I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?

Illustration for article titled I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?
Photo: Cadillac

Skip is the communications director for a hospital in New Orleans. He loves living in the Big Easy, but life isn’t so easy for automobiles once the water rises. He lost his ride due to flooding and is looking for a replacement. 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:

I am a communications officer for a hospital in New Orleans. I love my city but it ate my last car. More specifically, it drowned it. I’ve been biking a lot since then but I live across the river from my job and the ferry is unreliable. It’s time to buy.

No need to mention what my last car was, but the one before that was an STS-V. I loved that car and had it modded to over 500 horsepower. So I’m looking for something powerful and at least semi-luxurious. A manual would be nice, but not a requirement. I can spend up to $45,000, maybe a little more. The only thing I don’t really dig is a BMW.

Quick Facts:

Budget: Up to $45,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: New Orleans

Wants: Comfy, luxurious, powerful

Doesn’t want: A BMW

Expert 1: Tom McParland - S is For Sleeper

Illustration for article titled I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?

Skip, I hope things are going OK for you down in New Orleans with the current situation. While you may not be treating patients, as the communications director for the hospital you are one of the many under-appreciated folks that keep things running.

The STS-V was a favorite so I see you are inclined towards big, fast, and comfy sedans. I also suspect you don’t want something too flashy or over the top. I happen to think the best big sleeper sedan is the Audi S8. Unlike the BMW M or AMG cars that have some clues as to their aggressiveness, other than a few badges and bigger wheels the S8 pretty much looks like any other big Audi. However, under the hood is a 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 packing 520 HP and once all those ponies are put down through the all-wheel-drive system these big-cruisers can sprint to 60 MPH in the low 3-second range. Of course, the S8 also has all the other luxury and comfort features you would expect from a large executive sedan.


There aren’t a ton of examples to choose from with reasonable miles for under $45,000 so you will want to be careful to weed out problematic cars, but here is a nice one in Iowa with a very cool black/brown combo.

Expert 2: Raphael Orlove - Just Change The Wheels

Illustration for article titled I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?

The S8 is a great choice, though if I were looking for a high-power German luxury car, I would choose to make my life pointlessly more difficult. I might aim for a Phaeton or a diesel Touareg just to help support my local repair businesses.

However! If you just want something that feels luxurious and powerful, I would just get an old American car, already restored. This particular 1970 Cadillac is just about perfect, though if it were me I would sit the car on period wheels. Maybe some other 15s or 16s, something that was more about style than generic muscle attitude. Not these. But maybe those.


Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky - Look, Just Hear Me Out

Illustration for article titled I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?

Skip, I know what I’m about to suggest may sound a little crazy, but if you look at your situation with cold, unflinching logic, free from the biases and prejudices of culture and society, you’ll see I’m right.

Look at your situation: your last car died because it ended up under water. You live across a river from your work, and the ferry is unreliable. Skip, you may not realize it, but you are an ideal candidate for an amphibious car.


I mean, hell, Skip could be short for Skipper for all I know; what I do know is that for you a car that can become a boat could actually change your life for the better.

The easiest to find amphibious car is likely an Amphicar, a little ‘60s-era German charmer that I’ve actually driven on and off water, and I can confirm they’re a blast. The problem is they tend to be very expensive, and the little Triumph four-banger they had may be underpowered for someone like you.


Luckily, fate is on our side, because I found this: a 1969 Amphicar with a 3.8 Buick V6 swap, and it’s only $21,900!

I mean, sure, the rear bodywork there is a little crazy to accomodate the bigger engine and air intake setup, but it does gain a seat right on the back there, in front of the radiator grille, which is a plus when it’s in the water. I think it’s kind of a seat? I wouldn’t recommend sitting there when road driving, though.


That Buick engine is common in America, and it’s mated to a rugged Dodge PowerWagon transmission, so maintenance shouldn’t be a big deal, either. Power is probably plenty for this thing, on land and water, and with a six-cylinder engine right behind the seats, it’s like having a Boxster you can drive into a lake.

Illustration for article titled I Love My City But It Ate My Car! What Should I Buy?

Think about it! No more waiting for a ferry—drive to the river, then drive right across it and up the other side to your work! How much commuting time do you think you’ll save? Plenty!

Plus, never worry about flood damage, because your car is designed to float! Just be sure to tie it up during flood season, and you can even remain mobile when the streets are full of water! This is going to be amazing.


Those wheels are terrible, though, I’d change those. I like that bonkers digital dash, though.

We’ve never had anyone write in who is as well-suited to an amphibious car as you are—and there’s no Amphicars at a price as good as this one. Please, please consider it, and if this becomes your commuter car, let us know, because I think we’ll want to celebrate.


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Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)



The Amphicar suggestion is ridiculous and I am here for it.