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Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

Miscellaneous (car related) stuff and BSing. Craigslist/eBay finds, stuff from Hooniverse or elsewhere in the automoblogosphere, youtube or whatever.

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danleym

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Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostFri Apr 19, 2013 6:22 am

So, I may be in need of a new vehicle. To make a long story short, my Blazer broke down in the middle of Kansas on a road trip and is currently stuck in Colorado (after a tow to my in-laws' place), and I live in Missouri, which make the logistics of getting it fixed a little more difficult. I'm waiting on final word from a mechanic, but the initial prognosis was not good.

So, assuming the engine is done, I have a couple options. The budget for any of these sits around $5,000, though there's a little wiggle room.
Option 1: drop a crate engine in- I like this option, especially because for $5,000 I can get a 383 with 400hp/440ft-lbs, installed. Sounds like fun. But, it is an old, beater truck with plenty of other issues, so I'm trying to decide if it would just be time to move on. I've had the truck for 6 years and spent a ton of time and money on it, and I really like it and wouldn't have even considered getting rid of it had nothing happened, but then I realized this might be a good time to...
Option 2: get something new! well, old, considering the $5,000 limit, but anyway. Here's where you come in! If you had $5,000 to drop on a car, any car, what would it be? I could use some ideas and help in refining my craigslist searches.

I have a few criteria I'm trying to meet:
1. Cool/quirky/unique, or some combination thereof
2. Respectable mileage, though my idea of this is probably different than most. I got 12 mpg in the Blazer. As long as I'm not going down from there, I'm good. 20 would be nice, 30 would be amazing.
3. Mostly reliable. I have enough going on now, and another car for wrenching on and modifying, I would prefer that I don't have too much more to do to it than routine maintenance. Obviously with an older car comes more maintenance, and that's fine, but unfortunately I think this rules out buying a Maserati Biturbo or any Alfa...

I think this is almost like the fast/cheap/good conundrum, you can't have it all, so I know there will be some give here and there.

So, what would you buy?
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danleym

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostFri Apr 19, 2013 2:51 pm

Ok, so I'm just going to start posting random stuff I come across and am considering. Because this whole looking for a new car thing is exciting, and I want to share it with all... 10?... of you.

I hadn't even considered one of these, but then I saw it on craigslist, and it looks nice, and it's $4,000, and it has a V-12.
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/3697593488.html
Image

I know, I know, I'm completely blowing away the whole reliable and fuel efficient standards here, but it's a V-12. I can make concessions for that. However, it is an auto, and I'd really like a stick. Hmm...

Then there's this or any other similar 944. I've wanted one of these for a long time. Complete with awful pictures!
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/3707431983.html
Image

A good looking 300ZX. I admittedly know nothing about these cars, but they look good. I could be willing to learn more.
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/ctd/3741164399.html
Image

Last, a little different, the cleanest Commanche I've ever seen. Odd thing is there's another listing for the same vehicle from 3 weeks ago for $600 less. Don't know if the guy is doing the opposite and raising the price when he can't sell it, or if someone bought it to turn it around and make a buck? They even reused one of the pictures.
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/3727884960.html
Image

We'll see what else I find...
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Devin

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostFri Apr 19, 2013 5:48 pm

I was going to suggest something crazy like a Toyota Sera or an early Mitsu Evo (I've seen both for around $5k), but alas, wrong country for that.

EDIT: Actually, come to think of it, I have a legit idea: What about a Lexus LS400? I've been seeing them a lot recently, and they all look pretty good, and I'm pretty sure you can get one for $5k by now.
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FrankTheCat

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostSat Apr 20, 2013 12:54 pm

If you're going to get a Jag, for the sake of your sanity and your wallet, DO NOT GET A V12.

The fuel injection setup on those is a work of art. An absolutely terrifying satanic work of art, that thinks spraying pressurized gasoline onto the hot exhaust manifolds is a good time.

Oh and the head oxidation issue is 2x worse, since you now have double the heads of the I6.
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Maymar

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostSat Apr 20, 2013 5:31 pm

If I'm looking around five grand, my first stop is probably a Mazda RX8. Granted, reliable's a stretch on those, especially with what you'll get at the bottom end of the price range. Fuel economy's not exactly a strong point either (as I understand it, about 18-20mpg on premium, although on the bright side, they'll do that no matter how you drive them).
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Alcology

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostSat Apr 20, 2013 10:12 pm

Nice looking comanche! That jag and the 944 are some scary options $$wise. 300z looks like a fun time!

