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Please help me with a car buying decision!

firewaterwordfirewaterword SatchitanandaPais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
edited April 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello fine people of Help / Advice! Long time lurker here, ducking out of the shadows in order to solicit some much needed guidance. If you'd be so kind, pull up a chair and listen to my dilemma - any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated!

So here's the deal - I'm about to make a pretty important decision (relatively speaking anyway) and I'm uncomfortably clueless as to how to proceed. Last June, I secured my first real job out of college, and finally have the means to purchase a "new" car - well, "preowned" to be specific. Anyway, my issue is that I've got absolutely no idea what to look for in regards to models, and I'm hoping that some of you folk can be so gracious as to lend a hand.

Here's the background: I've had my current car since high-school, and I'm not exaggerating at all when I say it is going to break my heart to get rid of it. Said car is a 1984 BMW 325i which I was extremely fortunate to have been given all those years ago. The car is an absolute joy to drive - the engine is powerful and the transmission flawless. However, the rest of the car is falling apart, to the point where I'm almost embarrassed to have others in it. The car has seen me through a great deal, and I'm seriously going to hate to say goodbye, but circumstances have convinced me it's time to move on.

Here's where (I hope) you fine people come in! I'm fairly sure I know the desired characteristics of my new car:

2 Door. Manual. Fast. Coupe. Affordable luxury. Professional. A spiritual successor, so to speak, of my aged 325i. As far as price goes, my ceiling is around $25,000. I'm fairly sure I don't want anything from Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Saturn, or Kia. I've spent some time eyeing the following online:

Nissan 350z. Infinity G35. BMW M3. Mercedes-Benz C-class (i.e. 230). Audi TT. Mazda RX-8.

Hopefully you get the idea. Basically, my head is spinning with choices. I realize there's a bunch here, but I'd be very grateful is anyone with suggestions or experience with the above could throw me some knowledge, in order to help me narrow things down. Also, as I've never gone through the car buying process, any advice in that realm would be much appreciated as well. Cheers folks!

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    CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Dont know about the other cars in your list as they arent my bag, but the RX-8 is neither fast nor luxurious imho. You have to thrash the daylights out of it to get any sort of performance, and the interior was fairly typical sports trim. Now personally, i love a good sports interior and it was actually what i liked best about the car, but i wouldnt say it was luxurious at all. Oh and visibility out the rear was absolutely awful. I'm 6' tall for reference. Overall it stands out in your list as the one that doesnt fit in.

    Cryogen on
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    TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I was looking at a similar, though somewhat broader list (including the Evolution and STI) when I got my car a couple years ago. Here are my thoughts.

    There's practically no reason to get a 350z over a G35. The G35 Coupe has essentially the same power, doesn't actually weigh much more, has a nicer interior, and a usable rear seat.

    I agree with what the poster above said about the RX-8. Underpowered, not particularly lux on the inside if that's what you're looking for.

    In order to get an M3 in that price range, you'd have to go pretty old (2003, 60000+ miles or so). Personally, I'd go with a newer ('05 or so) 330Ci, or an even newer 328i.

    I don't know much about the new mercedes, but I was unimpressed with the old c230K we tried.

    Again, I think you'd have to go a little on the old side to get a TT in your price, but the A4 is nice car also, comparable to the BMWs and you could probably find one of those in that range also.

    Talondel on
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    Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    SIR!!

    Go test drive that infinity G35. That car is pure sex in an affordable coup.

    Now the Nissan Z is nice but it doesn't compare to the infinity. I also Highly recommend you check out a honda S2000. It is a convertible with a monster amount of horsepower for its size. I drive the Honda because I live in florida and it is open top 11 months out of the year. If I still lived up north I would trade it in for that infinity though. I second the feelings on the RX8 i was very under impressed.

    Also see if you cant find a used Porsche dealer in your area. A 2 or 3 year old caymen could be as low as 25000 depending on miles

    If you have any questions about the infinity or s2000 specifically let me know. I have driving experience in both.

    The infinity in black with a black interior is a sexy car my friend.

