Douglas is a delivery guy. He drives for UPS and also brings hungry folks food, from the local pizza joint. However, the shared pizza delivery vehicle got totaled and he is looking for a replacement. He now needs something cheap, reliable, and easy to get in an out of.
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
Totaled a shared pizza delivery vehicle, looking for another. I want to make it clear, I didn’t total it. Not as mad as I could be, as it was a terrible car. Worst car I’ve bought in at least 20 years. A 1995 Buick LeSabre. I don’t know what I was thinking. Unreliable, drank gas like a performance car, but wasn’t.
I move things. I work for UPS, and deliver pizza. Obviously UPS gives me a truck but I like to have something with a bit of cargo space. It has to have an automatic transmission, the seat can’t be too low to the ground. I will be getting in and out 40-80 times a day! Reliable! AAA only gives you four tows a year, my last pizza car tested that feature!
As for a budget I’m looking to spend between $5,000 and $10,000.
Budget: Up to $10,000
Daily Driver: Sort of.
Location: St. Louis, MO
Wants: Reliable, good for pizza delivery.
Doesn’t want: Something that will break down and make the pizza cold.
That’s too bad about the old Buick, but you said it wasn’t your favorite ride. While it may have been comfortable it probably wasn’t ideal for a lot putting on a lot of miles.
What you need is a cheap wagon-ish car that is made to last. That car is the Scion xB. You can choose from the charming first-generation car or a newer second-gen model that will likely have fewer miles.
As you may be aware, the xB is basically the bulletproof Toyota Corolla under the skin, just with a much more interesting and practical boxy body on top. The tall roof and wide doors means getting in and out is a bit easier than some other small cars. And if you ever get that phone call where someone needs 20 pizzas, the xB can handle the load without a problem.
There are plenty of these Scions to choose from in your metro zone, but this 2012 with 127,000 miles for only $6,100 looks super clean.
You’re on the right track by wanting a reliable-ish, wagon-like, fuel-efficient vehicle. The xB is a good choice. But after a strong first-gen model, it got ugly fast and was quickly outdone by the Koreans. Meet the xB’s real replacement, the Kia Soul.
I’ve always liked the Soul. It’s not super thrilling to drive, but it balances some character with extreme practicality. It’s a damn fine car, and a little on the tall side so you can get in and out very easily.
Here’s a 2012 model near you with 124,000 miles for just $6,300. Get a pre-purchase inspection and make sure everything’s solid, but I think this will make a fine affordable pizza delivery machine.
I think both boxes-on-wheels choices here are pretty good—I’m a fan of the xB (well, the first-gen one at least) and the Soul is a good car, but let’s be real here—they’re amateurs. You need a professional box-on-wheels.
You said it best yourself when you said: “I move things.” That’s a clear, noble calling. The act of relocating objects to where we need them is one of the fundamental foundations of human endeavor, and you deserve a vehicle designed to do just that: a Ford Transit Connect.
The Transit Connect is a very clever little van that’s not much bigger than either the xB or Soul, but is a lot more usable for thing-moving on the inside, because that’s its damn job. These get good gas mileage, aren’t hard to park, have big sliding rear side doors, a high roof, and double back doors all for easy loading and access.
I even like the way they look, personally. There’s a 2011 one near you for $7995, and it even has windows and rear seats, so this can do passenger duty as well as cargo duty.
The Transit is literally designed for the kinds of jobs you’re talking about, and as such will do those jobs well. Easy entry/exit, loading/unloading, the whole deal.
Why mess around with some hatchbacks when you can do it right?
Plus, they’re built in Turkey, which, you know, is a fun thing to tell people.
It is no secret by now that I have been banned from recommending vehicles from a certain four-letter brand that starts with J, and whose spiritual home is Toledo, Ohio. It’s also no secret that, whenever possible, I try to find some technicality that allows me to recommend one anyway. So that’s what I’m doing, here.
You see, the vehicle above is not a J**p, it’s technically an AM General. That’s the name of the former military arm of American Motors—a subsidiary that was sold in 1983 to a big conglomerate called LTV Corporation. But even before 1983, AM General was indeed separate from J**p, with an archived 1983 story about the sale uploaded to the United Press International website stating:
AM General, the leading producer of military tactical wheeled vehicles in the free world, is headquartered in Detroit and has production facilities in Indiana. It is a separate entity from Jeep Corp. of Toledo, Ohio., which produces commerical Jeeps for AMC
Anyway, now that I’ve made it clear that I’m not breaking the rules, I’ll say: Just go buy that postal vehicle. I’ve been driving one around for almost six months, and I remain amazed by how much stuff fits in the stubby cube. The AM Generals even came with postal trays instead of front passenger seats—talk about the perfect place in which to place pizzas!
Plus, these machines, provided you choose the right years and provided you’ve done some maintenance, are actually damn reliable. An inline-six engine mated to a Chrysler 727 three-speed and a solid Dana 44 rear axle? All of that is totally bulletproof. The bodies and frames aren’t, so find one without too much rust.
Once you do, you’ll have the perfect delivery vehicle. The turning radius is hilariously tiny, the overall size is small enough to fit into any parking space, there’s tons of room, the right-hand setup drive means you can park on the street without walking into traffic, the seat height is perfect and doesn’t require a crouch or a climb, the door latches open so you don’t have to keep pulling that handle as you frequently hop in and out, and the list goes on.
Highway driving can be sketchy, but it’ll be worth it, trust me. What do you have to lose? These things are dirt cheap.
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