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Discussion Starter #1
Hey TCL, long time lurker (really long time), first time poster. I want to get some input for a future purchase. But first, some background.
So about 3 years ago I bought my dream car, a 2002 996 Seal grey 911 6MT


The particular one I bought was well maintained, but lots of miles (132,000) and needed some work on the front suspension. Long story short after about a year I had put $5000 into it between a new clutch, new suspension, small parts, brakes, starter, etc. I thought I was mentally ready for the investment I knew it would be, but my wife became pregnant with our second child, and the thought of engine failure and a $15000+ repair bill took all the fun out of the car for me; so I sold it.

Now, I'm wanting to get back into something fun.
The whole time I've had my Infiniti G25 (not a typo) thats been a great appliance, but not much else. I initially was thinking a sports sedan would be the perfect car- f80, stinger GT, G70, S4, S3 but they all had their shortcomings in my price range ( was hoping around $30k- f80's biggest shortcoming was it didn't exist). My big concern became that it still may not be what I want and have a payment.
So we just bought my wife a 2017 GX460. One of the reason we looked at it was some of the threads here that brought it to my attention. Let me say this is the first SUV that I have ever liked driving. We test drove several things in that class and were very impressed with GX460 Not hers but very similar



The irony is after we bought it, my wife says that its too nice for us to take to the beach, which we do at least once a month. I kind of agree, because the plan is for us to keep this at least 10 years. So it got me thinking- what if instead of a 30k sports sedan, I go to a 2 car set up for around $20k with a beater SUV and beater manual car? So, that's where I'm at and I need some help. For the SUV, I'm thinking either a mid 2000's Sequoia or 4th gen 4 runner- I'd love to keep the SUV in the 5-7k range to have money put aside for repairs.
quick google search images..





I'm really struggling with car choices. I would prefer a back seat in my "fun" car in case there's an emergency and I need to take a kid somewhere (5yo and 3 yo). I also don't think I want another Infiniti/Nissan just because I've had 3 in a row (G35, Maxima, G25) So, here's what I've come up with:
1. WRX- hard to find a decent one for $10-15k- about 3 times since they came to the USA I almost bought one but never pulled the trigger- always obsessed with Colin Mcrae's WRC car

2. FRS/BRZ twins- same story there as far as condition
3. Audi TT- a lot of cheap ones are still first generation 1.8t which frightens me a little as far maintenance/reliability
4. E46 M3- The ones in the price range probably need a lot of work
5. ???
this is where I need your help- Anything relatively reliable and fun that I'm missing? I prefer RWD but may end up having to compromise.


So TL;DR
Dad wants a fun manual car with a back seat as well as a reliable SUV for less than $20,000
 

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Based on the budget I like the Sequoia idea better than a 4Runner.

A WRX would make a good second car. The STI holds its value much better so finding a decent WRX in your budget wouldn't be so bad if you can be patient enough to find a nice example.

Good luck!
 

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Bro, just turn back time. GX470 for $9k gets you a clean one. And then drop whatever you want on the toy.

 

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I would take a non-M E46 or Fiesta ST before I got another WRX or 86. I never fully clicked with those cars (03 bugeye and 14 BRZ). I had more smiles in my Focus ST. Try the Fiesta - they are really fun.

I know you said backseat but when I hear "most fun for $15k" I immediately think C5
 

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Easy:
E36 M3
4th Gen V8 4Runner

I have an E36 and had a v8 4Runner. Absolutely wonderful, both of them. Just a superb 2-car garage.
 

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Based on the wording of "beater manual car", e36/e46 BMWs are pretty cheap, actually pretty reliable, and fun. But they are also 20 years old at this point, and many parts are reaching the end of their service life. That being said, you could find an E36 M3 or an E46 ZHP in your price range .
For reference, I track one of my E46s with 180k miles, and daily the other with 211k miles.

For left field suggestions, I've always liked Volvo S60 R, turbo 5 cylinder with all wheel drive.
 