    Limp moose on
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    krapst78krapst78 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I had a '03 Base model 350z and it was a fun but impractical car. The 350z is insanely fun to drive and generates a lot of power in the low-mid range. My main complaints would be the cheap interior (I had fabric seats which started to show wear after just a year) and the horrendous default tires (cheap Bridgestone Potenzas). The car is a bit on the heavy side, but I was still averaging over 20 mpg. Having only 2 seats can be a pain or a blessing depending on the situation. Even though the car is a hatchback, the rear trunk space is very limited due to a large standard roll bar that bisects the rear space. Rear visibility is horrible and the blind spots are invasive given the unusual slope of the C pillars. Even with it's shortcomings, the car is tremendously fun to drive and gives you a lot of those 'I have to smile but I don't know why' moments when driving.

    I recommend trying out the G35 or M3 as you are also looking for luxury and an air of professionalism. Driving my buddy's manual shift G35 felt identical to driving the 350z. If I closed my eyes, the sound of the engine and feel of the transmission would easily make me guess that I was driving the 350z. However, the G35 had better tires, a more luxurious interior, and a barely serviceable backseat making it possible to lug around your friends when absolutely needed. I haven't had the pleasure of driving an M3 but the all the late-model 3 series I've had the opportunity to drive have been stellar. The handling on the 3series is excellent and in my opinion felt superior to that of the 350z and the G35. The interior isn't all to bad either.

    I can't say that I was very impressed with the C230. The interior of the Benz is severely lacking, and I'd even go so far as to say that it's even worse than the interior of the 350z. The compressor engine sounds horrible and makes an annoying high pitched whine even when revving hard.

    Unfortunately I have never had a chance to drive the Audi TT or RX-8 so I can't really offer any advice regarding those models.

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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    At 25 grand, you're probably not looking at the cars you've suggested there, unless you are looking at well used. Check Blue Book and Edmunds for what cars are going for in your area. Be warned, you might find it discouraging. At least, I did when was looking a couple of months ago.

    Take into account some other things. Rising gas prices are going to kill you, so I would avoid the 350z. I have friend who has one, and he says it's a gas guzzler. Also, you may want to find out what insurance will run you on each of these cars.

    Truthfully, I got a new Civic a couple of months ago, and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. It's actually got a really nice style and character to it (it's black), got plenty of room (admittedly, mine is a sedan; I know you mentioned you were looking for a coupe), and gets great gas mileage. Not a hybrid, just a regular Civic. Just a suggestion to keep in mind in case the other cars you're looking at are completely out of your price range.

    Dalboz on
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    zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For 25 grand you could get a new VW GTI nicely optioned, or a used Audi A4. Sure, the A4's not a coupe, but I've driven 4 of 'em for extended periods over the years ('98 1.8t, 2000 1.8t, 2001 2.8, and finally a '98 2.8 w/ 170k miles on it) and they're great cars. Audi/VW do a great job on fit and finish on their interiors. Neither one is a rocket ship but they both strike a good balance between power and mileage.

    Barring that, a bunch of folks at work have G35s / 350zs and they all love the hell out of 'em.

    zilo on
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    HlubockyHlubocky Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    As someone mentioned the GTI, now I have to throw in my vote for the Mazda 3 hatchback. I owned one for a year or so and it was a great car, fun to drive, and the brown leather seats looked amazing.

    Hlubocky on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    At $25K, the best driving experience possible for a new car will be the mazda miata (drop-top is just a bonus). If you don't believe me then go test drive one, then you can come back and apologize. :P

    And I think the rx-8 touring package (leather) is kinda luxe, the seats are very nice, though the dash and center panel are kinda techie. It'll burn oil too, so keep a quart of oil in the car and check every other fillup, and you'll have to flog it to get decent performance.

    You could wait for the 1-series, it's a smaller, lighter version of the 3-series. No word yet on how it drives, but it ought to be nice. And if you think that's nice maybe a TSX? It's a 4-dr, but it's pretty posh and that 4-cyl has a lot of pickup. I've a Legacy GT right now, and I like it a lot, but it's probably a bigger car than you want.

    And what Dalboz said regarding your price range.

    Djeet on
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    truck-a-saurastruck-a-sauras Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For much less than 25K, would it just be possible to restore the old car? Not always possible, but worth looking into.

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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Thanks a ton for all the great suggestions folks!

    At this point I've read enough in favor of the G35 over the Z that I think I can knock the Z off of the short-list. As far as the RX-8 goes, I think the styling may be a little too overstated for what I'm looking for, not to mention the less than positive things I've heard regarding power and mileage.

