What Car Should You BuyThe experts at Jalopnik answer your car-buying questions.

Matt has been living the #Jaloplife, and pouring his time into various project cars. He is looking for something that he can drive more than fix, and maybe even take to the track. What car should he buy!

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.)


Here is the scenario -

I have had a revolving door of projects. Just bought the wife a minivan and have gotten the ok to buy another car. However, rather than starting a project I just want something to drive in stock form that is moderately quick/fast and can later be modded.

The car I’d want would need to be something either in RWD or AWD, it would have to be a manual as well. Other than those I don’t have too many other requirements I’m not a huge fan of Corvettes or Camaros tend to side more on the import side of the spectrum.

I do some autocross events but would like to get a little more serious about racing. So if I could eventually turn this fun car into a race car that would be great. I’ve set a budget of no more than $15,000 for this purchase.

Quick Facts:

Budget: $15,000

Daily Driver: Sort of

Location: Dayton, Ohio

Wants: Fun, manual, preferably an import

Doesn’t want: This car to be on a lift more than it’s on the road

Expert 1: Tom McParland - You Need More Oppositelock

Image: Japanese Classics

Hey Matt, while some of my more adventurous colleagues can sympathize with your never-ending project car situation a little better, I think I have just the solution. Since you are a guy that has owned an interesting variety of cars, it’s time to throw something wild into the mix. You can’t take the easy way out and just get a 350Z or some beat to hell WRX, you need something special.

You mentioned that you planned on eventually modifying this car and taking it racing, what if I told you that you can have a car that was already set up for both? My friend, you need this $12,995 drift-tastic JDM 1991 Nissan Silvia. Just look at that boost gauge, this thing is ready to fly. The rear seats and trunk have already been gutted and a rear safety cage is already installed. Someone did a lot of work for you.


Now our pals over at Japanese Classics say the mileage on this is a bit of a question mark, but not to worry since it’s a Nissan with a boosted SR20DET powering the rear wheels. Go sideways and smile!

Expert 2: Raphael Orlove - You Need More Midship Amusement

Image: Duncan Imports

Getting a JDM import isn’t a terrible idea, but that Silvia has been modified already, plus you could always buy a 240SX here in America. What you want is something stock that’s still fun and that couldn’t get here ever. What you need is a little rear-drive, midengine roadster from Honda.

Yes, you need a Beat. You need Midship Amusement. I recently got to drive one of these cars and thought it would be a bit of a disappointment, since it’s so small and it only has a (turbocharged) three-cylinder engine making, uh, half a horsepower. But no! This car was instantly hilarious bone stock, like riding a skateboard in automotive form. These things are super affordable, too. Just about the nicest Beat you can find Stateside, like this one at Duncan Imports in southern VA, will still only run you about eight grand.


Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky - Go All Out, Already

Listing from Hemmings

The best way to make sure you follow through with your dream to get more serious about racing is to get a car that’s already serious about it. And the best way to do that is to get a car that’s got some racing experience and pedigree, which this 1974 Saab Sonnet III absolutely has.

This little wedge of Swedish fun-cheese has a history of winning SCCA races back in the 1970s. It was built by a noted Saab hobby racer named Randy Cook, and as such is pretty much race-ready: full SCCA-approved roll cage, and a fresh, just-rebuilt, race-prepped V4 engine.


The ad says the car is in “near turn-key” condition, which means there’s probably some stuff to do before you start to drive it a lot, but at half your budget ($7,500) you should be in a good position to get it going.

When you’re driving around everyday in a car with numbers on the sides and a full cage, you’ll be out on that track before you know it.


Why buy something with the hopes that, one day, you might be able to turn it into a race car, when you can just start off with the race car already!

Expert 4: Kristen Lee - In Mourning For Mitsubishi

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi

Remember when Mitsubishi was fun? I’m still going to give it a chance, but remember when it made a sporty coupe? When will those words ever be applied to Mitsubishi again? Matt, my dude, if you buy a Mitsubishi 3000GT, then you are effectively buying a time machine.

Four-wheel drive? Check! All-wheel steering? Check! A 3.0-liter V6 with 220 horsepower and 201 lb-ft of torque? Check! Flip-up headlights? Heckin’ yeah!


The 3000GT was developed to compete with the Nissan 300ZX, Skyline GT-R and the Toyota Supra. Yes, it’s kind of heavy, but it looks amazing and you don’t really come across too many of them these days. You want uniqueness, yes? Yes! Who doesn’t?

Plus, it comes in a manual. Here’s one from 1991 with 51,929 miles on the clock and costs $11,900. It’s a little below your budget, which means you can spend the additional money on modding it. I bet you could make a pretty sweet ride out of it.

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)

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