Read out loud and really fast for best effect: Hello car fans and welcome to another edition of Unlikely Manuals — the game show where even if you lose, you go home with a sore left leg and copy of our home game. Today’s next contestant is a late model Korean economy car with a plastic engine cover emblazoned with a meaningless acronym related to its particularly fuel injection strategy (nobody ever said; I wasn’t gonna buy this car because I wasn’t sure about the method of fuel injection, until I popped the hood and saw the chromed GTDiMqVPDQ badge and then I was sold) and you’d expect to open the door and be greeted with some steering wheel mounted buttons that were connected to a CVT that has all the positive engagement and auditory appeal of an immersion blender in a can of marbles. Lo and behold, if you look past the low rent cloth seats and black plastic interior trim that was inspired by the Harbor Freight free coupon lineup, you’ll find a manual gearbox shifter. Granted, that shifter might have the feel of an immersion blender in a jar of kimchi, but if I’m gonna drive an economy car and save on fuel, it better be manual gearbox…and I don’t care about the injection. Find this 2012 Kia Soul with 6-speed offered for $4,500 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
This next car comes from Jeff who writes: A great example of a solid sports car that checks so many of the boxes. On the higher end of the NADA price spectrum, but when it comes to mileage, condition, performance/durability and fun factor, this is hard to beat. Find this 2000 Chevrolet Corvette offered for $16,000 in Columbus, NE via craigslist.
The Fusion was released in 2006 as a replacement to Ford’s aging Taurus, and yet another name change for a ho-hum sedan from an American manufacturer. It is interesting that Honda doesn’t change the name of the Accord and Toyota still uses Camry, VW sells the Passat,…etc…but US manufacturers are quick to replace the bad taste in your mouth from the last Tempo, Escort, Taurus, Crown Vic, Nova, Cavalier, Lumina, Impala, or Citation, Berretta, Skylark, or Century, that you purchased with a new vehicle that has a different name, but the same basic platform. It’s like changing your name after each failed date on your favorite dating platform. Perhaps she won’t recognize me…Anyway, this next car is a Fusion and it comes with a strange looking gear selector knob in between the seats…scientists are still trying to determine its origins. Find this 2010 Ford Fusion offered for $4000 in Foxboro, MA via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
I hate to do this to you guys, because this next car is ugly. Real ugly. Uglier than a monkey’s armpit. Uglier than a Kardashian without a corset. Uglier than a mud fence. Uglier than a Bangle butt on a Bugatti. Uglier than a LeCar. U…G…L…Y, you ain’t got no alibi. Feel out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down to the ugly pit. Uglier than a shaved ape in a Birkenstocks. Ugg. Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly is to the bones…this car is bound for the crusher or nearest 24 Hours of LeMons racetrack, you decide. Find this 1989 BMW E34 540i 6-Speed offered for $500 in Glen Burnie, MD via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser (2010-2018) was a retro-style mid-sized SUV that should not be confused with the original Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 (1960-1984). The FJ Cruiser did however take off where the FJ40 left by being built on a proper body-on-frame chassis with suspension borrowed from the LandCruiser Prado/4Runner/Tacoma. Today’s example is not only equipped with the rare 6-speed manual, but also sports a TRD supercharger for extra punch. Find this 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser bidding for $8100 with 4 days to go in Naples, FL via carsandbids.com. Seller submission from Serge.
Honda might not have produced the world’s first front-wheel-drive car (that is arguably the 1989 Victoria Combination by Société Parisienne) or even the most successful front-wheel-drive seller (that’d be the Toyota Camry) or the fastest front-wheel-drive racecar (that’d be the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo) but they did build the best front drive sport compact sedans of the 1990s starting with the surprisingly fast Honda Predule, followed by the Acura Integra, then the RSX, and finally what you see here…which is a 6-speed manual equipped Acura TL. Find this 2005 Acura TL offered for $5,490 in Winnetka, CA via craigslist.
A brand new Nissan Frontier pickup will set you back $30k before taxes and fees (more if you start piling on options)…and it is a nice car, but you can’t get it with a 6-speed manual gearbox because the only transmission that Nissan offers is some 9-speed super flappy birds paddle thing…sounds like a recipe for just putting in auto and following traffic on your daily commute. But if you want to save a few bones and you don’t mind the horrible death-by-plastic interior of early 2000s Nissan…then take the dirt road around traffic and get something like this 2006 Nissan Frontier SE Crew Cab offered for $7900 in Phoenix, AZ via craigslist.
The W203 generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class wasn’t the sportiest thing on the planet when it was launched for the 2001 model year, and comparisons to the E46 BMW 3-series always ranked the C-Class as more of a luxury boat versus the speedy and zippy 3-series. However, you could get the C32 AMG version, which added a supercharged V6 that pushed out 354 horsepower (21 hp more than the M3) and some handling upgrades, but you still couldn’t get it with a manual transmission, nor in the SLK32 AMG. But, a few years later Daimler-Chrysler produced the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 on SLK32 chassis and gave it the same M112-E32ML V6 but mated to a 6-speed manual…so magic happens when someone swaps the 06-08 Chrysler gearbox into the 01-03 Mercedes chassis with a set of wrenches and an almost factory-fit. Find this 2002 Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG offered for $6,000 in Hudson Valley, NY via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
I was talking a friend the other day who is a truck guy, and he asked me my advice on a diesel pickup truck. I’m not one to go around spouting off random opinions…oh wait…that is exactly what DT is, so I AM someone to go around spouting random opinions, so here goes; don’t buy a newish diesel pickup with one of them fancy twin-turbo common rail diesel V8s mated to a 8-speed auto and instead always insist on a classic diesel inline-6 single turbo and a manual gearbox like this next Cummins ISB 5.9 powered beasty. Find this 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel offered for $18,400 in Yuma, AZ via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
It might not seem believable, but driving a cheap used BMW M3 is not actually that expensive. Trust me, I’ve owned a few over the years and I still have both of my kidneys and all of my livers. The most expensive part of M3 ownership is depreciation and if you avoid that…then you’ll find that the regular 3-series bits (door handles, light bulbs, coolant caps) are cheap and the ///M specific stuff (hefty limited slip diffs, 8000+rpm V8s) are over-engineered. Yes, wear items are expensive (brakes, tires, bumper lips, con rod bushings), but not Ferrari expensive and you can do most of the maintenance yourself with a basic set of tools and a set of plastic ramps. But don’t believe me, buy one yourself and then report back here in a few months. Find this 2008 BMW M3 offered for $24,000 CAD ($18,320 USD) in Hinton, Alberta, Canada via Kijiji.net. Tip from Erik202.