Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: Seats Six

It's Wednesday, so that means it's time for another edition of Daily Turismo's better than running a snake dairy farm for a living game also known as Mid Week Match-Up! Today's MWMU is for DT reader Scot (located in the SF Bay Area, CA) who writes to us: 
Okay gang I could use some help. Have pulled two families together. Me with two kids and her with one. The 1965 Volvo 220 didn’t quite do it and the 1940 Hudson was just right for five. Now we are adding a number six. Want a replacement for the Volvo and Hudson.

Requirements are: Fun and interesting. Can fit five plus a baby seat. Easy to work on as it is a way I am teaching the kids how things work. Does not have to be too reliable as I drive 9 miles one way and have backup modes of transport. 60s and 70s station wagons are getting really expensive and unless you put a lot into them are boring (not including the Studebaker).

At the risk of getting DT put on the list of websites that Scot's wife bans him from visiting, I'm going to suggest this 1962 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 offered for $18,500 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist.  The 25 foot monster should have seating for 9 if my internet sources are correct (3 rows of 3) and the 5500 lb monster should drink high-test through its 390 cubic inch V8 like Rob Ford on a bender.

More from Scot:
Being a daily turista I would like keep it under $15k if in really good condition or $10k if it has needs.  Since the oldest kid is almost 10 years old they all have to be in the back. Big bench seats are a plus for many reasons but I cannot use them for the kids up front.

Older is good for the looks and being able to work on it with the kids. Loved the style of last week's Falcon Econoline. Something like that, with the seats or a Jag Mk2 airport limo, hey a guy can dream. A long roof for a bike rack is a plus. Should have seen the Hudson with a bike rack.

Front or rear wheel drive are both okay. Live in San Jose so no AC is okay. Heart transplants are good, auto trans not so, but that can be fixed. 

Prefer stockish look or mild custom.

Thanks for the help and keep up the good work on the site.

On the other end of a lunatic spectrum is this 2008 Mazda 5 (with 5-speed manual and 3rd row seating) offered for $6,995 buy-it-now here on eBay located in Mountain Lakes, NJ. The small Mazda people carrier has the footprint, fuel economy, and handling characteristics of a sedan, but the seating setup of a mini van.  The only available US setup is for 6 passengers, but rumor has it that ordering a center jump seat from Japan will let you seat 7.

What do you suggest for Scot?


  1. roadmaster - don't say no until you go for a ride in one - meet you at the falafel drive in - say when

  2. Go stock!

    Or go bada$$!

    1. Uh oh, kaibeezy and I had the same idea.

    2. That has been for sale for quite some time now. Surprised to see it.

  3. The third seat is easily retrofitted. Just buy what you need online and in about an hour, you've got seated for 7 (at least 3 must be children). Or, look around and find one with it already. There are plenty.

    2002 Volvo V70 T5 5-speed for $7900

  4. Ford LTD wagon or any other 80's equivalent?



  5. Fleetwood T. BroughamJanuary 28, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    You guys and your family truckster infatuations.............No, what's needed here are limos.........Cadillac limos.

    These are the droids you're looking for:

    (forgive the lack of proper formatting---in a rush)

    1. The cool part about the limo approach (non-airport version) is that they can be easily transformed into a camper for the weekends! Plus, what better ride to do double duty in your Uber side business, use your kids as little valets/butlers/shoe-shiners for any deserving rider.
      The airport versions are great for families because the (everybody facing forward) enforces the "quit pinching your sister" rule and also provide some easy snoozing for long road trips. Plus you can always put 2 or more of your favorite S-Cargo, or Thule luggage containers on the top for that Dugger-wannabe look.

    2. Be careful with extra long vehicles, many modern metros restrict street parking for cars above a certain length. For instance, you cannot park any car or truck or car-trailer combo longer than 22ft on any city street in Redondo Beach overnight without a (free, but limited in days) permit. The law was designed to stop people from permanently street parking RVs in parking impacted neighborhoods, but it causes many vehicles to be effectively outlawed unless you have adequate driveway space. Check with your local municipality for restrictions.

  6. The Mazda5 sport, the cheaper one, is indestructible, super safe, handles fast and like on rails, great highway mileage at 30plus in my experience, and sits up just high enough not to be a SUV or truck. I like them so much I bought 3 for my kids. They are 2008s as the later ones have a bigger and less responsive engine..from a 2.3 to a 2.5.... Don't know why but the smaller one is much better. If you have to cram 2 more in it the way back seats pop up. My daughter uses hers to haul her harp around and the sons for tons of musical electronics. I love these cars.

