• Rough geographic area, please! Also, is KBZ's wagon still for sale?

    V70 T5 with a stick would be a good option. Mk 1, of course.

  • @DT—Nice suggestion, but I think you missed his second criterium.

    Here's my suggestion—may not be fun, but it sure is interesting. Trunk mount ATM, Breaking Bad style


  • Thanks, friends. Rough area is the Sourheast USA. I'm in Palm Beach, FL but shipping south isn't too steep.

    I have to admit, I never thought about a former police Explorer. That's the kind of extra-cubicle thinking I need during these times of woe.

    I was looking hard at KBZ's 5er but my interwebs browsing had me a little uneasy about maintanence so I had to punk out. Also, shipping from KBZ HQ was going to add nearly 1k to the cost.

    Please keep the suggestions coming… I need something and I'd hate to find myself getting into a 9 year old Accord because I couldn't think of/find anything better…

  • Ok, I'm going to chime in and suggest two Toyota vehicles that both Vince and I have personal experience with. Disclaimer: neither one had a manual trans option in NA (that I know of).

    1) FZJ80 Land Cruiser. 1993 – 1997. These have a massive 4.5L inline six, full time AWD, solid axles front and rear. If you're going to get a family hauler, why not get one of the most capable and reliable wagons ever made? I have a '94 that I call the Crusher. With a lift and 35" tires it is not quick. However, stock-ish size tires will keep gearing and acceleration adequate.

    2) Rav4 w/ 3.5L V6 & AWD, 2006 – 2012. Allegedly the fastest SUV Toyota ever made. 0-60mph in something like 6.4 seconds. I'll let E-i-C Vince expound on the details, but that one should be entertaining if a car-based hauler is more of your style.

    I'm sure you can find lots of both for around $7k but nicer / lower mileage examples will creep up and over $10k.

    • Another slushbox-only Toyota to consider: 2003 – 2009 4Runner w/ V8. RWD or 4WD. They put the 4.7L 2UZ-FE engine in the 'runner for this generation only. Makes about 270hp which is almost identical to the 3.5L V6 in the Rav4, but then you get that V8 rumble and more stump pulling torque. Do they have big stumps there in FL?

    • The -80 'Cruiser is a really unpleasant freeway vehicle, and slow.

      I second the late 4Runner suggestion, they are very nice vehicles – same platform (Prado) as the Lexus GX. Can be had in V6 or V8 form IIRC.

      Certainly better trim quality than, say, an '05 Tahoe/Yukon, though a bit less roomy. Not RAV4-cheap to run, but what you pay in operating cost you save in purchase price, and the late RAV4s are nasty, rude little POSes to drive, I hate them probably more than I hate the Prius.

    • Okay, on re-reading the '06-12 RAV4 isn't as bad as the current one, which is just crap.

      I may know of an '00-ish 100-series Land Cruiser in need of a new home, not perfect (a few repaired bumps and thumps) but modest miles and consistently maintained, well within the specified price range…

    • Looks just like this:

      [img] image.motortrend.com/f/roadtests/suv/8525358+w670+h419+cr1+ar0/112_9911_roadtests_01l%2B2000_toyota_land_cruiser_suv%2Bfront_left.jpg[/img]

    • The 100 series is better for everything the Doc would likely use it for, but I didn't think any decent examples would be in the sub $7k range yet.

      True that; the 80 is unrefined and slow in comparison. But it really reminds you that you're driving a Land Cruiser. Incessantly. Pounds it into your lower back.

  • A RHD 325i Touring In Florida?

    Comes with Alpina badges, Alpina wheels, and the body was rust-dipped for weight savings.

  • Here is my candidate, (no it's not Donald Trump) It's a low mileage 2002 Blazer for $6900 or bid less.
    It's in Florida so you can inspect it.
    [img] s3.amazonaws.com/photos.ecarlist.com/Ya/zl/Pe/Hk/tv/2I/Vd/dl/77/xG/7Q_640.jpg[/img]

    • These have to be near the top of the list of least fun vehicle I have ever driven. Even the '95 caravan sport was more exciting. What do I know though I only have criticism to offer no suggestions.

    • jeebus, you ought to be able to get a real one – tahoe/yukon of similar vintage – for less, much better vehicle. I got a 100k X5 w freshly rebuilt trans for that much.

