Josh had a Volvo that stopped working and is using this opportunity to finally get that fun car he has always wanted. He is targeting a two-door model with some speed, three pedals, and ideally a fun color. With a budget of up to $70,000, what car should he buy?
Here is the scenario.
2 years ago my 7 year old Volvo’s engine kicked the bucket, Volvo wouldn’t fix it under warranty, and since I’ve been lucky enough to work from home, I never bought another car. Just using my wife’s 20 year old corolla when needed. We just moved, and she needs to commute for her job now, so I need to buy a car. I’ve been in practical cars my entire life to be “responsible” but when I was looking at another one my wife yelled at me and told me to “stop being responsible for once in your life and go get something you’ll actually like”, so here we are. I’ve always loved coupes though a convertible could be on the table, and I don’t really drive that much so gas isn’t an issue. If I go new I plan on keeping it for as long as I can. I like the idea of a manual, since they likely won’t accessible in the future, and I’m hoping maintenance won’t be too crazy. I have a thing for how the new Supra looks and drives, but I’m sure there are other cars that are more fun. It would be awesome if I could find something in an obnoxious color.
I have a budget up to $70,000 but what makes this tricky is that I don’t care for any of the typical American muscle car offerings, and I can’t stand BMW’s new buck-toothed grille.
Budget: up to $70,000
Daily Driver: Sort of
Wants: Fast, comfy, manual
Doesn’t want: American muscle or recent BMW
Josh, you would think finding a manual coupe for $70,000 would be easy, but once you eliminate the American V8 offerings and filter by non-standard colors the inventory narrows pretty fast. There are a few Porsches out there that may fit the bill but the market for that brand is so bonkers right now it’s hard to justify some of the prices.
Since this seems like a “bucket list” car for you, it might be worth targeting something with some real panache, an Aston Martin. The V8 Vantage was offered with three pedals and while these are very rare, they can be found if you are patient. Unfortunately scoring one in a bright color is going to take a while. However, I did manage what might be a decent example right in Houston! It’s not an obnoxious color, but rather the most correct color combo for a British sports car with a dark green exterior and an orange/brown interior. It does have over 50,000 miles but with a price of less than $44,000 it could be worth the gamble.
Look, there aren’t a lot of manual coupes on the market. I thought about suggesting a GR Corolla, which you can theoretically get without a back seat, but I think the best color option there is white. So, how about we go with one of the best cars you can buy, a Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing in Electric Blue. I have driven thousands of cars, and the Blackwings are among just a few that really stand out to me. Read this effusive review by some guy if you don’t believe me. It’s not a coupe, but it’s not a Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger. It checks the rest of your boxes and it’s within your price range.
Man, Tom and Rory really weren’t kidding when they said your options were pretty limited. There are certainly more choices if you’re willing to fly across the country to pick something up or have it shipped to you sight unseen, but people tend to prefer to test drive before they buy, so I tried sticking to what’s actually available in the Houston area. And as it turns out, the best choice nearby is a BMW. This one just doesn’t have the buck teeth.
Specifically, I’m talking about a BMW M2 Competition. This one is in Houston, comes with a manual, makes more than 400 hp, and has about 18,000 miles on the odometer for a hair under $64,000. Could you find other M2 Comps for less money somewhere? If you’re willing to travel or have it shipped to you, sure. But this one is right in your backyard, and you can test drive it without getting on a plane or booking a hotel room.
Sadly, the color is more gorgeous than obnoxious, but it will still stand out in the sea of white, gray, and black cars clogging up our roads. Plus, it’s got that wing, which adds a nice little dollop of obnoxious to make up for the not-obnoxious paint color. If you really have your heart set on driving a lime green car, you can always wrap it. There’s still room in the budget for that. Just promise us you won’t try to wrap the car yourself to save a few bucks.
BMWs are the most obnoxious cars for the most obnoxious people. The kind of drivers who don’t use their turn signals, and who can’t shut up about how their inline-sixes are so good Toyota wanted one. But BMWs have also come in the most obnoxious yellows, reds, and purples of all time. BMWs featured some of the best color and design combinations of the past. I’m zeroing in on obnoxious. Josh, you may not be a great fan of BMWs latest, but don’t worry; you’ll come around. In the meantime, I recommend this obnoxiously bright 2017 BMW i8.
Truth be told, I’d love to put you behind the wheel of a manual, bright red E30 M3 but the market has lost its mind. I thought maybe a purple E36 M3, but you said you wanted something comfortable, and while older M3s are a hoot to handle, they lack the refinement of newer models. That’s a plus or a minus depending on your outlook, but if you’re leaning towards minus, you’ll need something more modern from BMW to get you a blend of comfort and speed. That’s where the BMW i8 comes in. No manual, but what no one ever admits is that paddle shifters are actually fun once you get your head around the idea.
The BMW i8 is not the fastest BMW (not by a long shot) but it does a good impression of a supercar with its lightweight carbon fibre monocoque chassis and its respectable handling and acceleration — courtesy of a partially electrified drivetrain. And it’s a plug-in hybrid, meaning it’ll look more obnoxious than it is, all while making for a decent daily in that Houston traffic.