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Bonus Redusernab Asks: What Car Should Sarah Buy?

LongRoofian December 4, 2015 All Things Hoon 36 Comments


Bus_Plunge’s 35 year old unmarried daughter is looking to purchase a “fun car” for her to use when she is not toting all of her horse shit around in the bed of her late model S10 truck. Earlier this week on that book about her face, she posted that she was looking at a G35 coupe for her budgeted $7,500.00. Of course, when her Uncle JohnJohn vetoed that one based on the fact it was showing 140,000 miles, 3 previous owners, it had been lowered and stanced and had some “engine mods”, I was delegated to the basement for not agreeing with my niece on her choice. Sarah is not the nicest to the vehicles she drives so I am encouraging her to find one that is stock, somewhat low mileage and if possible, adult owned as Bus_Plunge and this olelongrooffan will be her rescue squad when she needs one.

Today on that book about her face, she posted a list of acceptable cars she would like to get for her budgeted $7,500.00. As none of these are longroofs, they hold little fascination for this olelongrooffan. But I suspect her $7,500 won’t go far in the purchase of one of these. I gathered up these images from around the web so one might be a 2015 while another may be a 2008, I just don’t know. Oh yeah, no automatics.

Anyway my fellow Hoons, take the jump to see her list of desirables and sound off in the comments section with your thoughts on what she should get. My fellow Hoons have a lot more credibility than Bus_Plunge and this olelongrooffan. Thanks.


Hyundai Veloster


Hyundai Tiberon




Hyundai Genesis Coupe (Hi Jeff!)

civic coupe

Civic Coupe

infiniti g35


Nissan 350Z


Scion FRS

Except for lede image, all images gathered from around these interwebs. Lede imageCopyright Redusernab 2015/longrooffan

  • Van_Sarockin

    35, sporty, manual only, and has money to waste on new/old cars? Sounds like just my type

  • Gee Nick

    The Zs will be the best performance deal, especially if it has to be an auto box, but the rear brace puts a serious damper on cargo space. Mi madre drives an ’03 with stick, been solid reliable, nice torque curve, but relatively soulless. I found the G35 less claustraphobic but appreciated the tractor-like engine noise less from the luxury bucket.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      A friend just gone a slightly newer one. The “glove box” behind the passenger seat baffles me. Was that really the best place to put it?

  • peugeotdude505

    I like the genesis or the gti.. but I haven’t actually, you know… driven either one so not very helpful

  • Drives Dead Marques

    I saw the Tiburon and Civic on the list that is Craig (local Indianapolis version, YMMV). I’d point out a Mazda 3, either hatch or sedan, as another alternative. Also some 06 BMWs, and a Mini Cooper S.

  • Greg Kachadurian

    Soooo is the answer not Miata here?

    On a serious note, if she’s not the nicest to cars I’d go look at a Civic Si Coupe. A coworker beats the shit out of his and it seems to still handle it like a champ.

    And if you can find an FR-S for around $7,500, let me know. Anything that comes close will be a salvage title. A lot of the other cars will be hard to find at that price too.

    Thoughts on others:
    Veloster: Surprisingly slow from what I’ve heard. Probably won’t be much fun or easy to find at the price.

    Tiburon: I think she can do better. They’re probably reliable but I have no idea if they’re fun at all.

    GTI: My family experience with VWs has been some tricky maintenance. I don’t know if she’s looking to wrench on it or not, but it’ll make a mechanic out of her either way. When it runs it’ll be the kind of blast she’s looking for.

    Genesis Coupe: Never driven one but I hear good things about them. Might be hard to find at that price though.

    Civic Coupe: Try to make it an Si if she really wants to have fun with it. Reliable as hell.

    G35 and 350Z: I wouldn’t trust at that price. A friend got a 350Z and it took him a while to find one in good shape at $10K. Otherwise, it seems reliable and decently fun.

    FRS: Not gonna happen at that price.

    • Andrew_theS2kBore

      The Tiburon is the only one you’re going to find in above average condition at that price. They’re very fun cars in a lower-powered, FWD sort of way. In fact, they’re much like a Celica… which, although not on the list, is what I’d recommend (in 190hp GTS trim). The GTS is pretty much indestructible, and you can replace the nasty side-skirts and rear wing with the low profile ones from the base model for cheap (everything interchanges).

