Sports Car Search

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by DGS49, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. DGS49
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    DGS49 Gold Member

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    Despite all hopes to the contrary, a "sports car" is a THING. It is an open-top, two-seat roadster with rear-wheel drive and a stick shift. The examples are too numerous to mention: MG, Triumph, Morgan, Miata, Z3/4, Corvette, M-B SL, S2000, and so on.

    "Sporty" cars are not sports cars. GTI, Civic Si, Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, M3, S3/4, etc. There are NO FWD sports cars. Period. Sorry if that offends you Mitsu-3000GT fans.

    In any event, I am about to dispose of my pristine '04 350Z roadster, and I will try to upgrade, possibly in the Spring. I won't buy anything new, and have a budget of around $20-24k. Casting one's net these days is a fairly simple, if time consuming, matter of getting on one of the car sales sites (Autotrader Carguru, etc) and searching for a convertible, 2-door, RWD, stick shift, in the right price range, year range, and mileage range, then sifting through the results. Being from the Northeast and retired, I would prefer to buy a car from a state where it will likely never have been subject to winter driving, although my Houston-born Chrysler is showing some signs of UV damage from sitting in the sun too long. In any event...

    The likely candidates are a Corvette, 911 Carrera, Boxter, Z4, S2000, M-B SL, or possibly a Solstice/Sky Turbo (very impractical). Maybe even a supercharged Crossfire. On paper, the Corvette wins, I think. It performs, is relatively easy to get worked on, should last forever, and gets good gas mileage. But the others are all OK. The 911 seems to have a problem with the "intermediate Shaft Bearing," whatever that is, because a LOT of the 99-'05' ads mention whether this thing has been replaced or not. And I have no doubt that even though a 911 is built to last forever, replacing the IMS is probably a couple thousand dollars (it's such a big deal they tell you that it makes no sense not to replace the clutch at the same time, if it goes).

    Any thoughts? My own experience with these cars is that the Corvette is seldom described as "fun to drive," as is my Z. It does everything extremely well (except go over bumps), but it does it so easily that the thrill is missing. The Porsche is often described on Edmund's as a great "every day driver," and something that is exceptionally reliable - except for the aforementioned issue. The GM turbo-4 is a great engine, and I assume that the GM twins would go like stink, and be available at a good price, even for a pristine, low mileage car.

    Any thoughts?

    P.S. I realize that a 911 does not meet my general definition of a sports car, because of the two little pretend seats in the back. It is the exception that proves the rule. I suppose there are a couple Ferrari's with back seats, too. WGAS?
     
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  2. WinterBorn
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    WinterBorn Gold Member

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    Having driven a Porsche 911 Turbo, I think it qualifies quite nicely as a sports car. The seats are merely to hold room for a few things behind the front seats. I doubt a toddler could sit back there.

    But the car PERFORMS. In my mind, the qualifications of a sports car should also include performance.
     
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  3. Skull Pilot
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    Skull Pilot Platinum Member

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    I don't think a sports car must be an open top.

    Hard tops have better aerodynamics
     
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  4. Mousterian
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    Mousterian VIP Member

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    Any Porsche is a joy to drive. And, if you want to really appreciate these things, you should dive in and replace that bearing yourself. Manual gearboxes are straightforward, and Youtube will walk you through the process.
     
  5. Missourian
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    Missourian Platinum Member

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    Points, condenser, mechanical distributer and fuel pump, carburetion, adjustable valves, V8, rear wheel drive.
     
  6. Sunni Man
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    Sunni Man Diamond Member

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    One of my favorite sports cars is the Jaguar XJ-S model with the V-12 engine. It has plenty of power with the refined ride of a touring sedan. They were produced in both hard top and convertible versions, although only the automatic transmission was offered. A beautiful car with elegant lines and the easily recognizable long hood. The XJ-S is still way under valued in the collector market. ... :cool:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. DGS49
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    DGS49 Gold Member

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    The open top is a matter of preference. Many of the best sports cars can be had either way.

    Most of the old classic British sports cars were slow, even at the time they were new. Miata's are sort of quick, but no better than that.

