This next car is a Mazda Protegé5 . Not a Mazda Protegé..space..5 or a Protege 5. It is actually the Protegé5 and this predates Mazda’s current obsession with everything having a numeric name..but this pedantic nomenclature hides a very capable eighth generation BJ Familia/323 wagon. This next car isn’t the Mazdaspeed version, it does look to be in remarkable condition and is offered by a dealer who (despite an exhaustive application of ArmorAll) claims it is a 1-owner vehicle and it does have a manual gearbox. Find this 2002 Mazda Protegé5 offered for $5000 in Shingle Springs (yes, that is a real place, and no it isn’t a good name for a retirement home) CA via craigslist.
I am convinced that the first generation Audi TT is going to be a sleeper classic for future appreciation. It won’t be in the next few years, but sometime in the self driving neural networked googlepod future people will start paying decent amount of money for Audi TT Quattros with the upgraded 225 horsepower 1.8T engine and 6-speed manual gearbox. But today’s example is going to be even more desirable because it has the super cool amber leather baseball stitch interior. Find this 2004 Audi TT Quattro 225 HP Baseball Interior Edition bidding for $6950 reserve-not-met with $7995 buy-it-now located in Painesville, OH via eBay.
It seems that a car auction site is popping up every time I turn my head or cough…sometimes when I turn my head AND cough, but that is a discussion for another time. This next car comes from Doug DeMuro’s carsandbids.com, which combines Doug’s infectious optimism with nifty late model cars. What we are talking about today is this bearded Spock universe Mazda MX-5 that has a Jaguar S-Type AJ30 V6 (which is actually a specialized version of the Ford Duratec V6) that puts 220 horsepower into the stock Miata 5-speed manual gearbox. The company that sells conversion kits (Rocketworks in Eugene, OR) claims twice the power and torque of the stock MX-5 and twice the fun. Find this 2002 Mazda MX-5 Miata V6 Swap bidding for $4,567 with less than a day to go, located in Broomfield, CO via carsandbids.com
This next car would easily be mistaken for a Ford Crown Victoria…which makes sense because the Mercury Grand Marquis is a rebadged Crown Vic…except this isn’t a Grand Marquis. This is the Marauder…which starts with a Grand Marquis body and adds a 302 horsepower 4.6 liter DOHC V8 from the Mustang Mach 1, a full compliment of P71 Police Interceptor shocks/brakes, unique Marauder bumpers, no chrome, and smoke headlights/taillights. It was like the guys from Pimp my Ride took over the Mercury design department for a week and I love it. I miss Mercury. Find this 2004 Mercury Marauder offered for $5,750 in Newington, CT via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
This next car comes as a tip from MikeB who writes: For those of us who are a certain age, the E39 M5 will always be the “adult dream car” (unlike our childhood dream cars like the 911, IROC, Esprit, etc.). This car appears to be in excellent condition and the list of recent maintenance reads like a wish list of things I’d like to do to our recently acquired ’99 540i . . . over the next 5 years. Plus the undercarriage on this car is cleaner than my living room. Good seller, bucket list car, trip to Chicagoland — what’s not to love? Find this 2003 BMW M5 offered for $20,000 in Northwest Suburbs of Chicago via craigslist.
BMW built their fast M3 version of the E46 3-series (1998-2006) in only two-door form…and the closest you could get to an M3 with 4 doors was the 330i ZHP. The ZHP (also available in coupe & vert) added 10 horsepower to the standard M54B30 inline-6, a 6-speed manual gearbox, stiffer suspension, and some fancy alcantara suede interior pieces (that flaked apart like mummy skin a few minutes after you left the dealer lot…according to most people). However, if you wanted a wagon, you had to settle for a basic 325i trim…so the seller of this next car swapped all of the ZHP goodies into a wagon body and the rest is family fun. Find this 2003 BMW 330iT ZHP swap offered for $13,000 in Fremont, CA via craigslist. Tip from Oakland Jeff.
The XF20 generation Lexus LS was sold from 1994 through 1997 and gives you all the speed and comfort you’d expect in a German executive cruiser (S-Class…or BMW 7-series), but with Japanese sensibility and reliability. There was no option for a 5-speed manual gearbox, but it wouldn’t raid your savings in expensive parts repairs or goad you into thinking your car was sporty. Find this 1995 Lexus LS400 bidding for $2500 in Gadsden, AL via Hemmings auctions with 5 days to go. Tip from BarbPaddles.
We’re gonna take a quick trip down the rabbit hole of internet history here…way back to 2001…when Ford was trying to push their 1st generation Focus on Gen Xers. Naturally, they collaborated with MTV and renowned Detroit Techno artist DJ Bone and launched the (long defunct) website Focus247.com where you could mix your own techno beats…How could Ford have let this site fall into the digital abyss? You can see a little bit of what was archived by the Wayback machine here….but don’t expect to be able to mix your own beats because I couldn’t get any of the archived shockwave flash apps to work (arggg..I wanted to play DJ FU!). Anyway if you want a cheap 5-speed equipped car that was once marketed via MTV to a bunch of pimply faced Gen Xers around Y2K, you can drive this 2002 Ford Focus ZTS offered for $1990 in Santa Clara, CA via craigslist.
This next car was a hard one for me. Not because I don’t love the car…but because I love it a little too much…and frankly want to buy it and drive it every single day…because it is a 507 horsepower V8 powered wagon with room for 7 people, modern safety and reliability…and only 209k miles on the odometer. Yowza!! This is a risky purchase…but it is the only W211 E63 AMG in green in the USA (per the seller)…and is as rare as a unicorn with three horns. Find this 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon offered for $16,500 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist.
The original iteration (1989-1991 & 1992-1995) Ford Taurus SHO (Super High Output) was a love letter from the engineers at Ford’s Special Vehicle Team to everyone who wanted to have fun in a sedan. It had a screaming Yamaha V6, a 5-speed manual gearbox, and Conan O’Brien’s seal of approval. In 1996 Ford introduced a V8 SHO that had more O in the SHO, but it lacked the S…because it was only available with a slushbox auto and buyers went elsewhere after 1999. A few years later (in 2010) Ford introduced a new version of the SHO that had a whopping 365 horsepower from a twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine and all-wheel-drive…but a 6-speed slushbox auto. Find this 2011 Ford Taurus SHO offered for $9995 or best offer in Cherry Hill, NJ via eBay.