  • bigredcavetroll

    The VW and Tiburon would scare me because of quality/reliability problems, although perhaps that’s just my perception. Not to be a buzz-kill either, but $7500 seems like a bit of a stretch for a low-mileage, adult-owned, unmodified car of those model types.

    The Civic seems like a good choice, but may I suggest some alternatives to her list, like a Fit, Miata, or maybe even a BMW? A Prelude or MR2 might be good choices too, but finding one that’s unmodified and has low miles would be by chance.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      It’s surprisingly easy to get a decent, unmodified BMW 3 Series to fit that price. They won’t necessarily be unreliable if you treat it right (at least mine isn’t), but when it does need something, it’s gonna hurt. Sometimes that pain is worth it though.

  • bigredcavetroll

    Maybe a good follow-up question to ask is how much can she spend, or is willing to spend, on maintenance costs?

  • Sjalabais

    No classics? Reliability might be an issue, but in a car family like yours, a Lotus, MG or Triumph should be a welcome challenge. And she doesn’t need it to work all the time with the S10 ready for service…

    Alas, there’s also this painfully obvious choice way within her price range:

    • Car_Door

      I was going to suggest The Volvo c70, but you beat me to it!

      • Sjalabais

        Good to know I’m not alone. It might be hard to find one in white, and I definitely prefer the coupe, but values for the C70 have dropped to an incredibly low level. I know a German guy who found a one-owner, almost perfectly serviced coupe with 220000km for only 2k€. American values are equally low. They are very good cars, reliable, with good parts supply, wonderful inline five sound and a social image that doesn’t hurt, haha.

  • Jeepster

    Here, “fun car” , 5 speed. AND will hold its value better than any of that other carp. come on guys – what else was I gonna post

    • Jeepster


      • HoondavanDude

        As long as there isn’t frame rust, & you maintain it a nice YJ or TJ will be worth what you paid for it in 5 years…regardless of mileage.

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    What about a Mustang?

    You did say she likes horses!

    • 1977ChevyTruck

      Seriously though, it seems to meet most of her criteria, while still being in her budget.

      -Cheap Interior
      -Kinda has the same associations as a Corvette
      -Probably won’t be easy to find a low mileage, non-thrashed one.

      -Sporty looking
      -Decent Performance (Most of the vehicles on this list have a six cylinder anyway)
      -Parts should be cheap, especially compared to some of the higher end/more obscure ones.
      -Very simple, not much to go wrong.

      She probably won’t be able to get a new-ish GT for $7500, but that should get her a late 2000s V6.

      Also, all this is based off second hand information, not first hand experience, so take it with a grain of salt.

      • bigredcavetroll

        I thought about suggesting that or a 1998-2002 Camaro or Firebird. There are a few of the ones with LS1s around with under 100k miles that haven’t been too abused.

        • 1977ChevyTruck

          True, from a performance perspective, those would probably be better.

          I was just thinking that by going with a V6 Mustang, it would allow for the potential of a newer car, and some of the superior reliability that entails.

          • bigredcavetroll

            The 4th gen F-bodies can be a huge pain to work on too.

    • Vairship

      If the horse-like name is a requirement, she could go for a Hyundai Pony for a vastly lower price. Which has the added benefit of meeting none of her other requirements!

  • mve

    I can get you a SL2 for $1000. Gold, 5-speed, 4 cylinders are buzzing good times.

    • dead_elvis

      Hey, what did ol’ Longroof & his niece ever do to you to deserve that kind of treatment? Keep taunting him like that & we’ll never hear about the fate of the Charles Barrett Special!

  • mr smee

    Lexus IS300 Sportcross, have fun finding one!

  • dead_elvis

    How about a $5000-5500 car with $2K in reserve for tires or other immediate needs? Or is this “$7500 & I don’t want to have to do anything for a year”?

  • ptschett

    A few alternatives I found on a search of manual cars for sale within 500 miles of my location and under $8000 (the site I used had $1000 increments) that might also qualify as fun:

    Fiat 500’s & Mini Coopers
    mid-2000’s V6, and early-2000’s V8 Mustangs, with the occasional 4th-generation Camaro/Firebird
    an Acura RSX (asking a bit more $$ though)
    a 6-speed Toyota Matrix XRS
    an ’05 Volvo S40 T5
    an ’85 Porsche 944 (…unexpected)

  • From what I’ve heard, the Veloster isn’t fun, it just looks that way.
    Tiburon is “old Hyundai.”

