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Looking for sporty car under ~$3500


transcended
10-28-2004, 02:01 PM
I am looking for a manual transmission, reliable car that will not need any major work. And fun to drive, of course. This will be my daily driver.

Cars I'm considering:
Mazda MX-6
Honda Prelude
Acura Integra
Nissan 240sx
Dodge Stealth/Mitsu 3000gt

Good choices? I've been searching for a couple months now but nothing has popped up I want. I could go buy a base model MX-6 today with 109k at $2500 but I heard they were slow... I'd love a LS.

Recommendations and help? I mainly use us.trader.com and cars.com to search.

sirsmiley
10-28-2004, 05:15 PM
what year of model...because stealths and 3000gt are not cheap...

curtis73
10-28-2004, 05:38 PM
How about an e30 BMW... or am I just saying that because mine's for sale :)

All good cars, but the years you would have to get to make them $3500 aren't by any means what I'd call "sporty." I'd call them "pokey." :)

Older BMWs are a great choice. They come from the factory with high levels of performance, quality, and luxury, and they run darn near forever. I would also think German before Japanese for the over-100k segment. They both score highly for quality engineering, but the japanese cars don't spend as much time and money on things like quality of materials. Body panels are a much thinner gauge steel, leather and cloth on the seats are skimped to keep cost low, and things like quality of assembly start to show. I guess what I'm saying is, with a german car like BMW, or MB, you'll get more quality for your cash with fewer rattles, squeaks, tears, and fades.

If you had said new car, I'd say Japanese. But used $3500 car and "sporty" don't really fit the Japanese car description.

transcended
10-28-2004, 05:55 PM
Most of the cars I am finding in my price range are 1990-95. On some of these cars, there was a major change in body style, and the only one I like the older style of is the Prelude.

I do like BMW's, but I have gotten confused on finding the right one for me, especially since none of them have "real" names. Also, I would prefer a coupe, but there aren't too many to choose from of BMW's. I'll start doing some research to see if I find a good bet.

clawhammer
10-28-2004, 09:05 PM
You can also look at maybe first gen dsm. Great handling, and the acceleration isn't bad either. Maybe even an MR2

drdisque
10-29-2004, 01:41 AM
any stealth or 3kgt you find under 3.5k is going to be total junk

all preludes you find that cheap will be S models which means they're basically accord coupes with higher insurance.

you'll also have trouble finding an MX6 LS that cheap that doesn't have a bazillion miles on it.

I guess the best bet is to look for an integra or 240.

transcended
10-29-2004, 03:32 AM
I found a 1993 Acura Integra LS with 195,991 miles. It's in great shape, I don't see a thing wrong with it inside or out, but that's not to say to assume anything about the engine.

Is 195k miles for this car too much? I know Honda/Acura last quite a while. They are asking $3995, but maybe I can talk them down.

curtis73
10-29-2004, 04:43 AM
Yeah, I'd say its a real gamble with that many miles. Put it this way; you could have my BMW convertible with 156k for about the same money, but with brand new paint, new interior, a properly lowered suspension, and serious street respect. Not to mention, the Germans know metallurgy, so that engine will last a long darn time.

Just to clear things up:

E21 - 3 series 75-83
E30 - 3 series 83-91
E36 - 3 series 91-99
E46 - 3 series 99-current

Notice that the years overlap. That's because sometimes the M version or convertible were carry-over's into the next model year. When someone says "e30 BMW" is analogous to saying "G-body GM". E30's look like this:

www.curtisandkim.com/bmw1small.jpg

clawhammer
10-29-2004, 08:16 AM
I found a 1993 Acura Integra LS with 195,991 miles. It's in great shape, I don't see a thing wrong with it inside or out, but that's not to say to assume anything about the engine.

Is 195k miles for this car too much? I know Honda/Acura last quite a while. They are asking $3995, but maybe I can talk them down.
That's way too much money to spend on that car. At 200,000 miles that car is going to be burning a lot of oil. You may even have to change the rings, which costs around $500. Don't buy it.

curtis73
10-29-2004, 01:50 PM
That's way too much money to spend on that car. At 200,000 miles that car is going to be burning a lot of oil. You may even have to change the rings, which costs around $500. Don't buy it.

maybe $500 in machine work alone, but its just cheaper to get a new engine.

Put it this way. Most American economy size cars are built to be disposable (and by the way, that is an official corporate sales term) They use cheap parts and poor build quality. They buzz, rattle, and leak their way to 60k-130k without major trouble. Most Japanese cars are built with very inexpensive parts, but they have impeccable build quality and attention to detail. It makes in inexpensive, reliable car that lasts for 100-200k without major trouble. Their big weakness is metallurgy. They just don't quite have it yet. The upscale Germans (I say that to exclude VW who are very japanese-like in their cars) like BMW and MB use top quality parts and impeccable build quality, so they end up with a cost-no-issue car that lasts darn near forever. The Germans' strong point is their superior metallurgy. Many e21 and e30 owners speak of 300k or more miles with no oil burning or compression loss. I've actually seen at the MB museum, an SEL diesel with over a million miles and the engine never had a single component replaced. Their one weakness is that they aren't quite as good at the electronics as the electro-whiz japanese. Most of they use Bosch electronics which has all but solved the problems, but I think if you're a do-it-yourselfer who buys a BMW, required reading should be the electrical diagrams that go with it :)

Having said that; you can get a beat 94 camaro for $3500. I wouldn't call it reliable, but the LT1 is an excellent long runner that rarely has internal problems before about 130k. Get one with the six-speed though, the early 4L60E autos are not the greatest. The external parts that may let you sit are cheap and easy to replace since their not buried by a transverse engine. So, sporty, yes. Reliable, no. But cheap and easy to fix. Definitely the choice for a gearhead.