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Easy:
E36 M3
4th Gen V8 4Runner

I have an E36 and had a v8 4Runner. Absolutely wonderful, both of them. Just a superb 2-car garage.
Except a $5-7K V8 4th gen most likely has at least 200,000 (and probably significantly more) miles on it. Yes, the drivetrain will last that long but it's still a lot of miles on everything else and depending on where OP lives, finding one with a (even relatively speaking) clean frame could be challenging.

At that price point, I think he'd do better with a Sequoia. Alternatively, an Xterra or Pathfinder would provide most of the capability without the Toyota Tax.
 

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E36 M3, FRS/BRZ twins (15k can get you a solid early one), Evo8 (if you can find one clean), backseats make it kinda tough...if you're willing to forego that - s2000 and Miata.

for a truck/SUV around 5-7k - tough call, maybe a Forester, 4Runner, or GMT800?


have you considered a single solution 20k hot hatch? the WRX wagon would check both boxes and come in right around there for a solid one.
 

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Based on the wording of "beater manual car", e36/e46 BMWs are pretty cheap, actually pretty reliable, and fun. But they are also 20 years old at this point, and many parts are reaching the end of their service life. That being said, you could find an E36 M3 or an E46 ZHP in your price range .
For reference, I track one of my E46s with 180k miles, and daily the other with 211k miles.

For left field suggestions, I've always liked Volvo S60 R, turbo 5 cylinder with all wheel drive.
This is a great suggestion and I know JUST the place to get one. I can't support this enough. 100% buy my look into the S60R.


Really though, Get whatever SUV will work best. Bigger is better, I'd go for a Sequoia. Then look for something cool and cheap for yourself. The Fist/FoST is a good move, but so is the older brother... SVT Focus. Tons of N/A 6spd fun and the sole reason I have a FiST. I know you said a back seat is important, and I'm shocked by TCL here but... Miata.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for all the suggestions!
I live in FL so unless it lived at the beach rust isn’t really an issue.
Locally I haven’t seen an rx8 for sale yet that has a running engine. This scares me but they do seem cheap to replace.
I like the gx470 but I’m not seeing any locally right now for less than $10k
I’m not in a hurry, and I’ll probably get the SUV first, so I can be patient on the car.
The e36 m3 is compelling- how is it to work on compared to the e46?
My parents had an 06 pathfinder and I remember thinking the ride was pretty bad from the backseat- but then again I’ll be driving so who cares :p
 

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The e36 m3 is compelling- how is it to work on compared to the e46?
Granted I've never worked on an E36, but they are very similar to the E46 (non Ms have a lot of interchangeable parts) which I find to be a fairly straightforward vehicle to work on. And being in FL, far from the rust belt where I am, it should be even easier.
 

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Granted I've never worked on an E36, but they are very similar to the E46 (non Ms have a lot of interchangeable parts) which I find to be a fairly straightforward vehicle to work on. And being in FL, far from the rust belt where I am, it should be even easier.
E36 M3's have weak cooling systems - water pumps, radiators, etc. given the age a lot have probably already been through at least 1 set of these parts. i will say the parts tend to be a bit cheaper and the cars are easier to work on the E46's, which can be basketcases if they're not regularly kept up on. also, VANOS and a few other areas are trouble spots. https://blog.fcpeuro.com/bmw-e36-m3-common-issues-repairs covers these well. biggest struggle will be finding a 20 year+ old car that has been well kept (FL with help).

if you're living in FL, why not something like a Camaro SS or Mustang GT, gets you back seats, but performance cability...price might be over 20k though. :beer:
 

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E36 M3
S197 Mustang GT
Mk6 GTI
Focus ST
4h gen Camaro Z28


The Fiesta ST and BRZ twins have back seats, but they are tiny. Really not meant for much.

The e36 m3 is compelling- how is it to work on compared to the e46?
The E36 M3 still had the S50 engine. This was one of BMWs best motors ever. It made decent power(240hp), but it was reliable as a stone.
 

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I think both of my fun cars (996 and TT) have bottomed. If I add another one, it'll probably be an 78-96 Bronco, which have also started rising in value recently. I prefer paying a premium for cars that are in great shape and have the expensive stuff replaced, since I feel like financially it'll make more sense (unless you can do all the work yourself), and more importantly it'll save you a ton of headaches and allow you to actually enjoy the car more.
 

