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$25K for only car

EMY

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I am a student so I wouldn't be able to spend that much on repairs and maintenance each month. I am looking for something track-able, practical and sophisticated. It also needs to last for the next 7 years without any significant problems.

I would really like an E46 M3, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to maintain it. I'm also looking at the wrx, but don't think it's appropriate for a mid 20s PhD student. Any other suggestions?
 

Kyoung05

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Originally Posted by EMY
I am a student so I wouldn't be able to spend that much on repairs and maintenance each month. I am looking for something track-able, practical and sophisticated. It also needs to last for the next 7 years without any significant problems.

I would really like an E46 M3, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to maintain it. I'm also looking at the wrx, but don't think it's appropriate for a mid 20s PhD student. Any other suggestions?


Re-consider the WRX. It's very reliable (I've had one since 2003, 145k miles, very little in the way of maintenance), practical (if you get the hatch), and fun. Granted, it lacks "sophistication," but you can get it with the leather interior, and the interior of the newer ones is leaps and bounds better than the earlier models. What else can you get in that price range that will have 265hp, AWD, reliability, and utility? The only other thing that comes to mind is maybe a Golf GTI or something, but the WRX blows the GTI out of the water in terms of everything other than fit/finish. It's up to you, but at that price range, you have to make some sacrifices.

In terms of whether it's "appropriate" for someone in their mid-20's - First, why do you give a shit what others might think about what you drive? Second, you're in your mid-20's, not your 50's - no one is going to think your car doesn't "suit" you.
 

NorCal

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Dude, what is "appropriate" for a student in his mid-twenties? Get the car that suits your life. Be warned though BMW's are for douchebags.
For 25k you can get a (slightly) older high end diesel Merc that ought to last forever. I think they look great and are fun enough to drive.
In fact for 25k you can get any number of badass used cars. Anything from an almost new bullet proof Tacoma to a totally badass restored mid 70's Camaro. It all depends on what you like.
 

EMY

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I kinda automatically dismissed the GTI since the WRX seems better in every way (from my e-research), but seems to lack the GTI maturity. I can't really imagine picking up a date or meeting a professor in a wrx. lol Also, I live in LA so looking like a douche is almost a necessity.

I also considered the Mazda Speed 3, Mini, and Evo, but the WRX still seems better overall.

I considered a truck or SUV, but I want to be able to track the car.

kyoung- do you have any problems with your transmission? My friend keeps telling me that the 5mt has problems and that the wrx is costly to maintain.
 

bawlin

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Originally Posted by EMY
I would really like an E46 M3, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to maintain it. I'm also looking at the wrx, but don't think it's appropriate for a mid 20s PhD student. Any other suggestions?

25k will get you a well sorted 2004/2005 M3. I'm not sure why people are so afraid of these cars. As long as they are taken care of, they are extremely reliable. Make sure you find a car with fresh brakes and tires, and Inspection 2 recently done, and you have nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future. They are extremely rewarding cars, and hands down the most beautiful BMW of the decade.
 

impolyt_one

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hobby tracking your one and only car, without having money to maintain it (and with racing comes quite a bit of expense, even with the Japanese cars that mostly putter on with just tires and brake changes) = imminent headache. If anything, with $25K and not much more (keep in mind insurance on cars like M3's for young guys is not particularly cheap either) I'd go to a more practical road car and then maybe build a cheap shitbox track car with what money you can afford to put into it (because when you get that cheap, there's no money you lose via depreciation, only wear+tear), maybe split it at like $20K/$5K respectively, $18K/$7K, something like a used non-M BMW and then a Miata or something else cheap and FR. Insure them for their respective purposes and you will save a lot there as well. You aren't gonna be stoplight racing in a 3 or 530i sedan, but with a 6 speed, it will still be a very pleasurable daily driver car on real world roads, and assigning uses for your cars will give you a far better chance at going the 7 years.
Basically, would you buy a pair of John Lobbs (and get a good deal on them via B+S, for say, $700, because they're not 100% BNIB or something, but nice) and then expect to wear them 365 days a year, including inclement weather, running (!) and things like that, for even 2 years straight? You said you need this car to go 7 years - that's quite a bit of time, even if you aren't putting many miles on it because you're a student.
 

EMY

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Originally Posted by bawlin
25k will get you a well sorted 2004/2005 M3. I'm not sure why people are so afraid of these cars. As long as they are taken care of, they are extremely reliable. Make sure you find a car with fresh brakes and tires, and Inspection 2 recently done, and you have nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future. They are extremely rewarding cars, and hands down the most beautiful BMW of the decade.

M3 is no question the "best" car of the bunch, but I'm worried about the VANOS problem associated with the S54 motor. That's easily fixable for about $1300, but there might also be other problems with the transmission and drivetrain if the motor is having problems. I'm only looking at the 6mt so these are likely to have been tracked or driven hard.

Do you have an E46 3 series? My cousin has a 330 and he has low compression on his 60k mile engine.
 

reidrothchild

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Originally Posted by impolyt_one
hobby tracking your one and only car, without having money to maintain it (and with racing comes quite a bit of expense, even with the Japanese cars that mostly putter on with just tires and brake changes) = imminent headache. If anything, with $25K and not much more (keep in mind insurance on cars like M3's for young guys is not particularly cheap either) I'd go to a more practical road car and then maybe build a cheap shitbox track car with what money you can afford to put into it (because when you get that cheap, there's no money you lose via depreciation, only wear+tear), maybe split it at like $20K/$5K respectively, $18K/$7K, something like a used non-M BMW and then a Miata or something else cheap and FR. Insure them for their respective purposes and you will save a lot there as well. You aren't gonna be stoplight racing in a 3 or 530i sedan, but with a 6 speed, it will still be a very pleasurable daily driver car on real world roads, and assigning uses for your cars will give you a far better chance at going the 7 years.
Basically, would you buy a pair of John Lobbs (and get a good deal on them via B+S, for say, $700, because they're not 100% BNIB or something, but nice) and then expect to wear them 365 days a year, including inclement weather, running (!) and things like that, for even 2 years straight? You said you need this car to go 7 years - that's quite a bit of time, even if you aren't putting many miles on it because you're a student.


