Friday, March 21, 2014

Coffee Brake: Three Car Garage For $25k

If you are a regular gearhead or auto aficionado shopping for a car, you might be tempted to buy any number of new multipurpose vehicles on the market.  These modern sports sedans, crossovers and crew-cab pickups claim to be able to combine the reflexes of a sports car, usability of a truck and comfort for daily commute into one package...but in truth they fail to do any one job properly and end up with the vehicular equivalent of whitening toothpaste.  It may scream cavity fighting, 1000X whitening power, micro flossing, minty breath on the label, but in truth it offers nothing more than the cheap stuff and just works to raid your wallet.  What you need to do is spend 1/5th the money and buy cheap toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.  Similarly, it is far more economical to buy three cars that meet your needs but focused on the jobs at hand, and today's Coffee Brake we ask: what 3 cars would you buy with a healthy $25k budget?

The cars should fit in the three basic categories of hauler, daily driver and weekender.   Spend as much as you want on each of the three cars, but the total needs to be no more than $25k.  Links to specific cars if you can find em, otherwise just mention the make/model and others can reply with examples.

Some examples from the DT office, starting off with...

DT Editor Vince

Total: $21k, $4k for repairs to Datsun/C10.

DT Editor CFlo

  • Hauler: 1993-1997 Toyota FZJ80 Land Crusher, $6k. These are beasts. Locking diffs. The last of the real Cruisers with a solid front axle and an inline six. Just enough modernity to make them comfy for family expeditions.
  • DD: 2001 BMW E46 M3, $11.5k. Stupid fast, great sound, light and flickable enough for daily use. Doubles as occasional track day car.
  • Weekend Fun: 1993 BMW E34 M5, $6k. The DTM5. Perfect grand tourer with room for five. At the bottom of its depreciation curve. Mechanical symphony from under the hood. Need I say more?

Total: $23.5k, $1500 for fuel....because these are all gluttons for the petrol.

DT Contributor Hunsbloger

  • Hauler: '03 Mercury Sable Wagon $7300
  • Daily Driver:  71 Mercedes W108 4.5 $5500
  • Weekend Fun: (buying two for 1) 1965 Chevy Corvair convertible $6500 and 1966 Corvair Corsa Coupe $4000 Las Vegas,Will combine pieces from both to make a Red Convertible, red interior, telescope wheel, Corsa Dash, Wire Whel Covers.  Sell off the White Coupe with Monza Dash black interior and Monza wheel covers for $4K which puts me in the convertible at $6900.

Total: $19,300; $5,700 for professional therapy for PTSD (Post Traumatic Sable Disorder)

DT Contributor Kaibeezy

  • Hauler: Buick Roadmonster wagon $4000
  • Daily Driver: Mercedes-Benz W126 coupe $5000
  • Weekend Fun: Saab 99EMS in rally dress $6000

Total: $20k, $5k for 5-speed swap in W126 coupe.

DT Contributor slowcarSLOW-MPGlol

Total: $19,850. $700 for stock GS-R blade wheels and summer tires for the Integra, $1,000 for an alarm/theft deterrent system for the Integra, leftover $$ toward Porsche maintenance.

What would you put in your 3-car garage for $25k? Comments below.

Creative commons photo credits; Schwend on flickr, hugo90 on flickr.


  1. Haul: Electric GMC Sonoma $9,999

    DD: OG Honda Insight $5000

    Weekend: Electric Miata $5000.

    What do I win for saving the planet?

    1. Sonoma link didn't work first time.

    2. You can get outta my way in the carpool lane!! I got carbon to burn and places to go!!

    3. Well, it may be a good thing you will have $5001.00 left over.. You can use it for bus tickets to get back home. ;-)

    4. No points awarded for coal powered cars, sorry.


  2. I been slimed I tell you, E-i-C inserted my Sable at its acquisition cost almos 7 years ago and ignored my '65 Buick Sportwagon which is a daily driver/hauler of similar cost. However, there have been three cars which we've posted this year that I actually picked up the phone on or emailed for more info, and they happen to make a pretty decent trio:

    Hauler- -1980 Mercedes-Benze W123 Wagon with 5.7 V8 Swap (featured 10/23/13). I missed it at $5200 the day we posted, it later appeared on Ebay for $12k. Total in your face Merc.. the tweed crowd loves it for its well preserved good looks and Euro-lights, the hoonigans for its assertive growl and dual-striped tracking mechanism

    Daily Driver---1966 Mercedes 250S 4spd (featured 5/31/2013) a steal at $2500, for a stately around town cruiser. Fans love it for its survivor status, I'll use it to haul incredible amounts of stuff from home depot in its 4-body (I mean huge) trunk.

    Weekender--1965 Corvair Corsa Turbo Convertible
    -(featured 12/31/13) a total steal at $9K for a turn key top down cruiser, our feature was updated to include the youtube video posted by the proud purchaser who bought it for a friend.

  3. For $25,000, I'd get:
    1. Porsche 944 Turbo for the track and the weekends
    2. 1998 BMW M3 Sedan 5 speed for the daily commute (kids, work, etc)
    3. 1990 Toyota Land Cruiser for the wife, stores, weekend family trips

    With these 3 cars in the garage, you'll have by far the COOLEST bang for the buck WITH the most fun and practicality (notice all have back seats...)

