What do you do when you find yourself with a week to buy a car so you can get to your new job?
This is the situation I found myself in after working from home with my wife. We couldn’t rely on just one car anymore, and I wasn’t too keen on the 45-mile motorcycle ride. My immediate thoughts were, “What car? What car could we afford? What car could we afford with a manual transmission and room for a baby seat? »
So I sat down at my laptop and checked out reasonable vehicles with a strong fun quotient, if not older vehicles that had future (if not current) collectible interest. Thanks to some ideas that popped into my head, as well as others that came to mind while browsing the internet (including ClassicCars.com), here’s how I honed my quirks:
2002 Audi TT ALMS Commemorative Edition
While I think German cars are made for renting, not owning, I was drawn to this special edition of the first-generation Audi TT. While the original TT pre-spoiler is the beauty of the bunch, those with spoilers (added after several high-speed deaths) don’t suffer too much despite being a stylistic afterthought. The special ALMS, produced to commemorate winning the American Le Mans Series championship in 2002, was one of a thousand built, with production evenly split between the Misano Pearl Red with Silver Gray Nappa leather and the Avus Silver with Brilliant Red Nappa. All featured upgraded 225-hp turbo-fours, a six-speed manual, 18-inch wheels and Quattro all-wheel drive. The one I found was the latest (and superior, IMHO) color combo, but I chickened out when the deals started piling up and the cost of shipping became an issue. In retrospect, the TT was well bought by the winner.
Subaru Forrester XT
Why do manufacturers build cool cars and then kill them? It sounds like General Motors but, in this case, it’s Subaru. The company has a nice four-speed turbo engine and a 6-speed manual in its toolbox, but it opted to avoid that combination for the latest Forester crossover model. Yet, from 2004 to 2018, the Forester XT turbo was available in the US, then unceremoniously dropped as Subaru reportedly wanted to focus on fuel economy standards. Making the search more difficult was that automatic transmissions were the only choice for several years. Alas, with a week to find a vehicle, luck was not on my side, and this intriguing blend of performance and utility was elusive throughout America online.
2002 Camaro SS Convertible
Not so long ago, F-bodies were one of the hottest cars available in North America and didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Today, these cars look like quaint throwbacks, not being much faster than a late-model Camry V-6 and requiring contortions for entry and exit depending on your height. Still, the solid big-block performance of a modern small-block V-8 was welcome after the lean
years. In the case of this Camaro, it ticked several boxes: Super Sport with ram air, 6-speed, convertible and the piece de resistance: Brickyard 400 pace car heritage. But in these times of high gas prices, I wasn’t too fond of a V-8, even though these cars are remarkably efficient when given the chance. The deciding factor for this Camaro’s deep-sixing was a combination of being 3,000 miles away and a possible title issue. A 1980s Mustang 5.0 was also considered, but finding an unencumbered example locally took longer.
What the Honda Element lacks in performance, it makes up for with an intriguing mix of utility and lifestyle, especially when equipped with a stick. They seem to have a solid following for those attracted to the 200km longevity and those interested in an “activity vehicle”. Of the trim levels throughout its life, the Sporty SC is the one to have, although I would have considered any stick item provided it was in good condition with a reasonable number of kilometers. Turns out I found a 2007 EX AWD 5-speed model on an online auction site, but I was resisting the thought of driving thousands of miles to pick up a car. After hemming and reviewing the following vehicle below, I decided to let this item go. The final auction price did not reach the reserve and may have been too rich for its condition.
I’m a little tired of waiting for Subaru to release a WRX that looks good. Many times in the past I’ve visited auto shows with WRX concepts previewing a redesigned production model, only to be disappointed with the styling of the production model. Certainly, some of them had a certain charm, but these date from the days of the Impreza. Although the all-new 2022 WRX suffers less of this fate, have you tried shopping for a new car these days? Hell, even used cars are crazy. Used WRXs aren’t hard to come by, but finding the right one locally from a private (read: no sales tax) would be my only option. Luckily, a 2021 (the last one before the redesign) with less than 4,000 miles showed up at an equal price to the 2020 I tested with over ten times more. And while the ergonomics date back to 2015, it’s the charming rough edges that I find more interesting than the more “grown-up” 2022.