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      08-19-2020, 03:27 PM   #1
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Everyone's Favorite Game - What Would You Buy? ≤ $25k Edition

I'm sure I am like most on here with frequent Bring a Trailer browsing sessions consisting of creating a pros/cons justification sheet in their head as to why and how it would make sense to buy this car. This thread isn't intended for the masses to tell me how to spend my money - I'm more interested in the conversation with the ins and outs of what and why you would choose car X. Perhaps the conversation can help my wandering mind, but there are some good folks on here and some dialogue on a topic we can all agree on, cars, can be a fine distraction from current affairs. I have my situation and criteria listed below. What's yours?

My vehicle history consists of old classics, muscle cars, sports cars, trucks, off-road, race cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and even appliances. No real brand allegiance even though some brands have a multiple in the counter column. Current stable stalls include Multiparous Mom Mobile and Common Company Car, but I'm quickly realizing that I need a dedicated "fun" vehicle again. Blow off steam. Hobby. Tinker. Drink a beer over.

In the past, I've tried many times - without success - to combine functionality. Recent try was a Gladiator Rubicon to check the boxes for fun (it's a Jeep), practicality (it's a truck), and cool factor (it's a Jeep and it's a truck). In combining so many genres of vehicle into one, it becomes apparent that it is okay at doing all, but certainly not a master at any. I'm ready for something a bit more dedicated.

I'm personally at a crossroads in not even being able to break down the wall of step 1: What genre do I even want? I'm stuck between A) a fun sporty car and B) something for off-road camping / "overlanding." Wildly opposite ends of the spectrum, I know, but those are really the two interests I have in vehicles as I've been heavily involved in both.

Wants, in no particular order:
  • Dedicated to its purpose. Sure a street-intended sports car can be a hoot on a weekend HPDE at the track just the same as an off-road minded rig can drive the highways at speed to get to your favorite trail. But if it's a sports car, its requirements list shouldn't include high cargo volume or the ability to bring a dozen children along with you. That's not its purpose.
  • Relatively reliable. Constant maintenance and repairs really take away from the fun factor for me personally. Don't get me wrong, I like working on stuff, but I want it to go towards something cool and because I wanted to, not because I had to. If a vehicle just has an Achilles heel but can be resolved, I'm still on board (changing the rod bearings on my E90M comes to mind - once that was done, the thing was bullet proof it seemed)
  • Presents itself as an event. This separates the vehicles that are used to get to B as their primary goal and the ones that the action of going from A to B is the purpose. Having a loud vehicle with solid bushings would absolutely suck to deal with on a daily basis. But having it in a weekend toy can add to the experience if it enhances the pleasure that is the event of driving it.
  • Cool factor. I wouldn't consider myself as someone that holds vanity in high regard, but I think I will let myself down knowing that my pride and joy, my release from work, my escape is...a Pinto or whatever. Car guys get it.
  • Value. Okay, yeah, I'd love to go pick up a 997 GT3. But the reality is that I'm not convinced it is four times the fun as some vehicles that I have in mind. Not to mention running cost - for someone that's not afraid to put miles on something, those bills make my eyes water. This is why I think $25k marks a pretty spectacular budget for vehicles. Expensive enough to get something decent, but cheap enough to justify with my wife, the CFO (Chief Fun Officer).

My current picks...

Sports car
E90 M3 (6MT only) or E92 M3 (6MT or DCT) - best car I've ever owned
AP2 S2000 - Something about these high revving NA cars, but really not a fan of convertibles
ND MX-5 RF - Hard top!
FD RX-7 *wildcard* - I know this threw reliability out the window, but nice examples can be had for cheap money. Save some coin waiting for it to blow so I can drop in a V8 (did this same project on an FC TurboII with a built LS1/T56 some time back)

Off-road
80 Series Landcruiser - It checks all the boxes
100 Series Landcruiser - More comfortable than the 80 sans SFA
N280 4Runner - Effectively a direct competitor to my wife's SUV, so may be pointless

What's your pick?
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      08-19-2020, 04:28 PM   #2
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In the USA? Used Mustang GT, 460 odd HP ... done.
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      08-19-2020, 06:34 PM   #3
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NC2 Miata 6MT, 2.5 short block swap (200whp in a 2,500lb car), hardtop, wheels, tires, suspension. Similair to this but not quite as much track gear, no gutting, etc.: https://autobahncc.com/gt-1-race-car...-l-conversion/
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      08-19-2020, 07:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XutvJet View Post
NC2 Miata 6MT, 2.5 short block swap (200whp in a 2,500lb car), hardtop, wheels, tires, suspension. Similair to this but not quite as much track gear, no gutting, etc.: https://autobahncc.com/gt-1-race-car...-l-conversion/
I can't say that I know much of anything about Miatas. What's the 2.5 from? I saw the listing you had shown, but it blows way out of the $25k budget. Is it something typically done within budget?