  4. Too many choices so I stuck to a Buick only lineup:

    Hauler - 1993 Buick Roadmaster - $3500 119K miles

    Daily Driver - 2001 Buick Regal GS - $5400 52K miles

    Weekender - 1964 Buick Skylark - $16,000

    Total: $24,900

  5. What is in my garage:

    '69 Datsun 1600 stroker (now track prep'd)
    '81 911SC
    '95.5 urS6 Avant (chipped, big brakes 2Bennett suspension etc.)


  6. My daily would be a 95 850 t5 probably $3000 for a decent one here. Then add bilstein/ipd struts, springs and sway bars and some sticky tires. $3500+/-.
    Toy would be a 81 2wd suburban with a duramax conversion, lowered 3" with some kind of suspension to make it more entertaining to drive. $10 to $12 grand.
    Track rat would probably be a starlet beater with a 4.8l gm truck engine and a 5 speed shoehorned under the cowel. With a cage and some kind of frame. For whatever is left from the budget from the other two. Oh and a bunch of my time skills I probably couldn't do it for $6500 but it would be a challenge to try.

  7. Hauler: 1948 Chevy 5 window truck --$7,000(?) Sweet patina and check out that grill guard.
    DD: 1995 BMW 5251 wagon --$8,000 BMW wagon to haul the kids and dog
    Weekender: 1966 Oldsmobile Starfire --$6,000 Cruising in this gorgeous luxury coupe
    That's $21,000. Leaves enough $ left over to swap in a 5 speed into the german wagon.

    Jeff B. please tell me you would change out those wheels on that 64 Starfire!

    1. Haha! Yes, I'd sell and replace with cragar or keystones

  8. Hauler:
    1986 Toyota Pickup Truck 4x4 - $4500 (Ellijay, GA - Craigslist)
    1986 toyota tacoma odometer: 203000 miles, but "new engine still under warranty." Manual transmission.
    All all available options for 1986. Cruise control, electric windows, sunroof, CD player, manual transmission, ac and hot heat. It has new tires with about 3000 miles on them.
    Already have a Suburban. I pickup like this would be my choice for (another) hauler.

    Daily Driver:
    2005 Cadillac CTS-V 400HP V8 6 Speed manual, red over tan, just over 90K miles. $13950 (Apopka, FL - Craigslist)

    2001 BMW 330ci Convertible -- SPORT + Premium + Cold Weather Packages! Navigation, Xenon lights, 17" M-Wheels, Harman-Kardon Sound, etc., blue over tan, manual transmission, 162005 miles (Royal Palm Beach, FL)

    Total damage: $24,650
    Steve on St. Simons Isl., GA

  9. DD: urS6/ C43AMG
    Hauler: Land Cruiser / 4runner
    Sports car: NA/Miata / MR2 Turbo
    Road trip/freeway car: Mercedes S class/ Merc CL55 / Jag XJR / Audi s8

    I came to the same conclusion as you guys some years ago. Far better to delegate automotive tasks than to try and get an everything car. The delegation in my mind has been as such:

    DD = GT car, fast, comfortable, good in traffic and preferably in bad weather
    Hauler = 4wd or awd (I live where it snows), space for 5 people and spare engines and stuff.
    Sports car= light weight, fun, 2 seater preferably targa/ convertible, manual, good for tight twisty back roads.
    Freeway car= Luxurious and quiet, very powerful for freeway cruising and passing, aka giant flagship cars or luxury minded gt cars.

    I go through cars a lot but I generally have 2 out of the four of the lineup at any given point and sometimes all four, it really makes driving a lovely experience.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Truth is I probably already have it:
    $5500 Hauler: 2002 WRX Wagon (tows 2k lbs worth of utility trailer BS, with plenty of grocery/Home Depot space)
    $5500 DD: '95 M3
    $4000 Weekend: 4age blacktop swapped '69 MG Midget
    Now what do I do with the leftover $10k?

  12. DD- Honda CRX Si 5 speed from a few months ago. $5600
    Hauler- 1990 Toyota Pickup $9500
    Weekend- 1993 BMW 325/2jz -

  13. MTdesign
    -Hauler: 2004 Ford E150 Van, bought off GSA auction with 33K and $4100
    -Daily Driver: 2003 Subaru H6 Outback, $8,000
    -Fun: 1974 911 Porsche, $9,000 plus Datsun 510 race car and 1995 Triumph Tiger

  14. Hauler '87 toyota, nice price with a plow and manly flat bed.

    DD If you need 3 rows, you need 3 rows. Hard to find 3 rows you can shift yourself

    Amazon Wagon for the weekender.

    Can I keep the change for maintenance/upgrades?

  15. Well, I guess my three current cars would fall under this category.

    Haul: 1995 Range Rover Classic County (Purchase price: Under $5k)
    Daily: 1996 BMW M3 (Purchase price: $3,500)
    Weekend: 1992 Nissan 240SX (Purchase price: Under $3k)
    Total: Under $11k.

    Unfortunately, the total expenditure has surpassed $25k.
    Rangie: $6,200 in it (with plans for $6k+ more)
    M3: $6,500 in it (not sure what the plans are here)
    Nissan: $29,250 in it (with plans to have ~$45k in it)
    Total: $41,950.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would likely not change a thing.

  16. I'm pretty sure the Volvo 1800E I want would use up my whole imaginary $25k budget but as I already have an '88.5 Jaguar XJ-S and a '95 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas, the budget constraints would work out very nicely for completing my trio. Also, I must have that garage.

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