Yes, folks, some cars just should not be 4-doors. A lot of folks felt this way when the Dodge Charger was reintroduced in the 2006 model year, but we did get used to it. For the most part. I know the cops sure did.
And usually, if a car has a back seat, I'd like back doors there. I learned my lesson in a 2-door Chevette about leaning forward to let folks in the back.
But there are some cars that no amount of time will ever pass to let them be. They are surely from, or should go to, the twilight zone.
Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings and their two children may look like your typical middle-class family from the Washington suburbs, but they're anything but. Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) are Soviet sleeper agents assigned to infiltrate the US government, Russians who were trained and drilled for years to look, sound, and act American. Their true identities kept secret from their own children, they lead a complex and dangerous double life, torn between their loyalty to (and fear of) their employer, their love for their kids and each other, and their growing realization that they might be working for the wrong cause.
My son and I have become hooked on The Americans, a new spy drama series that is set in the year 1981. The newly-installed Reagan administration is taking a confrontational stance toward the USSR, and the KGB is desperate for information on a rumored missile defense system that would render the mighty Soviet nuclear arsenal impotent. Moscow is pushing Phillip and Elizabeth into ever more dangerous situations, while showing no tolerance for failure--and if that wasn't trouble enough, their friendly new neighbor Stan (Noah Emmerich) is an FBI agent assigned to the Counterintelligence Division, working to identify and apprehend deep-cover Soviet agents!
What do I like about the show? There are a lot of things to like--the protagonists are complex and realistic characters, the "tradecraft" they use is very authentic, the show never forgets who the bad guys are--but as one who was there in 1981, I appreciate the attention to period detail--including, most particularly, the very Car Lust selection of vehicles on display.
John Donne said, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Do not ask for whom the car horn honks; it honks for thee.
I hope that my alteration of the quote isn't taken as a lack of respect. It is my first reaction to try to lighten serious moods, to make it easier to carry the burden.
At times, as I've participated in various online communities, I've wondered what would happen if I died. How would anyone know? How would I be remembered? Would I be missed? Would my absence even be noticed?
David, you are remembered. You are missed. This man, whom I have never met...his friendship, the bond created through a common love, touched me in ways I never realized until he was gone.
After reading Chris Hafner's post, I realized that if I hadn't gone so Mazda-heavy, I could have gotten some great 20- and 30-year-old cars in my garage.
I wanted to try again, with a fresh slate. I hope you'll indulge me, and I hope you even find it entertaining.
But I've got to change the rules, slightly. I'll still have limitations, because limitations help channel and inspire creativity.
First change: no "car currently on sale" requirement. All cars need to be 20 to 30 years old. Maybe 15, at most. The point is to get cars that are old enough to be great value, but not so old as to be "classic". The point is to catch cars near the bottom part of the trough, where the value has declined as much as possible, but not to the point where the value starts to rebound from rarity/coolness.
Second change: I have to have exactly 20 cars. No more, no less. The point is to see how close I can get to the $100k total without going over, for exactly 20 cars.
Third change: All car prices will be according to the NADA "clean retail" price, but here's the twist: if you can manage to find a 20-year-old car in "clean retail" condition, it won't really be ready to go. The coolant system will be having problems, or it will consume oil as lustily as Vikings drank mead, or the paint will be starting to flake off, or a few minor rust points, or the alignment will be horribly off, or...you get the picture. A 20-year-old car that wasn't lovingly restored to new condition is going to have some issues. So right off the bat, I will budget $2000 per car to get it up to speed. That might go to a tune-up, or a paint job, or a replacement door + paint, or an alignment, or a new radiator, etc. That might be an underestimation, but we are starting with a "clean retail" example, so I think an average of $2000 will work.
That leaves me with $60,000 to get 20 cars. So I'm looking for cars I can get for averaging just about $3000 each.
That's the rules I have. Let's see what I come up with.
