Mid Week Match-Up: Road Trip Time
It is Wednesday so that means it’s time for another Mid Week Match-Up (TM)! Last week, we featured a request from a reader who wanted “insanity” for about $1500 and many good suggestions were added to the comments. Today, we are looking for a turn-key vehicle that can be picked up for around $5000 and used for a long distance road trip.
What do you suggest?
A specific request comes from oppositelock reader surgeslk who writes:
I’m returning to the USA
mid July after a year volunteering doing clean water projects in SE
Asia. My gf (who is a teacher and is returning with me) and I want to
drive cross country to visit old friends. We’ll be flying into LAX and
heading home to N.C. (no rush) so we will need to get a car in L.A. that
will fit 6 pieces of luggage, is fairly good on MPG, reliable yet fun
and should be able to be a DD once we get home. Just to make things
difficult, the gf hates the idea of a station wagon. I’m thinking a
2000-ish 5 series or maybe a Volvo S40/60 or perhaps a Jeep Grand
Cherokee. Price $4000-ish.
For that price range we think a first generation Ford Taurus SHO with 5-speed manual would fit the bill nicely, like this 1989 SHO offered for $3,950 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist. It has a few miles on the odometer, and is an ugly turd, but would be great for a long distance trip with plenty of room for bags.
Have a better suggestion for a road trip car that could be used for daily driver duty once home? Comments below.
Oh yeah, you know where I'm going with this one. Still my favorite car to cover the miles in. The last big BMW with any real road and steering feel. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The marvelous e38
I had one of those for a year. The only worse car deal I've done than that was when I got rid of it for my wife's current POS RX300. 120 felt like 65, I will admit, but still, be very, very afraid…
Did the lazy thing and typed "road trip" into craigslist and this Caravan that comes with two mountain bikes popped up. . Use the remaining $2500 on a beater Accord, or something . Sorry I ignored your "fun" criteria, but…yeah.
Wow. That is an interesting find. Hitch a trailer with a porta-potty mounted to the back of that thing and instant RV.
Who needs the trailer if you have this
Long wheelbase, luxury cars located in CA brings these up
1999 Mercedes S320 Long Wheel Base $6k
1997 Mercedes S320 Long Wheel Base $4,800
1999 jaguar xj8-L $3950
you read my mind. But they'd never make it.
Lexus LS400 from the early/mid 90's (pre-vvti). Such as the one my buddy Ken just picked up for $5k with 65,000 miles on the odo. Adequate thrust, mid/high 20's on the freeway, suuuuper quiet.
Steer clear of the late 90's Merc's and Jags unless your idea of a road trip involves planning your route between Jaguar/Land Rover or Merc dealerships. The one you want is a Lexus with a decent service/ownership history.
Example 1993 LS400.
Yep, that's the one. Perfect road trip car.
I can't imagine picking anything that isn't Japanese for this chapter of mid-week matchmaker.
You're speaking some logic here, but this hobby rarely is logical. I'm on the side of the fence that says steer clear of any Lexus LS unless your idea of a road trip involves an automotive Quaalude.
2001 Merc S430 AMG. I just wish there were more buttons on the dashboard.
German Tank in LA
"Grandma owned" Japanese tank
The trip changes some priorities: aircon or engine cooling problems that might usually get sorted out over weeks or months have to be absent, or fixed before the trip starts. I really wanted to do a version of this (buy and drive to new residence) but couldn't get it together. But if there's anywhere that this could be successful, SoCal is it.
I have to agree with Zach below – that Q45 would be really tempting for a driver. Unfortunately you'd probably have a tough time selling it when you are done with your road trip – the Merc would be much easier to sell…I think.
At $3500, are you really going to have that hard a time selling it / are you out that much if you have to drop the price to, say, $3000?
Maxima then. Might even find a stick.
Rich wins this one with the Q-ship.