Cars Worth Waiting For
September 1, 2009
By Scott Lewis
This month I am going to introduce a new series. I am going to list cars I feel are worth waiting for. That is, I am going to make a list of cars that are available new now, but I would like to wait until they are affordable in the used car marketplace.
Last month we showed you used cars at the average new car price. Some of those cars were quite affordable. This month we are going to go cheaper. Ideally I want to target a used car price between $15,000 - $20,000.
I said this would be a series. I am going to keep track of the cars in this list. As I read Car and Driver, Motor Trend and Automobile magazine I am going to add and remove items from this list. Next year I will display the list again with additions and subtractions.
In a 2-3 years this should be a great list of used cars that I can use to go shopping for a replacement to my BMW 335i. I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not by another brand new car for a long time... if ever. There is so much depreciation with new cars that I just assume buy something for a lot less money.
Let's see the list.
Nissan 370Z - I am reading a lot of good thing about the 370Z. The interior is much improved over the 350Z and the car is smaller and tighter overall. I can't wait to try out the rev matching manual transmission. I hear that Nissan is striving to be more like the original 240Z with this car. I good sports car at an affordable price. All we need to do is wait until it really is at an affordable price. A little patience and I can start looking at these as soon as the price drops below $20,000.
Infiniti G37 Coupe - If you want all the 370Z has to offer, but you want a grand touring car then look no further than the G37 Coupe. We just have to wait a little longer since these start at a higher price. It really is as simple as that. Try to buy a one owner car. When cars of this type reach their second owner they tend to get taken care of less diligently.
Chevrolet Camaro - I love the Camaro. I have already owned two, a 1993 Camaro Z-28 and a 1967 Camaro RS Convertible. I drove a 2010 Camaro with the V-6/Automatic for 4 days in New York recently. Equipped as such I could enjoy driving it around for a couple of years and then pass it on to one of my sons. Once the novelty of the Camaro wears off these will probably drop in value about as fast as any car. It is the V-8 versions that are hard to predict a value for with GM on the brink of existence. I would like to test drive the V-8 to see if it is so much better than a V-6 to get me to forget about mileage.
Dodge Challenger - I am only interested in one trim level for the Challenger, the R/T with the 5.7 Hemi. The SRT8 version is too much for a daily driver, and will take a long time to get below 20 grand. The V-6 will be too slow for a vehicle that weighs as much as the Challenger. But it has to be a Hemi. I think any of the Hemi Challengers will eventually be collectible... in 25-30 years. In the mean time just wait until they drop to my reasonable price level and buy one. Then drive it for a couple of decades until it starts to go up in value.
Ford Mustang - I really like the Shelby GT and the Bullitt edition Mustangs from the 05-09 run. The Shelby GT is not the Shelby GT500 that gets all the press with 540 hp. The Shelby GT has a slightly warmed over GT engine rated at about 319 hp. Just enough to have a lot of fun. The Bullitt edition received just about this same engine, though rated at 315 hp there might be some slight difference. These versions make the Mustang special without making them overly expensive. However, with the new 2010 Mustang we don't have a Shelby GT or a Bullitt edition. The 2010 Mustang GT gets the 315 hp engine from the 09 Bullitt. It is only a matter of time before Ford creates some special editions. Mach 1 or Boss anyone? I really need a test drive in the new version to see how it compares to the Camaro. Once I decide I want one I just have to wait for the price to drop to a reasonable level.
Audi A5 - I really like the look of this luxury coupe, with the LED daytime driving lights. There is a white one in our general area that I see on the road a couple of times a week. This would be a cruiser of a car. I would buy it for the luxury over performance, hence the A5 and not the S5.
Audi TTS - This is a tough one. The A5 above is a very good looking coupe. The TT is supposed to be more of a sports car. With the back seat in the TT coupe this is very close to the A5. Is it different enough? If I go for the TT it would have to be the TTS model. I would want to test drive the TTS against the A5 to see which I like better.
BMW 328i Coupe - Like the A5, I like the BMW 3-Series coupes. I have a 2007 335i sedan and do not like the automatic with the turbo motor. It is unpredictable in its shift patterns, and very difficult to launch smoothly in normal driving. Every time I was given a 328i sedan as a loaner I really liked the smooth power delivery. I never thought the 328i needed more power. Oh, every car could use more power, but the 328i does not need more power. I have driven some earlier 3-Series cars with automatics that needed more power. A 07+ 328i Coupe with automatic would make a great luxury coupe. I love the seats that come with the Sport Package, but the Sport Package is a good deal firmer in the suspension. This would be the hardest part about buying one of these... deciding which is more important... greats seats or smooth ride.
