Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mid Week Match-Up: Topless Fun For Caolon

Today's Hump Day Hat-Trick Mid Week Match-Up request comes from Caolon who writes: 

Currently, I have a 1996 Mazda MX-5 and there are some things I like about it and some things that I don’t. I like the convertible-ness of it, I like the size and handling, I like the upfront lower cost (I paid just over 3 thousand), and I like the yearly cost (low maintenance and low insurance). Now, here’s the other side of the coin. While I like the go-kart like handling, I’m not as big a fan of the somewhat slow speed of the Miata. I’d also like something with a bit more luxury (power windows and doors and a bit more leather/ bit less plastic) and (I know it’s pathetic), a bit more social desirability. I wouldn’t turn down something with 4 seats for the kid-O’s, but it’s not a necessity.  Manual gearboxes only, please.


I feel like I’ve run the gamut of available options and things seem to either go towards the underpowered/Spartan Miata-style convertible, or venture into the $300 dollar a month side of life (after maintenance and insurance). 

So, I’m looking for a fairly inexpensive (though not necessarily Mazda inexpensive) convertible with a bit more power, same excellent handling, more luxury, and a bit more social desirability. Also, I’m not against wrenching on my own, though I am fairly new at doing so. Finally, I’d like to keep the upfront cost less than 18 thousand and it would be great if it were in the rocky mountain region. 


DT Vince: For my money, at the $18k range, I'm going to head straight to the BMW Z4 M Roadster -- like this 2006 BMW Z4 M here on eBay offered for $19,900 buy-it-now or make-offer located in San Marcos, CA.  The E85 Z4 (2003-2008) is a fantastic roadster and the M version is the one to get -- 3.2 liter S54B32 inline-6 pushes 330 horsepower into a 6-speed gearbox, limited slip diff out back, athletic reflexes all around -- you cannot drive a Z4 M without a smile on your face -- bonus if you can do your own wrenching as these are getting up in age and the BMW service writer will take a hoover to your wallet at every opportunity.  You can save a few grand up front by opting for the non M version like this 2003 Z4 3.0i here on eBay offered here on eBay for $10,000 buy-it-now, but I think the M version will hold value better and keep you happy for longer.

16 comments:

  1. Luxury and social desirability aren't really my thing. Maybe a Honda S2000 with 30K miles, stock with no mods for $ 18.5K might convince you to let go of a couple of your criteria:

    2001 Honda S2000 in Portland, OR

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The S2000 definitely ticks off a lot of boxes for me. I would also assume that the maintenance for these is probably less than it might be for other competitors in the Roadster genre. Why we don't think there's a social stigma attached to owning one of these, I wish it had at least the luxury of a second cup holder :-)

      Delete
  2. Shy of an E46 M3 (which is largely the same car with a less pretty body), these things are probably the best value I can think of in the enthusiast's world. I've got a Z4 M Coupe, and I love it. It's not my primary car, but I keep it in reasonable condition so I'm ready to take it on a road trip/track day on a moment's notice.

    I would not recommend an M car to somebody who might skip routine maintenance to save a few bucks. Like any car, if you keep up with the needs, it'll reward you every time you turn the key. You're supposed to do a valve adjustment every 30k miles (or maybe 15k, I should probably find out considering I own one) for which a dealer will charge $800-$1000, but you can do it yourself for the cost of a $300 shim set, a $15 magnet on a stick, and however much intake gaskets are going for these days. If that's a little rich for your blood, there's people on various forums that will rent you the tools/shims for ~$50 +the cost of the shims you used.

    Brake Rotors are EXPENSIVE. Figure a grand for all 4 from most retailers. I've found them for a little under 700 though, so searching pays off. Stock brake pads aren't cheap, but I run Carbotech race pads, which are about double the money. There's conflicting reports on the best differential fluid, but I used SAF-XJ from a dealer. For whatever reason, it ended up being cheapest to have them squirt it into a cleaned out milk jug from their barrel in the shop. Next time I'm probably going to just use Redline oil.