    1. I concur, save for the rust issues and the dismal small overlap crash test scores, Mazda5s are incredible. Plus, having kids and also having some jackass park too close, it's nice to have sliding rear doors.

      Only thing keeping me from buying one for the wife is that there's no middle seat in the 2nd row. It seems Cosmo or Pintrest or whatever women read these days said that you are an unfit mother if you don't belt your child's carseat into the middle position of the first row of seats behind the driver.

    2. @Tom and Ryan - have you had the problem with the rear suspension eating tires on any of the Mazda5s you have owned? If so, how was it resolved? I spent 18 months helping a buddy chase that problem on his, to no avail. I am just curious now,

    3. @Bobinott - I had use of one briefly as a departmental company car about 5-6 years ago. No issues with tires that I was aware of but definitely rust around the rear wheel arches early on in its life. I live in a salt-free area now and really want one again. Unfortunately, current one was beaten with the same ugly stick that hit the previous gen Mazda3 and they didn't sell enough around my home base for there to be anything in the 2nd hand market.

    4. No rust or tire issues at all, and I am in north east Ohio. The same tires on my volvo v50 and '98 318ti last half as many miles. I do know if you don't crank the rear calipers all of the way open when you do brakes they won't auto adjust with the hand brake correctly. The first brake job on the daughters was at 60k, and the sons at 80k miles. I bought them used with 2 year lease miles on them for $10k . They have beat the crap out of them, but no failures yet.


    Land cruiser would be my second choice. Audi C4 S6 Avant with the fold down seats in the back.

  8. This 1963 Fairlane V8 wagon should be easy to wrench on. Just a weekend of easy work to give it that surf look and you are set.


  9. Proposing something like this is tough without knowing the spouse (no, I don't mean biblically.) If we're talking the typical spouse, you're looking for a Honda Odyssey and the year, features, and condition are a function of the wallet. A little more wallet puts you in a Merc GL450/GL550. The Merc R-class is maybe even nicer if you're not going skiing, but a 'Mercedes minivan' has image problems. Any of the three-dozen Merc R63s ever sold on the market now? At least with MB you can probably count on getting parts for the thing.

    Some guys would gravitate toward an old VW Bus. I'd personally propose a Suburban of whatever vintage he thinks tolerable. I've owned enough of them now that...well, everything else in the driveway is FUN or USEFUL, but the Suburban is ESSENTIAL.

    Oddball: Toyota Previa with the supercharger. Impressive number of these still on the road relative to the original number sold.

    If the wallet is deep and the desire to be unique compelling...Divco milk truck, but building one to a daily-driver standard is gonna be a killer.

    1. Off topic a bit...I don't know if we just got a lemon, the R-class that our family had was the biggest POS that I've ever driven. Great to drive but it was hard to tell really because it was constantly in the shop.

      None of the MBs would fit their budget, I think. Maybe an old, raggedy T1N.

      I love the Previa idea. We loved ours until it snapped the driveshaft. But, we bought it cheap and I sold it for more than we paid for it. If they could find a clean one, that would be a neat option.

      We didn't really get a lot to go on. I got the impression that the guy wanted something older, but clearly other DTers read it differently. Would the Previa and Odyssey be too new?


      A friend has a first gen Ody that he's hot-rodded. With all the Honda support out there, that might be a super fun way to meet their needs, if the guy doesn't mind FWD and the dreaded pre-'04 Honda transmission problems. Forced induction and an upgraded suspension would be the way to make the kids barf, right quick. You guys that hate slammed cars, I hear you. That's fine. But if the guy is looking to have some fun, then an airbag system might be the way to go. Pull up to school to drop off the kids and do a bit of bouncing...


  10. Thanks gang. We are following up on two of them. She likes the '57 Chevy for the looks and I like the limo in Tampa for putting 6 bikes on the roof. Back up is the Fairlane. Had a sycro Westy. They are great but with current prices I am guessing that this will be outside of the budget. Love the idea of the Divco milk truck with bench seats, shorty school bus style. Will check on the local ordinances for parking a limo on the street.

  11. For the money you want to spend and the functionality you need and for the future of you children, I 2nd Honda Odyssey--one of the big ones. Keep your kids safe with anti-lock brakes, crumple zones, etc. Those big old cars will just fall apart when hit--look up the highway fatality statistics for their era. Buy a fun car for when you dont need to haul everyone.

  12. I can't tell what the seating situation is now, but this Previa looks like fun if you like being outrageous!

  13. Have an Odyssey and will keep that as the long distance (over 9 miles) and freeway car. I agree that they are a wonderful appliance and much safer than a ’57 Chevy. To mitigate the safety I always drove the Volvo 220 and Hudson on surface streets. None of which had a speed limit above 35. I plan to do that with this car as well. I know it does not eliminate the safety issue.

