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$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Cookie the Dog's Owner

As the Car Lust contributor who proposed the $100k Challenge to the group in the first place, it now falls upon me to put the bell on my own cat.

"I'll take two of those, and that one, and that one...."In the words of a prominent and influential British artist of the last century, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need. For $100k in pretend money, I was able to pretend to get everything we need and a couple of things I wanted.

The first order of business is, as it says in the Constitution, to insure domestic tranquility--that is to say, if I ever have $100k to spend on cars, I'd better spend some of it on my wife or there will be no tranquility in my domestic situation. Her Mazda 5 has held up pretty well, but she eventually wants to replace it with something bigger, on the order of a crossover or small SUV or a "real" minivan.

On our visit to the 2013 Cleveland Auto Show, my wife was favorably impressed by the Mazda CX-5. At 24 MPG city and 30 on the highway according to the government, it's pretty efficient for a crossover. Having an AWD vehicle in the family would also come in handy when a heavy lake effect snow hits, as it often does this time of year.

CX-5Since nothing is too good for the mother of my children, we'll go with the top-end "Grand Touring" trim level, and trick it out further with rear parking sensors and remote start. Price $30,665 according to the "build a vehicle" tool on the official Mazda website.

Next, for my own daily driver, I'm keeping the GTI. It's a good and faithful servant, peppy, easy on gas, and fun in the squiggly parts. At 120,000 on the odometer, the NADA figures it'll fetch $13,800 at retail in clean condition. Total so far: $44,465.

The Kia Rio I recently reviewed here is our family's other daily driver. P.J. uses it to commute to the University, and when Alex finally gets his license, it will be available for his use as well. Rather than Moms_manhattanrev01keep the one we have, I'm going to hold out for a manual transmission this time, at $14,350 according to the Kia website. We're up to $58,815, and the reasonable automotive needs of our household have been covered, leaving a bit over $41,000 for road toys!

I already have one road toy, the 1948 Frazer Manhattan, which I'll hang on to for ice cream runs and ceremonial flagship duties, and because my mother had one. (Photo at right.) According to Hagerty Insurance's price guide, the average price of a '48 Manhattan these days is $12,337. That takes the running total up to $71,152.

Next, we'll relive my impecunious and impetuous youth and the glory days of the Reagan administration by acquiring an example of one of mankind's greatest accomplishments, a 1985 Honda Civic CRX. There is no way I could have this kind of scratch to spend on road toys and not get a CRX, not if I wanted to maintain a shred of self respect. Since this is fantasy and I'm spending other people's money, I'm gonna splurge and go for the fuel-injected "Si" this time. NADA's "classic cars" price guide quotes a "high retail" value of $3,750 for a CRX Si, and it would be a bargain at twice that. Running total: $74,902.

Relic85s_crx

Now for the hard part. When I first proposed the $100,000 challenge, my head was dancing with visions of a restomodded Avanti and a Loewy coupe--two lifelong automotive desires--side by side in the driveway with the CRX and a DeLorean, a Wagonaire for my son Alex (who likes to work with his hands) to drive and maintain himself, and a Lotus Elan or Mazda Miata in reserve for sunny summer days. The reality--if you can use the word "reality" in this situation in the first place--is that I've got $25,098 left in the budget, and that won't cover all of that by a long shot. I am forced to choose which of my lifelong unrequited car lusts I get to indulge. When I consulted Alex regarding which of those we should have in the driveway, he replied, and I quote, "Well, duh! Avanti!"

The boy makes me proud, he does.

The ultimate Avanti would, of course, be an honest-to-Andy-Granatelli R3 with the bored-out 300+ HP engine, but there are only eleven of those, at least one is in a museum, and the asking price for the ones still in the wild is well into Warren Buffet territory. The next best thing would be a supercharged R2 from 1963 or '64 with a four-on-the-floor and "only" 289 ponies beneath the hood, like this one:

Drool, drool, slobber, covet, WANT!That we could do, with a little careful shopping. According to Hagerty, the average price of an R2 is $20,896. NADA puts the average retail price of an R2 at $25,620 with a four-speed, and based on the listings I've seen, $25,000 for a nice example seems about right. Let's check the classifieds:

  • As of this writing, there's a '63 R2 with a slushbox for sale in Cleveland--just up the road from me!--for $25,500 OBO.
  • Another R2 with an automatic, in Montana, asking $23,500.
  • There's an R2 with a 4-speed in Canton--also not far from here--which, somewhere along the way, lost its supercharger and was repainted in a non-original shade of red. Asking $20,900. If you talk to my wife in the next couple of weeks, you might mention to her that it would make a great birthday gift.
If we go with the one in Canton, that leaves us with a touch over $4k in the budget. A Studebaker specialty shop offers Paxton supercharger rebuild services for $650-875, and I've seen replacement superchargers quoted at somewhere around $1,000 to $1,500 in the forums, so I'm thinking we have enough left in the budget to give the car a new blower, professionally installed, finance a repaint into the correct original color, and perhaps pick up a narrow tie and a Botany 500 suit in my size to accessorize it.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

The blue '85 CRX belongs to "relic85" and the photo came from the "Readers' Rides" gallery at Honda Tuning magazine's website. The used car lot photo came from the Station Wagon Forum's collection of vintage street scenes. The CX-5 is a Mazda publicity photo. The Avanti photo is one I took at the 2011 SDC Ohio Region Meet, and the photo of Mom and her Manhattan came from the ancestral photo album.

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Cookie....Your Avanti lust is noted and appreciated. But I think any sub $30,000 car is going to have a few needs, nothing major, just nit-picky stuff that would drive me (and probably you) nuts.
I have about that in my freshly restored R-1 and I'm still debugging it. One thing to look for when your ship comes in and you're in the market for an Avanti, mechanical parts availability is not a problem. What is a problem is some of the minor (but noticeable) interior trim items that are either "No Longer Available" or if they are, someone wants a fortune for.

Finally, I too have a strange desire to get a Botany 500 suit with a correct narrow tie everytime I drive it. It has that affect on me.

"mechanical parts availability is not a problem. What is a problem is some of the minor (but noticeable) interior trim items that are either "No Longer Available""

That's a perennial problem with lots of old cars that aren't classic Mustangs, Camaros, or Corvettes, etc. I can usually find major parts for my Mustang II, but model-specific bits can be challenging. Happily, there is a large stable (pun intended) of MII enthusiasts -- and a lot of junked MII's to boot -- that can provide a lot of these niggly little things.

"Niggly" is, of course, an automotive technical term.

"Niggly wiggly" means more specific to certain years, models, and trim levels.

Good call on the CR-X.
If I'd thought of it, I would have included it in mine.

But 'twas not to be...

You'll see.

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