    FRS is too expensive.

    I don’t have any preferences between what’s left, but I second ptschett’s suggestions of MINI and RSX. I would look at cars that normally sell for a bit less, maybe a bit older, and then buy the cleanest, lowest-miles example you can find. $7500 is enough to buy one of the nicest Preludes out there.

  • NapoleonSolo

    Just about anything polar white is dull.

  • William Robinson

    Talk her out of any Nissan product. Rust and used up riced or raced in car in that price range. Junk… expensive to repair and not worth the hassle.

  • I’ll add to the list of Civic suggestions. Hard to beat from a combination of fun and reliable.

    If fun is more important than reliable, get a Mazda3 S (all 5 doors are S trim). Near Honda reliability and, but more fun than a Civic.

  • stigshift

    As always, the answer is Miata.

  • greggbc

    Use the $7500 as a down payment on a new Mazda Miata. Not white.

  • I’m not the best resource for practical automotive advice.

  • HoondavanDude

    I wouldn’t recommend a RWD car to a family member (especially one with +250 hp) without also recommending some high-performance driving school & auto-x. I still remember the first time I took an off-ramp in the rain in my E30. I feel like RWD cars really require an entirely different mentality.

    Genesis Coupe: I test drove a 4cyl turbo one with 80k miles ~2 years ago. It seemed unusually loud, notchy shifter, not very quick. It looked like it had a stock exhaust, but it droned. The floor for these seems to be $10k or so. The 4cyl models got much better around 2013 (200 HP vs 260 hp). I’ve yet to drive a newer one.

    FR-S / BRZ: Minimum $15k…with salvage title. They may be out there, but I haven’t seen one listed at a dealership for less than $19k.

    Tiburon: I considered these the same time I bought my GTI (2003). They compared pretty well, but they seemed to age very quickly. Within 2-3 years they all looked like 10-year old cars. Part of it was the styling, but the paint quality & body plastic didn’t look great Maybe it was just the fact that the owners didn’t bother to take care of them. Celica (the GTS), Acura RSX, or Civic Si (2002 to 2005 hatchback) would be a better made alternatives.

    Veloster: I had one as a rental. Decent economy car, poor visibility…not at all sporty. You may as well buy an Elantra or Kia Forte. Same driving dynamics, more space, and probably cheaper. Also tough to find at $7,500.

    GTI: Great to drive, but I’d take a close look at the reliability of the MKV GTI & compare it to the VR6 MKIV. Turbo VWs can get very expensive, very quickly. The MKIV VR6 is by no means a cheap car to own, but those engines have a reputation for being stout as long as you keep up on maintenance. An MKIV R32 (AWD!) may also be within budget…but parts & maintenance, & insurance scare me.

    1st gen Acura TL can be found in that price range. I drove a TL recently and was impressed with how much it felt like a much smaller car. It was fast, cornered flat & was pretty darn comfortable. For being FWD, it handled pretty well. The Dash was also completely warped & cracked…common for these, apparently. Acura TSX might be within budget as well. Both were made with 6-speed manual. Both require premium fuel.

    G35/350Z: I’ve only been a passenger in a Z-car and it was when they first launched. Super Fast, & good value for a 2nd car. You may have a better chance of finding a well maintained G35 sedan (also available in RWD & manual) than a coupe. Also available in manual transmission with RWD.

    As a second car, I’ve got to recommend the RX-8. They’re dirt cheap and great to drive. I would own one, but they burn twice the fuel as my commuter & I drive 25k miles/yr. They have a reputation for requiring engine replacement (many were replaced under 100k miles), but you can likely find one cheap enough to have some leftover budget for major repairs. Great chassis & fun at lower speeds.

    Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6 are both in budget and are a hoot to drive…yet still competent commuters.

    E36 BMW 325i, 323i or 328i would be a logical choice. You can find nice ones for under $5k and you’ll have money left to replace the plastics in the cooling system (if it hasn’t already been done). take your pick of sedan, coupe or convertible. RWD, comfortable, safer than many classics, and used parts are cheap and readily available. Since it’s not her only car, she can probably afford some down time.

    Subaru Impreza RS/ Saab 9-2x (non-turbo). WRXs can be found in this price range…but they’re likely require lots of work.

    I know a few owners who have put a truckload of money into Cooper S cars. They may be great to drive, but they aren’t very well engineered.

  • Er…do they all have to be white?