Despite our best efforts, Chris did not take the opportunity to buy a three-pedal Chevrolet SS when he had the chance. While a big sale on the muscle sedan is currently happening pretty much all the manual cars are gone. What should he buy instead?
Here is the scenario -
I just had my heart stomped on by the inability to secure a 2017 Chevy SS manual and I’m needing a pick-me-up. Not only did I try reaching out to thousands of dealerships but I was willing to drive hours to secure one! It would have been great to catch one of the SS manuals at 20% off but it seems that is no longer in the cards. So now I need an alternative. The budget is up to $50,000 and I require, a V8, four-doors, and three pedals.
I’ve owned only Fords since I started to drive but I started with a 04 Mach 1, then 2011 5.0 Mustang, and now a Focus ST. However, I’m needing something a bit bigger and with some oomph rather than that fake stuff put through my speakers. I’m married with no kids, but expect some within the next couple of years. Weather isn’t an issue since I live in an area that sees all 4 seasons, aka Virginia.
Budget: up to $50,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Wants: V8 power, manual, four doors
Doesn’t want: Fake engine sounds
Expert 1: Tom McParland - Get A Real Sports Sedan
Hey Chris, I can understand your frustration, but remember the old cliche’, when one door closes another one opens. I don’t really understand how these “doors” are automatically connected, but regardless this is an opportunity to get something that you will really enjoy.
At the risk of turning in my Jalop card, I’m going to come right out and say it; the Chevy SS is not as awesome as we want to believe. Yes, it’s got a Corvette V8 shoved into a four-door body, with a three-pedal option. It also can pass for a Malibu and despite the performance on paper, the car isn’t all that exciting.
What you need is an E90 M3. Not only did the E90 back a 4.0 liter V8 that pumped out 414 hp, it is the last M3 with a naturally aspirated motor. Which means that this car is likely to become what we call a “future classic.” Even though you may not keep it that long, especially since the back seats might be a little cramped with car seats, getting a well-sorted example now at the bottom of the depreciation curve means you can sell it in a few years close to what you bought it for. And since you can snag a good E90 M3 for around $30,000 that gives you plenty of buffer to build in some extra warranty coverage.
Expert 2: Kristen Lee - Different But Same
So sorry you missed the boat on a Chevy SS, Chris. It’s a terrible feeling when a car you really want slips through your fingers, especially when you were in the fortunate position to buy it.
Fortunately, there is a cheaper, slightly older version of the Chevy SS that GM made until recently: the Pontiac G8. You’ll want it in the GXP trim, because that’s the one that came with the Tremec six-speed manual. It had a 6.2-liter V8 with 415 horsepower from a Corvette. Plus, you got a Nürburgring-tuned suspension and Brembo brakes.
Not terribly many GXPs were made and unfortunately Pontiac went belly-up soon after the car was introduced, so they’re kind of special in that regard. Way to go out with a bang, right?
Anyway, here’s one from 2009 in white with 31,000 miles on the clock for $35,000. You can use the remaining cash to tune it, maybe stick a cool exhaust on it. Because it’s a GM product, you won’t get annihilated in repair costs like you would if you bought something German.
Expert 3: Stef Schrader - Butt-Engine Enthusiast
All my colleagues aren’t just barking up the wrong tree—they’re barking at the wrong end of the car entirely. If you need a pick-me-up because you couldn’t get the car that you wanted, getting something similar isn’t the answer. It will only remind you that you couldn’t buy what you wanted until you’re able to find a nice, gently used Chevrolet SS on a used lot somewhere.
What you need is a manual car with the V8 in the correct location, cooled by the correct substance: air. You, sir, need a Tatra 603.
Power isn’t impressive, as its aircooled V8 is small and early models didn’t even crack 100 hp, but you’ll be riding in the utmost of Communist Czechoslovakian comfort. Seriously, these cars are plush, as they were built for officials of the Soviet bloc who were clearly more equal than the proletariat they represented.
What better way to forget that you didn’t get the big American V8 you wanted than by enjoying a truly luxe cocoon of vintage leather? I mean, this is why we fended off the Soviets in the first place: so that each and every American has the right to drive a Tatra if they darn well please. If that doesn’t make you cry big bald eagle tears as much as a big LS burnout, I don’t know what does.
Tatra 603s for sale are rare, but you can find them if you look. One nice ex-museum, ex-Pebble Beach Concours entrant 1969 603 fetched just $42,000 on Bring a Trailer. Hemmings has a baby blue 1970 2-603 in the Netherlands right now that’s only expected to fetch between $29,411 and $41,172 at auction.
You have an incredible opportunity here to get something far weirder than you ever imagined. Don’t disappoint us, man.
Expert 4: David Tracy - Horsepower Is The Answer
Chris, don’t be upset about the SS. Instead, follow the advice that my ancestors carved into their cave walls many thousands of years ago: “Horsepower is the answer.” I know you’re trying to get rid of that melancholy feeling of having missed your chance to buy an SS, but trust me when I say you should skip the box of tissues, and instead just do a gigantic burnout in a 556 hp Cadillac CTS-V.
There’s a 2014 model on Ebay right now with only 22,000 miles on the clock, and it costs six grand less than your $50,000 ceiling. So just pick that up, and spend the rest on a couple of extra sets of rear tires. You’ll forget all about that wimpy Chevy SS in no time. There, there.