Shinola vs Shine: 1999 Ford Contour vs 1993 Nissan 300ZX

Here is today’s quiz for the kids. Imagine you’ve got $2k to spend on a car that you need to drive twice a week to get somewhere. Don’t need to impress the inlaws or deliver Uber-eats, this is just an occasional driver, but you want something other than a clapped out Civic/Camry you could get for that price. You’ve got a choice between a 1993 Nissan 300ZX for $2200 that might have 37k or 378k miles on the odo and has been sitting for the better part of a decade…or you can get a sub 100k mile 1999 Ford Contour Sport offered for $1999 that looks about as nice as you can find for the age, but needs a transmission component to get back on the road. Either way…you are gonna get your hands dirty and have a sweet ride in the end.

From the seller of the Z:

1992 nisdan
condition: good
cylinders: 6 cylinders
drive: rwd
fuel: gas
odometer: 378558
paint color: grey
size: compact

title status: lien
transmission: manual
type: coupe
300zx with t-top been sitting seen 2014 with 37k miles starts buts need tune-up. Never been orginal paint, interior ok condition. Call show contact info
. Manual trans and leather seats

From the seller of the Contour:

1999 ford contour se
VIN: 3FAFP66L6XM102099
condition: fair
cylinders: 6 cylinders
drive: fwd
fuel: gas
odometer: 89900
paint color: custom
size: compact
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
type: sedan

We bought this 1999 Ford Contour Sport from the original owner. It was sitting many years in the garage, so right after purchase we did a lot of maintenance. All gaskets in the engine were replaced along with a few hoses. Coolant system was flushed and oil was changed. We purchased it for my wife as her first car. She drove it for 6 days after that the transmission stopped shifting. Luckily, I have a good mechanic (who replaced gaskets and fluids). He rebuilt the entire transmission but this didn’t solve the issue. I took it to the Star Ford Dealership in Glendale for inspection and the issue was found. PCM has miscommunication with the transmission. I was quoted $700 but this part is discontinued, and to get it brand new form Ford would take few months up to a year.

We bought another car for my wife, this one is just sitting in the backyard. Engine doesn’t have leaks, starts right up. There are a lot of used PCM’s on eBay, junkyards, and auto part stores. Cost is around $200. Transmission is fully rebuilt. Need to do a wheel alignment. Clean title, 89900 original miles, car comes with 3 keyes. It’s still drivable, but it’s not shifting in the next gears. Interior is like new. Since we purchased another vehicle, I don’t want to invest time and money into this car anymore. Asking price is much lower than what I’ve put into it. $2000 firm. Nice opportunity to have low mileage car with a great renewed engine and rebuilt transmission under $2500. Text only!

Which one would you pick? Neither…that’s interesting. So you’d rather get this 1991 Alfa Romeo 164S that you could drive home for the same price? Good call!