    I'm not at all opposed to a "more used" car, seeing as the one I'm driving now is pretty much as old as I am. I don't know if it's my market (Bay Area), but cruising local Autotrader.com, Craigslist, and Cars.com listings has really surprised me in regards to how far my money will go - in a good way!

    Talondel - Thanks for the suggestion regarding the 330Ci and 328i - I'm going to look into those today. I'm a huge fan of my BMW, so it wouldn't take a lot of convincing to get me into one.

    Limp moose & krapst78 - Yeah, the G35 is very high on my list right now. I'm going to go test drive a 2004 and a 2005 this weekend to get some practical feelings. Also, thanks for the idea about the Porsche, Moose - I looked around, and while the Caymans in my area are out of my range, I found some very attractive Boxsters, so I'm definitely going to check those out. I've seen a little bit about the S2000, but I'll take a closer look.

    Dalboz - I'll have to take a second look at the Civics. My gut reaction is to avoid, but that's mostly out of ignorance. As far as pricing goes, as mentioned above, my area seems to be rife with decent deals - but most probably due to the fact that getting an older (2001+) model doesn't bother me. Gas and insurance, however, will no doubt sting no matter what.

    zilo - Yeah, I've driven my friend's A4 (mid 2000s I think) and I liked what I felt. Took it up to Tahoe for a weekend. Very nice car to be sure. I know nothing about VW (save for the Jettas a number of my friends used to drive), but I'll take a look at the GTI. Does it come in manual? As much as I'm sure I'm going to cost myself, automatic is a dealbreaker for me.

    Similarly, I know nothing about the Mazda 3, so I'll have to check that out as well. Djeet - OK, I'm going to take your word for it, and perhaps test drive a Miata. I've got very little love for those cars, but I suppose it can't hurt to try one out. Still...

    Anyway, it's a slow day at the office, so I'm going to dig back in. Thanks again for all the great advice people - you guys rock!

    firewaterword on
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    PrecursorPrecursor Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    At 25 grand, you're probably not looking at the cars you've suggested there, unless you are looking at well used.

    There's an old saying that goes: Fast. Reliable. Cheap. Pick 2.

    I'm not American so the car prices i know are vastly different from the ones you're working with but $25k doesn't seem like enough money to get a car you want. I think you might need to sit down and decide what is really important to you in terms of your car.

    2 Door? Check.
    Manual? Check.

    "Fast", "Affordable luxury" and "Professional". You might need pin point exactly what you mean with those words/phrases. What one person thinks is affordable might not be for someone else.

    Edit: Seems like your money can get you further than I first thought. In that case i'll recommend the G35. Beautiful, beautiful car. The price should be good too considering Nissan hasn't yet made it's name in terms of reliability and also because they upgraded the model to the new G37. As with any new platform, avoid the first model year, 2003, as they're prone to problems.

    Precursor on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For much less than 25K, would it just be possible to restore the old car? Not always possible, but worth looking into.

    Believe me, I've thought about it. Sadly, I know very little about these kind of things. Cursory research shows the same model as mine (though in much better condition) selling for around 1-2K, so I think I'd be better off just getting a new one if I went that route. However, if anyone around here knows a thing or two about restoring cars (or could point me in the right direction), I'd love to know more.

    firewaterword on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    firewaterword - get something with airbags and ABS (retrofitting your '84 will probably be a lot of trouble and $), cause given the cars you're considering, you're probably going to be do some rather spirited driving. and you have all those damn SUVs out there. and the miata is not luxe, even with the touring package, but if you're a "driver" you should TD it. i really miss mine, but had to get rid of her when we decided to have a kid.

    Djeet on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Yeah, safety is a pretty big concern, though as you say, based on where I'm coming from, a pillow gaff-taped to the steering wheel would be a vast improvement. And I like that - "spirited" driving! Thing is, I don't regularly drive very large distances. I'm fortunate enough to live about 6 miles from work, and my schedule is flexible enough that I don't have to deal with traffic too often. But when I do drive, I like to drive. Not unsafely, mind you, but certainly with vigor.

    firewaterword on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Honestly, I think car shopping is the funnest part. Once you move to car buying then you gotta deal with haggling over price, getting low-balled on your trade-in, buyer's remorse, engine break-in period, yadda-yadda. Oh and go TD a mini cooper S, it's a bimmer and a real hoot to drive! But again not terribly luxe, compared to some of the cars you've mentioned. If you're going to finance, make sure to do all these TDs all in the same month and around the time you intend to buy, cause each dealership will do a credit check and if you dribble these credit checks over months it'll start dinging your credit score. There is a window of a few weeks to a month where multiple auto credit checks don't count against you with the car loan financing agency as they understand you're car shopping (or so I heard, and read on fool and edmunds).

