Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Mike asks: I am looking for a fun-to-drive second car, not a daily driver, and have these criteria: Price, $15-20k. Ragtop. Manual transmission. Reasonable cost of ownership (I can do basic maintenance like oil changes, tune ups and brake jobs). Any make or model, any year. What are your top three picks to fit these specs?
My reply: I have one pick for you, mike – a Mazda Miata. Because it’s the pick. The car meets all your criteria and mine. They are abundant, incredibly durable – as in several hundred thousand miles durable – and track day-capable while being just as good as a commuter car you can drive every day. Great gas mileage. Easy and inexpensive to modify, if you wanted to.
There really is nothing else comparable – not for $15k or so, at any rate.
You might look for an older Nissan Z car, but it’s a more complex and expensive car to keep up and your budget won’t allow you to find a really nice one, probably. Another (better) option is a Toyota MR2 – which is mid-engined and, being a Toyota, generally an excellent car. But there aren’t many out there in between thrashed – and pristine – condition.
The affordable ones will probably need work – while the ones that don’t won’t be cheap.
On the other hand, your budget will allow you to get an excellent, recent-vintage Miata, with low miles – one that will put a smile on your face every day for the next ten years, at least. And it will be easy to find one, because they made them in huge numbers… and are still making them. They’re everywhere. You will have your pick, on your terms – and for the right price.
Go for it… and I mean, today!
- There is also the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice – and you could probably find one for a song… because they depreciated almost as fast as Enron stock. There is a reason for that. They are pretty but clumsy cars, poorly built, with many small but significant flaws. A Miata or any of the cars mentioned above would be a better choice.
. . .
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