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A solid detail once a month after the beach will cost less than what you're thinking about here, and nothing about the lexus being too nice makes any sense. It's not too nice. in fact that is what it was designed for....unless you're planning on going to OBX or something.

Anyways, $20K for a one two punch? I'm biased towards the E46 so that would be my fun choice, much nicer all around experience than an E36 unless you can find an M3, but even then a late model 330ci is going to give you the same or better performance while being a more livable space. Otherwise, Miata because of price constraints, but I would probably punish myself with some dumpster fire of a Boxster.

Truck end of things....geez. SUV's are so overpriced its painful. I'd probably look to Ford explorers for the biggest bang for your buck.

Even as I type this out it makes even less sense. use the damn lexus for what its meant for and plan for more frequent thorough details at $100 a pop. Then you can go buy an ATS-V which can be had in your price range.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
/I've always liked Volvo S60 R, turbo 5 cylinder with all wheel drive.
This is a great suggestion and I know JUST the place to get one. I can't support this enough. 100% buy my look into the S60R.
Don’t know much about these- have a thread?

I was giving an example of use about taking it to the beach- I’d be using it to split DD duties with whatever fun car I got as well.
I’d mostly be using it for Lowe’s runs, taking my bike to the trail, as well as the beach trips and picking the kids up from school
 

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Don’t know much about these- have a thread?

I was giving an example of use about taking it to the beach- I’d be using it to split DD duties with whatever fun car I got as well.
I’d mostly be using it for Lowe’s runs, taking my bike to the trail, as well as the beach trips and picking the kids up from school
Shameless plug

2004 AW55-5X original Flash Green w/ Atacama S60R
Bought in 2015 with 78,xxx
As of 2020: 113,xxx miles
Full front end respray. Front doors, fenders, hood and bumper. 1st owner from Baltimore, 2nd owner commuted from Erie to Grove city everyday. Lots of stone chips. Done in late 2015, no longer perfect.
Timing and water pump service around 98K
4C rebuild with monroe struts and IPD lowering springs (only modification) around 110K
BCM just rebuilt. New board, 2 new capacitors and a new power cable 113K
17" and 18" Volvo Pegs, not reps.
Brand new, never out of plastic Atacama floor mats included, along with original mats and a set of all weather Volvo mats from a previous V70
Newish brakes, also around 98k
New HID ballasts, driver and passenger side.
A lot more, its been 5-6 years of fixing and maintaining. All work done by Volvo specialist Casey Hamm at Star Volvo and his since started standalone Hamm Automotive. Have most if not all receipts on file.

Car would have passed PA state inspection last week. Could not sticker it as it is not currently registered.

Cons:
Alarm module malfunction. (No sunroof or functional alarm)
Navigation doesn't work (screen still rises out of dash and powers on with button) This may just need a new nav disc? Never looked into this issue as Volvo nav is better at getting lost than finding anything.
Drivers side headlight wiper does not move
Cup holder lid on center console is in the trunk currently. (tabs broke off)
A few nicks and dings consistent with a 15 y/o 100k+ vehicle. Nothing noticeable at 5+ feet



They're awesome cars. 300hp AWD turbo 5cyl with brembos all around. Magnetic suspension and some other cool features. They sound great and are different, you'll stand out. Aftermarket support is growing.
https://flic.kr/p/2ipXLQM https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
 

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I was giving an example of use about taking it to the beach- I’d be using it to split DD duties with whatever fun car I got as well.
I’d mostly be using it for Lowe’s runs, taking my bike to the trail, as well as the beach trips and picking the kids up from school
Happy Sequoia owner here (I have a thread about it on here). It's our 3rd car but it's got a lot of use this past year. These are the bargain of the Toyota SUV world. They are also the best family Toyota SUV with a useable 3rd row and room behind (I've had 8 people in mine on a few occasions). I think of it as a 1.5x scale 3.5 gen 4Runner.

Go to the beach? Sure:




Lowe's run? No problem:




Carry a bike? Can do:




Take kids to school? Had to do that today as my Accord flashed 3 error messages this morning. :mad:
 
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