Zach has a 2004 WRX wagon that is getting up there in age. He wants to change it up and try something with V8 power, but he doesn’t want the usual suspects of Camaro, Mustang, Challenger, etc… With a $30,000 budget, what car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario -
New fast food restaurant owner. I want something fun and newer than my 2004 wrx wagon I currently drive. I love the practicality of the wrx and the fun it brings to my drive, but it’s getting old. I’m outgrowing my high school sweetheart. A v8 is almost my only requirement. Something off the beaten path of mustangs and camaros though. I could maybe be swayed with something with a turbo v-6 however. I am located in Oklahoma City and I am looking to spend up to $30,000.
4 doors is preferred, but not required and either manual or auto is fine. I am in a stable relationship with someone that drives an Expedition, so space is not of the utmost importance.
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Budget: up to $30,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Oklahoma City
Wants: V8 (maybe V6 turbo), RWD or AWD
Doesn’t want: No Mustang, Camaro, or Mercedes.
Expert 1: Tom McParland - Thunder From Down Under
Zach, I can see why you would want to go for a V8 this time around. There will likely come a day where getting a big honkin’ motor under the hood is no longer an option so it’s wise to take advantage of that while you can. You already know that there is any number of muscle cars available around that $30k mark, in addition to plenty of V8 Chargers.
However, since you are after something a bit different you are going to have to cast your net out really wide to find the right ride. Doing so means you can catch a Pontiac GTO. In the mid-2000s, GM decided to revive the legendary GTO nameplate by importing a rear-drive muscle coupe from Australia. The result was a really nice car that couldn’t quite live up to the legendary GTO badge. These are somewhat collectible now so you will be looking at something similar in age to your ‘04 WRX. However, well-cared-for examples with relatively low miles and manual transmissions can be had for around $25,000. Since they aren’t likely to depreciate much further, you can get your V8 power out of your system, and probably sell the Pontiac for close to what you paid for it.
Here is a super clean example with around $16,000 miles, three-pedals, and red seats.
Expert 2: Collin Woodard - You Deserve Nice Things
I noticed that despite saying you’re looking for a car that has a V8, is newer than your current one, and is still fun to drive, you didn’t mention reliability. Not even once. I also noticed that you said you’d prefer a four-door. I think I can work with that.
Here we have a 2008 Maserati Quattroporte, a car literally named for the four doors you said you wanted. Plus, it’s got a 400-horsepower V8. A Ferrari V8. Even better, it’s four whole model years newer than your Subaru. OK, so maybe you were hoping for something a little newer, but how many other sedans offer this combination of sportiness and luxury?
And I do mean luxury. This particular Quattroporte has the Executive GT package, which you absolutely deserve since you’re now the big boss. Forget massaging front seats. Those are way too common. In your new Maserati, back seat passengers can get a back massage.
Even better, it’s priced at just under $15,000, leaving you another $15,000 to spend on maintenance, repairs, rental cars, and maybe even one of those overpriced third-party warranties.
Expert 3: David Tracy - Buy Something Legendary
The GTO and Quattroporte are fine suggestions, but neither of them are legends. The E90/E92/E93 BMW M3, however — the only V8 M3 ever — is without question a legend, and frankly, I’m not sure why we’re all not on a buying frenzy to nab these things up before they climb above $50,000.
I remember reading about these in car magazines as a teenager. In May of 2009, just a few months before my high school graduation, Motor Trend published the article “2009 BMW M3: The Worlds Greatest All Around Car.” That’s an incredible compliment, and it followed up years worth of comparisons in which the M3 stomped the competition.
The 414 horsepower 4.0-liter high-revving V8, mated to either a good six-speed manual or “one of the world’s best transmissions” (as Motor Trend put it), a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, screamed as it rocketed the M3 around test track after test track. The chassis was as good as the powertrain; the steering, many reviewers, felt communicative; the suspension, they said, was smooth but also tight enough to rip the car through corners with poise.
The M3 was a legend when it came out, and I think it remains one to this day. You deserve V8 M3 before they become too expensive.
Expert 4: José Rodríguez Jr. - If You Want A V8, Get A CTS-V
Every single car recommended so far is good. That Holden hiding under the Pontiac arrowhead is awesome. A Maserati will look great regardless of age, and the V8 M3 might offend straight-six purists, and there’s no question that both are a marvel of engineering. But those cars don’t feel different enough. Zach, you need a car that’s so different, it’s polarizing. The kind of car that forces a reaction from everyone, for better or worse. You need this 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the existence of the CTS-V Coupe is for the better. The design is just so removed from what many associate with Cadillac. This is not a land yacht; it’s a cruise missile. The Caddy coupés of that period were cool enough, but the CTS-V takes that bold appearance and gives it purpose by stuffing the engine bay with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, which propelled the Caddy from 0-60 miles per hour in around four seconds.
This is the car that the Camaros and Mustangs you mentioned aspire to be. Maybe even some Corvettes, too. The only knock against this particular model is that it’s an automatic, but that’s not a big deal. Also, it’s a road trip away from you since it’s in Houston, but it should leave enough money, at around $25,000, for a plane ticket or even a road trip with a friend!