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Friday Fun: $100k Challenge

Ross Ballot February 17, 2017 All Things Hoon 26 Comments

It’s a theoretical that, as an enthusiast, is among the most fun things to ponder: one-hundred thousand dollars magically appear in your bank account, and the car fairy says you have to spend it all on cars and car-related activities. Pretty freakin’ ideal, right? That hundred-k goes a long way though, longer than you think, leaving you with a dilemma: do you spend it on one massively depreciated supercar and two beaters, or divvy up your funds and spread them out in order to achieve maximum bang and excitement for your buck?

Let’s go with the latter rather than the former: three cars, regardless of how questionable they are, are almost always better than one…and especially so when you have an imaginary $100k to spend on them. So let’s pretend that the fantasy has come true, that one’s bank account is suddenly a hundred-thousand fuller, and it has to be spent on cars. The dream, though it is very much so, has come true. What would you spend it on? I know what I would do with mine…in this moment, at least.

If only fantasies were reality, right? My brain is far too capable of imagining what I would do with a huge chunk of change should I somehow come into a sizable load of money: cars. The answer is cars. And trucks. Many, many of them. But for theoretical shit’s sake, let’s limit that to three, so that we’re not dealing with a dozen of F-Body Camaros or an S197 spec series. Three cars to spend a magical $100K on, with a little left over for auto-related shenanigans. What would you do? I know what I’d do.

Source: Road and Track

First pick: Flyin’ Miata — Estimated Price: $30K

If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, you’re missing out on what is the modern equivalent of the legen-waitforit-dary Shelby Cobra. Take one unsuspecting Mazda NC Miata, add an LS engine out of a Corvette or other performance-V8-bearing GM model, and combine them: suddenly, greatness. With the lightness of the MX-5 matched with the naturally aspirated high-power glory of a pushrod V8, the Flyin’ Miata is effectively the best parts of a Miata and of a Corvette taken to the extreme. Figure $10-15k for a nicely cared for NC Miata, the cost of the swap, and the suspension to handle it, and let’s call it $30k all-in. Very, very high on the “want” list…if not the highest.

Source: ARB

Second pick: Toyota Land Cruiser — estimated price: $20-30k w/mods

So let’s say that you’re into off-roading. And not just off-roading, but long-distance travel to get to said off-road trail, and not just driving said off-road trail but also camping along one’s journey and also being able to do all of the aforementioned actions in quite a bit of comfort. There may be many options, but one reigns supreme: the Land Cruiser. While a Range Rover may be more “appealing,” the LC has it beat in terms of reliability and the ability to not only camp out of it, but to make into a livable and extremely capable off-road vehicle. $20-25k will buy you an absolute ton of truck, and that leaves $5-10k for mods and maintenance. V8, leather seats, Toyota reliability, comfort galore, big-time off-road prowess…what else could one want? It’s what my 4Runner dreams of being when it grows up.

Third pick: 2nd gen. Cadillac CTS-V

At this point, you have an imaginary $40-$50k to burn. A hell of a lot of change left over, enough to buy five fun cars and be satisfied. But one prospect has a huge dollar-to-fun quotient, a car which has a supreme level of comfort and an even higher shock factor: the second generation Cadillac CTS-V. Like the above-mentioned Miata, the V’s heart beats Corvette, though here it beats to the tune of a supercharged 6.2-liter LSA engine mated ideally to a six-speed Tremec TR6060. When I fantasize about driving around in comfort but knowing in the back of my head that the car I’m driving packs a massive punch, that fantasy always comes back to a 2nd-gen V. The 556 horsepower are likely enough to make you forget about some questionable interior materials, and the subtlety of the car itself is of a similar ease as is dropping down a few gears and putting any car that challenges you in your mirrors. $30-35k buys you a nicely cared for, decent condition sedan, while coupes can be found for slightly more and the wagon (“Vagon”) commands a decent premium, solidfying it as the final choice in the three-car, hundred-grand imaginary garage. A dream car, the V very much is.