    Djeet on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Frankly, I've got trepidations about the whole buying process. Hell, even the TD process. I'm a nice guy to a fault, and I'm sure I'll look like an easy mark walking onto a dealership. Thankfully, I've got a number of friends well versed in the fine arts of hardassery willing to help me out.

    I've read that dealerships (and anyone else) can be fined by the FTC for running unauthorized credit checks, and was told (perhaps without basis) that the best way to avoid it is to use photocopies of my drivers license with a big "NO CREDIT CHECK AUTHORIZED" tag on them. Anyway, I'm not planning on financing through a dealer anyway (%40 in cash and the rest from Capital One Auto), so I don't see how it's any of their goddamn business anyway. As far as I know, my credit score is over 680, so I'm not so worried about getting a decent rate.

    But I digress - I need to figure out what I want to buy before I deal with the onerous process of actually getting my hands on the title.

    firewaterword on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    It's best just to expect they will run a credit check, all they need if the info on your license to run it. You could try the photocopied ID w/note, but eventhough filing an FTC complaint is easy, having them actually do anything about it probably requires a lot of documentation and trouble that's not worth your bother.

    Just remember, there's no sale without you; if you feel pressured or think it's a bad deal just walk away, 9 times out of 10 they'll stop you before you leave the dealership asking you to re-negotiate (or they'll call you the next day).

    Anyone thinking of buying a car should read this and this for some perspective.

    Djeet on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Thanks for the links Djeet! I read Fool once in awhile, but haven't seen these.

    In other news, I just talked to insurance, and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. About a $90/6month difference between the 2004 G35 and the 2002 Boxster, which kind of surprised me (thought it would be higher). Going to try to test drive the Boxster after work one day this week, as the dealership's local. The G35's going to have to wait until the weekend, as the place is about 45 min away.

    EDIT: Holy hell, those calculators on Fool are fantastic! I need to spend more time on that site.

    firewaterword on
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    TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    If you're worried about them running your credit, place a security freeze on your credit information. You can do this in most states now.

    See > http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html

    As far as dealing with the dealer goes, others will disagree, but this is what I do:

    1) Find out what the car is worth before you show up to look at it. Edmunds.com and Bluebook.com are good places to start.
    2) Arrange your financing ahead of time through a bank or credit union. If the dealer can beat your bank's rate, great, but at least you'll have options.
    3) Show up knowing how much you want to pay for the car, based on the information you found previously and the amount your loan is approved for. This number should include taxes, title costs, doc fees, and everything else. Dealers will know what you mean (or at least should) if you tell them you want the "OUT THE DOOR" price to be XX,XXX
    4) Tell them you want to buy the car today, that you're willing to pay $XX,XXX.xx and that you've got to leave there in about an hour.
    5) If they come back with a price that is still more than you want to pay, explain that this isn't a negotiation. You know what the car is worth, you know what you're willing to pay, and you've told them.
    6) If they haven't met your price by the end of the hour, leave.
    7) Call back the next day and ask if they're willing to sell at your price yet.

    Talondel on
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    wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Well if you're not completely set on the whole 2 door thing, you can find a 05-06 Volvo S60R in that range easily. 6 speed manual, 300 hp/ 295 ftlb turboed 5 cylinder engine, all wheel drive, active suspension, more luxury than you can shake a stick at and you can still get 28 mpg on the highway.

    Alternatively, if the 4 door thing is a deal breaker and you're not afraid of a little american muscle, There's always the 2004-2005 Pontiac GTO. These are also pretty sporty, but a bit heavy. With a manual tranny they're rated at 28 mpg highway/ 20 mpg city.

