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BozzaFC

Fun Cars for Under 5k

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Hey guys, 

When I was back in high school (only a couple years ago) all my friends had the most mundane cars: old and tired Honda Civics, Suzuki Swifts, Nissan Marchs and the like, and nine times out of ten auto. Now that my sister has her licence and is approaching the need for her first car, I thought this would be an interesting discussion to be had. She's not a massive petrolhead, but my love for cars has rubbed off onto her to the extent that she cares somewhat about what she drives. 

But I don't want to make this thread about her, so what are your best cars that are:

  • Under $5k
  • Fun-ish
  • Manual
  • Relatively reliable and cheap to run
  • At least marginally more exciting than a March
  • Not limited to Bimmers/Euro cars

What cool cars have you guys owned, wanted to own or plan on owning? 

Nissan March ew.jpg

Edited by BozzaFC
Forgot a bit

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I think the e36 318is in manual is an underrated car, just enough power that you can actually use it all without dying, safe enough for a first car (airbag models) and reliable and cheap enough to keep on the road as a daily driver. Also a great car for someone who wants to learn a bit of DIY.

I also really enjoyed my Honda City turbo but i really wouldn't recommend for a first car, complete death trap! and i doubt you can find a decent one anymore.

Its been a while since i was looking but the early new minis must have fallen into this price range by now and there are a few manuals around.

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Safety a factor? I can think of a few but by modern standards they are death traps. 

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My niece is getting her full license in a couple of months, and has a VW New Beetle, early 2000's.

Her's is a 1.8 Turbo manual... but there are 2.slow ones too. They're a bit of fun, somewhat safe, but not really sporty.

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Boston, does this mean we can go car shopping? 

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1 hour ago, Allanw said:

My niece is getting her full license in a couple of months, and has a VW New Beetle, early 2000's.

Her's is a 1.8 Turbo manual... but there are 2.slow ones too. They're a bit of fun, somewhat safe, but not really sporty.

Don't go VW turbo, absolute pain in the A** always stupid air vacuum leaks and CEL lights for something. Even a low ks one put me off Audi's for life that bloody motor

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3 hours ago, Jacko said:

Safety a factor? I can think of a few but by modern standards they are death traps. 

Probably, but still keen to hear any and all recommendations

 

1 hour ago, str8_6 said:

Boston, does this mean we can go car shopping? 

You’re not selling another car are you? 😉

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I was back home in Whanganui the other day and drove past what I think was a Toyota MR2. It was yellow (her favourite colour) and looked quite sporty. Any experience with these? I was in a rush so didn’t get a chance to stop and properly check it out, so not sure about the details. Certainly looked cool with pop up headlights I believe 

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MR2s are one of the things that popped up in my brain, even a "dull" non turbo SW20 (2nd gen) are quiet fun and very reliable 3SGE camry underneath. Bit long in the tooth, but.. MR-S (3rd gen) is also an option, would meet more modern safety standards, and are convertible which gets girl bonus cool points. 1st gen AW11s are very rare in any condition that would be worth buying, unless you're an absolute enthusiast (they're awesome fun though) 

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12 hours ago, aja540i said:

I think the e36 318is in manual is an underrated car, just enough power that you can actually use it all without dying, safe enough for a first car (airbag models) and reliable and cheap enough to keep on the road as a daily driver. Also a great car for someone who wants to learn a bit of DIY.

I also really enjoyed my Honda City turbo but i really wouldn't recommend for a first car, complete death trap! and i doubt you can find a decent one anymore.

Its been a while since i was looking but the early new minis must have fallen into this price range by now and there are a few manuals around.

Thanks! My mum had a 1996 318i saloon in red that my sister and I were brought up with. She bought it in ‘05 with about 60,000 kms on it and it dutifully and reliably served us for just over 10 years when it finally had some oil issue that would have cost more than it was worth to fix. Had done 280,000 kms or so then. Apart from the terrible clear coat peeling off the bonnet, it was a great car. Man I miss that car.

