Thinking of a new ride. Budget Edition 2.0

Hi everyone I’ve read through the past few cars threads here and there seems to be a good amount of car enthusiast here. So I figured I’d turn here for a bit of advice

Back story. I used to drive a Dodge Durango When I moved to SF. I gave it to my little brother as a birthday gift. I recently started a new job in Dallas and need to start driving again around 50miles a day round trip. Been using my parents truck and need to pick something up soon.

Budget: Around 7K. Hoping to use David Ramsey approach to cars and buy something around 12k in a year or two. (Hopefully a much newer used BMW, Audi, VW, etc.) - YouTube

Looking at right now.
Looks like these cars in this price range are usually around 10 years old with 100k-150k miles

Mazda 3 Hatchbacks
Single Cab trucks - 1500

I’m also considering Japanese Sedans. For price and reliability. (although seem less fun to drive.)

Anything else I should be looking at?

Good Gas milage - Our family doesn’t own a car that gets over 18mph. So this might turn into the weekend driving car aswell. Dads afraid of me getting an older TDI, since he’s never owned a diesel car and is unsure about maintenance. But ideally anything over 20 is great. 30+ is even better.

Fairly Low maintenance. Cars in this price range seem to be around the 100K mark and this is when major maintenance is done. Tming belts, fuel pumps, etc. Don’t wanna sink more money into a car I’ll be trading up in a year or two. Which bring me to.

Good resell value. - Unless I fall in love with this car I’m hoping to trade up to something nicer/newer in a year or two.

Also has to be automatic which makes it harder to find certian cars.

Current option on the table:
Right now I my dad has a friend selling a 06 GTI 2.0L (salvage title - replaced fender) with 110k for about 6.5k
and a 01 A6 2.8L with 88K for 4.5k.

I like both of these, just not sure if the Audi A6 is going to give me problems. I has 88k miles which is really low for the year. (just google tells me around this milage is when Audi’s start getting problematic). Salvage titles are Eh. But gives me an option to buy a car I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford right now.

Any inputs or things I should be looking for?

Audi will give you problems. Guaranteed. I live them, by I will only buy one either new with a warranty or plan for considerable maintenance costs.

You’ll probably pay a premium for a Tdi Golf these days.

I only have owned used European cars personally. About a dozen or so now. I love them. But honestly, don’t get into that used Euro car boat unless you have a passion for them, know how to work on European cars really well, AND/OR have extra $ laying around for repair costs. Still, I love used European cars, always will.

If I were you, I’d very strongly look into the Japanese car market. This is the most sensible, logical and intelligent move. These cars are the most reliable, great on gas, and well thought out design-wise. Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai (their newer stuff) are all amazing options. Avoid hybrids at all costs, especially used. Those batteries eventually fail, and cost more than a used care to replace them.

Yeah, I’ve always wanted to learn more about cars and how to fix/maintain them. Just never had the need too, not saying its too late to learn, but I dont want to get myself into too much of a headache right now, especially if its not really a dream car.

I do eventually want to own something along the lines of a 2002 BMW / E30 or a Defender90, old Bronco, Old FJ. So I’ll have to eventually learn a bit more.

How about a used Acura RSX. The design holds up and you don’t see a ton of them.

Are you looking for a car with your heart (ie. fun, unique, something you like), or you heart (practical, good gas mileage, cheap to repair, good resale value)?

Depending which one, will give you a different answer.

From your list (2002 BMW, e30, GTi, etc.) sounds more like with your heart. Nothing wrong with that, but then I wouldn’t get too caught up in worrying about re-sale value or maintenance.

Get your e30 now (for sure can get a pretty good one for $7K), enjoy it, and don’t look back.


Yeah, I’m kinda on the fence about direction. Been looking all over and driving different cars over the past few weeks to get a feel. In the end if I’m going to drive this every day I want it to be a fun car to drive. Maybe I can get away from the super practical.

Yeah, just started looking at those and the TL as well.

My brother had 2 RSX’s, love the car. Just don’t expect to fit four people into it!

+1 here. I love mine, refuse to sell it even though once I move it will serve very little purpose in Michigan. They are a blast to drive and SUPER easy and relatively cheap to maintain… oh and they are tanks.

for $7k you could get yourself a very mint, well taken care of, low mile e30 with all the paperwork… it just takes time.

Unfortunately they seem to be a pretty hot commodity right now so prices are a bit inflated. If you decided to go this route, let me know and I can steer you in the right direction as far as years and models to buy, typical repairs, what to look out for…etc

I have an 87is.

I had a 3g TL Type S before the 3er, they’re great cars. You can probably find a high mileage 3G TL with the 6 speed manual (Save you from transmission repair costs and can be reasonably fun to drive, though it could use a suspension on the base model.) I would get ~30mpg highway in my Type S and the base car has the smaller engine so it should be just as good or better.