    It seems the Rx-8 gets a bad rap on these forums. While it's in the same price range as the 350z and is similarly sized, It's a very different car. Mazda has always been about a more balanced car than an all out straight line ballbuster. They say that you have to flog it to get performance out of it, but the rotary engine that is in it is designed to run at 9000 rpm all day long and still get you home. If you follow the maintenance instructions to the T, that motor will last hundreds of thousands of miles. The suspension set up is where this particular car really shines. If you have ANY sort of curvy roads near you, they will make you fall in love with that car. It's almost effortless to go fast in the curves.

    wmelon on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Thanks for the advice Talondel. I've heard a couple sources mention that the checks can have a minor impact on one's score; however, Djeet's mention of a "window" makes good sense. I'm just a little concerned (read: stupidly paranoid) about keeping my score unblemished.

    Anyway, that info regarding credit security freezes is good to know for many circumstances (none of which I hope to ever encounter!).

    I'm about 1/2 way through the Motely Fool guide and so far I'd say it should be mandatory reading for everyone even thinking of buying a car.

    Edit: wmelon, my brother (a massive car guy) also recommended the S60R to me! While to be honest I have an unfounded stigma associated with Volvo, what I've seen of that car does look quite interesting. I haven't looked at the GTO, but I'll check it out. I had my insurer run the numbers on a 2006 Solstice, and the increase was way more than I'm comfortable with (even higher than on a Boxster, albeit a slighter older one!)

    I still want to test drive an RX-8, as I certainly find the Wankel rotary engine interesting, if only in principle. If I could find a late model RX-7 in decent condition and at a reasonable price, I'd certainly consider it.

    firewaterword on
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    zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Yeah, the GTI comes in a 6M. Or a 6spd paddle-shifting auto that is actually 2 3-gear transmissions that you clutch between when shifting. Definitely take a look.

    zilo on
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    Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited April 2008

    I'm about 1/2 way through the Motely Fool guide and so far I'd say it should be mandatory reading for everyone even thinking of buying a car.

    The Fool should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking of making any kind of financial decision. So much wisdom there it hurts.

    Limp moose on
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    BronzeDuckBronzeDuck Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I haven't yet seen anyone mention taking running costs into consideration. In all honesty, that's a large consideration when buying a car. Sure you can buy a Boxster (meh, IMO), but can you afford $60/oil change plus Porsche OEM parts as opposed to $40/oil change and Nissan OEM parts? It may not seem like a large difference at first, but it adds up if (god forbid) something large goes wrong and in the long run.

    Frequent the forums for the cars you are looking at, as some may have specific guides for what to look for (specifically the RX-8). Speaking of, unlike many here it seems, I really like the RX-8. It has a unique sound, it's a very balanced car, crisp steering, nice shifter feel, enjoys being beaten on (see: canyon runs).

    The 350Z/G35 are both nice. Both come with lots of electronic driver aids which can interfere with spirited driving, but they're fun and good cruisers.

    GTI's come with a 6 Speed or DSG, but they're FWD, unlike the rest of the cars on your list. Maybe look at an R32 as well. They're two very different cars, though.

    Second the Cooper S too. They're nice little cars. Wrong wheel drive again, though :-D

    The Volvo is a very nice sleeper car. Unless you know what you're looking for, an S60R will slip right past most people.

    As much as I love them, be careful of the FD's (late model RX-7's). They're great cars, but they need to be taken care of properly, and many left these days simply are not. Patience would be required in that search.

    The 1 series will be out of your price range, almost certainly.

    BronzeDuck on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'm like you. I'm a nice guy which makes negotiating difficult for me. Which is why I would suggest again to check Blue Book and Edmunds website, and actually print out the pages for the specific car you are looking at and bring them with you when you are ready to buy. I was able to knock a couple thousand dollars off the asking price of my Civic by presenting the printed pages to the dealer, demonstrating that I had done my research and knew what the car was actually selling for in my area. The hardcopies give you a little more backbone.

    Dalboz on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    BronzeDuck wrote: »
    I haven't yet seen anyone mention taking running costs into consideration. In all honesty, that's a large consideration when buying a car. Sure you can buy a Boxster (meh, IMO), but can you afford $60/oil change plus Porsche OEM parts as opposed to $40/oil change and Nissan OEM parts? It may not seem like a large difference at first, but it adds up if (god forbid) something large goes wrong and in the long run.

    Yeah, I'm somewhat used to that - my current car has not been cheap to maintain, and that having a very good mechanic to go to. But you're quite right, running costs are a factor for sure.