Hopefully there are more than 10 but this place is lurker central.
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Dan

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostSun Apr 21, 2013 9:23 am

If it were me, I'd look for (in no particular order of precedence) a two door Cherokee, a Subaru Impreza RS (I've got a thing for vehicles with two doors that are normally four), or some other earlier Subarus (Justy anyone? Four wheel drive in a Geo Metro size vehicle-what's not to like?), Z-cars (260, 280, 300), maybe an older Saab (when they were still kinda quirky). Or you could go with some of the old standbys like a Fox Body Mustang or a 3rd Gen F-Body. Maybe an older Supra or a Celica All-Trac. Super Beetle. E30. 2002. E21. E36. 1st generation 4Runner. Older Volvo. Durango R/T. Bronco II. Now I'm just kind of rambling. RX7. Maybe a clean CRX. 240sx. Little 4x4s like a Samurai or Amigo maybe. I could probably come up with some ideas, but I gotta get back to doing some spring cleaning. Good luck in your search!
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danleym

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostTue Apr 23, 2013 3:13 pm

Thanks for the replies! I really like the thought of an RX7, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that.

Part of my reasoning for the $5,000 limit was anticipated repair costs. I could swing a new car fairly easily right now, I just don't want to, there's nothing I like all that much. I figure I can get something I like for $5,000, and at that point I can buy it outright so I'm not incurring a monthly payment and I'm leaving myself plenty of wiggle room for potentially expensive repairs.

It was almost painful showing my wife these options- her comments- the Jag "It's ugly." The 300ZX, "It's ugly." The 944 "I don't really like Porsches." I even tried to explain that it's not really a Porsche at this point, to no avail. And the Commanche (which I think was my favorite out of the group), "why would you buy a small truck?" Nevermind that my current big truck has been used on all of one occassion in 6 years in a way that a small truck wouldn't have worked. :roll: Oh well. :lol: And then the bomb dropped: "I just don't like 80s cars." :o :lol: After some heated debate we reached the conclusion that it would be my vehicle and she doesn't need to like it. :D

Yesterday, however, I received some surprisingly good news: I'm just a doofus and overtightened the valves in my haste to get the truck back together, and the mechanic readjusted them and it is running great! So I think I'll be keeping the Blazer for now. I just have to get it back from Colorado.
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Dan

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostWed Apr 24, 2013 3:51 am

That's some good news about your Blazer!

I've found that significant others don't always share our zeal for older cars. I was once showing an ex-girlfriend a bunch of cars that I was considering purchasing (used, older cars that held interest to me), and she didn't like any of them. She kept telling me I needed to buy a Ford Raptor or a Ford F-Series pickup, and I had to explain to her that, not only could I not afford it, but I had no real need for a full size truck. My current daily driver is a Nissan Frontier. Many of the guys I work with drive 4x4 3/4 ton and one ton diesel trucks, but I've definitely used my little 2WD, 4-cyl, 5 speed Frontier to move more objects than they have and regularly spend more time off of paved roads in it than they do.
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danleym

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Re: Most Desirable cars for under $5,000

PostWed Apr 24, 2013 11:36 am

My wife's first vehicle was a late 70s CJ with a 350 that her dad swapped in (with her help). So she was off to a great start. Unfortunately, the thing was completely unreliable and left her stranded numerous times. So that put a bad taste in her mouth.

Then the first time she rode in my Spirit (we'd been dating for a while, the Spirit was in another state at my parents' house at the time) it refused to start when we were about to head home at 2 am. So that didn't help. She generally likes older cars, she just (somewhat correctly, I'll admit) doesn't think they're reliable enough to drive daily. I'm more willing to put in the time to keep them up to snuff than she is willing for me to put in the time.

She does understand my zeal, however, and once she was reminded whose vehicle it was going to be and that 8 months ago we bought exactly the vehicle she wanted with no arguing or persuasion from me she came around.

Don't get me wrong, I really like my full size Blazer. But I also recognize that I'm now in Missouri, not Colorado, so I don't really do any off roading (not into mud), and I've towed my Spirit behind the Blazer once. And I don't see that happening again anytime soon, that was during a cross country move. So while I really like my current truck, I don't feel like I have a real need to have a full size if I'm looking for something else. I wouldn't rule it out (well, I would rule out any newer ones, I just don't like them), but I wouldn't limit my search to them either.

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