  • Let's see here…E39 525it?

    I'm rather fond of the GMT800-series Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade, they're quite durable, common as dirt excepting a few rude interior fixtures, incredibly useful. The later ones might be just as good but I don't have personal experience with them.

    Airbags are not good (potentially fatal) for kids, so it depends on how big your 'preteen's are.

    I picked up a $6500 E53 X5 4.4i for pretty much exactly the scenario you discuss, not because I expect it to be perfectly troublefree but because in terms of its internals and its known points of failure it's the devil I know, I can deal with what's likely to break.

    • I recently purchased a U222 Lincoln Navigator as opposed to a GMT800 because the U222's are less common, and therefore more interesting IMO. I also prefer the interior materials and the rear seat that folds down (powered!)

      I wouldn't recommend something this size to someone who is not an oil sheikh however, as it gets 11.5 MPG around town and 14.5 on a recent freeway trip. It's perfect for me though, because I only need it to tow my boat (The wife's MDX didn't like this job), and drive me 2.1 miles to work in the winter(My 911 doesn't like this job). While the Lincoln is not interesting to drive, I do get a good laugh when I'm in it as I feel completely ridiculous driving something so enormous around.

  • How did I know that my K2 would contribute the highest volume of suggestions…?

    The legacy Gt is as rare as hen's teeth around these parts. And it seems all of the local WRX wagons have been "modified yo" on the CL lists. The RDX runs a bit steep and the road master is not…quite….right. I don't know what a c1/p1 is-google will be consulted shortly. I do dig the Cruiser and the Tercel suggestion, FTB.

    I'm searching SVT now…

  • I'm here for you, Doc! Unfortunately, I'm on the road bounty hunting a fugitive or I'd be finding you cars for sale in your neck of the woods.

    The C1/P1 cars are the Mazda3, Focus, V50 and several others. The turbos are all really fun cars to drive.

    Does a SUV interest you? I don't usually equate them with fun but different strokes….

    • I've never been an SUV "guy", honestly. I think it is because I see them as appliances more than anything else. However, they have several/nearly all of the boxes ticked on my needs list. Except interesting/fun. But maybe I'm being myopic.

      The perfect hauler for me would be a wagon or hatch, to be sure. Thanks for your knowledge, K2. Good luck finding your bogie.

    • Hey, you're welcome!

      RWD makes a lot of sense since there's no snow there. What about a full-sized sedan with arguably more swagger than any of the other cars we've come up with? It has a huge trunk and a big back seat and leave it to my fellow DTers to come up with a clever joke about that. What do you think?


    • Nice to see an alternative to the usual set of "build photos – here we have a series of "wash photos." You know, so you can see the kind of care lavished on even such a mundane task.

    • The 300a is fairly ballsy, rocking a rumble that can be made as obnoxious as I want with a couple easy mods…

      That center console armrest probably isn't unobtanium, and the chrome wheel delete is a quick ebay post worth of effort…

    • Not too small. Of course this is a fantastic car. The miles are about 160,000… This being a Toyota, I'm assuming that it will go at least another hundred thousand. The pricing is a little aggressive, but these are pretty rare. Of course, these never came with a manual…

    • My oldest was 7 when we sold my 03 IS300 (manual, not sportcross). He complained there wasn't legroom behind me (6'2") for him in the backseat. He was right.

      just sayin'

      I did have it from new to somewhere around 80k miles, and the only thing that ever failed was an o2 sensor.

    • Ahh, yes. I forgot how tight these early IS we're in the rear; the trunk space is not too small, however.

    • I actually liked that roadmaster, KBZ. The fact that the air conditioning isn't working and couldn't be diagnosed is a little worrisome for me as we are in a constant 85 to 95° environment with 90% humidity eight months a year.

  • No one has suggested a well kept Infiniti FX45 [or FX50 if you want more updates and to spend more]. A few years ago I was going to buy a late model Cayenne S but their reliability issues made me take another look around. VIOLA! If you want reliability, fun, and sporty [and can afford a bit of a gas eater] the FX45 is a great performer that .. really.. does feel like a sports car when you choose to use it that way. Reliability? A vault! Nice growl to the exhaust and just enough room for your needs without being a huge road hog.