    Also, I could be wrong, but isn't the BMW 1 Series going to come out in the US in the next few months? They do look nice for sure. Still, I'm pretty sure I want to go the used route. And I'm not totally against the RX-8; I'm certainly going to test drive one before I pull the trigger. From what I've read, the fact that the rotary engine, being what, a 1.3L, can pull +230hp is pretty goddamn amazing. And thanks for the warning regarding the RX-7s. Like you say, I think the search-time necessary to avoid getting screwed is a little more than I'm willing to put up with.

    Dalboz - Yeah, I've spent more time than I'm sure my boss would appreciate on the Edmunds site. Same with Bluebook data. Thats the one thing that sort of makes me wish I was going for a new car - the amount of, for lack of a better word, "subjectivity" in used car pricing is somewhat difficult to work with. At least with a new car there's an invoice price to work with.

    firewaterword on
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    variantvariant Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Your first two picks (Z and G35) are probably what I would first recommend to anyone looking for a car in that price range. I've never ridden a Z but it's built on the same platform as the G and shares engines with it too i believe so it can't be too different. The G35 Coupe is a pretty sweet ride and you should be able to secure one easily with that amount of $.

    I would definitely recommend you to stay away from the M3 unless you want to get a much older model and even then, it's not a good decision, those cars are high maintenance and you should probably climb the promotion ladder a bit before you get one of those. One of my friends has an 06 and she said she has to get a service and tune up every 10,000 miles which costs about $1500, and then there's the regular service with costs $500 every 30,000. I've driven it a couple of times and it is one of the funnest cars I've ever driven, though a bit bulky but I wouldn't buy one right out of college. You should consider a used 330ci.

    Test drive the C-class and the Audi, I think that they're pretty boring compared to the others.

    The rx-8 has a cult following and was even praised by Jeremy Clarkson but I've never driven one.

    variant on
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    krapst78krapst78 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Ah, yeah, forgot about the maintenance costs. The costs for the 350z was around $400 for the 15,000 and 30,000 mile scheduled maintenance at the Nissan dealership. However, it looks like you live in the Bay Area so there are mechanics that specialize in the Z and G35 you can go to for a fraction of the dealership cost. I'd recommend checking out Don's Nissan and Z Specialist in Cambell if you decide to go with the 350z or G35. He's a really nice old guy that you can tell has a passion for Nissans and Datsuns.

    One thing that kinda sucked about the Z was changing the oil. The car is so low that it's impossible to get to the oil filter without using a jack stand. It's also a 3.5 liter engine so you'll need to buy several quarts of oil when changing it. The other thing to remember is that the car has different width tires for the front and back. The default tires are also directional, so that means it is impossible to rotate the tires. This also means that if one tire blows, you'll generally have to buy a set of tires instead of just one.

    My old roommate had a 2004 BMW 325i. I don't remember if it was a special deal or not, but he'd get free oil changes and scheduled maintenance on his car. The dealership would actually call him every 6 months to come in for his next oil change. I'm not sure if they still have this plan in place or if it would even apply to pre-owned vehicle, but it's definitely something to look into as the retail maintenance fees for the BMW were not cheap.

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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Thanks for the info guys! I think I've pretty much gotten past the M3 crush. I'm certainly going to continue looking at the 325i and 330ci however. I'm all to familiar with the costs of running a BMW, though I think having a much older one (which admittedly could have seen more attention) insulated me somewhat. Having a mechanic I trust didn't hurt either.

    The G35 Coupe is looking better and better each day - I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to test drive one. I don't think I'd go for the Z, given what I consider to be the superior styling of the G - especially since they're built on the same platform. And thanks for the tip about the spot in Cambell krapst - I'll be sure to look into it.

    Thats one of the perks of living in this area - there's such a glut of used luxury and sports cars out there (as well as places to have them serviced) that I've got a lot to choose from.

    But here's the thing - I'm finding myself irrationally drawn towards Porsche Boxsters. I know it's wrong, I know. But goddamn it, I'm having trouble resisting the siren's call. So, if anyone would please talk me out of it, I would very much appreciate it.

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    DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    I have a 2001 Audi A4 1.8t. I like it a lot, and I liked the way it drove quite a bit better than the 6 cylinder version. Also, it's a manual transmission, but those are super-hard to find. Don't even bother with tiptronic or whatever "auto-manual" is called these days, it's shitty and not at all like a real manual.