So our family knows about how safe and reliable those 318i E36s are. In saying that, there’s quite a few Bimmers in the family so definitely open to other recommendations.

There was a tidy E30 on trade me that would have really suited and my sister LOVED the classic look of it, except it’s slightly out of the price range as seems to be so common with the E30s now 

 

D3CFDECC-0995-441D-B3FD-D7CC26EE25BB.jpeg

Edited by BozzaFC
Added photo

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2 hours ago, Allanw said:

My niece is getting her full license in a couple of months, and has a VW New Beetle, early 2000's.

Her's is a 1.8 Turbo manual... but there are 2.slow ones too. They're a bit of fun, somewhat safe, but not really sporty.

Thanks for that. I’d be keen to hear how she gets on with it. In my very limited experience with VW products I’ve heard some horror stories. But again, very limited experience

Edited by BozzaFC
Typo

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26 minutes ago, Jacko said:

MR2s are one of the things that popped up in my brain, even a "dull" non turbo SW20 (2nd gen) are quiet fun and very reliable 3SGE camry underneath. Bit long in the tooth, but.. MR-S (3rd gen) is also an option, would meet more modern safety standards, and are convertible which gets girl bonus cool points. 1st gen AW11s are very rare in any condition that would be worth buying, unless you're an absolute enthusiast (they're awesome fun though) 

I was 100% gonna recommend an SW20 MR2 but the lift-off oversteer can be horrific if not managed well and is probably not ideal for a beginner driver. Almost killed myself twice on the Hundalee's in mine and I wasn't even driving that aggressively.

Edited by BlackrazorNZ
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21 minutes ago, Jacko said:

MR2s are one of the things that popped up in my brain, even a "dull" non turbo SW20 (2nd gen) are quiet fun and very reliable 3SGE camry underneath. Bit long in the tooth, but.. MR-S (3rd gen) is also an option, would meet more modern safety standards, and are convertible which gets girl bonus cool points. 1st gen AW11s are very rare in any condition that would be worth buying, unless you're an absolute enthusiast (they're awesome fun though) 

I should have said, the one I saw was a 2nd gen. It was a pretty good looking car from what I saw. And being a Toyota, you would expect it to be reliable. Unfortunately, I text my mum and told her to look out for it but it hasn't been parked where I saw it again 😢 . Hopefully it pops back up so she can take it for a test drive! Can't find it on Trade Me either

I have always found the MR-S to be a hideous automobile, usually driven by middle-aged men and women who think they're the king of the castle because their old Toyota's roof comes off

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1 minute ago, BlackrazorNZ said:

I was 100% gonna recommend an MR2 but the lift-off oversteer can be horrific if not managed well and is probably not ideal for a beginner driver. Almost killed myself twice on the Hundalee's in mine and I wasn't even driving that aggressively.

Post 93(ish?) they changed the suspension geometry which reduced that tendency, I had a 95 SW20 for awhile, was well behaved. 

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2 minutes ago, BlackrazorNZ said:

I was 100% gonna recommend an MR2 but the lift-off oversteer can be horrific if not managed well and is probably not ideal for a beginner driver. Almost killed myself twice on the Hundalee's in mine and I wasn't even driving that aggressively.

Surely you're not trying to tell me that oversteer is, in any case, a bad thing??? ;) 

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7 minutes ago, Jacko said:

Post 93(ish?) they changed the suspension geometry which reduced that tendency, I had a 95 SW20 for awhile, was well behaved. 

I had a 92 so I was definitely in the thick of it.

7 minutes ago, BozzaFC said:

Surely you're not trying to tell me that oversteer is, in any case, a bad thing??? ;) 

Controlled oversteer is the greatest joy in driving. Uncontrolled oversteer, especially lift off oversteer when all you're expecting to do at the time is slow down, is scary AF. Especially when you wind up on the wrong side of the road about 1m from the cliff edge you were heading towards.

