Mid Week Match-Up: Daily Driver for Matt
It is Wednesday, so that means time for another episode of William’s Wacky Reviews of German Sausages…wait…that’s not right…Wednesday is time for DT’s Mid Week Match-Up. Today’s request comes from Matt who writes:
My daily driver is an E36 BMW convertible,
bought before my wife and I had any kids. Now, we have two small
children – both old enough not to need a rear-facing car seat, but
sometimes I’ve got to tote the two of them around in my car instead of
the wife’s Camry, and I’d like my next car to have enough room to carry
both kids comfortably in the back seat even when the driver’s seat is
all the way back.
what’s so difficult about that? Even if it’s a family car, I want my
daily driver to be not totally boring to drive – and I insist on a
manual transmission, which isn’t very common in family cars these days.
Sure, it would be nice if I could just pick up a Chrysler 300 with the
5.7 Hemi and a T56 transmission – but that’s not going to happen unless I
weld in a different transmission tunnel or find someone’s project car
where they’ve already done this. What can the DT crowd come up with on a
DT E-i-C Vince: I’ve got a weird one that I think meets the requirements and is often overlooked. The first generation Cadillac CTS was sold from 2003-2007 and was available new with a base 2.6/2.8 liter V6 that was a dog, but the upgraded 3.2 liter (and later 3.6) was much better. The trick is that you could get either of those base engines with a 5-speed Getrag 260 manual gearbox and then it is a fun car. About 10 years ago I had a chance to flog a CTS on an autocross style environment versus a BMW 3-series and a comparable Volvo sedan (at a GM sponsored ride & drive event) — and the CTS was the clear winner. This 2004 Cadillac CTS with 3.2 liter V6 is high in miles and hideous trim, but it’s got a 5-speed gearbox and the price is right, find it here on eBay.
Got another suggestion? Put it below. Want to be the subject of a Mid Week Match-Up? Send your car needs here: email@example.com
That generation's got the 54-degree British V6 whose cam drive so routinely blew up in Saabs and Cateras.
I suppose the later ones had to be improved, but I still don't trust it.
I'll just get this out of the way… best E39 you can find and don't look back – done and done – all she wrote – fuhgeddaboudit, gnome sane
Agreed, not a bad choice, probably the best overall would be a late 530i.
540i good choice too if you don't mind operating cost, needs cam chain guides at 150K. Just rebuilt automatic in ours at 195K, it's actually neither particularly hard (if you have transmission jack) nor particularly expensive ($800 in parts including replacing stuff that broke that doesn't break in post-2000 5HP24s, another $150 in a couple tools I made.)
I would note that in my experience the M5, somewhat more bucks to be sure, is no less reliable and in some areas (maybe I'll regret saying this, but cooling system) MORE reliable than the lesser E39s. It has two unique points of failure – the rear sway bar brackets (because bigger bar) and the secondary air injection passages seem to be more a problem on the S62 than the M62TU. The former is dealt with via TC Design CNC clamps, the latter with an aftermarket engine calibration that disables the MIL condition.
I want a M5 more than anything. I am going out on a limb and saying it is the perfect car.
E39 is indeed the correct answer here.
Matt, I'm not sure where you live, but if it's in SoCal I may soon be selling my 2002 BMW 525i Touring. Yes it's a manual. Yes it has the sport package. Yes it has completed maintenance records and a spotless CarFax. Yes it is unmodified, except for the E60 short shifter and CDV delete. Yes it would be slightly above you budget, but not by much.
The answer is always Miata! Oh wait, never mind.
*The answer in this case is always BMW!
*(This offer does not apply to anyone with the the Initials K and 2)
I sure think this 1991 Audi 200 20V Avant is perfect, especially for $5900! I would sell both of my Audi 5K's if I could get this car.
Sorry, picture did not look that big before I posted it here.
Sweet cars, feel like a million bucks inside, but put away a healthy reserve to pay for the things that are going to break.
Two or four doors?
FWD or RWD?
Year limit (not older than)?
Maintenance budget (time & dollars)?
Mileage limit (not more than)?
I like this 1997 Prelude SH for $5K, but it does have 160k on the clock.
+1 for asking questions, G!
Realistically, as long as it's new enough to have 3 point seatbelts, in decent mechanical condition, and doesn't require any more upkeep than my E36, that would be enough. I'm flexible about the rest.
A Jetta, of course, or a Maxima.
Ooooh, A Maxima with a stillen supercharger! Now that is a good idea!
There's a few other options if you're talking about a usably-sized sedan with three pedals, but not too many.
Acura TL Type-S circa mid-'00s. Nice car, front-drive but with the helical LSD it won't matter much, nice seats, best build quality of pretty much any US-manufactured product at the time, and Brembo brakes for the bling.
Some flavor of the Subaru in the previous post, sedan or wagon, drives great, just make sure you've got a head-gasket fund.
If you're gonna buy an early CTS just raise the middle finger to the V6 and buy a CTS-V. Best bang-for-buck powertrain of the past couple decades, crappy seats but great sticky upholstery, perfect steering and balance and feels a thousand pounds lighter than it is, switchable stability control light-years ahead of comparable BMWs, who cares if it gets 15mpg?
Pontiac G8s with manual transmissions (notably GXPs) seem to be priced in the unobtanium territory, lovely hardware (see note about CTS-V powertrain but wrap an even better body around it) but not practical at this price point.
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I know of several with near or more than 250,000 miles on them with no major engine work.