You could get a 97 Tercel with 70k, a corrola with 90k, or a civic with 110k. They would probably last you until about 160k (these are averages and you can never really predict) and probably won't require much work. Sporty, no. Reliable, yes. Moderate cost of parts and more expensive labor. Good for the person who knows cars well enough to know whats wrong, but doesn't necessrily like to do the work.

You could get an e30 or e36 BMW with 130k. Chances are it will last you until about 220k without issue. The engine and 5-speed tranny will last forever. The differential will last forever. The only real wear items on a BMW that seem to get chewed are the rear upper shock mounts... but those are cheap. They do need valve adjustments every 50k or so. The only issue with BMW is that if you get a good one, its a dream to own. If you get a lemon, they're pretty expensive to have fixed. One of my strong points is being a mechanic, so I can buy discount parts from the web and do the work myself. That makes it no more expensive than a camaro for me. Sporty, yes. Reliable, yes. Moderately high cost of fix. Good for the accomplished mechanic who does his/her own work.

kman10587
10-29-2004, 02:12 PM
Amen, curtis73. I know a guy who has a ton of old BMWs from the 80's and early 90's. He recently sold a 1990 5 Series with 350,000 miles on it for five grand, and it runs like the day it came out of the factory. BMWs, if properly cared for, are unbelievably reliable.

Another good choice would be a 3rd gen., or maybe early 4th gen. Camaro. The materials and build quality are pretty crappy, but the engine and six-speed transmission are very reliable, and parts/service for Camaros is cheap. It's powerful, it's fairly reliable, and it handles a lot better than you might think.

transcended
10-29-2004, 03:36 PM
I'm very interested in BMW's, but there aren't many around for sale here right now.

I did find something that I am liking a lot, went to check it out:
1988-Toyota-Celica, all trac turbo, 5spd, eng has new rods & mains seals, timing belt, new Reman turbo, many other new parts, runs great $2700

He said the car has 160k miles, but the engine is new along with all of those parts... and the all-trac is pretty rare, and fast! The body and interior are in great shape.

What do you guys think of this one?

kman10587
10-29-2004, 08:39 PM
All-Tracs are rare, you're lucky to find one. I'd say that's a good buy, as long as the car is in decent condition -- it's a Celica, so it should be fine with regular maintenance.

eclipse2quick21
10-30-2004, 12:55 AM
maybe $500 in machine work alone, but its just cheaper to get a new engine.

Put it this way. Most American economy size cars are built to be disposable (and by the way, that is an official corporate sales term) They use cheap parts and poor build quality. They buzz, rattle, and leak their way to 60k-130k without major trouble. Most Japanese cars are built with very inexpensive parts, but they have impeccable build quality and attention to detail. It makes in inexpensive, reliable car that lasts for 100-200k without major trouble. Their big weakness is metallurgy. They just don't quite have it yet. The upscale Germans (I say that to exclude VW who are very japanese-like in their cars) like BMW and MB use top quality parts and impeccable build quality, so they end up with a cost-no-issue car that lasts darn near forever. The Germans' strong point is their superior metallurgy. Many e21 and e30 owners speak of 300k or more miles with no oil burning or compression loss. I've actually seen at the MB museum, an SEL diesel with over a million miles and the engine never had a single component replaced. Their one weakness is that they aren't quite as good at the electronics as the electro-whiz japanese. Most of they use Bosch electronics which has all but solved the problems, but I think if you're a do-it-yourselfer who buys a BMW, required reading should be the electrical diagrams that go with it :)

Having said that; you can get a beat 94 camaro for $3500. I wouldn't call it reliable, but the LT1 is an excellent long runner that rarely has internal problems before about 130k. Get one with the six-speed though, the early 4L60E autos are not the greatest. The external parts that may let you sit are cheap and easy to replace since their not buried by a transverse engine. So, sporty, yes. Reliable, no. But cheap and easy to fix. Definitely the choice for a gearhead.

You could get a 97 Tercel with 70k, a corrola with 90k, or a civic with 110k. They would probably last you until about 160k (these are averages and you can never really predict) and probably won't require much work. Sporty, no. Reliable, yes. Moderate cost of parts and more expensive labor. Good for the person who knows cars well enough to know whats wrong, but doesn't necessrily like to do the work.

You could get an e30 or e36 BMW with 130k. Chances are it will last you until about 220k without issue. The engine and 5-speed tranny will last forever. The differential will last forever. The only real wear items on a BMW that seem to get chewed are the rear upper shock mounts... but those are cheap. They do need valve adjustments every 50k or so. The only issue with BMW is that if you get a good one, its a dream to own. If you get a lemon, they're pretty expensive to have fixed. One of my strong points is being a mechanic, so I can buy discount parts from the web and do the work myself. That makes it no more expensive than a camaro for me. Sporty, yes. Reliable, yes. Moderately high cost of fix. Good for the accomplished mechanic who does his/her own work.

buy this guys car lol :rolleyes:

transcended
10-31-2004, 02:51 AM
Just to let you know...
I bought the Celica.

And it's very fast. :D

kman10587
10-31-2004, 12:21 PM
Awesome, the old All-Trac Turbos are great sleepers. Fix it up, get a boost controller and you can smoke most newer cars easily :)

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