+1. Expecting your only car to be track-able, reliable, sophisticated, and durable for $25k is a stretch. Finding an M3 for 25k means it will have at least 50k miles. Five years from now, your M3 will have over 100k miles, and you'll still need it to last you another two. Nothing against Bimmers specifically, but I expect most cars (especially non-Porsche Europeans) to start needing at least small fixes once they go over the 100k mile mark, and I wouldn't want to be paying to fix an M3 if I was on a student's budget. For around $23k you can get a nice brand new mid-size sedan (altima, sonata, malibu, fusion) with leather interior, 100,000 mile warranty (sonata & malibu) and then spend the rest on a project/beater track car.
Oh, and my advice would be to avoid VW's like the plague. My wife's old Jetta was the biggest lemon I've ever heard of. I took my cousin out to test drive cars recently, and he wanted to drive a Jetta. The ride was harsh, and the thing just felt cheap even with leather interior. I haven't driven a GTI, so maybe it's different, but V-dubs consistently get poor reliability ratings that I've seen backede up by lots of anecdotal evidence.
 

turboman808

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You just cannot expect one car to fill all those needs and not have repairs constantly.

If you want a car for the track get a cheap little honda civic for 5k thats already setup. Fun cars and cheap to fix. It's a track car so who cares how that it's a civic.

Leaves you 20k to buy something for every day. Reliable and has to last 7 years is gonna be tough to pull off. At some point the BMW or Merc and even a WRX is gonna have some expensive repairs. I'm a jag guy myself and a 10k XJS screams style and leaves plenty of room for the repairs, oh and you got a track car for when it's in the shop.


Ah giving car advice online you got to love it.


Me personally...
I drive a shitty $3k van 90% of the time and leave the luxury car and the sports cars for special occasions. When doing business I find showing wealth is a bad idea.
 

bawlin

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Originally Posted by EMY
M3 is no question the "best" car of the bunch, but I'm worried about the VANOS problem associated with the S54 motor. That's easily fixable for about $1300, but there might also be other problems with the transmission and drivetrain if the motor is having problems. I'm only looking at the 6mt so these are likely to have been tracked or driven hard.

Do you have an E46 3 series? My cousin has a 330 and he has low compression on his 60k mile engine.


Hardly.

We've had an 03.5 in the family for close to 3 years and 40,000 miles now. Never had a single issue with it.

Here's a gem: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=341203
 

Kyoung05

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Originally Posted by EMY
I kinda automatically dismissed the GTI since the WRX seems better in every way (from my e-research), but seems to lack the GTI maturity. I can't really imagine picking up a date or meeting a professor in a wrx. lol Also, I live in LA so looking like a douche is almost a necessity.

I also considered the Mazda Speed 3, Mini, and Evo, but the WRX still seems better overall.

I considered a truck or SUV, but I want to be able to track the car.

kyoung- do you have any problems with your transmission? My friend keeps telling me that the 5mt has problems and that the wrx is costly to maintain.


The early WRX 5mt transmissions were known to be relatively "weak," meaning that upgrading the power to around 300whp (bear in mind, stock power level was around 185whp) was bound to require a replacement transmission at some point. However, anything less than that, and they were generally fine, provided you didn't beat the hell out of the car, and didn't frequently subject it to launches.

Mine has been relatively cheap to maintain, partly because I do most of my own maintenance (i.e. oil changes, etc), but also because the car itself is pretty well made. Granted, I had to replace my radiator at about 100k, but I was able to pick up a used OEM one for about $35, and did the work myself, so it didn't cost any more than a regular oil change. As long as you keep on top of maintenance, like any car, I don't foresee many abnormal problems.

The only downsides, I suppose, is that being AWD, the mpg isn't as great as say something that is FWD or RWD, and because it has a rear differential, transmission fluid changes are a bit more pricey. Also, because the engine is a boxer configuration (i.e. cylinders or horizontal), the labor for changing the spark plugs has been a bit more (I usually take this to a shop to get done because doing it myself seems like too much trouble).
 

yoyodunno

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From what I've seen, Nissan Altimas last pretty long without maintenance, and can be mature looking. My dad has a 2000 Altima that still runs fine today(although idles almost too low now). Seems to fit your price range and durability.
 

East2West

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Buy something new and within warranty for $18-20k then take the other 5 and join a highend car club.
 

epb

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Originally Posted by EMY
I am a student so I wouldn't be able to spend that much on repairs and maintenance each month. I am looking for something track-able, practical and sophisticated. It also needs to last for the next 7 years without any significant problems.

I would really like an E46 M3, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to maintain it. I'm also looking at the wrx, but don't think it's appropriate for a mid 20s PhD student. Any other suggestions?


Personally, with your budget I'd look at getting 2 cars: something newer and sensible for daily driving like a Mazda 3 or Honda Accord, and an older sports car for track days and other fun driving like a MX5, Solstice, or (ideally imo) and Porsche 944S2 or 968 coupe.
 

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