    Since I posted this afternoon, I located a pristine Saturn Sky Red Line, in my favorite color - dark green, with only 11,000 miles. Aside from the absurd lack of cargo capacity, it's cool.
     
  8. Missourian
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    Missourian Platinum Member

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    1972 pontiac firebird, 455 cid, T-tops, it even came in green.

    095495f8417aa9b6c5c24e2a66dba877--firebird-car-firebird-trans-am_crop_625x262-468x196.jpg

    And instead of depreciating, it will appreciate.

    Screenshot_20170920-215652_crop_1043x636-521x318.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  9. DGS49
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    DGS49 Gold Member

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    Pontiac Firebirds had a well-deserved reputation for (being kind) poor body integrity. After two years, if you slammed the door, it sounded like you kicked a bucket of bolts. It took GM 50 years to figure out how unibody was supposed to work. No thanks.

    And I disagree with the hope that it will appreciate in value. A car's maximum value for common American cars occurs (inflation aside) about 55 years after it was originally built. After that, the people who WOULD BE paying a premium for the car start dying out. Cars from the 60's are going into a slow decline.
     
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  10. Stasha_Sz
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    Stasha_Sz Gold Member

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    Hi DGS, since I am an occasionally paid Porsche mechanic, let me weigh in on Modern & Classic Porsches in general.

    From your price range, you will only be able to afford a modern, water-cooled 911, the air-cooled ones, that do not need extensive restoration, are beyond your price range. The early water-cooled 911's have a number of issues, beyond the intermediate shaft you noted, it just took a while for the boys in Stuttgart to get it right. If you do not intend to do the maintenance yourself, this would be another reason to steer clear of them, professional Porsche mechanics are stupidly expensive and slower than molasses in the wintertime.

    The Boxster also has issues on the earlier models, an oil pickup problem that will leave you with a grenaded engine if not addressed. Again, the more recent ones have sorted this out. It is in your price range, but there is a better choice that I will address shortly.

    There are, however, air-cooled classics that ARE in your budget. The 914's are currently in the $20K USD for a good 4 cylinder and $25~$30K USD for a decent 6 cylinder. Be wary of rust, several spots are notable for engineered in Porsche rust, most especially the "hell-hole". However, most mechanical work on a 914 can be done with a reasonable set of tools, access to a lift, a 12 pack of beer and some foul language and busted knuckles. Porsche after market parts suppliers can still provide most any part you need for these things including sheet metal. At the end of the day, these are really just souped up Volkswagens, (well the 4 cylinder ones at least).

    The current best value in a classic Porsche are the early front engine water-cooled models; specifically the 924/944/944S and 944 turbo, (951). You could buy a pair of 924 or 944 plus a parts car for the money you are talking. These are all "EPA" cars, models built to keep the US EPA off of Porsche's back while they got on with the never to be sufficiently smog-free 911's. I work on all the above and they are very user friendly for even a decent shade-tree mechanic. The 944S is a twin cam version with more HP and the Turbo is well, a Turbo; even more HP. Both of these models are in the $20K USD range and are increasing in value. While masquerading as a Touring car, the S & Turbo have sports car handing and power. The standard 944, (NA or single cam as they are known), not as much power but still plenty of handling. All 944 models have 50-50 weight balance front to rear. As above, parts are still plentiful for the 944 variants.

    The 924 early models are a slightly different beast, since Porsche had no water-cooled front engine in the late '70's, they borrowed one from Audi. Parts are harder to find for this engine and the HP is not so great. The later 924S had a Porsche engine and is also in the $20K USD price range.

    The 928 is out of your price range unless it has an automatic transmission. You do NOT want a juice-box in a Porsche, especially from this era.

    About the only air-cooled 911 variant in your price range would be the late '70's model. These had magnesium engine blocks that had a nasty habit of shucking the cylinder barrels when the head studs got torn from the block. Steer clear of these unless you can verify an engine swap.

    What do I recommend? Oddly enough, the BMW Z4 roadster. Well within your price range, reliable, fun and with more power and features than the Boxster, which is Porsche's equivalent. Stasha sez: check it out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017

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