    An overriding desire for an older car and an interesting ride is for the kids. Excuse me while I step up on my soapbox. I work in the semiconductor industry. There is a trend that has been accelerated with cell phones to see the world around us as black boxes and magic that cannot be understood nor challenged. I would like to use the old car as a learning tool so that the kids can see that these things in our lives are designed by people. With understanding a carburetor a fuel injection system can be explained along with the algorithm that controls it. It is not too far from that to understanding how a self-driving car works and that humans made the rules for the car to follow.

    The goal is not to have the kids be mechanics but rather to give them the tools to make informed choices.

    1. Scot..I had a '67 Mustang Fastback which was incredible and my daughter enjoyed it when she was really little, but she actually likes our '65 Sportwagon better because it is the absolute antithesis of her daily dose of Volvo XC90. She loves that everything is so basic and easy to operate. The common element in both cars is that there was no rear seat in the Mustang and the '65 Buick came without seatbelts in the back, so at less than 12 yrs old (here in CA) she can legally ride in the front seat of either car!
      My only absolute in old cars is updating the brakes to dual circuits. I've had that spontaneous brake failure in two cars which is pretty disconcerting when you've just been driving at highway speeds moments ago.

  14. That's just plain awesome, Scot. Please keep us abreast of what you guys decide and if we can find more cars for you! I do this all the time (find suitable cars for people). I don't do it for any reason other than I love to. But what upsets me most is when people don't ever tell me the upshot after I've done a bunch of research for them. I'd like to know what you guys end up doing. That's the payoff for all of us that thought about it ad nauseum!

    1. Fleetwood T. BroughamJanuary 29, 2015 at 12:12 PM

      A) I agree with you....I do the same for folks.
      B) If you're like me, you get upset a lot. Here's my usual experience: People ask me for help with suggestions, knowing I'm a car geek. They might tell me they want a used minivan, and give me a few purchase criteria. After I spend a couple hours finding the best choices, and send them some local examples for sale at a reasonable price, they go and buy a new Chrysler 200 convertible.

    2. Precisely! It's ridiculous. And no amount of logic can change their minds, once it's been made.

    3. Man! I think I just stumbled across the support group that I've been looking for! I've been doing the finding cars for free since the '70s. I sold cars for a living (for a couple of years) because I liked hooking people up with the right car for them. It was never about the $$ and always about the satisfaction.
      What amazes me is that retail buyers walking into a dealership really appreciate that difference, but people who are getting it for free discount your experience and end up going a completely different direction because they got 'spun' by someone trying to sell them something.
      (I'll step down now)

    4. Amen! Here's a copy of the sort of research we do for these people. A friend wanted a CX-9 early last year and I stupidly offered to help. She had an Explorer that she just didn't trust any longer and had done some research which got her heart set on the Mazda. Around here, there aren't a lot of used ones, so I told her I'd come up with some options that she should check out. The upshot was that she got so nervous about the Ford that she marched into a dealer and bought a brand new CX-9 and ended up with out of control payments for 6 years. Here's a copy of the report I gave her:

      Desired Vehicle:
      2012 Mazda CX-9 (average acceptable mileage: 29,500)
      Dealer: $22,000-$27,00
      Private Party: $19,600-$24,200
      Pros: Fun to drive, extremely reliable
      Cons: Somewhat rare, so may be hard to find for sale and not a huge selection (may be an issue with parts in the future)
      NHTSA: 0 recalls, 16 complaints (brakes), 7 service bulletins
      Notes: Related to the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKT. 16/22 mpg (AWD)

