Ben had a Porsche 911 convertible that he got from his grandfather. He loved that car until an unfortunate incident with a pizza delivery dude. Now he’s looking for a replacement. It needs to be a manual, drop-top, and some kind of back seat. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario:
My grandfather graciously passed me down his 997 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio and for the past year, I have enjoyed every second with that dream car. Unfortunately, a few days ago a pizza delivery driver parked on the right shoulder decided to make a “surprise” U-turn in front of me, hitting my car driving in the left lane. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but it seems my car may be beyond repair. Now with a healthy insurance payout for the total value of the car coming my way, I have around $40,000 to find a replacement. I can’t lose the manual or convertible in a future car and having four seats (no matter how small) is a must for me.
Budget: up to $40,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Wants: Manual, convertible, backseat
Doesn’t want: Automatic, closed roof
I’m sorry to hear about your Porsche, aside from being a good car I’m sure there is a deeper connection to it since your grandfather owned it. If the car is repairable, I would suggest going down that route as it will be difficult to replace a quality 997 cab with another 997 cab for under $40,000.
That being said, if it is time to move on your options are a bit limited if you want three pedals, no roof, and a back seat. Though there is one really good option; the BMW 2 series convertible. The 2 series is probably the best modern BMW that still has that “Ulitmate Driving Machine” ethos baked in, sure other BMWs are fast and very nice but the 2 reminds folks of the BMWs of the past. You can get the 2 series convertible in two engine options both available with a manual transmission. You have the four-cylinder 228/230 and the six-cylinder 235/240. The six obviously will have more power, but some people prefer the balance and handling dynamics of the smaller engine.
Here is a 235 drop-top, with an M-sport package and a manual gearbox not far from you. It’s also way under budget. You may not dig the red seats, but you can find similar cars if you cast a wide net.
Now, those 2ers are great cars. Fun to drive, good for road-tripping with the odd parking lot figure-eights. But I see that you are a Porsche person. And you have $40,000 to spend. This is more than enough money to buy another perfectly durable, reliable, modern, sturdy, last-forever 911. That is, you can buy one from 40-odd years ago.
Here is a very charming 1975 Targa for sale up here in New York for about half your budget. (Check Miami Craigslist and you’ll see plenty of others around, too.) The fun thing about this car is it has a 3.0-liter swap in it and would be a perfect kind of car to fuck around with. I would take Kevin McCauley’s 911 as a guide.
Hi, Ben. Look, I couldn’t in good faith recommend a Ford Mustang GT convertible with the six-speed manual. Yes, it’s probably fun as hell and has a collapsible roof, back seats, a clutch pedal and a price tag of just about $40,000. But you live in Florida, Ben, and you should be able to differentiate yourself from all the Hertz rentals also crawling around the state.
What you need here is what we all need: a Dodge Viper. The first-gen, also known as the Good One. Ten cylinders, rear-drive, no aids. That’s the good shit. I know you wanted rear seats, but just go and test out one of these. I promise afterward you’ll happily sacrifice your kids/friends/family so you can drive one of these glorious cars. Let ‘em take the bus. They have Lyft, right?
Prices for the original Dodge Viper can vary, but here’s one for $34,950 with just 31,245 miles on it. Life is short. Don’t wait up to fill the back seat. Get a Viper.
This is a tough one, as manual, four-seater convertibles—particularly ones that can satisfy former 911 owners—are a bit of a rarity in the automobile world. My initial thought was to recommend a first-gen Audi TT, but going from a 911 to that probably won’t make you happy, no matter how beautiful the original TT is.
So I’ll just recommend a car that I’ve had a strong attraction to for quite some time: The BMW E93 M3. It’s a 414 horsepower, 4.0-liter V8 monster that sounds good, looks elegant and tough at the same time, and can be had with a manual transmission. What more do you want in this world?
The 2011 above is for sale near you for $24,300, but it’s an automatic. I had a tough time finding a manual, though I did spot one 2008 with grainy pictures for sale for $17,499. If you look hard enough, I be you can snag a V8, manual, convertible M3 for 20-ish large and save the remaining 20 grand for retirement.
And by “retirement” I mean “repairs.”
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