When Cookie the Dog's Owner proposed the $100K Fantasy Garage challenge, I was immediately intrigued. Who among us has not dreamed about which cars we'd purchase if only we had the funds available? This challenge is a license to mentally catalog our old and new favorites, weigh pros and cons, and show our tastes and brand loyalties through the creation of a carefully curated collection.
The genius in this challenge is the $100K value limit. Without that, we wouldn't have anything to keep us tied to reality. After all, why add a Mazda to your list when you could add a Maybach? Why add a CRX when you could add an FXX? But the $100K limit, combined with the requirement to include one brand new car, is almost perfect. A cool hundred grand sounds like a lot of money, but it doesn't go as far as one might imagine. I could easily concoct a scenario in which two very nice but still fairly ordinary vehicles consume the whole budget, so turning this into a true fantasy garage requires some creativity.
I chose to put my own spin on this challenge by laying out a series of tasks that I want the cars in my garage to fulfill, and then picking the cars I thought would best fill those roles. This required a lot of revision, as I shifted resources from one bucket to the next, and leaves me without some of my all-time favorites (omitting the Porsche 928, E28 BMW M5, and GMC Typhoon was pretty painful). Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with the results.
Since in some cases I'm linking off to listings on Craigslist and eBay there's a chance that those links will be dead fairly quickly. My apologies for that, but I'll try to capture some of the pertinent details in the text so that the story doesn't suffer too much.
Let's start off with the cars my family needs:
This very nearly was a 2010 Mazda6. I love my current daily driver car. It has plenty of power, plenty of room for 4 adults on long trips, handles amazingly well, looks nice, and is generally very satisfying to drive in almost any circumstance. However, the rules state you have to have one brand new car, and after thinking long and hard, I decided my daily driver would be the best choice to select a brand new vehicle. The main reason for the upgrade is that the brand new Mazda6 looks nice, has plenty of interior room, has plenty of power, and handles just as well as my 2010...but with the SkyActiv technology, its gas mileage improves by nearly 30%. To have a non-hybrid family sports sedan that gets 38 mpg highway is very exciting to me, because I am not a fan of the massive batteries necessary for hybrids: the environmental impact of creating, storing, and disposing of the battery pack really bothers me, and I don't like the idea of having to spend several thousand dollars to replace the batteries to keep the car in less than 10 years.
So this will be my daily driver.
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.
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.
In place of the usual Monday discussion-starter, we're going to try something completely different.
In the comments to my Chrysler 300 review, reader "Hiptech" provided a link to a video review of the 300's Dodge platform mate at Everyday Driver. I got to rooting around on the Everyday Driver site and discovered that they'd had a "Dream Garage" reader contest a few years back. That gave us the idea to try one of our own.
Car Lust proudly announces the $100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge. (Insert brass fanfare here.) The concept is simple: pretend that a generous but reclusive billionaire who reads Car Lust has given you $100,000 to spend on motor vehicles for you and your family. To answer the challenge, tell us what you'd buy with that kind of scratch.
We the Car Lust contributors will be taking turns for the next few days describing what's parked in our fantasy garages. If you'd like to play along too, the official rules are after the jump.
And this is why: When I worked at the Nissan plant here in Tennessee (Where they now build the Leaf), they had a very affordable Lease Car Program. A version of it still survives. Any full-time Nissan employee, after 8 months of employment, was eligible for the program. The only requirement? You had to have a driver's license; your previous driving record was of no concern.
You could order any Nissan vehicle that was sold in the US and wait about three months for its arrival. The Infinity Division had not yet been born while I was there; I don't know if they are available now or not. But a stripped Sentra could be had back then for as little as $88 a month, and a 300ZX Turbo was, if memory serves, around $270. The BIG NEWS was that insurance was included, with a $250 deductable.
So for a whopping sum of approximately $185 a month, I had the unlimited use of this custom-ordered Sentra Sport Coupe SE. I had seen a prototype/early production model in the plant's Quality Assurance Department for whatever reason (They were never built in Tennessee), and immediately had to have one. The car you see here is the first white Sport Coupe delivered in Tennessee, or so I was told.