      Pricing does not include options and is dealer retail on the cheapest model
      Acura MDX/Honda Pilot: 2010 MDX = $27,000, 2012 Pilot = $24,000…all are based on the Odyssey, MDX has a tiny third seat
      Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook: 2012 Enclave = $26,500…8 passenger…14/22 mpg (AWD). Because Saturn is gone, the Outlook (2010 was the last model year) would most likely have the least value at $14,500. A 2013 Acadia is worth $26,500 and a 2013 Traverse $22,600
      Dodge Durango: 2013 = $25,500, slightly below average quality, high safety ratings, typically variable Chrysler quality
      Hyundai Santa Fe/Kia Sorento: 2013 Santa Fe = $25,600, 2014 Sorento = $24,700…a brand new 2015 LX (the low-end model, but does have AWD) goes for $28,000, but you’re probably more in the 2012-2013 range
      Lincoln MKT: Questionable looks, 2011 = $26,600, basically a new-version Flex/Explorer/Taurus, low sales numbers so may not be that many out there for sale
      Mitsubishi Outlander: Brand new 2014 SE AWD = $25,000, maker may disappear, updated for 2014, West Chester Mitsu (Tom Masano) has two AWD GTs for under $26,000, tiny 3rd row
      Nissan Armada: 2010 = $22,500, enormous, horrific mileage (12/18), poor reliability
      Nissan Pathfinder: 7-passenger seating only available on newly-designed (and far superior driving) 2013 model = $23,000, good mpg (20/26), drives nice, roomy, iffy French-owned quality
      Nissan Rogue: 7-passenger seating only available on newly-designed 2014 (S AWD) model = $25,000, great mpg (25/32), drives nice, iffy French-owned quality, CVT learning curve, 4-cylinder, tiny 3rd row
      Subaru Tribeca: 2012 = $23,000, good resale value, average reliability, interior may not be your thing…or maybe it is! 16/21 mpg
      Toyota Highlander: 7-passenger seating only available on 2011+. 2012 = $25,500, class-leading in just about every way
      Volvo XC90: 2011 = $25,000, small 3rd row, higher maintenance costs, one of the best SUVs to drive, luxurious, 16/22 mpg

    5. The blog wouldn't let me post the entire report. Here's the rest:

      Wild Cards:
      2009 Kia Borrego: A completely unknown, rare SUV that nobody even knew existed. Only available for one year, it’s an amazing bargain and very solidly built; $11,800 (private party) to $13,500 (dealer). Actually usable third-row seating – for adults!
      2009 Cadillac SRX: Last year 3rd row offered, $16,100, surprisingly good
      Chrysler Aspen: Really just a fancy-pants Durango, only sold 2007-2009 ($19,000), 13/18 mpg, typical Chrysler poor resale value and hit or miss quality
      Chrysler Pacifica: Only sold 2004-2008 ($12,800 for a top of the line AWD Limited), typical Chrysler poor resale value and hit or miss quality
      Dodge Journey: Tiny 3rd row, more compact than most (positive or negative?), 2013 SXT AWD V6 = $20,000, 16/24 mpg, typically variable Chrysler quality, brand new model within budget (SE AWD V6 = $25,000), typical Chrysler poor resale value
      Ford Flex: If you like the look, this vehicle should definitely be on your shopping list, 2012 SEL = $22,500, AWD available (for more $$$, of course), really impressive to drive, small 3rd row, good resale, 17/24 mpg
      Ford Taurus X: Only sold 2008-2009, a forgotten gem, top model 2009 Limited = $15,800
      Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country/Volkswagen Routan: Impressive after a necessary 2011 redesign, 2012 GC (top of the line R/T) = $24,300, T&C = $20,200 (cheapest Limited model), Routan = $26,000 (top of the line SEL Premium model), no AWD…the VW Routan is a bargain hunters dream, better quality than other Chryslers
      Mazda Mazda5: Seats 6, doesn’t sit up as high as an SUV, smallest vehicle on this list, top of the line 2013 Grand Touring = $20,600, 22/28 mpg, no AWD
      Volvo XC70: Drives like a car, because it is a car, 2010 = $21,500 (’11 = $28K), 3rd row for occasional use only, higher maintenance costs, luxurious, 16/22 mpg
      Honda Odyssey: No AWD (see MDX, Pilot), best driving minivan, class-leading, high resale value so you’re probably talking about a 2010 model (lowest model = LX for $15,000 to a Limited for $27,000)
      Jeep Commander: Last sold in 2010 (Limited = $25,700), typically bad Chrysler quality, tiny 3rd row, 13/19 mpg
      Toyota Sequoia: 2009 = $24,400, enormous, class-leading, 13/16 mpg
      Toyota Sienna: AWD available, class-leading in every way, 2011 LE AWD = $21,500
      Land Rover LR3: Absolutely a nightmare in maintenance and reliability…forget it
      Mercedes E350 AWD: Occasional 3rd row, typically poor MB reliability (but better than they were in the past) and high maintenance costs, 2009 = $25,800…wagon no longer available 2010+?
      Mercedes GL320: 2007 = $27,600, typically poor MB reliability and high maintenance costs
      Mercedes R350: 2010 = $26,400, typically poor MB reliability and high maintenance costs
      Nissan Quest: No AWD available, bizarre exterior and interior (a matter of taste), typically poor Nissan reliability and high maintenance costs, 2012 SL (mid-line) = $26,200
      Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona: Entourage only sold 2007-2008, a 2012 Sedona goes for $16,000-$17,000, slightly less interior quality in comparison to competitors (but really in direct comparison)
      Suzuki XL7: Orphan so service and parts may become more difficult in the future, 7-passenger model only produced up to 2009 Limited ($14,500), 16/23 mpg, poor resale value, lesser interior quality

