Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mid Week Match-Up: Family Hauler For Tim

Time for another Mid Week Match-Up, where some poor unfortunate lucky person gets a full broadside of advice from the DT community.  This week's request comes from Tim, who writes:
I need a family hauler. I've got 3 year old triplets and a 12 year old step son and we often have at least one spare kid hanging out. Plus I'm broke and while I'm a decent wrench (ever done a clutch on a b5 Audi s4?) I want something reliable for my wife to drive the kids around. My budget is like 6k but if I had to I could go the loan route and double that.



I've done the suburban route. First was an 86 3/4 ton rwd big block. She was great, had its issues but never left us stranded, used a ton of gas but we loved it. What more can you ask for for $1700? Then we got an 01, which was a lot nicer but actually left us stranded a couple times. So we could get another Suburban, they're usually pretty damn reliable even with a ton of miles. I'm fine with a mini van but many of them seem to have transmission issues, lookin at you Honda. If i was driving it I'd look for a big ass 60's wagon. Or a ls1 t56 Volvo. But something boring is probably smarter. Any thoughts? 


DT E-i-C Vince: If you really want a big ass 60's wagon, get one...specifically the 1994-1996 model -- Buick Roadmaster/Chevy Caprice (the Olds Custom Cruiser was discontinued before the LT1 was added, so I'd skip it).  You get a big body on frame cruiser that fits 8 people (with belts), and is powered by GM's legendary (cheap and reliable) LT1 V8 pushing through a 4L60E transmission into the rear wheels. This white '96 Roadmaster Collector's Edition can be found here on eBay bidding for $2,075, and while it does have the wood paneling (you can get them without wood) it is equipped with the towing package that adds a mechanical fan, self leveling rear, and shorter geared limited slip out back.

What do you suggest as a people hauler for Tim? Comments below.  

12 comments:

  1. Let's see, several thoughts here:

    You've been down the GMT800 Suburban route, or even a Tahoe/Yukon, so I won't regale you with the strengths and weaknesses thereof, but as far as I'm concerned they work great, lots of 'em out there, parts are readily available and cheap.

    I know hordes of Odyssey owners, and don't know of many blown-up transaxles, but, hey: buy a junkyard slushbox, practice rebuilding it, then maybe you'll have the moms from the elementary school lined up 'round the block...

    E53 X5 or E39 5-series wagon. Hey, it's the devil I know. And the ZF 5HP24 automatics are damn simple to rebuild (ask me know I know.)

    Got a C5 Audi S6 Avant next up in the project queue, bought it at 47K, put 100K on it, 5HP24A broke, like the car but always hated the transmission behavior so it's got $3K+ of 01E 6-speed conversion parts sitting in the back end. I want this so badly I can almost taste it:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/121609966665

    but they won't ship and I haven't yet found someone to facilitate getting it here (or decided it's worth it to go do it myself.)

    $6K might get you three or four decent Ford Windstars, they seem to go for almost nothing, or one really good one and a lifetime supply of spare transaxles. The 3.8 managed a Disney-starlet level of notoriety for blowing head gaskets early on.

    100-series Land Cruiser? Late Isuzu Trooper? Both quite roadable vehicles, the Trooper was a really amazing piece of hardware back in the day. Late '00s Prado-based 4Runner?

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  2. I think it was the early aughties that had the tranny problems, and it seemed to be fairly universal as new 57 speed transmissions were put between big honking motors and tons of heft. I looked at things like XC90, V70, Pilots, Odysseys etc. Not sure if it's better with the newer stuff or not. I settled on the Toyota, which seemed to have less issues than the others and am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Could miss the whole tranny van debacle and row your own in a Mazda 5. In that smaller size, I also like the 1st gen Odyssey that has regular doors. Less motor and less weight should mean less likely for the tranny to blow up as well as better mileage.

    With the hangers on, you might need to go short bus, and full size. It might be possible to find a sprinter in your price range.

    If you want to be a cool guy, funeral cars can be pretty nifty. They tend to be cheap and low mileage. Here's a 6 door '95 Caddy https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/5413705005.html

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  3. I think it was the early aughties that had the tranny problems, and it seemed to be fairly universal as new 57 speed transmissions were put between big honking motors and tons of heft. I looked at things like XC90, V70, Pilots, Odysseys etc. Not sure if it's better with the newer stuff or not. I settled on the Toyota, which seemed to have less issues than the others and am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Could miss the whole tranny van debacle and row your own in a Mazda 5. In that smaller size, I also like the 1st gen Odyssey that has regular doors. Less motor and less weight should mean less likely for the tranny to blow up as well as better mileage.

    With the hangers on, you might need to go short bus, and full size. It might be possible to find a sprinter in your price range.

    If you want to be a cool guy, funeral cars can be pretty nifty. They tend to be cheap and low mileage. Here's a 6 door '95 Caddy https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/5413705005.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would take a long, hard look at those custom vans in the earlier post. Kids love vikings and wizards and sabre-toothed tigers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who doesn't love such things on a van? Imagine the scene when you pull up to the drop off area at their elementary school.

      Delete
    2. BionicTorqueWrenchMarch 16, 2016 at 2:20 PM

      ... wearing a trench coat and shorts.

      Delete
    3. Although we're aging past the era where the school moms might remember what they did in those vans...

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    4. Nowadays with the level of paranoia out there they would just think it was a child abduction plot or a rap contest.

      Delete
  5. I once heard a lady talk about how she and her husband bought a retired Honor thy own links by using limolimo and converted into a camper. It was comfortable and easy to maneuver. Not saying this is the right one, you may want to consider a 2-door that's tricked out with a TV fridge and bar (for juice boxes and sippy cups of course), but they're cheap and with the uber long wheelbase, they ride like clouds. A little bit of a pain to park at the local box/grocery store,but hey...the kids are sequestered in the back and you might even find one with privacy glass! Put 'em back there and fuggedaboutem!

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  6. Ive looked at the mazda5, i like it but its quite small for 6 people and a dog. Oh i forgot to mention the dog. We also have a golden retriever, because we didnt have enough to keep us busy.
    I would totally rock the roadmaster wagon, although im not sure i could do the wood grain, and my wife would kill me.
    The limo is a hilarious idea...
    The bmws would be great, but only 5 seats.
    Audi wagons have a third row, but after that s4, well i think my knuckles would break themselves to stop me from ever having to work on another audi. I do miss driving it though.
    Im curious about the minivans, to me a minivan is no less cool than a crossover, cause crossovers are just minivans without the super handy sliding doors. I was wondering why every windstar is crazy cheap, head gaskets, good to know.
    I heard the honda transmissions got a lot better in 09, but that only helps if i find one with huge mileage, which seems counter productive. I found an 07 with under 100k (thats low to me) and if people seem to think the trannys were decent by then its probably how ill go.
    For a fun ride ive got my 75 mini that needs a lot of love to get back on the road. Thats why i need to just get something boring a reliable for the wife so i can wrench on something fun

    Thanks for all the ideas!

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  7. Well it is low miles...
    http://anchorage.craigslist.org/cto/5447797223.html
    [img]http://images.craigslist.org/00o0o_dFVRqQt8yT5_600x450.jpg[/img]

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  8. A few years ago I grudgingly bought my wife a VW Routan and joined the minivan owning ranks. Turns out now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. It's got some euro-style to it, handles better than most other minivans, but still has Chrysler underpinnings for cheap parts and reliability. I'd recommend checking one out.

    ReplyDelete

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