$2,500 Challenge Results
We recently ran the $2,500 Challenge, the latest installment in our series of used-car classifieds treasure hunts. And, for the record, the Car Lust community totally outdid itself with this challenge. The vehicles this time around weren't quite as spectacular as the results of the $25K Challenge--no surprise given the more restricted budget--but they were significantly more hilarious.
As you may recall, there was a personal aspect to this challenge--I was in the market for a car in that price range and was living out my own $2,500 Challenge. And, as it turns out, so was fellow Car Luster David Colborne. We have both made our purchases and will be writing up our real-world experiences in the next week.
But, for now, here are a few of my favorites from a group of selections so stellar that I don't even have space to call out suggestions that hit on my usual favorites, cars like the Saab SPG, Peugeot 405 Mi16 and Merkur XR4Ti.
This challenge's overall winner is this sultry Euro-spec BMW 635CSi submitted by Shawn. It is also the winner of this challenge's Christie Brinkley Award, honoring a 1980s style icon that has aged gracefully.
Just look at that 6-series--it is long, lean, and beautifully sculpted. Its performance should stand up nicely as well. Assuming that it has been cared for, its turbine-like BMW six and sport suspension should provide both ample power and responsiveness to go with its style.
This 635CSi is a smooth, classy coupe with power and panache; it might cost a little more to maintain than a 1990s Toyota Corolla, but I know which car I'd rather spend my $2,500 on.
Big Chris found me an actual short bus. Uh, thanks, Chris.
Of course, short buses have a certain, well, connotation in popular culture. I'll just say that anybody who would purchase this vehicle and fix it up for private use would receive and deserve that connotation as well. It would probably be much more deserved than the actual connotation.
So, is it bad that I'm running through the possibilities here? Paint it bright glossy yellow, lower it, and give it some rims ... nah.
Nice Try Award
This absolutely has to go to ...m..., who made an awesome stab at his own dream $2,500 Challenge with this bold gambit. I'm not sure I would have risked a 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle for the pittance he was asking (>2003 Aston Martin Vanquish + $2,761 in cash), but so far nobody seems to be taking advantage of his generous offer.
This fantastic 1974 AMC Hornet comes courtesy of Tommy's Dad, who generated both a quantity and quality of brilliant suggestions.
I came close to honoring the AMC Matador and Eagle that he proposed (there were actually two Eagle suggestions, both of which were seriously tempting); but I think this Hornet deserves some sort of mention.
You want shabby chic? This Hornet is composed of a heady mix of shabbiness and counterculture style. I love the white vinyl top. I love the horribly faded paint in the color of smashed caterpillar. I love the wheels. I love the eye-searingly green interior. Most of all, I love the seller's exhortation that "all she needs is some one with the money and love to finish the cosmetic restoration and turn her into a beautiful show car."
I'm chuckling about that, but I can't deny that this car makes my checkbook hand twitch a little.
Cookie the Dog's Owner submitted this 1990 Honda CRX that was on sale for the surreally low figure of $400. That's four hundred dollars for a relatively rare second-generation CRX that appears to be in pretty decent original condition. I know people who have paid more than that for a pair of shoes.
It's such a great price that I can't fully wrap my mind around it. If this car runs at all, it should be worth three times that amount. Unless this car is highly radioactive or rigged to explode, it's radically underpriced.
A fun little roller skate that gets great mileage and costs virtually nothing? Yes, please.
Family road trips promise a great deal of entertainment and adventure--anything could happen. Unfortunately, as depicted in the highly factual National Lampoon Family Vacation films, family road trips instead often deliver misery and misfortune in super-sized proportions.
Unfortunately, I think this 1973 Dodge Motorhome, as recommended by David Colborne, hits both points. This motorhome could serve as a party pad, a rolling military headquarters, or an Arctic expedition vehicle. In short, it could serve as the home base for innumerable adventures.
Like a Hollywood family road trip, though, I see this adventure going horribly wrong. The reality of this motorhome is probably more ine line with a meth lab or a serial killer's hideout. I could it breaking down every few miles and being all moldy throughout. The smartest move would be to scavenge the muscle car 440 engine and ignore the siren call of adventure promised by this beast.
There's really nothing I can add regarding Radar's suggestion of this lifted Subaru GL that isn't conveyed by the photo. As today's youth would say, this Subaru is composed entirely of epic win.* I like this even better than the Geo Metro with the tow hitch.
* I am not really sure that today's youth would say this.