After mentioning in the last post that a late model TSX was probably a better car versus a 90s Ford Taurus SHO in every possible measure except style…I decided to put my mouse where my mouth was (does that expression work…or keyboard where my mouse was…I dunno…I’m gonna work on that one) and feature a late model TSX. Here ya go, better than the SHO in acceleration, speed, braking, turning, reliability, and usability. Find this 2005 Acura TSX offered for $5000 in San Francisco, CA via craigslist.
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 as a tip from ME who writes; perhaps you can use this one on a slow day. Full stop. If this is what DT shows on a slow day…then I can’t imagine what we’d share on a fast day. This has everything you’d need in an analog world — manual brakes, manual steering, manual transmission, manual windows, manual headlights, manual ignition timing advance (okay, I made that last one up). All this thing needs is a set of stock wheels and a wingectomy to be perfect for your daily drive or your kid’s first car. Find this 1993 Toyota Tercel DX offered for $2900 in Staten Island, NY via craigslist.
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!
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 don’t like posting cars that are “expensive” and this next car is no cheap and depreciated luxury barge…but…BUT…it features the second most beautiful shape from Jaguar (first is the E-Type…hands down) and it is equipped with the rarely-seen-on-this-side-of-the-ocean manual gearbox. This is a combo that is hard to beat. Find this 1993 Jaguar XJS offered for $25,000 near Houston, TX via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Anybody who lived through the 1980s in the USA will have memories of the the North American first generation Ford Escort (1981-1990). Those memories will certainly be mixed…some good, some bad…but our squishy grey lobes tend to suppress the bad things; but DT is here to help recover some of those negative memories. First, you learned your first full set of curse words from your Mom when it wouldn’t start for the third time in a week. You also learned to dress for rain when the electrical system stopped working in November 1987. And finally, you learned why your Dad started buying only Japanese cars in 1990. But if you want to relive some of the good experiences in a Ford Escort…then you should buy the best preserved Escort you’ll ever see for less than four large. Find this 1985 Ford Escort Hatchback offered for $3,700 in Dallas, TX via craigslist.
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.
All you get is one photo for this next car. But it has only be posted on craigslist for 22 minutes…so…you’ve got to act quickly and the only thing you know is that it has CA black plates (appear to be original because BKC would be proper for 1965 registration, but they look old and could be part of the CA YOM (year of manufacture) program from a few years ago (check the registration slip for a YOM fee)…or recent CA special interest black plate with custom numbers to look like an old plate…again check reg. But…but…if this is an OG CA black plate Mercedes-Benz it means it has never been out of the state or salvaged titled and it looks like screamin deal. Find this 1965 Mercedes-Benz 190D W110 offered for $2750 in Vallejo, CA via craigslist.
I’m a sucker for many things automotive, but there are a few that really get my motor revving. The first is a red interior — I love ’em. The Draken had a red interior that was to die for but this next car has it beat. Another thing that gets my coil all charged up is a manual gearbox mated to a diesel engine. I know diesels are low on power and manuals require all sorts of effort and concentration…but the combination of a non-turbo diesel engine and 4 or 5 or 18 speed gearbox just makes you feel a man-machine connection that is nothing this side of a jet pack or a neural network. And this next car has both. Find this 1974 Mercedes-Benz 240D offered for $3900 in Victorville, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.