    The engine takes 10w60 oil. Some people recommend Xw-40 oil if you're going to drive mildly, but people in the know think you're an idiot if you buy one of these and drive mildly. Engine modifications are expensive. It uses a different ECU than the E46M3, despite having the same engine, so there's only one or two companies that'll flash this one. Despite the limited production, there's a wide range of aftermarket exhaust setups available running the gamut from slightly louder than stock to "would probably be quieter if it were just a straight pipe".

    Overall, I would recommend one of these, They handle incredibly, and I've never been hit with a surprise maintenance need (short of running out of brake pad at the end of day 2 of a 3 day weekend at Mid Ohio). I'm not gentile with mine, but I keep up with the maintenance. The parts cost a lot more than they do for an old or non-M BMW, but doing your own work keeps the cost reasonable. This is the last of the easy to work on BMWs. It was the last one with a dipstick, and compared to my E90, the engine is a lot more accessible. Plus you don't need to check with the computer to see if the new battery is OK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's some great info on the Z4 and what sounds like the pricier maintenance items. I had sort of considered the BMW against a boxster and wondered how they compete price wise on maintenance.

      Caolon

      Delete
    2. Honestly they're probably not too far off. Z4 is a lot easier to do your own work on, though. And it comes with an LSD, where the Boxster/Cayman and non-M z4's don't. That's pretty much what clinches it for me, do a track day with an open diff and you'll never want to live without traction again.

      Delete
  3. I wrote this up for another mid-week matchup a couple months ago, you can see my analysis here: http://www.dailyturismo.com/2016/02/mid-week-match-up-10k-sportster-for.html

    Any of the cars I talked about in there have nice examples in your price range.

    I ultimately decided to avoid the M Roadster because as cool and rare as they are, they are known to have some special issues (regular valve adjustments, anyone?) I think Hunter put it best.

    I went with an '06 Z4 3.0si because it's much easier to work on and shares many more parts-bin items with other contemporary Bimmers than the M. I've had to sink a few grand in to catch it up on deferred maintenance, but all in I'm well under your budget, the car won't (hopefully) need anything immediately. Take the savings and pay for some track days and a nice helmet!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I vote 987 Boxster S. Not sure if these suffer the IMS failures, but budget 2k for that fix.

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/cto/5454157185.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wait, you mean the answer wasn't miata? Im having an extessential crisis, and probably a spelling issue

    ReplyDelete
  6. Get the nicest E30 325i convertible you can find ($10,000?) and keep your MX-5.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A little red Corvette, the kind you find at a second hand store.
    You need to find a love that's gonna last.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People want princely sums of money for those.

      Delete
    2. act fast when you see one, or you can Kiss that Sexy MF'er goodbye.

      Delete
  8. Want to make sure you don't see yourself coming or going? Panoz Esperante.

    Sure, it busts the budget by 5-10k, but it's got cachet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Those rotors aren't actually a bad price. Checked on replacing a set of rotors for a 996 turbo with ceramic brakes, $11,500. For the fronts only!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Vince put it well, and it's true for anything European, unfortunately - "service writer will take a hoover to your wallet at every opportunity". How about the Infiniti G37S? Fits the luxury and social statement criteria, and a manual too. Or go w/ the cousin 370Z.

    http://www.theimportautogallery.com/detail-2009-infiniti-g37_convertible-2dr-used-14632593.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take the roof off a Nissan Z and it turns to crap. The chassis loses a lot of rigidity when the top comes off. Never buy a roadster that was engineered from a coupe. Always buy a coupe that was built on a roadster platform.

      Examples:
      Roadster came first: BMW Z3 & Z4, Porsche Cayman, Lotus Elan, Jaguar F Type, MG B
      Convertibles made on coupe chassis: Chrysler Sebring, BMW M3, Audi TT, Aston Martin DB7 & 9, a bunch of other stuff that doesn't handle as well as either the coupe version of the same car or the things on the list above.

      Cars that should have had a fixed roof version: Miata, Honda S2000, Miata, Current Z4, Miata

      Delete

Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.