What to do with the leftover cash: track days and off-roading galore

Being that we made up the parameters of this game, I would put my remaining moolah towards the things that would make owning the above-mentioned vehicles worthwhile: track days and off-roading trips. With a hypothetical $10k left to drop on whatever event or adventure may be worth the while, there’s a lot of money that can be spent towards making owning these vehicles as fun as it they would be rewarding. A guy can dream.

Honorable mention: Lexus LC500 + $5k Miata + $5k XJ Cherokee

Okay, I’ll admit that this is entirely a result of my Lexus LC love affair. Pictures are consistently being released as the LC500 as under actual journalists’ review out in Hawaii as we speak, and the car is turning out to be not only even more stunning than I thought but better driving than expected…as far as I can tell from initial reports, at least. Figure an LC500 is $90k, that leaves $5k for a Miata and $5k for a modified Jeep XJ. Perfection, indeed.

Ah, fantasy. Not just fantasy though, but automotive fantasy. Ask me again in a week and the above choices for “what would you do with one-hundred-thousand imaginary dollars?!” would, without question, be different. Actually, ask me again in a few hours and it would involve different choices. But it’s a theoretical that us enthusiasts love to play out in our mind, and as such we’ll happily roll with the prospect of it. Say what you say, if a hundred-grand landed in your bank account and you were forced to spend it on three cars, you would be happy to spend it on a trio of your own dream cars. So how would you use it? Sound off in the comments to voice your vehicular low-level lottery-winning dreams.

Lede image courtesy of Insurance Tips and Rates

  • Batshitbox

    One Rally Fighter. One Matchbox Rally Fighter. One tank of gas.

  • Papa Van Twee

    I know where I’ll be starting:

  • Mister Sterling

    I am way too pedestrian, but there is a twist. So here goes. I am not a Mopar fan by any means. But I want to start my garage off right. So $60K gets me a new JK Wrangler Willy’s Wheeler and a Dodge Challenger GT. Two daily drivers that look really good. The Challenger GT is the fake muscle car with the drivetrain of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It won’t sell well. But I would be one of the idiots to buy it.

    Then my collection take a little turn. An NC Miata. Modifiable. Great to learn autocross on. Great top down Sunday drive car.

    And then a sharp left. Nissan Be-1. And whatever I have left, it will be spent importing Kei cars and vans. like the Subaru Sambar.

    • JayP

      I want a Challenger GT.

  • kogashiwa

    “Three cars to spend a magical $100K on, with a little left over for auto-related shenanigans.” – that means three cars and a motorcycle, right? Right!

    First one needs a daily driver, the sort of thing that is so utterly effortless that all your cares are washed away when the massive door closes with the sort of precision usually reserved for Fort Knox. Allow $40000. This will be an LS600h:

    Then, one needs an example of the first car one truly, deeply fell in love with, and can’t let go even years later. It helps that this also fills the sports car slot – the SW20 MR2, and we will choose the last version with the 3S-GE BEAMS. Allow $20000 once a bit of light tuning and wheels are done:

    For leisurely drives through the autumn leaves in the park one requires a classic, and with a certain attitude, that enables one’s preferred style (a considerable proportion of tweed) – $20000 should get a very nice Series I XJ6:

    And hey lots left over! For the two-wheeled slot there shall be a Ducati 749R. Not anything later, because no other Ducati ever looked like this (those who are saying that’s a good thing, take your tasteless kvetching elsewhere, thank you):

  • Andrew_theS2kBore

    Shifter kart- $5k with spares.
    Truck and trailer- $20k. Not overly concerned about make or model as long as it will tow 4500lb.
    Radical SR3- $35k.

    The remaining $40k will fund a solid two years of racing.

  • This is $39,000 + $26,000 + $35,000 achieved via checking what’s available locally that I’d be willing to drive on the next LeMons rally. Very much like my usual approach, just multiplied by twenty.

