Daniel admits he has a problem with owning too many cars and bikes. His plan is to streamline his collection a bit down to only a few rides and is looking for that one special car he can enjoy. He wants the odd combination of weird, fun, and reliable. What car should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario -
So I currently own what could be called “too many” cars and bikes. My business partner and I are both weird car nerds and redo houses so we’ve been lucky to find ways to own cool cars and store them. I currently have a manual E39 that’s my daily, an ‘04 Z4 convertible, a Triumph TR7, an autocross set up NA Miata, ‘89 Sentra wagon, a ‘75 Mercury Bobcat, a couple of beat-up old work vehicles for moving/hauling big house things, and a few motorcycles. All are running and driving (generally, I mean one is a 1980 Triumph...) but all are fun or functional cars and always need something or not fun to drive.
I obviously have a problem when it comes to buying things but I’d like to downsize a little (OK, only a little) and buy one really special newer car. I’ve always paid cash for every car I’ve bought but I’m finally at a point where I can financially justify financing something so my budget is up to about $70,000 and whatever I buy will not be a daily driver but a fun car for nice days and road trips, though it needs to be functional as a daily in a pinch (hence why a Lotus isn’t on my radar). I’m looking for something new enough to finance so preferably no more than five years old, newer is better and I am looking forward to modern amenities like Bluetooth. Warranty is a plus.
I don’t really have a specific set of qualifications but you can see I like oddball cars and it needs to be something really fun but functional. This is a big milestone for me and whatever I buy I’ll likely keep for a long, long time so I want to get it right. Help me out!
Budget: up to $70,000
Daily Driver: Not really
Location: Savannah, GA
Wants: Fun, Functional, Unusual
Doesn’t want: Common or unreliable
Daniel, we here at Jalopnik are having a hard time conceptualizing how “too many cars and bikes” is a “problem.” Perhaps you have gotten to the point where you just aren’t enjoying all your rides so maybe it’s best to KonMari the fleet a bit. Now on to this task of modern, somewhat practical and reliable, but funky. A lot of conflicting ideas there, but there is one car that strikes a balance, the Lexus RC-F.
The RC-F was a bit of an “also ran” compared to the M3 or C63 AMG, but the 5.0-liter V8 under the hood pumping out almost 470 horsepower is no slouch. The oddball status gives it that funky vibe because it’s not the obvious choice. The RC-F something you could own well beyond the warranty period and not have to worry about draining your investments to keep it running. Most of the examples have a slew of luxury features like navigation, vented seats, blind spot monitor and everything else you would expect from a Lexus.
Here is a neat orange one in California with low miles that is way below budget. That means money leftover for another car or bike.
First, I have to say, Daniel, any person who owns both a Triumph TR7 and a Mercury Bobcat is very, very okay in my book. That means that I really need to try to find something that meets your clearly extremely refined tastes, and I think I’ve managed to do that. For your modern, unusual, and yet usable car, I think you should consider a Rally Fighter.
In case you’re not familiar with these, a company called Local Motors developed what is sort of the first open-source, DIY-ish car; they have a factory, but these things were built sort of one at a time, by the buyer with help from the factory, which means they’re technically kit cars and as such are legal in all 50 states.
It’s essentially a fiberglass-bodied LS V8-powered RWD small sports car stuck on a big-ass chassis with lots of ride height and huge tires. It’s bonkers and fun and unapologetic, and with only a planned 200 made in total, nice and uncommon, just like you wanted.
This 2014 one is a hair over your budget at $79,000, but, you know, maybe you could sell another motorcycle or have a bake sale or something. This is a modern (enough) car with the basic amenities you need and a reliable, well-known and easy-to fix LS engine, all crammed into a package that looks like nothing else out there and is more fun than a barrel of high-as-a-kite monkeys you find, somehow, a little sexy.
You could drive this as a daily, you could hoon it off-road, it’s only five years old, and I’m sure no one around you has anything like it. Plus, it’ll look great parked next to that Bobcat.
I have no idea what it means to “downsize” a fleet, but what I can say is that it sounds terrible, and you shouldn’t do it. One’s vehicle count should always remain at the same level or increase—ask any doctor; it’s basic biology.
Anyway, when I think of a modern, interesting car that I don’t see often enough, the Alfa Romeo 4C comes to mind. It’s a small, lightweight, breathtakingly gorgeous machine that sounds awesome and is, without a doubt, a future classic. It totally meets your “fun” and “unusual” requirements.
I know, you said you’re looking for a car that’s “functional as a daily in a pinch,” but the only thing that stops the 4C from being a daily is attitude. I haven’t driven a 4C, but I know this is true because I’ve daily driven a vehicle whose seat was a trashbag stuffed with a pillow. Daily drive-ability is all in your head.
Just ignore that whole Can You Daily Drive The Alfa Romeo 4C? article our friend Doug wrote a while back. This, for example, should be entirely disregarded:
So I will start with comfort. Plainly speaking, the 4C has none. The 4C is uncomfortable to get inside, uncomfortable to sit in, uncomfortable to ride in, uncomfortable to steer, and generally lacking any sort of comfort assistance or aids, such as adjustable seatbacks, or reasonably sized sun visors, or, you know, seat padding.
Look, so long as you focus on the positives—the beautiful styling, the handling, and the amazing sound—you’ll be able to drive this thing on your regular commute just fine.
Or maybe just start working from home and having your groceries delivered. It’ll be worth it.