Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mid Week Match-Up: A Rag Top for Jerry

Today's Mid Week Match-Up comes as a request from Jerry who is looking for a convertible: So, my bought when new, 1993 Nissan 240sx convertible (in red, no less) which I've only driven in the winter 3 years since I bought it, and put 289,000 kms on in those years, was recently hit in the rear while I was stopped behind a truck, and of course we were hit hard enough to put lots of tension in the seatbelts, so are slightly the worst for wear, and the car was pushed into/under the rear bumper of the truck in front, so damage front and rear.

Still waiting for the insurance to settle, and given the complete lack of parts in Canada, I'm expecting it will be a total loss.

So the question: what to replace it with? I have a few requirements:
        rear wheel drive
        rear independent suspension
        functional back seat (think packages, a large dog, small humans)
        Miata and Boxster are too small
        I don't want a mustang or a camero
        between 1998 and 2005

I recently took both a BMW 330ci and a Benz CLK320 for quick drives, and have very little behind the wheel time in cars from either manufacturer. The 240sx was a roller skate/gokart, and I'd like to have that experience again. Handling is more important than top end. I also do some of my own wrenching - not afraid to get grease on my hands.

So, can I ask the assembled DT knowledge base some questions:
        which is better handling
        which is easier to DIY maintain
        any other suggestions that meet the above criteria

Thanks in advance

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair"
 - Kahlil Gibran



DT E-i-C Vince: I'm going to suggest this 1990 Porsche 944 Convertible found here on eBay offered for $6,000 buy-it-now (or make offer) located in Gloucester, MA.

What do you suggest?  Comments below.


  1. Replies
    1. I was going to suggest the E36 M3, I think they are significantly less complex than the E46 generation so if we are talking about wrenching on your own vehicle that could be a serious advantage. I also think E36 M3 values are about to take off and convertible w/manual transmission is probably one of the more desirable configurations...

      Also: Jerry (OP), what part of Canada are you in?

    2. If you're talking non-smg (aka real manuals, the way God intended), there isn't much difference aside from Vanos to contend with on the S54, but that's well, well documented and supported in the forums.

      Having owned both, I'd say the material and build quality in the e46 was quite a leap ahead of the e36, so probably a dead heat at worst on cost of ownership.

    3. Still driving my bought when new '95 E36 convertible with 315,000 miles on it. Do most of my own work. That said being a 4 wheel independent suspension I would be darn sure that any E36 you look to buy has replaced almost all of the suspension parts including the struts ( which I have replaced twice in my garage with a jack). Of course that means yet ANOTHER 4 wheel alignment. That and the plastic bits inside as FTB alluded to, are way inferior to the E46. I'm looking for an E46 non sulev wagon with a 5 speed if anyone is in SoCal and has the perfectly priced and cared for wagon to sell.;) So I too vote for the E36 or E46 if you want to wear your big boy pants!

    4. Do the E36 convertibles have the same rear subframe mount cracking issues as the coupes & sedans? If so, plan on welding in reinforcements. Not a hard job if you have access to a lift and MIG machine.

  2. Never drove one and can't say if it would hold up to his needs, but mebbe a 645?
    [image src="" width="400px"/]

  3. I had an E36 convertible. The power top was finicky and way too complicated; if you could find a 3 series with a manual top, that's likely to work out a bit better. Handling was pretty good, reliability aside from the power top was decent, and DIY maintenance was relatively easy as well.

    As for other options on the list, how about a Jaguar XK8?

    [image src="" width="400px"/]

    1. I wondered about that option as well, though I don't think you would be able to remove small humans from the back seat if you put them there - though I may be wrong.

  4. I always start with old, lowest mileage, cheapest possible...found this at a dealer who advertises a lot of decent cars. Never traded with them, but frequently find myself looking at their ads on CL.. 88K Mile BMW Convertible

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. HB .....totally agree with the caveat that my number one rule would have to be broken. That would be : Never buy a car from a dealer.

  5. I was going to say a late-model Volvo C70, but it is challenged by your criteria on 1.5 parts -
    A. FWD and
    B. Better looking P2 generation not introduced until 2006.

    That said, a set of IPD bars and a quafie LSD with the T5 setup would likely be pretty fun...

    [image src=""]

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Derp
      [image src="" width="400px"/]

    3. Very cool image - got my attention BUT I like the rwd experience on twisties

  6. If you can relax the RWD requirement: R53 generation MINI Cooper S Convertible. Unlike the new gen MINI's, the R53 is pretty reliable and not bad to work on. I ran a hardtop R53 for 11 years and 110K miles. Plus the R53 looks much better than the MINI's that came after it.

    [image src=""/]

  7. Thanks for all the feedback! Found a '97 328ic manual with only 121xxx kms on it (about 80000 miles methinks)
    Picked it up today


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