    I loaned mine to a friend, and fellow car nut, who totaled his new Nissan SUV so that he could find a replacement without pressure [I have a bunch of old Porsches so it was hardly a burden]. Two weeks later he called me asking if I would consider selling my FX 45. Shortly afterwards he returned my FX 45 and showed me his like new new FX 50.

    Sporty, stylish, aggressive, FUN to drive, and incredibly reliable. It's right up there with my older Lexus LS and that is a considerable compliment. I hope you do yourself a favor and try one before you buy anything mundane.

  • I'm thinking if youre not going to row your own gears then you need to upgrade to something that you can use when you leave the critters somewhere and still look good…..albeit "settled".

    So I propose this 2001 E320 Wagon with……………3 seats! Count em. Stuff the critters in the far back and turn up the tunes


    • These are truly gorgeous, IMO. If he could come down a bit I could get it shipped to SoFla and still be close to budget.

      Bonus: my pops is a master MB tech and foreman. I'm sending him the link, Woods.

    • They're decently durable, quite roomy, not full of the complexity-for-complexity's-sake that infested the first round of W220 E-classes.

      The biggest problem I always had with these is that DB's US-market lower dash design rubbed on my shins.

      US crash tests require testing with an UNBELTED occupant, which results in lower-dash shapes intended to limit how far your knees can move, and many US-market cars including the E39 BMW have different (larger, bulkier, more restrictive) lower dash pieces than used elsewhere in the world.

    • This one is an hour puddle jump away. I could drive it back home in 6 hours.


  • Hate me if you must – Aztek GT. Ugly as sin. Surprisingly useful.

    So, my checklist reads:
    -reliable – SURE, CHECK.
    -interesting and/or fun – NOT NORMAL, THEREFORE INTERESTING. CHECK.
    -domestic or foreign, doesn't matter – UM, CHECK?
    -delivered for $7k or less (!) after negotiating – EASY CHECK WITH $1000s TO SPARE
    -manual preferred – SIGH, FAIL
    -bonus points for long roofs – CHECK

    4/4 on the required checks. 5/6 with the bonus round options. Adding in the requirement you didn't put on your checklist of 'will eat a ton of crap that my boys need hauled around', and you're golden.

    • Cuz' it's not a minivan? Yeah, they were bizarre, but they're a bargain and other than rowing your own, it checks all the boxes. I've not driven, but have ridden around in them, and it greatly exceeded my low expectations.

  • One of my best friends is a long time VW mechanic, he assured me the 2008-2010 Passat 2.0 Turbo is a very fun reliable car (just keep an extra coil pack in the glove box). I purchased my 6 speed manual wagon almost a year ago with no regrets so far. Future plans area $500 Unitronic chip tune. 245HP / 275LB-TQ

    • It's funny that you mention this car. I was noticing the conspicuous absence of Volkswagen auto group products. I have an affinity for the B5… However, their reliability reputation precedes them.

    • I think the VAG reliability problems are overblown, (Prepare for statistically insignificant sample size of one diatribe) I had a 2001 B5 for 8 years and 100k miles with the only non-service items replaced was tailight bulbs and 4 coil packs. I have a personal theory that the German assembled Passats from the 2000s are much better from a durability perspective than the Mexico assembled Golfs/Jettas, but I have limited data to support this. I will say that the 2.0T is a decent power upgrade from the 1.8T with minimal fuel economy hit (direct injection baby) but the 2.0T doesn't suffer from the 1.8Ts sludge issues — which you never have it you use the correct synthetic oil in the 1.8T. I'm always wary of new technology and the 2.0T is a first generation of direct injection, but I think they haven't had the issues BMW has had, who knows, maybe they got something right. I'd get back into a VAG product in a heartbeat if it fit my needs, the B5 was a great car. -Vince

    • In that case I'd recommend a MkiV Jetta TDI wagon. This was the era of flakey electrics but they look great and have plenty of cargo space – and real rear headroom! – in a compact package. It would tick all of your boxes. They can be chipped and turbo'd up over 200whp which is pretty dang entertaining in a small FWD diesel especially with all the torque that you get. Burnout city.

      The MkV / "MkVI" Jetta Sportwagen is a far superior car but you won't find one near $7k unless it's been wrecked or has the 2.5L inline five (which I'd argue is equivalent to being wrecked from the factory).

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