TT (2008-2015) would probably be reliable.

The Porsche Boxster tends to be reliable in our stats, but at least partly because many of them are weekend cars. I don't know how many years or miles one needs to have to fit within your budget. Those 2004 and older tend to be much less expensive because of known major issues with the engine. In our survey, though, only about one percent suffer a catastrophic engine failure each year.

My personal car, the Mazda RX-8, is an acquired taste. I love the handling--far more agile than a Genesis Coupe or G37--and don't mind revving the rotary engine (it makes little power below 4,000 rpm). But fuel economy is in the teens, not good for a car that isn't especially quick. Comfort is better than in the related Miata. Utility is about as good as you'll find in a sports car--but you mind not need this benefit. The engines are prone to failure, but this also makes the cars cheap to buy. Possibly worth a look if you want a car that is very fun to drive at a minimal price.

I personally don't care for the structural rigidity (or lack thereof) of the C4 Corvette. Aren't C5s or even early C6s available in your price range? I didn't really care for the steering of Corvettes before the C7, but if you like how one drives and the price is right, Corvettes tend to be reliable (though quite possibly for the same reason as the Boxster).

Ditto the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK: probably reliable as weekend cars, much more of a risk as daily drivers with a lot of miles. The earlier Z3 can be fun, but isn't as solidly constructed as other BMWs.

Now for some grand tourers...

I don't see that the Tiburon is worth a look. Within your budget you can easily get the more recent Genesis Coupe. The 2013 and up are best. The ride might be too firm for your taste.

The Infiniti G37 is somewhat more polished and more comfortable than the Genesis Coupe, and pricing on used ones tends to be attractive. With the sport suspension that ride can be firm.

Have you driven any contenders yet? If so, what did you think of them?









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Mazda MX-5 Miata
Porsche Boxster
Infiniti G

Response from vstevens

12:28 pm October 22, 2016

Michael,

i hadn't thought of the TT but had considered a boxster or Miata. The RX8's are another fun car I didn't think of. I have not driven any of them yet, but have sat in a couple boxsters and my brother owned a Miata I rode In that he has since sold (he isn't really as much a car affectionado as I am). It was a nice car.

The C4 corvettes are pretty inexpensive these days, lots of aftermarket parts, clubs, forums, and other supports. Personally, I've always liked the look though I realize it can be polarizing. I haven't driven one though I have sat it a few...
Takes some effort to get into it but they are comfortable enough. Not too practical.

Parts and maintenance for the porsche and tt are quite expensive. I don't know about the RX8, though a rotary engine is very foreign to me. I am willing and able to do most maintenance so long as it does not involve removing the engine and transmission... I just don't have the space, tools, or expertise.

grand tourer vs sports car? I think I've been gravitating toward sports car, but GT is more practical. Likely, a little horsepower with some torque and great handling... with reasonable comfort. Early 2000's XK8 Jaguar is another one but is the mother of unreliability.

More specifically, the car needs to be asthetically appealing, even inspiring - the European cars do this for me, the Japanese cars not so much but there are exceptions. The only real American sports car is the corvette ... oh, the GM solstice/Sky, and Chrysler crossfire. Well, I've got some test driving to do.

For me, the greater joy is in the wanting and hunting rather than the having. But I'll have one soon.

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Chevrolet Corvette
Mazda RX-8
Porsche Boxster

Response from mkaresh

5:49 pm October 22, 2016

You should definitely do your best to enjoy the hunt. A few times in the past I've bought a car pretty quickly, then regretted that I didn't spend more time "playing the field." Not that I disliked the car I ended up with, but the search can be a lot of fun, especially with cars like these.

Another car not yet mentioned: the Honda S2000. Not much more suitable than a Miata for daily driving (very noisy with the top up), but reliable, and likely to appreciate in value going forward.

Be sure to check insurance rates before buying any of these cars. They can vary considerably from car to car and company to company.

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Honda S2000

Response from vstevens

11:37 am January 12, 2017

Ended up leasing an electric fiat 500. It's really the best car fiat makes. Has great torque and comfort, a decent range, and almost no service to worry about. 3 year lease lets me explore the world of electric cars without committing to it. I still have my 2012 fiat pop as a backup and utility car. in the next few years, I'll continue research sports cars I've admired and desired. And maybe then buy one.

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Response from mkaresh

6:44 pm January 16, 2017

Response from NormT

11:27 am July 18, 2017

The 2000's C5 Corvette fit within your $20K budget. Under $10,000 you can find Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky's too.

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Pontiac Solstice
Saturn SKY
Chevrolet Corvette
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