I've always been a sucker for interesting swaps. What cool swaps are out there? Small cars with high-revving N/A will have my attention.
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      08-19-2020, 09:08 PM   #5
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Everyone's Favorite Game - What Would You Buy? ? $25k Edition

M3 is nice but not a dedicated sports car in my opinion, however, if you do love them, and know the car well (since you've owned one) it could be a good buy.

I would only do a soft top miata, RF adds needless weight and functionality. S200 is a fantastic little roadster, also a good option. That and the Miata are my top choice. The RX-7 is awesome, but will likely need a large amount of maintenance that will exceed budget.

As for the offroaders, they're cool, but I'm more of a sports car guy.
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      08-20-2020, 08:01 AM   #6
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I'd still highly encourage you to look at Z4M Roadsters, because it literally ticks every box.

Pedigree, hell of an engine, reliable after S54 bulletproof, decently rare and just about as dedicated purpose as BMW could do. $25k would get you a very clean one with money left over for the S54 bulletproofing.

Like I said, I considered the Z4MR and S2000 when I was in the market and you can see which one I preferred. I keep preaching it, but I do not think there's a better value in the ///M market than this car at the moment.
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      08-20-2020, 08:14 AM   #7
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Well-maintained, high-mileage Lotus Elise or Exige.
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      08-20-2020, 08:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
I can't say that I know much of anything about Miatas. What's the 2.5 from? I saw the listing you had shown, but it blows way out of the $25k budget. Is it something typically done within budget?

I've always been a sucker for interesting swaps. What cool swaps are out there? Small cars with high-revving N/A will have my attention.
2.5L would be out of a Mazda 6/3, and various small fords. Very common junk yard finds and it is becoming THE budget power getter for the third gen Miata platform in the US/Canada, it almost bolts right in, as the standard 2.0 is from the same family of Ford Duratec/MZR. Hell when I had mine that was my ultimate goal but I sold mine instead before I pulled the trigger, they are however, not known to be high revving stock, they are however, very torquey.

Hard to say if it will hit the budget as it will vary completely by whether the poster is DIYing or getting a shop to do so, or how much further the poster is going to add on top of the swap. I believe the swap labour from Good-win-Racing which is the go-to for the conversion runs about 3k, plus the engine which can be had for under 1k.

So a swapped early car can be had for easily under 10k with no other modifications if you are a real bargain hunter. Even a NC2 swapped should fall below 15k

As for my pick under 25k USD
-another Z4MR or 987 Boxster S
-EVO IX or a 06-08 STI
-FRS/another NC MX-5 with a 2.5 swap, or reach for a blown RX8 and put a K24 in it.
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Last edited by kyriian; 08-20-2020 at 08:32 AM..
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      08-20-2020, 10:13 AM   #9
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Well maintained Honda Civic type R (new version)

My friend who is a big Porsche fanboy has admitted that its the best FWD Manual car you can buy on the market, the clutch is better than the Cayman GT4, which I thought was just simply amazing given the fact that he is a Porsche die-hard fan

That will be my ultimate choice
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      08-20-2020, 10:13 AM   #10
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Corvette C5 Z06.

As a previous owner I'm biased, see username. In singular purpose, its still hard to beat even 20 years after introduction IMO. I find them extremely entertaining to drive as well.

Yeah, it'll need some modernization especially seats and infotainment but those are easy upgrades. With the size of the aftermarket, you can go multiple different directions.


I'd catch one now as they are starting to gain value.

I'd also give a look at an S2000. But it would be far in 2nd place. I also previously owned an NC Miata and while fun, I definitely wouldn't put it on par with the Vette.
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      08-20-2020, 10:30 AM   #11
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      08-20-2020, 11:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
Off-road
80 Series Landcruiser - It checks all the boxes
Good taste
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      08-20-2020, 12:52 PM   #13
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E92 is probably the best one if you want the one car that can do it all. There are better sports cars and better daily drivers out there. But if I had 25k to spend and only one car allowed to drive in the rain, snow, sun... that would be it.

once you expand the garage to a 2-3 car setup for yourself the e9x kind of loses out to other cars that are better for the job of being a sports car or being a daily driver.
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      08-20-2020, 04:52 PM   #14
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Probably would get a Terminator. Get a whipple and replace the dog shit interior starting with the seats. Or a lotus on the cheap and get a K20 swap
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      08-21-2020, 11:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W/// View Post
I'd still highly encourage you to look at Z4M Roadsters, because it literally ticks every box.