  • Fuhrman16

    Well, the first thing I’d buy would be a ’69 AMC AMX. Of course it would have to be a 390ci V8/four speed car, which run around $45 grand.
    Next, I’m going to need a parts and people hauler, I think a ’72 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser would fit the bill nicely. So there’s another $30 grand gone.(Yes, I know this one is actually a ’71, but it was the best picture I could find)

    After those two, I’ll probably need something fuel efficient for a daily driver. But I also want something a bit fun. So a brand new ’17 Fiat 500 Abarth is my last pick. That’s $23k.

    That $2 grand that’s left will be spent on fuel and insurance and what not.

    • Batshitbox

      This ’65 Vista Cruiser is only $7000, unless you’re stuck on the split grille years

    • LeaksOil

      I like your style.

  • I’d go out and buy the best 1985 Sierra XR4i I can find.

    I’d then spend the remaining £94,505 turning a Rover 800 into a 200mph car.

  • Hillman_Hunter

    1972 Gilbern Invader Mk3
    2017 Ford Raptor
    Miata track beater

  • JayP

    $70k

    The other $30k I use to build a Vic with a blown Coyote and tremec 6 speed.

    And a free Hotwheel.

  • Batshitbox

    How ’bout infrastructure? A lift, a compressor, maybe a shed in the yard?
    Put $0.25 in a payphone, call Snap-On and say, “Send the man in the big truck over.”
    Then the ’55 Ford Ranch Wagon for $4500 $3000, from Craigslist Crapshoot last week

    and the ’65 Olds Vista Cruiser for $7000, from Black Oil & Night Soil

    • Ross Ballot

      Good call on building in $$$$ for a way to work on the purchases. Definitely a good call.

  • stigshift

    Rolls-Royce Corniche circa 1970. CTS-V wagon, manual. Citroen DS. Maybe not perfect examples of each, but still. If you pulled up to my house, and saw those, you’d know we’re friends.

  • wunno sev

    my garage will include:

    – my current Volvo, but finished. i can pay someone to do this. solid engine build, let’s put maybe 350 to the wheels and call it good. i want some sort of fender flaring and wheel spacers, a repaint in the same color, and a radio that does Android Auto. then we’re finished. call this car $10k.

    – i’m struggling to choose between an R129 with a stick shift and an R107 with a stick shift. either can be had for not-huge amounts of money, but i’m sure both will take some effort to keep running, so let’s put $15k on this. (there is one for sale in Austin for $6k, but it’s white, and i don’t like a white R129. it’ll need new paint and AMG monoblocks.)

    – might as well chuck an R32 GT-R in the mix. i want a clean one that’s been largely unmodified (though completely unmodified is not happening, i don’t think). put $25k on this one.

    halfway through my money.

    – any hydropneumatic suspension-equipped Citroen. let’s say i can get a nice CX for $25k. (no idea if this is true.) i am willing to go overseas to get it.

    – the rest goes to a Fiesta ST with Recaro seats and some upgrades for it. i have a (stock, non-Recaro) FiST and it’s a fabulous little car.

    • wunno sev

      i just saw that i can only have three. dammit!

      – well the Volvo is staying
      – i still want the Citroen, but let’s upgrade it to a perfect-condition SM, manual
      i think that’ll probably put us at….say, 60k
      – aforementioned R32 GT-R and some upgrades.

      and i’m going to spend $3000 of my own money on a DD that gets decent mileage.

  • 0A5599

    $52K Hello Kitty Challenger

    $18K COE hauler

    $20K Bentley Turbo R + $10K repair reserve

    • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

      $10K repair reserve.

      i.e., about 2 years…three if you’re damned lucky.

      I actually shopped these, 1990-1992, for a while, pretty damned seriously after sitting in a beat 1989 model, and finding it shamed Mercedes W126 solidity from the same time period.

      Never did find the right one, which hadn’t already sold, so I moved on. Needed a 60 mi/day RT commuter which is dead-nuts reliable, though, and this…this ain’t it.

  • $100K and only 3 cars? In my world that’s enough for at least 5,maybe 10.

