Dec 20, 2012

GranTourismo dreams on a Elantra budget

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  The forthcoming Cameron "Camshaft" Crabtree, due in March has me looking for a daily commuter.   This need is not exciting and the funds I plan to spend even less exciting.  Figuring most of my cash will be going toward diapers, formula and Legos,  I suspect older cars with higher miles should fit the bill. A car with about 100,000 miles should be adequately broken in.

2012 Volkswagon Golf-R.  4 doors, 4WD and diesel "economy"
The AWD Golf R is as cool as any Subaru, but a bit less prepubescent
Perfect in every way except one small thing,  the R runs about $40K.

So this Volkswagon serves primarily as inspiration only:
Inspiration #1    GTI's, the older the better, sadly I've yet to find a 4-door.
Inspiration #2   4-Door TDI Golfs.  Somehow diesels are esoterically cool


I'm not suggest anything cliche' like selling my Porsche for a Chevy Volt.  Selling the Carrera is  out of the question because my wife wouldn't stand for it, which is why I married her.

Now 2 models old, Audi S4s are cool and now cheap enough.
The 2001-2  Audi S4's are an ideal choice except,  I'm scared.

I have fears of multiple, expensive service costs. You know, the ones the sellers proudly list in their Craigslist adds.  People run down lists of parts they've replace on these cars like a grocery list.  To me that list says "if these repairs weren't done on any Audi you're considering, then you're screwed."  Turbo replacement seems the big deal with these, it's never been done on the sub $10k cars and it runs over $4,000 to do it.   Hence my observation, you don't have to be rich to buy, but you do have to be rich to own an Audi S4.  


So, with a $5-10,000 budget in mind and an awareness of high mileage car repair costs, I proceded to the mountain.  My sacred ritual of obsessing over Craigslist ads begins again.  Some peyote would help about now.


Volvo's AWD V60R sedans have the heart of a sports car. Okay maybe not.
They do have Brembo brakes and the spirit of a sports car. Which is enough.
w/high miles they're $10K but I'll need $4K for annual tranny replacements.


After painstaking reflection, I've clarified exactly what I need.  An elite sports sedan or wagon priced like a pile of shit.   It will need to be a super high mileage car, very reliable and also inexpensive to repair.  Furthermore, it should currently need no repairs whatsoever and have perfect body and paint.  Toss in modern safety, high performance, 4 doors, leather interior for easy child and dog vomit cleaning and good winter traction.  No problem.


2nd Generation M3 Sedans are affordable but I do have concerns.
They are not good all weather machines with rear wheel drive.
BMW parts aren't too cheap and most I find are pretty damn tired.
The car must be small. Smaller than a Volvo V70R wagon, or a BMW M5 sedan.  Small enough to easily park downtown.   Parking garages are a pain in a big car on a daily basis.  A good turning radius and on the street and parallel parking capability are all real issues.  My Carrera isn't pampered like some maniacs cars but I don't park it on the street all day, especially in winter.  Hey, don't laugh, I can drive my car in inclement weather, but I'm not a fool.  We've all seen those ice-sliding metro bus video's on You-Tube.


The car must be big, I mean freaking huge!  Well, actually just big enough to haul the baby or dog.  I've said if before, the mutt has ruined my life.   I can only say that because he can't read.  Golden retrievers are very sensitive.   I like vehicles that can do everything well.  I hate logistical cluster f**ks.  If you are dropping the dog off and then return to pick him up and you've got the "wrong car" thats a big pain in my ass.  So yes, I want most of my cars to be compatible with my god damn dog.  Sue me.

 The Lexus is300 has been around for a while so it cheap and handsome.
I'm still trying to decide if a sporty interior makes it a sports sedan or not.
An aluminum shifter and speedo that looks like a TAG-Heuer seems sporty

But seriously, aside from being a poor snow car, Toyota's reliability  is a key player in why this car makes my list.  It's definitely a candidate... too bad they are as common in Seattle as breast implants in LA.

No classics, meaning no older than say 20 yrs.  Carburetor tuning is quickly becoming a lost art so those are out.  Then first generation EFI is pretty primitive too so early 80's cars are out too.   Granted, cars like the 80's BMW 325ix AWD are interestingly cool to me but I know myself and don't want to get caught into any restoration vortex.

The car needs 4 doors.  Access to the Recaro baby seat I've registered for on Amazon.com is best with 4 doors.  5 doors are okay, but sport wagons are kind of sad.  Sad like my current sport SUV which I've donated to my wife.   She'll be trading it in for the least sporty thing in the world, an Explorer.  Another plus to 4 door sedans is the doors are smaller and open easier in tight places in Seattle.



2002 Subaru WRX Sedans.  Crappy cloth interior, so a Limited is in order.
The wagon is common and boring, which my wife thinks all Subaru's are.

These attract cops like moths to a lamp post, and you will get tired of the question is it an STi ? to which you will have to answer "no." That will be sad.


The car must be cool enough for me to look in the mirror each morning.   I am under no misconceptions here... my car will not be extremely cool. It may have to be old and tired, but it  can still be somewhat cool.    I know the list of exceptional sports sedans/wagons is quite short, especially when you have so little money budgeted.   That said, I'm willing to accept a family sedan with even some feeble attempt at sportiness.  I just need an  R, S, SVT, SS, AMG or SRT etc.  It's sad, but I need whatever initials are required to retain some semblance of the manhood I want my son to admire.  It needs some small hint of a connection to a real sports car so I can lie to myself.


Car guys shouldn't need an introduction to the SHO but here's one anyway.
Any 90's Taurus SHO contains a tremendously respectable Yamaha motor.
The down side is that motor is wrapped in a Taurus.  Think about it though
$5K for the Super-High-Output Motor and $5K for fixing the Taurus parts.

The Taurus is so damn ugly I've chosen to include an engine photo only.
This actually is a pretty interesting domestic candidate, wish it was AWD.


The car must not be cool.  Yep, you're seeing the dichotomy.  This is some heavy shit.   I need it to be cool enough so I'm not a car guy sellout, but it can't be a distraction from the Carrera's coolness either.  There just isn't enough money or time to put Brembo brake kits on my daily driver and the Carrera.  Not with all the upcoming diaper changing anyway.

Japanese reliability,   WRX power,  AWD and Leather.
Dogs: no problem.   Baby transport: sure.   Ski trip: yep.
The Forester XT is the only Turbo variant of this wagon.
 2005 w/Manual trans please.  Toss in some STi parts when
nobody's looking and violet!.

This is my runaway favorite,  the XT comes with the utility of an SUV, and a certain esoteric coolness due to it's WRX roots in Japan. If they offered an STi version it would be cooler still. Again, the wife hates Subaru's but if I buy one in secret, perhaps she'll warm to it in time.  I'll just tell her its a Saab.
None of these cars keep me up at night.  I do dream of finding a 2012 Golf R with a salvaged title and 350K miles on the odometer.   My wife, on the other hand, has nightmares about me buying a Subaru or Taurus.  I'd say any of these cars could be the next baby hauler for the Crabtree family provided the condition was right.  Ideally a car with one owner and a convincing service history.   Carfax be damned, even a fender bender might be just what the financial doctor ordered.  It would probably be smart if I drove one or two before buying.  Then again, maybe just a Kia and some Zoloft.



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