Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mid Week Match-Up: A Car for the Collective

Today's Mid Week Match-Up comes from Simon who writes: We're a group of individuals living in a family as an intentional community in central CT. Our current fleet is made up of 2x 2 door Toyota Yarides, 1x 4 door Yaris, a Honda Fit, a Subaru Forester and a 3-season Mazda Miata. So you know we love hatchbacks/wagons. We used to have a mid-2000s VW Eurovan which was awesome until it began needing expensive mechanical attention. We're 2 adult couples with children, 1 childfree couple and two other adults. 

We find ourselves spending a lot of time scheduling car availability and coordination so a group 'second' car would help a lot. We need something bigger on the inside than the Fit so some of us can haul off with children for road trips*, acceptable winter handling for when the Miata is in the garage and an automatic transmission so we can all drive it. Our budget is $10,000 or under.

*my parents once packed me and my brother into a Citroën Saxo for a multi-day road trip and we've never let them forget it.

DT: What I am going to recommend is this sweet 1989 Toyota Van found here on eBay bidding for $2,120 with 5 days to go, located in Palm Desert, CA.  My first thought was with that many people, you guys need a Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, but judging from the current fleet, it appears that fuel economy is important, so a vintage MasterAce Van will do the trick.

What do you guys recommend? Comments below.


  1. Well, $10K will get you into an early 100-series Land Cruiser, '98-02ish, not fast and certainly thirsty but decently roomy and the winter drivability won't be a problem. The purists would argue for an 80-series but they're even slower and pretty nasty on-road n my opinion.

    Would also get you a GMT800-series Tahoe/Suburban, '02-05 or so, a bit roomier than the Land Bruiser, not quite as nice materials but better front seat support, also winter-capable and surprisingly nice on-road and a better tow vehicle.

    There was a 4WD variant of the old Toyota Previa, which was by minivan standards lacking in modern conveniences but a much nicer drive than many newer ones (mainly 'cause they're so much easier to see out of) but finding a good one and maintaining it is likely a challenge.

  2. 1987 Mitsubishi Delica but would need to be imported from BC.

  3. We have one car, and three adults and a well chauffeured teenager, so I feel your pain. We have a Scion Xa, it's just big enough for very short trips with the four of us.

    What about an Odyssey?


  4. My kid would love this, but only if it was RED


  5. For low maintenance costs, I'd recommend the nicest V6 AWD Ford Explorer you can find. May not jive with your image, though. Maybe you could do it up Jurassic Park style?

    For something a little nicer, maybe an early (2002-2006) Volvo XC90. Get one with the 5-cylinder engine (most affordable and reliable) and AWD.

    Ideally an air-cooled Vanagon, but are all the decent ones >$10k now? At least it will hold its value (and "collective" ownership is sure to make for prized provenance).

  6. Those old Toyota vans have absolutely scary handling. I drove my boss to O'hare one time and nearly lost it on a cloverleaf off-ramp. Lots of oversteer - turn the wheel and nothing much happens.

    Go with a the newest Toyota or Honda minivan you can get. Our Sienna has proven bulletproof her in Wisconsin.

  7. Maybe I'm the only one intrigued enough to ask, but what exactly is "a group of individuals living in a family as an intentional community"?

    1. It's a commune that's not a religious cult.

  8. Well, if it is a vehicle for The Collective, I guess anything with a BORG-Warner transmission would be appropriate. How about an early Jaguar XJ-6?

  9. Thank you for the suggestions! An SUV definitely would be an image-killer for us, so I'm beginning the process of selling people on an AWD minivan. While unglamorous, it would meet a lot of our needs. Consensus building is a gradual process!

    As for the others, I owned a Volvo 850 once and the money spent fixing the fuel evaporation leaks is enough to say never again. The one time I was ever in a Jaguar, it broke down on the side of the highway. Something to do with the dual fuel tanks.

  10. Chevy/GMC AWD 1500 passenger van. Lots of room, domestic parts, full time awd, availability good, service easy and abundant. Call Tritowntrucks in CT there and tell your guidelines and check their site.


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