The 2nd Gen TL’s and CL’s are also nice cars - they’re older so you’d have to hunt, and they were primarily automatic (the 6Spd CL existed but was super rare) and the autos had mixed lifespans like all autos.

I would definitely stay Japanese in that price range if you want the car for driving and not for fixing as a project. GTI’s can be pretty reliable, or they can be absolute nightmares - it’s a pretty big coin flip.

Three years ago I bought a 2001 BMW 330Ci ($10k, 70k miles, mint) and I can say it was probably the most rewarding purchase of my entire life. Yeah I dumped occasional maintenance cash into it but nothing unusual. The average cost of any given procedure will definitely be higher than the same job for a GM car.

Here’s how I justify it: Every morning/evening, I commuted across town just like anyone else, but for me this was basically 15 minutes of sustained joy. You don’t have to drive like a maniac to be thrilled by a BMW inline 6, though I did drive like a maniac anyway, because it’s a sacred ancient tradition if you own a BMW.

So, like anything, it’s a cost/benefit calculation. Are the headaches of a German car worth it for the bursts of happiness it brings every day? For me, yes; for others, maybe not.

On top of this, the car was built like a tank and never gave me trouble. And any longish road trips are basically nirvana. One of the best transmissions I’ve ever used, as well, and this had MPG benefits.

I no longer own the car and it’s been basically the only material-object purchase I’ve ever sorely missed like a loved one, no joke.

I miss my A4 daily. I mean every single day.

Do the E30.

I sold my 3rd and last E30 about four years ago. I moved to California last year and now I see dozens of them everyday. In Chicago they were common, but here they are EVERYWHERE.

I miss my E30. Maybe not daily, but whenever I see one in good condition I feel a little stab.

They are dependable little cars but are definitely light on the modern safety features. Their fuel economy is not exactly stellar – you could maybe hit 30mpg in the 325, 325e, or 325es models with their lower power torque engines – I averaged around 25-28 in my '87 325. The 325i and 325is will suck a little more fuel with the higher redline power-centered engines – I averaged 23-25 in my '89 325i. I cannot talk to the fuel economy of the 318i/318is. As others have mentioned, this is driving the required BMW way, like a maniac.

You will learn about cars (or at least how cars used to be) with the E30. My first was a higher mileage car (I got it from an uncle when it has 180k miles). With minimal special tools I replaced everything from lights bulbs to the differential (though most changes were more in the realm of upgrades).

I am amazed by the praise that the little E30 gets within the international design community. Within its home country it was so ubiquitous that it was seen as a little mundane and certainly not a geek car, but that has changed within the last 5 years.

Makes me feeling even better about hanging on to it, even if it is sitting in hibernation right now. Gotta bring the old girl back to the road, soon.


P. S.: Me, I missed the bus on the Alfa Bertone when the prices started to climb, so I could only underline what was said above. Buy now and never look back.

Old BMW’s have skyrocketed in price for internet nostalgia factors. The E30 M3’s are now being considered an investment plan. There’s a '87 325 on one of my forums and the guy is asking for almost $30k fully restored which is crazy…

E30’s are sweet little cars and they certainly hit the design vibe, and they’re less likely to have the usual issues just due to their age. But at the same time, you’d be spending the same amount on a 25 year old simple German car as you would on a sub-10 year old car with modern creature comforts - not to mention things that could be more valuable on a 50 mile commute like airbags, a CD player, etc. Not to mention you said you want an automatic, which in a 25 year old car with a 3 speed…ech.

IMO if I read your requirements, and don’t just wax nostalgic I’d say stick with something made after Y2K. There’s a lot of fun cars that could be had in that price range that offer plenty of fun on a twisty road. Subaru WRX’s, Mini Cooper S’s (OK German - but pretty stout cars), GTI’s. I had a Sentra SE-R in college which was actually a lot of fun to throw around on twisty mountain roads.

I’m waiting for the 2014 Mazda3,

Funny you should mention that; I actually originally started my car search intending to get an E30, but wound up driving home the E36. Obviously no regrets there.

Texas = single cab trucks. Period … well, besides boots and Stetsons. Ask Taylor, he knows!

There are tons of them in Dallas. They’re cheap (the money you save can be invested in it’s “restoration” ( and gasoline to run it )

) Tons of independent mechanics that work on them. Tons of yards that provide used parts. Tons of NAPA, PepBoys, O’Reilly’s, etc. parts stores. And I drive one.

Besides… it’s 'Merican!

I prefer the optional fourth hub cap look myself.

My brothers neighbor is actually wanted to sell his 2004 Chevy Single Cab 1500. He’s just gotta convince the wife that he needs a bigger truck.

Also looking into a 2004 Corolla S. I see them all over the place and a quick google seems like they are fairly reliable and pretty easy to work on.

With both of these falling under $3,500. So they are fairly cheap.