Pedigree, hell of an engine, reliable after S54 bulletproof, decently rare and just about as dedicated purpose as BMW could do. $25k would get you a very clean one with money left over for the S54 bulletproofing.

Like I said, I considered the Z4MR and S2000 when I was in the market and you can see which one I preferred. I keep preaching it, but I do not think there's a better value in the ///M market than this car at the moment.
I was overly impressed on prices. Clean example with 50k-ish miles selling for $16k - $18k ??? Thatís a ton of fun for that price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
Well-maintained, high-mileage Lotus Elise or Exige.
I had no idea that could be an option - especially an Exige! I would LOVE one of those.

Quote:
Originally Posted by See5 View Post
Corvette C5 Z06.

As a previous owner I'm biased, see username. In singular purpose, its still hard to beat even 20 years after introduction IMO. I find them extremely entertaining to drive as well.

Yeah, it'll need some modernization especially seats and infotainment but those are easy upgrades. With the size of the aftermarket, you can go multiple different directions.


I'd catch one now as they are starting to gain value.

I'd also give a look at an S2000. But it would be far in 2nd place. I also previously owned an NC Miata and while fun, I definitely wouldn't put it on par with the Vette.
Iíve owned many LS-based cars. Nuts what can be done for so little money. That FRC lowered down on a nice set of wheels is a hell of a looker...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humdizzle View Post
E92 is probably the best one if you want the one car that can do it all. There are better sports cars and better daily drivers out there. But if I had 25k to spend and only one car allowed to drive in the rain, snow, sun... that would be it.

once you expand the garage to a 2-3 car setup for yourself the e9x kind of loses out to other cars that are better for the job of being a sports car or being a daily driver.
Thatís my issue. Unless I gut it or something... itís a hell of a do-everything car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mingwan View Post
Probably would get a Terminator. Get a whipple and replace the dog shit interior starting with the seats. Or a lotus on the cheap and get a K20 swap
Interesting choice on a Terminator! I honestly wouldnít have even thought of one of those even though Iíve had many Mustangs. How are they to drive? Monsters Iím sure, but is it enjoyable? Iíve heard the clutch is a nightmare.
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      08-21-2020, 01:14 PM   #16
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C5 Z06 or a Terminator Stang are solid choices, especially if you can wrench on your own car. C5 Z06 would also be high on my list.
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      08-21-2020, 01:45 PM   #17
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      08-21-2020, 01:59 PM   #18
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Without doing any kind of research whatsoever, and initial reaction; 2011 C63 AMG. 6.3 liter n-a V8......yes please.
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      08-21-2020, 07:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
Interesting choice on a Terminator! I honestly wouldnít have even thought of one of those even though Iíve had many Mustangs. How are they to drive? Monsters Iím sure, but is it enjoyable? Iíve heard the clutch is a nightmare.
Iíve personally never driven one, but anyone Iíve known who has owned a Terminator didnít want to part with it. I havenít heard anything regarding clutch issues. I remember a while ago when I was looking into them hearing about issues with particular gears, but the transmission and engine on that car is supposed to be pretty robust.

If you can get passed the interior, I donít think you can go wrong with a terminator

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      08-21-2020, 09:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
w this threw reliability out the window, but nice examples can be had for cheap money. Save some coin waiting for it to blow so I can drop in a V8 (did this same project on an FC TurboII with a built LS1/T56 some time back)
If you are considering the FD, you may want to jump in early as prices for good examples are starting to go up. My buddy just sold his for $40k, it was a 500hp single turbo set up with 130k miles on it. It was very, very clean, to be sure, but he put it up and it was gone in the same day for full ask.

To answer the question? I'd say a Z4M if you want a small, light, nimble car. C6Z if you want a power monster.
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      08-22-2020, 08:41 AM   #21
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Agree with King Rudi

2010s W204 Mercedes AMG C63 coupe with 6.2L naturally aspirated V8. It meets all of your criteria. It just slips into your price range.

The Achilles heel is the cylinder head bolts. These can be changed individually one-by-one without head removal. The M156 engine is loved by all who have them. If you like changing rod bearings, head bolts will be a breeze for you.
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      08-22-2020, 09:46 AM   #22
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What about an E63 M6? An uncorked S85 is the ultimate sense of occasion. As a weekend only car you can tackle maintenance and any repairs on your own schedule, and theyíre not much heavier than the E9X platform. SMG was irritating to drive day to day but man was it exciting when the roads opened up and I got to use it as intended.
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