Jim, like many of us in our current circumstances, has had a dramatic reduction in his commute. He wants to take this opportunity to toss his good but not exciting daily driver for something cheaper and more fun. 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:
My commute has gone from 180 miles a day to 0, probably forever, so I want to replace my 2018 Ford Focus with something that’s half the price and twice the fun. The Focus was fine as a commuter, but boring as hell, and the Sync audio system is annoying, when it works at all. I figure I can sell the Focus for around $12,000 and replace it with something that’s much cheaper and more enjoyable. Practical considerations like gas mileage and repair costs are less important now, since the replacement car will primarily sit in the driveway Monday-Friday, with some weekend use running errands and an occasional vacation road trip.
I’m generally open to anything, but I don’t really want another Ford since the infotainment stuff was pain. In fact, something that is more “old school” with less tech would be better.
Budget: Up to $10,000
Daily Driver: Not really
Location: Portland, Maine
Wants: Fun, Simple, Cheap
Doesn’t want: Another Ford
Jim, normally I’m the one who will tell you to get something “reasonable” but it looks like you really want to change things up and since you don’t need to rely on this ride for a daily commute you can be a bit more adventurous.
I’m going to take a cue from my co-workers and suggest you get something JDM and fun. A quick look at Duncan Imports shows a ton of Honda Beats, but a convertible may not be the best choice for Maine winters. However, this 1991 Mitsubishi Dangan ZZ looks like a hoot. It’s got a five-speed manual, with a turb0charged three-cylinder, and only about 62,000 miles. Take a peek inside and it is very basic, no fussy infotainment to frustrate you anymore, though I imagine you could upgrade the head unit to something that is Bluetooth compatible.
Granted $10,000 for an almost 30-year-old car is not exactly cheap, but it’s hard to put a price on having something unique and enjoyable.
I get where you’re coming, bud. A Ford of reasonable size is not going to make every drive to the lobster-and-crafts store (or whatever people do in Portland) a thrilling adventure. The most cost-effective solution is probably to... have lots of adventures in your Focus! You could just blow five or ten grand in Team O’Neil Rally School lessons and rallycross registrations and your humble Ford will feel like a rocketship.
However! If you want a car that’s new, comfortable, and practical but still feels like it has a soul, a spark of excitement every time you set out of your parking spot, just get one of the Toyobaru Twins. Here’s an FR-S with mud flaps for five figures (the seller is only asking $8,500) that, honestly, I might scoop up if I were in town and had the scratch.
I just spent a minute perusing the Portland Maine CL and you have a lot of great options nearby. But in that minute one car, in particular, stood out to me: this ‘68 Falcon. Daily driving an old, basically worthless American car isn’t for everyone, but I’d recommend giving it at least one whirl to see if it suits you.
This looks to be in solid, driver condition and should be simple enough to maintain. You said you didn’t want another Ford, but I don’t think the infotainment system should give you too much trouble.