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$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Anthony Cagle

You know, when this topic was first broached I thought the process would be about as exciting as painting the living room. But once I started I found it a lively little exercise in pushing the boundaries of getting as much as possible without going over budget. There's only two of us in the household so I was looking at a minimum of two vehicles; I've already got a true Car Lust car so I wasn't about to get a stable of Pacers, Hornets, and F-body Camaros and Firebirds. So I went mostly new and nice with one thrown in for fun. I did, in fact, consult the Spousal Unit on her preference(s), and after dissuading her from demanding a Tesla roadster, I think I've come up with a few decent choices.

For the Spousal Unit I got a Mini Cooper S. The one I found is $38,145 in Lightning Blue Metallic paint and Cooperhas a 6-speed manual, 17" alloys, ABS, traction control, etc. It's largely a commuter car, most of it on freeways, so the mileage will probably end up in the low 30s, which is about what she's getting now with a 1997 Civic. The Cooper will be a decided step up in both sportiness and amenities and, well, she just likes them.

For the remainder, I have a mix of new and used. For starters, I take off $9,000 for my Mustang II. That's not the NADA price, it's what it was valued at a few years ago.

Next I built a new Nissan Xterra for $28,772. I decided on this one to use as a daily driver for me; and by "daily driver" I mean a couple of times a week around town and as a field vehicle a few times a month. For the latter work I wanted a decent amount of room for equipment and passengers and the ground clearance and off-road capabilities of a truck-based SUV -- we often have to drive on sloppy Forest Service roads, construction sites, etc. -- while still being a nice ride for non-field driving. The Xterra always seemed to me to be just about the ideal truck-based SUV: simple, rugged, capable off of the road, and really practical for working out in the field. Oddly, it never seems to have caught on among archaeologists; at least in the northwest, they mostly go for Subaru Outbacks.

TransAmI've always wanted an F-body and found a 1977 Trans Am for $14,700 at It's white with the Screaming Chicken which isn't my favorite option, but whatever. It's got the 403 engine and a decent number of options so it's probably representative of what I could reasonably get. Prices I found ranged from $4800 for a local Berlinetta up to over $30,000 so I more or less just split the difference. 

Finally, I decided that, since this purely theoretical anyway, I might as well break down and -- despite the Spousal Unit's avowed dislike of such a thing ("We're not getting a damn motorcycle!") -- get one anyway. I tooled around the Interwebs a little and found one that would probably best suit a new rider on this budget: a Honda CTX700. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about cycles, but Ctx700-01 whatever. It comes with an automatic transmission that runs in either automatic or semi-manual modes. I know, the purists out there will roll their eyes, but I don't care; I'll probably end up killing myself on it anyway, so I may as well enjoy the ride while it lasts without bothering with a clutch. The price here starts at $8,799, which brings me up to $99,416.

Then again, I might drop down on the cycle cost a bit and get a cheaper CBR500R so I could afford a new Honda Scooter for the Spousal Unit who, it seems, believes that a scooter would be great for her while I could in no way have a motorcycle. Go figure.

I'm open to some swapping, of course. Since I wrote this, readers and fellow Car Lusters have provided more fodder. I could easily swap out Al. S's "1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V Diamond Jubilee Edition 460CI V8 in blue" for the F-body, although I might prefer the Thunderbird. A pre-1977 Monte Carlo, Grand Prix or 442 would also work. And That Car Guy's Jeep Wrangler Sport could displace the Xterra. Possibly more likely is that I'd wax nostalgic and do my best to find my old friend, a 1975-ish AMC Hornet.

--Anthony Cagle

Photos: The Cooper image is from and the Trans Am is from and the Honda cycle is from


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Yeah! 77 Trans Am! Now, how can you like this car and NOT like the screaming chicken??? :-)

Do you like only pre-77 Monte Carlos and Grand Prixs because of the engine choices? (76 Grand Prix 455 is on my list.)

Being a bottom feeder in my car purchases I would have to ask, what do I do with the change? I have three Miatas so the roadsters are covered. My Volvo S60 R is my grown up car so I’d keep that. My everything utility vehicle would be another used Chevy Astro van (all-wheel-drive, 7 passenger, seats out for cargo, 6000 pound towing and no-guilt abuse). The remainder of the loot would divided between an Alfa Romeo GTV, Lancia Fulvia, 2003 IRS Mustang Cobra and a 1983 or 1984 Rabbit GTi.

A while back I was debating about a 'Vette. We had a bad experience at a dealer. I preferred the coupe, she was drawn to the convert. (That wsn't the bad experience.) A bit later she saw and drove both a Solstice and a Miata. Neither was the choice, so shortly after that she came across a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder which she fell for and purchased. It is a 2001 with 39,000 miles, very clean, and is in the garage until the sun shines and takes the snow away. My only concern with it is that it requires at least mid-grade and preferably premium gas.

Wouldn't you feel bad paying nearly $40k for a Mini?

Premium is what... 25 cents more than regular? With gas around $4 a gallon, you won't notice the extra cost.

Enjoy the sunshine!

$40k for a Mini? Try $50k for a Golf in Europe, though much better equipped than they are here.

38k for a Mini Cooper S? I doubt they would ever trade for that much?!? For 10k less one could get a mearly loaded new VW GTI!

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