BMW M3 - I know, I just praised the mild 328i Coupe. That does not mean I don't lust after a M3 of any vintage. I would like to test drive the newer V-8 version, but I think this car is not practical for this list. By the time an M3 gets below 20 large it will be so far from warranty that I would be worried about maintenance costs as a daily driver. It might be possible, so it stay on the list.
Chevrolet Corvette - How can I have a list of cars without the Corvette. In this case I am patiently (maybe impatiently) waiting for the 08+ Vette with the full leather interior to come down in price. I want the leather dash. I don't care if it is auto or manual. 400+ hp works well with any transmission. I will definitely consider buying one of these when they drop below the $20K mark... I might only be able to wait until they drop below $25K.
Cadillac CTS, CTS-V - This is a tough one. For starters the first generation CTS already fits this price range. In fact, you can get a 1st Gen CTS-V for close to this. So I am targeting the 2nd Gen cars here. The big question is to hold out for a second generation CST-V with the 556 hp engine or settle for the regular CTS with only 304 hp. Either way, these cars are on my radar screen to keep an eye on.
Porsche Boxster - Wow, a convertible. You will notice there are very few convertibles on this list. If a car is available in both hard and soft top I will go for the solid roof. The Boxster only comes in convertible guise. This is the affordable Porsche. I have found plenty of these in my affordable price range in past articles. However, you have to plan for maintenance costs. The Boxster's engine is completely hidden. I was able to do some repairs on my wife's 911 (water pump, alternator, headlights), but with the Boxster even simple repairs require you to get to the engine from underneath the car. I just don't think I can handle that. If I am playing the waiting game I will wait for a 2005+ version in S trim.
Porsche Cayman - Think of this as the coupe version of the Boxster. The mid-engine layout makes for a better handling car than the rear-engine layout in the 911. With the Cayman you get all the benefits of a coupe over the Boxster (quieter, lighter, more rigid, more secure, etc). It is weird that these cost more than the Boxster. Coupes are supposed to be less expensive. That just means more waiting here.
Mazda Miata - I really like these affordable convertibles. This is the perfect daily driver drop top. They drop below $20K so quickly you needn't worry. Wait for the drop to $15K and scoop them up.
Pontiac Solstice - When I started this list I did not include the Solstice. It is too crude compared to the better refined Miata. However, GM's problems can become collector fodder. The Solstice is discontinued as part of GM's bankruptcy. This means there will not be a lot of these in the long run. Since the cars are not that good (they need an infusion of refinement and ergonomics) these will drop in value pretty quickly. For a while. A few years after production stops that will slow down. Eventually these may become collectible. Even if they don't, as I said in my article on The New Millennium Collection, they will still look cool 20 years from now.
Mini Cooper S - I very much regret trading in my 06 Mini Cooper S Convertible. If I had it to do all over again I would have gotten a coupe. Other than that I still love these cars. By the time these get below $15K they usually have significant miles on them. It would be worthwhile to watch for the newer models (2007+) with the direct injection engines to get down below $20K and even to the $15K mark.
Cadillac CTS Coupe - This car is not even out yet, but I like the redesigned 08 CTS in sedan format, so the coupe is a natural extension. Since this is a list of cars to wait for there is no reason not to start waiting before it is in the showroom.
Chevrolet Volt - Another car not available... yet.
This car will probably be the first to be removed from this list. I put
it here because I have high hopes that GM will build it right. However,
I don't know if I would want the cost of a battery replacement on one of
these, a maintenance cost that is inevitable if we have to wait for the
price to drop before buying one. Let's just say I put this here until
there are cars to research.
Honda CR-Z - Not only is this car not out yet... it is still a concept car. There is no date for production. But I really like the looks of this concept. My first new car was a 1989 Honda CRX Si. This car is going to target that same market... but green. Hybrid, electric, diesel. It doesn't matter as long as it is cool looking and well made, the green aspect is gravy.
Notice the absence of any Mercedes. That's because I find it too hard to think of current models that I want to wait for. I usually only think about AMG models when looking at used cars. The most logical car would be the C63 AMG. But it is so expensive I don't know if I would want one as a daily driver when it drops below $20K. The SLK models are worth looking at, but... and this is a big but, I sat in one at the last International Auto Show I attended and I was not pleased with the look of the top from the inside. I thought the plastic above and behind your head seemed cheap. I would need some road time in one of these to know if I really want one. The main reason for a retractable hard top for me is the sound level. I want a quieter convertible than a soft top provides.
I am going to maintain this list and will revisit it again next year. As I read about new cars I will add to this list any cars that interest me. Next year I will see how this list evolves.