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Car Corner
What Happened To My Plans for My Next Car

May 1, 2004
By Scott Lewis

A strange thing happened last month (in April). I bought my wife a 1999 911 Cabriolet for her birthday. This means there is a convertible back in the family. This also puts a huge change on what my next car will be. Since we already have a convertible in the family I don't see any need to get another one, like there was ever a need for a convertible in the first place.

Previously I told you about my new car desires and the slim possibility of another classic car. In fact, last month I showed you the cars I have been thinking would make good candidates for a classic daily driver or project car.

The 911 is a third car for us. My wife drives it mostly for leisure. I drive it once in a while to work. We take it out just for fun. This makes my 93 Z-28 a "beater." The Porsche is many of the things that I wanted for a new car. I had previously described my perfect car as "a great 4 passenger convertible with a sporty character, plenty of power, quiet highway driving and decent gas mileage." That statement left out that I wanted some luxury, but it has been implied all along. My "dream" car was a BMW 330Ci Convertible. It is a convertible with a full power top, relatively fast (0-60 in 6.4 sec.), and has plenty of luxury. 

The Porsche 911 has all the things the BMW has, and it is even faster. The only issue is the cost of maintenance and the size of the rear seats. The BMW has a larger back seat, but given the 911's performance advantage and image we can live with a smaller back seat.

Since the 911 Cabriolet trumps the BMW 330Ci Convertible, my future needs have changed. To see what cars are still on the horizon we need to go over my requirements:
  • Manual transmission
  • Four seating capacity
  • Performance oriented
  • Reasonable gas mileage
  • Some luxury
  • Great every day driving

Let's take a look at some of these in detail.

I cannot afford a car that has more performance than the 911, so performance is far less important. Mind you, I always want performance, so a regular car is out. No Camrys for this gear head. My estimate for how quick is quick enough is going to be a 0-60 time of 7 seconds or less. That's very reasonable for a sporty sedan or coupe.

The 911 is equipped with the TipTronic transmission, so my next car WILL have a manual transmission. I don't see any reason to have more than one convertible in the family so I am only looking at cars with a fixed roof. Well, O.K. I am still partial to a few convertibles, but I will have a hard time justifying paying an extra 4 or 5 grand for a drop top when we already have one.

Two seaters are still out. I am looking for a daily driver and I need to take the kids to school. However, next year we will be allowing our kids to ride home on the bus. Since I plan to keep my Z28, I may still me able to think about a two seater. Mazda's new turbocharger 178 horsepower Miata is looking mighty tempting. Overall, I haven't started putting true sports cars on the list yet. However, if I do, I will seriously consider a used C5 Corvette.

All that being said, I thought I would take a look at how this effects my classic car search as well as the possibilities for a new car. This month I will cover how my new car prospects have changed. Next month I will cover what a 911 does to my feelings about classic cars.

New Cars

Let's take a quick look at the standing of the new cars I was considering.

BMW 330Ci Coupe or Convertible - Like I said above, the 911 takes care of all the requirements this car filled, so it has been dropped from consideration.

Infiniti G35 Coupe - I love the look, performance and comfort. I think it would make a great daily driver. However, the G35 Coupe is just too expensive at $35K. I can't justify that price for a car that is slower than the 911... even if it was equipped with a manual transmission.

VW Beetle Convertible - Yea, right! Next.

New Mustang - Maybe. I have a pony car for a beater, and a 911 for performance. What void does the Mustang fill? The Mustang will be new and has a great retro theme. So I may consider trading in my Camaro for one. But it is too early to tell. Ford had better do a really good job with the Mustang or it will fall off the radar screen. I am very dissapointed that the Mustang will not get an independent rear suspension.

Mini Cooper S - This car was on the long list if I didn't get a convertible. Now that I am not looking for a convertible this car is looking very good. They are relatively inexpensive, which will be important in the long run. They are a blast to drive and get decent gas mileage. To meet my requirements of luxury I would get the S version WITHOUT the sport package. I would keep the 16" wheels that come standard. In fact, I would try to talk a dealer into installing regular tires in place of the run flat tires which contributes to a stiff ride. I can just see myself whipping this car through traffic. This would make a great daily driver. It could also be a project car as there is a lot of stuff on the market for these "cute" cars. And let's not forget that a convertible version is coming out any day now.

Conclusion

At this point I think I have exhausted any other possibilities. There are no new four passenger convertibles that I want anymore. The new PT Cruiser Convertible has the largest back seat of any 4 passenger convertible on the market. With its 220 hp turbo engine it will do 0 - 60 in 7 seconds, which is fast enough. But it is an overloaded Neon. And with the 220 hp motor the price starts at about $28K. A Mustang GT Convertible will start about there. I just can't see parking a PT Cruiser next to a 911 in the garage.

As for coupes, I have a 911 and a Z-28 to choose from in the morning. The Mini has character to keep it in the running. No other car on the market can match it. With the 911 in the garage I can now consider trading in my Z-28. That might leave the door open to the new Mustang.

The only other alternative would be to grow up and get a sedan... which opens a huge can of worms. If I do look at sedans I would have to look at the Infiniti G35, BMW 330i, Cadillac CTS and the Lexus IS 300. All of which are rear wheel drive and available with manual transmissions.

As it stands today, the new car list includes: Mini Cooper S & the New Mustang. That's It!

My current dilemma revolves around my 93 Z-28. It is my daily driver. I could see trading it in for a Mini Cooper S or possibly the new Mustang. But I always thought I would keep it forever. It has more value to me then the cash I could get for it. So maybe I should concentrate on a classic again and have the Z-28 as a backup car. That is what we will cover next month.

That's it for this month. Time to take a drive in a fast convertible.

Until next time...

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