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    DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    But here's the thing - I'm finding myself irrationally drawn towards Porsche Boxsters. I know it's wrong, I know. But goddamn it, I'm having trouble resisting the siren's call. So, if anyone would please talk me out of it, I would very much appreciate it.

    Totally impractical as an everyday car. Wait until you have a reliable everyday car as well as a house you have put some payments on. Then treat yourself. If you have to drive it every day, the novelty will wear off fast. If you can just drive it when you feel like it, the novelty will last forever.

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    MoSiAcMoSiAc Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    But here's the thing - I'm finding myself irrationally drawn towards Porsche Boxsters. I know it's wrong, I know. But goddamn it, I'm having trouble resisting the siren's call. So, if anyone would please talk me out of it, I would very much appreciate it.

    Totally impractical as an everyday car. Wait until you have a reliable everyday car as well as a house you have put some payments on. Then treat yourself. If you have to drive it every day, the novelty will wear off fast. If you can just drive it when you feel like it, the novelty will last forever.



    This

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    zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Boxsters (Porsches in general, really) are pricey to maintain.

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    Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I drive a sporty convertible as an everyday driver and I love it.


    I also have a garage and a roommate with a truck.


    It can work but only if you have the right situation. Also maintenance is more expensive. You go through tires fast because the car is fun to drive, You need premium gas and oil ect if you want to keep it running smooth. And if anything does break Porsche parts are expensive and imported.

    But I have never heard of anyone not enjoying driving a boxter unless they are just too big physically for it and are uncomfortable. Lebron James would probably hate it. Average joe Would love it.

    Limp moose on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Having owned a convertible for a few years, I can tell you they are fantastically impractical. No trunk space (good enough for groceries, but getting even medium-sized luggage in the boot is iffy), road and wind noise are more intrusive, the frame is jigglier than a hard-top (cowl shake is not uncommon), when stopped at a light with the top down you're very exposed since you're lower than most other cars (though sunglasses help and you get used to it), long drives take more out of you. If you get a blowout be prepared to lug the flat tire in the passenger seat as the trunk will not accomodate a wide tire/rim (actually on a boxter a spare is unlikely, it's probably going to be fix-a-flat and an air compressor, not sure though). I'd think maintenance is going to approach double the cost of bimmer maintenance. You really need a roommate or S.O. with a non-convertible to make this work (or two cars), because it's hard to buy anything but clothes and groceries when you have only a rag-top.

    I'll pass along a gem from my dad: you really need to be in a good place financially to take out a loan to buy a convertible or a sports car.

    Djeet on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Thanks folks - all good points for sure.

    I should have mentioned this earlier, but I've also got an old '95 Ford Explorer in the garage as well. It's holding up fairly well, but I only use it once every two or three months for tasks my 325 isn't up to, and maybe once or twice a year for a weekend in Tahoe, because I really hate to drive the damn tank. Makes me feel like Patton in North Africa or something. And not in a good way.

    But the point Doc makes about novelty is well received. As are the financial considerations, Djeet. That's the thing about these bloody cars though - I take one look and my right brain starts kicking the shit out of my left brain.

    firewaterword on
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    DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited April 2008
    I'm going to second the opinion of the A4. It's not a coupe, but its a really nice car.

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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Yes, I've driven my friend's '04 A4 Wagon and was impressed - though it'll be awhile before I need anything like that.

    I will say that the A4 1.8 Quatro Turbo does look quite nice, and isn't unreasonably priced. What's even more surprising (to me) is that there are far more with 5speeds available than I would have expected. Like so.

    Still, if I'm going to go 4 door, I think it would have to be the Volvo S60R. Decisions abound.

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    zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Take another look at the VW GTI, then. It's got the same motor as the new A4s (2.0 turbo), has 2 doors, comes with a six-speed, is fairly practical, quick, and can be had for 25k new if you're willing to forgo a sunroof.

    zilo on
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    zilo - I'm messing around with the GTI on the VW site, and so far so good. Not sure I'm down with the relative boxy-ness of the back, but the 6sp coming standard is a good sign. And major points for the fuel efficiency / price.

    Holy shit. Plaid seats? You've got to be kidding me. I mean I'd spring for the leather anyway, but christ that's a motivator if I've ever seen one!

    Seriously though, thanks for the recommendation.

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