Only time in my driving life I've ever had to pull over at the top of the hill and gather my nerves for a few minutes.

Even remember the exact corner : https://goo.gl/maps/5GxfGt43E5S2

Edited by BlackrazorNZ
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Anyway. Serious option : late 90's MX-5?

Fun, safe, easy to maintain, and a quick scan of TradeMe shows reasonable ones available for around her price bracket, e.g.

954528753.jpg

951692893.jpg

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colt ralliart turbo manual

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4 minutes ago, qube said:

colt ralliart turbo manual

Wow, just Googled this. How have I never heard of/seen one of these before! I didn't realise the Colt could be anything more than a boring nana car. Alas, not her style

Have you had one @qube ?

Edited by BozzaFC

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12 minutes ago, BlackrazorNZ said:

Anyway. Serious option : late 90's MX-5?

Fun, safe, easy to maintain, and a quick scan of TradeMe shows reasonable ones available for around her price bracket, e.g.

1

MX5s are always a good option. Will keep an eye open

Edited by BozzaFC

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2 hours ago, BozzaFC said:

Wow, just Googled this. How have I never heard of/seen one of these before! I didn't realise the Colt could be anything more than a boring nana car. Alas, not her style

Have you had one @qube ?

nah, but think they're kind of cool looking. i also think that this 4 door tall type of car is ideal as a first car. honda jazz, toyota ist, mazda 2, suzuki swift, etc etc.

if you want to stretch the budget a but a mini cooper s manual is awesome but they tend to need a fair bit of work from time to time (like a bmw)

at $5k i dont think you will find anything good from BMW to be honest. small sporty and manual for under 5k whilst being reliable doesnt go together.

 

i personally would not recommend 2L and bigger sports cars as a first car. also the MR2 and miata's are all a bit dangerous looking for a n00b driver in my opinion. also doesnt help that these are rear wheel drive cars so easy to spin out in the rain/wet.

theres nothing wrong with a good honda or toyota as a first car. no doubt she will want to change within the first year so wouldnt worry too much except learning how to drive properly first.

 

 

 

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Thanks, those are good points, but perhaps I should have been more clear. She’s a very competent driver. Her and I were brought up on a farm, and as such have driven from when we were about 5 years old around paddocks and so on. When I was 8 years old I was rolling dirt in my dad’s Kubota tractor by myself. My sister drives over the Saddle Road in the Manawatu in a manual Hilux with no issues. She has her licence, and currently drives the spare Ford Laser manual. Now, she wants her own car that is slightly more exciting.

As I said in the initial post, I didn’t want to make this thread about her. Instead, I thought it would be a cool general discussion to have, about cheap, fun cars. After all, some of the most fun cars are the cheap and underpowered ones. 

And for context, I bought both my NZ new Alfa 156 2.5 V6 24v manual (my first car) and my current NZ new E39 530i, both with less than 140kms, for less than $5k each. I would regard both as fun cars, and both were and are reliable. With the Alfa, rather than any young hoon writing it off, it was an elderly gentlemen who didn’t hook his trailer up properly that wrote it off!

🙂

 

62093165-E8BE-47A9-AA7A-D47BC09B9ECD.jpeg

Edited by BozzaFC
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May I recommand Subarus and Altezzas? Some of their models are prety realiable  and cheap. I have a stock my99 WRX with now 280000kms on the clock any missed any beat that I brought three years ago for $4000, and my dad had a 2.0 na forester, brought new. sold with 380000kms. never had any issues with it. And From what I heard from some of my friends, the 3.0 liter flat six is also a really soild engine. Legacys with 3.0 flatsix with 6mt sometimes sells for about $4000-$5000. 

An alterntive to e36 318is (better in many ways) is the Altezza rs200 with 3sge. Just look at the recipe: double wishbones all around, front engine rear wheel drive, LSD. high reving engine, close ratio 6speed manuel, good weight distribution. I sold one in fairly good condition a year ago for $2800  

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