Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
I don't know about where you live, but it seems like it's been mostly raining the last several days and that doesn't seem right. Every time I think about washing my car, I hear it's going to rain the next day. It's always gray out and it gets super early. You know what this means? It's a good time to buy a convertible.
Americans aren't into pain and agony like other nationalities, so we don't generally like driving with the top down in rain or snow. There's something fun about the thought of it, but being cold and wet isn't that much fun in practice. But there's some truth to getting a motivated seller to part with a convertible in bad weather.
When people want a roadster, the classic choice is a Mazda Miata, because it's reliable and cheap. I used to hate the Miata and laugh at old men who drove them because, frankly, they looked ridiculous in them. But then I drove one and, dear God, it was fun. At a certain speed with the top down, you really don't care what you look like to other drivers. That's kind of the fun of a small roadster.
But what's the fun in making Used Car Face Off easy? So I've selected two roadsters this weekend that will make your life anything but.
The Alfa Romeo Spider is a landmark car. When you say Alfa Romeo to most people, they'll probably think of this. It's ridiculously stylish, too, even on this heavily rubberized 1984 Spider Veloce, which was probably the least attractive of the line that was made from 1967 to 1993.
Still, the scallop down the sides and massive wood wheel and shift lever, and the silver/blue combo on this car, just shows the attention to style. It's a pretty car, and anyone looks good in one. This one is particularly nice, as it should be for $16,500, with glossy paint, clean interior and no signs of rust. Awesome.
Downsides? Plenty. Two liters and 126 horsepower is not much, and it's mated to a chassis that wasn't even up-to-date in the 1980s. It's an old Italian car with fuel injection, it's bound to leave you stranded. In fact, it's an old Italian car. It's going to drive you crazy, no matter how good you look in it.
So how is a Lotus a better buy? Well, if you take a 2005 Elise into consideration, it makes sense. It is a modern car, and few come as spartan as an Elise. Plus, it's powered by a 1.8-liter Toyota engine and that's a good thing. But beyond the sensible factors, the Elise is serious fun. It weighs about as much as a border collie and has 190 horses with one revvy engine mounted in the middle. The Elise, after all, is all about driving and not posing. This one will probably end up going for the same price as that pristine Alfa, too.
OK, so an Elise has downsides, and not including the fact this one is yellow. Have you ever tried to get in one of these things? There's a certain way to do it, and I didn't pay attention to directions from a man from Lotus when I tried. Therefore I'm pretty sure I pulled a groin muscle trying to wedge my narrow, 5-foot-10 self into an Elise and that wasn't terribly glamorous. This car doesn't have any carpets or insulation and the top is like a toupee you have to fit on top of the car and that's annoying, not that the Alfa's is a whole lot better.
Which would I buy? The Alfa, because it's pretty and that's just how I roll. The Lotus is fun to drive fast, but that's not what I would do in a roadster. And in any case, I'd only buy this if I kept a reliable, daily driver in the driveway. Buying any one of these instead of a Miata, well, that's just going to end in tears.
But am I wrong? Would you buy either one of these over a Miata or some sensible roadster in a heartbeat? And do you enjoy driving top down in the rain? Sound off.