There are a few things I don’t like about this next car. First, it is white…which is a great color for a commercial delivery van or a lawn company truck, but not so good on a sports-coupe. Next, this thing has an aftermarket set of aero-ish parts that might look okay when new, but a few curb dings and they look like crap…so I’m wary of that. And, lastly, I don’t like the wheels. But other than those few complaints, I love the interior, the manual gearbox, and even the de-badged look. Find this 1998 Lexus SC300 offered for $4,950 in New York City via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Bracq Friday posts of this past long Turkey Day weekend celebrating the German cars designed by a Frenchman, but it is time to go back to DT’s bread-and-butter…or brot-und-buerre, which is low mile sports cars from the mid-80s that don’t cost a kidney to own and drive every day. Next up is a rotary powered Mazda that might cost more than the typical beater RX-7, but with only 38k miles on the odometer, this thing is barely half way through its first set of apex seals. Find this 1987 Mazda RX7 Turbo II offered for $14,900 in West Central MN via craigslist. Tip from Jeff.
It feels strange to recommend a model year 2000 Honda Accord with a slushbox auto to anyone who enjoys driving…but what if you don’t enjoy driving that much and you really just need something to get you from point A to point B and back to point A and then maybe a point C and do all of that without needing to press out differential bushings in your own garage..then…wow that is a run-on sentence. Yes, a used Honda Accord with 58k miles is still just a Honda Accord…but it is offered at one fifth the price of a new Accord and has at least half the value left in it. Find this 2000 Honda Accord offered for $5000 in Portland, OR via craigslist. Tip from Kendall.
And the award for the 7 seat SUV that is least likely to have an available manual transmission goes to…drumroll…the first generation Suzuki XL-7. We’ve all seen manual gearboxes in little Vitaras and other RAV4/CRV competitor mini SUVs, but the idea of offering a manual gearbox is a plus sized SUV in 2004 is simply insane…but the product planners at Suzuki didn’t listen to conventional wisdom or the so-called “marketplace” and they shoved a 5-speed manual behind the basic V6 that puts power to the rear-wheels in this body-on-frame vehicle…are we sure this isn’t an American SUV from the 80s? We miss you Suzuki…please come back to America and sell us your wacky stuff again soon. Find this 2004 Suzuki XL-7 offered for $3,400 in Phoenix, AZ via craigslist.
The first generation Mazda MX-5 Miata (internal code NA) was launched in 1989 and sold a staggering 400,000 units through 1997. It was a surprise hit given its Skunk-Works style genesis and everyone from Mazda’s product planners to all the out of work former MG, Triumph, Fiat, and Alfa-Romeo employees were shocked that a cheap, reliable, fun, sports car could sell so well. Anyway, the good news for automotive vultures of the world (that’s us) is that Mazda sold so many that the market is flooded with cheap used examples and you get get them cheaper in bulk. Find these two 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miatas offered for $2,650 (both!) in Morgan Hill, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
The Honda Beat might not be the prettiest car to be styled by Pininfarina, or even the coolest mid-engine Pinin, or the most affordable with styling by the Young One (and his successors), but it is the smallest car to come from legendary design house. Regardless, they were never sold new in the USA and driving one will get you smiles and front row valet parking wherever you go. Find this 1991 Honda Beat offered for $6,500 in Seminary, MS via craigslist. Tip from Rramjet.
I spent some time bashing front-wheel-drive automotive based crossover SUVs in the Suzuki Vitara post the other day…but if given the choice, would you take the Vitara over a Rav4? And what if that Rav4 was covered in the ultimate tribute to the 90s paintjob? Oh man. And it’s 4X4 instead of just rear-wheel-drive. This is a difficult decision. You tell me in the comments which compact sportish ugly vehicle you’d pick. Find this 1996 Toyota Rav4 4X4 offered for $4,500 in San Mateo, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Whenever I’m in a public place and somebody says, “hey, nice hardbody” instantly crane my neck looking for that sweet boxy Nissan pickup…but most of the time it is just some dudes on steroids or ladies who spend too much time at a CrossFit gym (sidebar; why do Crossfit gyms always have names that sound like something you wouldn’t want to get as a prognosis from your doctor: I’m sorry Bill, you’ve got change your eating habits, you’ve got a bad case of beach box. Ohh…is it fatal? No, but if it gets worse, it could become squats and shots). Anyway, back to the Hardbody– it is the name given to the D21 generation Nissan truck sold from 1985 through 1997 and what this next one lacks in bed space is sure makes up in original clean condition. Whooo oooh. Find this 1986 Nissan Hardbody offered for $4,500 in Ft Lauderdale, FL via craigslist.
The 2nd generation Toyota Celica released in 1985 on an all new transverse front-wheel-drive platform (previous generations dating back to 1970 were rear-wheel-drive). The new Celica was more refined than the previous version and a new 2.0 liter engine promised more performance, but it wasn’t until the release of the GT-S version (ST162) with 135 horsepower from its 3S-GE DOHC inline-4 that performance was improved over the previous Celica. With the GTS you also got disc brakes at all four corners and 5-lug wheels…but not a turbo or all-wheel-drive (for that you had to pony up to the Turbo All-Trac GT-Four version). Find this 1989 Toyota Celica GTS offered for $5900 in Watsonville, CA via craigslist.
It is easy to look at the Suzuki Vitara Tracker (1994-2004) and dismiss it as yet another Rav4/CRV competitor in the compact SUV class. It certainly looks like a car based crossover with transverse front-wheel-drive and maybe an option for a part time all-wheel-drive system…but GM and Suzuki were not messing around with the Tracker. It was built on an actual body-on-frame light truck chassis and features a longitudinally mounted engine, standard rear wheel drive with an option for four-wheel-drive. Find this 2002 Suzuki Vitara offered for $4999 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.