Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Sean asks: Earlier this year you answered a question from me about a manual transmission car for my son to learn on (he gets his learner’s after his 15th birthday in August). Because one of the criteria was AWD (although I’ve been looking at FWD and RWD options too) you suggested a non-turbo Impreza. This week I read the piece about classic cars being (quasi-)investments and expanded my searches to include some near-classic cars (i.e., those not yet 25 years old but that we could hope to drive, daily, until they become them). Since I was a teenager in the ’90s, cars from that era, and the early naughties, are more appealing to me. Knowing about the reliability and reparability of from that cars then is beyond my experience (and I’ve not done well with finding good info online either).
So, generally, what fun/interesting manual transmission cars would you recommend from the ’90s and the start of the millennium? And also, since I found one locally in good condition, specifically how do you think a 2001 Audi A4 2.8 Avant quattro meets the criteria of fun and interesting and reliable and repairable?
My reply: Steer clear of that Audi! It is much too complicated – and much too old – to gamble on. Odds are high it will cost you a fortune – not to buy it, probably. But to repair it.
But, I have good news!
Your criteria immediately conjured the image of a Five-Oh Mustang from the early ’90s – or better yet, mid-late 1980s. I mean the ones with the 5.0 liter (302) V8 and five-speed OD manual transmission.
These are fantastic cars; fully “modern” in every meaningful way (e.g., fuel-injected, with overdrive transmissions; start/run/drive like a new car) but without all the crap that has ruined new cars. No direct-injection. No ASS. Very easy to work on, even for a relative novice. Elaborate tools – and expensive equipment – not required. Parts cheap and abundant.
The RWD layout is much simpler and far more durable than FWD/AWD.
Most of all, these cars fun!
I’d also consider a GM F-car (Camaro/Firebird) from the same era, for the same general reasons. Another possible – and a fun sleeper – would be the Shamu-the-Whale Caprice from that era; these share all the same virtues. Late ’90s versions were available in SS trim – with the Corvette’s 5.7 liter V8. I remember driving one, new – a press car.
And will never forget it!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet (pictured below) in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.