should I go to the beige side?

David Pertuz davidpertuz at
Wed Feb 2 21:49:36 CST 2011

I have an opportunity to replace my G20 and just for curiosity's sake I 
thought I'd see what some of y'all had to say about the choice. This is, 
I suppose, OT, but since the list is a bit of an old-timer's club with 
very low traffic I figure we'd enjoy the traffic spike. Besides, if 
Larry wanted to I'm close enough to chastise in person.

My primary car is my P10 G20t, a '96 which is up to 160k by now. It has 
a 10:1 engine from SOKO that I installed (light refresh with rod 
bearings, etc.) at about 105k; it is cosmetically OK (no rust, since 
it's a Texas car, but bad paint on the roof and a dent on the RF 
fender); mechanically good, but needs a few things (fix wipers, front 
struts, probably a wheel bearing) done that I've been putting off. I've 
thought of replacing it this year, with another less-old car with (as 
far under as practicable) under 100k miles that I can drive for some 
years without too many things starting to wear out - the G is getting up 
to that mileage.

Option 1: keep the G20t. I enjoy it a lot, it's a good size, it's fun to 
drive, fast enough (I don't need a fast car to enjoy it), gets pretty 
good mileage, I'm very familiar with it, etc. I don't drive very much - 
less than 10k per year, and virtually all of that is out-of-town trips - 
so the mileage isn't as big an issue as it would be if I drove tons. If 
I could get a brand-new P10t, I'd do that. This is a cheap option, since 
I don't have to spend a lot on maintenance, even with stuff wearing out, 
compared to a car payment, which I'll never have.

Option 2: Buy something less old, with a lot fewer miles, that I can 
easily pay cash for. Cost would have to be $7k tops, $6k would be nicer. 
Ideally $4k cash plus whatever I get for the G20 (I'm a big saver.)  I 
bought the G20 for $4k in 2004 and spent about $1k on putting the new 
engine in it a year later, so I've got my money's worth in 
fun/cheap/reliable transportation before; I'd be happy to do it again.

Requirements are that the car be not-large, practical (hatchback is 
preferred, folding seatback is mandatory if a sedan so I can fit a bike 
inside), easy to maintain myself, reliable, fun to drive, manual 
transmission, 30mpg+ on the highway  First thing that comes to mind here 
is a Mazda Protege5 wagon. VW GTIs or Golfs or Jetta wagons also come to 
mind, but I'm suspicious of their reliability. Mazda 3 hatch. Maybe an 
old 3-series or 5-series, but the ones within my budget would be 
high-mileage. Not sure what else. I've never driven a P11 G20, but it's 
never really excited me. Historically I've always known what I've liked, 
but my taste in cars seems to have suspended itself in the mid-1990s and 
earlier. Also I tend to find something I like and stick with it - I've 
had my SE-R for 18 years and my Fiat for 20. And my goal is to get a 
lowish-mileage car.

Option 3: buy my grandfather's 2004 Honda Accord. It's a 4cyl/auto sedan 
with an absurdly low 16k miles. It's pretty nice to drive, isn't too big 
for me, has a folding seat, gets good mileage, etc. Also it is a lot 
more refined than I'm used to what with being newer. If I go by KBB the 
low mileage puts it out of my budget but since this is a family deal and 
it's not too far off I could buy it within my budget. Only major 
downside is the automatic. I hate automatics, and have never owned an 
auto-trans car. It's just that the car is in very good shape (save for a 
strong right pull) except for a bit of cosmetic stuff I don't care too 
much about, and has a billion years of life left in it, esp. at the rate 
I drive.

It would make sense if I drove tons or was certain to keep it for a 
decade, but while it would be a no-brainer with a 5MT, I'm not sure I 
can live with an auto for years and years. Granted, I do have my Fiat 
Spider for fun stuff in warm weather and if I ever replace the rod 
bearings and the 8 other things I can drive my SE-R again for fun if I'm 
motivated enough. I reflexively want cars that are nice to drive, and 
this one is nice enough, but I live in flatland and the large majority 
of my driving is highway trips, with a bit of city driving, and I live 
in flatland where there really aren't any fun roads.

What do y'all think? Are the benefits (super-low mileage, bargain price) 
of the Accord worth it? Do you have any other suggestions for the price?


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