    6. Again, I was trying to get her to buy used. I don't believe new cars are a good idea in any way, shape or form. A new car purchase is for the flippantly rich and folks too lazy to do any research, in my eyes. I don't care if you're buying an Accent or an R8, unless it's the first year of production and you absolutely must have that car, there's no reason not to save thousands.

    7. She lost $6,253 in depreciation just driving it off the lot and owning it 1 year...

  15. Will keep you updated here as it progresses. Thanks for the help


  16. Well guys, both the wagons with rear seating and limos have been eliminated. Wagons due to risk of rear end collisions and the limo as it takes up too much room on the street.

    Now looking at a few '60s vans.

  17. Thanks for the update, Scot! Even the modern wagons (V70) and the Yukon? My guess is that they have a higher level of safety than a 60s van, though there's certainly a lot of metal in one of those old tanks. Unfortunately, it's probably rusty. Old is going to equal less safe, unfortunately. Unless you install a roll bar. Seems like you might have two requirements that aren't meeting in the middle - you want old, but you want modern safety for the passengers. And from what you wrote, the first one is losing out. No worries, there are plenty of cars that still meet your specs (other than the old and easy to work on thing - but by going more modern you'll have less to worry about in terms of things going south because they're antique and worn out).

    Why no minivan?

    What about a 2011 Ford Flex? It has an old school vibe (strap a surf board to the top!) and contains the latest in safety.

    1. Nothing says fun like a 1990 Suburban "Tonka" truck for only $3K...leaving you a large budget to add a roll cage, fix the seating and safety belts (racing seats with harnesses!).


    2. 59 Bel Air vs 09 Malibu

    3. Great video, kaibeezy!

  18. I'm certainly no expert on the subject and I have to rely on what and how the various organizations rate vehicles just like everyone else, but I do find it interesting that many people equate mass with safety. I want my cars to have enough power and handling to take evasive maneuvers smoothly and confidently, while having a braking system that’s not overpowered by the weight of the vehicle.

    I’ve driven several mainstream SUVs that have none of those features – and they’ve been bought by the millions. Clearly, many folks think if their vehicle is bigger and heavier than anything they might encounter, they’ll survive most anything.

    But like fighting, there’s always somebody bigger than you that will come along sooner or later. That isn’t my idea of safety. While I’ll admit there are surely times where the opposite is true, there are times where a Miata is a safer vehicle than a Ford Expedition. The Ford literally cannot get out of its’ own way because of the mass, weight and physics. When I bring these things up, owners stare at me like I’m crazy. Maybe I am. But, I have the feeling they don’t like thinking about how their $50,000 SUV isn’t necessarily all that safe, in the big picture.


    1. Not to mention all of the safety tech that's out there, much of which is not applied to SUVs and trucks. Too bad these posts are so ephemeral here on DT. It's a bummer that it will disappear nearly instantaneously unless somebody replies. Ah well.

    2. Apropos of this whole conversation, this article comparing an Expedition and a Jetta is a must-read - I was shocked to find it in 2004 when I was trying to decide between... an Expedition and a Jetta for family transport - spoiler alert: Jetta, not even close

    3. So... what you really need is a relatively recent minivan that looks OK and has reasonable driving manners - 2011 Toyota Sienna SE - this is the one they were trying to sell as the "swagger wagon", which is a bit much, but the story is they were tired of losing the "best handling minivan" title to Honda year after year, so they took an engineer off the F1 team and stuck him in the minivan department - the handling result is pretty darn good, the vehicle remains incredibly practical and it's as safe as it gets

      ping the tips line if you want to try mine ;) - my falafel drive-in offer stands

    4. Thanks for the link, kaibeezy. That's a really interesting article and it's nice to know that I'm not alone in my thinking. The Sienna is arguably the best minivan out there, but I still feel like the Honda is a bit sportier to drive. Just my opinion and I love the whole "Swagger Wagon" marketing.


  19. Now that Tonka Truck would be a kick.
    Understand the appeal of the minivan. Ex wife got the Odyssey, and the house. Not bitter.... NOT BITTER
    Excuse me. Have an aversion to them at present

    Love to take you up on the falafel offer. address is se7en dot scot at gmail dot com.


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