    Thinking holistically, the family needs one reliable, economical car that my wife will enjoy and primarily daily. That means buy #1 is a new Prius. That’ll keep her happy for a decade or so and I shouldn’t have to do anything to it but keep up on oil changes.

    Now I’ve got $65K to buy 5 or 6 fun $5K to $15K rides. A Miata will be high on the list. An E36 or E46 M3, RX7, 350Z, G35 coupe, 300Z Twin Turbo, C6 Corvette, Saab 900 Turbo, WRX STI, S2000, BRZ 4th generation Camaro SS, 3rd generation Camaro IROC, Mazdaspeed 3 and 6, MR2 and Fiero are all interesting and fun cars and most should be available for under $15K each. Make me pick only 3, I’ll get really nice examples and still have $5K to $15K left for maintenance or mods.

  • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    $100K…for three. That’s less than most people’d think.

    1. The two-door convertible version of this. There were only 514 made, but there are still a few around, and they don’t command top dollar, at all. That’s $25K for a near-perfect one.

    Damn…$75K left. Okay, here we go…

    2. My backup DD. Seriously, I was shopping 2003-2005 CL55s before I almost literally stumbled upon the ’08 Lexus LS 460 L I have. Glad I got the Lexus, honestly, as it’s plenty quick, handles surprisingly well, and I’ll be able to rack up half a million miles on it, no problem.

    Still have $45K, eh? Damn, this is gonna be difficult.

    Okay, we sell the coach we have, now, and buy this one:

    The floorplan is remarkably similar to ours, but it’s two years newer, albeit with 20K more miles on it. At least it’s pre-diesel MPG death (think 1973, but for diesel engines).

    For example, my ’99 ISB Cummins hauling around about 35K lbs. gets me about 10.3 MPG. Were it a 2004, however, exact same machine, save for engine “updates”, figure on 7.5-8 MPG. That’s a huge percentage hit.

    Based on how the proposal reads, I get to keep all my current rides, so the LS460 L, the ’98 ZJ 5.9L, and my wife’s ’02 RX300, so I’m pretty well-covered. I’d sell the coach, though, after getting the Newmar, and I’d use any and all funds for maintenance/upgrades on it (probably $25K worth…maybe).

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    Just because: Milk Coffee brown pre-facelift Volvo 144 or 244 with a V8 or some kind, widened steelies with those tiny hubcaps, period correct chrome roof rack, slightly lowered. Loud as hell, with enough power to leave two black stripes between every corner. Also another pre-facelift 142 with the six from a 164, tuned for max NA power with three carbs, no bumpers, minilites, dark green. And a third one with a Novitec tuned 3.2 Alfa V6 set up for the track. Possibly also one made as light as possible, and with the engine from an S2000.

    Daily/track car: Toyota GT86. supercharged, 16″ minilite-ish wheels. Sticky tires. Very dark brown, non-metallic.

    Because superbeetle: 993 Carrera 2S, set up for road rally / GT stuff.

  • Maymar

    $100k US is $130k CDN – about $70k gets me a V60 Polestar (I’m taking Euro delivery), for DD purposes. Use another $10k on the nicest Series II Land Rover Discovery I can find (for towing, both the fun and utilitarian kinds of getting dirty, whatever). For a toy, this Alfa (at $36k) would work nicely. That leaves $14k for some kind of upright, vintage looking motorcycle (Triumph Bonneville, because I’m basic), and fuel and such.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    A Landrover Defender, a Mazda5 and a BMW R1200RT.

  • crank_case

    Restoration of my current MK1 Eunos Roadster / Miata / MX5 / Whateveritscalledinyourcountry with a Rocketeer V6 conversion. Monster V8s are cool, but the V6 used has some mazda commonality and you don’t need to change the gearbox, one of the best bits of the car. It also pushes the weight further back in the chassis. I think you retain more of the cars character.


    Pointlessly big yank tank that seems exotic to Yur-a-peeins like me, but probably seems pedestrian in its homeland. Which one sort of changes, but this week I fancy a 71 Chrysler 300. I assume it fits in my budget.

    Daihatsu Hijet for urban trips

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