A week to buy a car – what will you buy?

What do you do when you Find yourself with a week to buy a car so you can commute to your new job?

This is the situation I found myself in after working from home with my wife. We couldn’t rely on a car anymore, and I wasn’t too keen on traveling 45 miles on a motorcycle. My immediate thoughts were, “What car? What car could we afford? What car can we afford with a manual transmission and room for a child seat?”

So I sat down at my laptop and checked out reasonable vehicles with a solid fun quotient, if not older vehicles that had future (if not current) collector interest. Thanks to a few ideas that popped into my head, plus others that came to mind while browsing the web (including ClassicCars.com), here’s how I fuel my whims:

2002 Audi TT ALMS Commemorative Edition

While I think German cars are made to be rented, not owned, I was drawn to this special edition first generation Audi TT. Although the original pre-spoiler TT is the beauty of the bunch, the spoiler ones (added after a few high-speed fatalities) don’t suffer too much despite being a stylistic afterthought. The special ALMS, produced to commemorate winning the 2002 American Le Mans Series championship, was one of a thousand built, with production split evenly between Misano Pearl Red with Silver Gray Nappa leather and Avus Silver with Brilliant Red Nappa. All featured upgraded 225-horsepower turbo-fours, six-speed manuals, 18-inch wheels, and Quattro all-wheel drive. What I found was the last (and highest, IMHO) color combination, but I walked away when the bids started piling up and shipping cost became a concern. In retrospect, the TT was well bought by the winner.

audi tt, One week to buy a car - what will you buy?, ClassicCars.com Journal

Subaru Forrester XT

Why do manufacturers build cool cars and then kill them? It sounds like General Motors, but, in this case, it’s Subaru. The company has a clean turbo-four and 6-speed manual in its toolbox, but has chosen to eschew that combination for the latest-model Forester crossover. However, from 2004-2018, the turbo Forester XT was available in the US and then was unceremoniously dropped as Subaru reportedly wanted to focus on fuel economy standards. Making the search more difficult was that automatic transmissions were the only choice for several years. Alas, with a week to find a vehicle, luck was not on my side, and this intriguing blend of performance and utility was elusive across America online.

audi tt, One week to buy a car - what will you buy?, ClassicCars.com Journal

2002 Camaro SS Convertible

It wasn’t that long ago that F-bodies were one of the hottest cars available in North America that didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Today, these cars come across as weird throwbacks, not much faster than a late-model V-6 Camry and requiring swerves for entry and exit depending on your height. However, solid big-block performance from a modern small-block V-8 was welcome upon completion

years. In the case of this Camaro, it checked a few boxes: Super Sport with air ram, 6-speed, convertible, and the piece de resistance: The 400-beat brick car legacy. But in these days of high gas prices, I wasn’t too keen on a V-8, even though these cars are remarkably efficient when given the chance. The main reason for shooting this Camaro was a combination of being 3,000 miles away and a potential title issue. A 1980s Mustang 5.0 was also considered, but finding an intact example locally took more time.

audi tt, One week to buy a car - what will you buy?, ClassicCars.com Journal

The Honda Element

What the Honda Element lacks in performance, it makes up for with an intriguing mix of utility and lifestyle, especially when equipped with a stick. They seem to have a strong following for those who are attracted to 200k mile life and those interested in an “activity car”. Among the trim levels throughout its life, the sporty SC is the one to have, although I would have considered any tack provided it was in good condition with a reasonable amount of miles. As it turned out, I found a 2007 EX AWD 5-speed on an online auction site, but was resisting the idea of ​​traveling a thousand miles to get one. After circling and jumping for the following vehicle below, I decided to let this Element go. The final auction price did not meet the reserve and was probably too rich for its condition.

Subaru WRX

audi tt, One week to buy a car - what will you buy?, ClassicCars.com Journal

I’m kind of tired of waiting for Subaru to put out a good looking WRX. Several times in the past, I’ve visited car shows with WRX concepts previewing a redesigned production model, only to be disappointed with the styling of the production model. Admittedly, some of them had some charm, but they are from the Impreza days. Although the new 2022 WRX suffers less of this fate, have you tried shopping for a new car these days? Hell, even used cars are crazy. Used WRXs aren’t hard to come by, but finding the right one locally from a private individual (read: no sales tax) would be my only option. Fortunately, a 2021 (the last one before the redesign) with under 4,000 miles showed up at a price equal to the 2020 I tested with more than ten times as much. And while the ergonomics are back in 2015, it’s the cute rough edges that I find more interesting than the more “grown up” ones of 2022.

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