I’ve been thinking recently how much I love bad cars. The shittier and more drawbacks, the better it seems. No AC? sign me up! No power seats? great! and preferably containing more Mexican plastic than a valley girl who just returned from an all inclusive “surgery vacation”.
I recently went to the Vancouver Auto Show and couldn’t stop thinking about how expensive and complex cars are getting. There was even a Mirage sedan stickered at $16,000+ CAD, which would have put it $5000 above my Forte before extras/tax.
The new Mazda3 and Forte are both very nice, but I couldn’t help but think how much more upmarket they were than the cars they replaced. Only two cars at the show had a manual as far as I could tell, the Civic Type R and, for some reason, one of the Crosstreks.
Now, I like a fancy interior as much as the next person, but I also think about depreciation, future repairs and reliability. I also tend to prefer buying new rather than used. I do really get concerned about the lack of “affordable” new cars coming down the pipeline. I see a future where everything in my price range is an automatic crossover with a failing touch screen and worn “pleather” interior.
As much as I rag on my Forte, I actually have grown...not fond... but accepting(?) of it. It fulfills a purpose. For $9,000 USD I got a brand new car that gets me around perfectly well, has a rocking warranty/roadside assistance package and is OK to spend time in, albeit a bit toasty these days without AC.
Financially, it allows me to pocket most of my $600 CAD car allowance after the finance payment and insurance as well as keeps me off of the boss’s radar when it comes to gas charges on my fleet card.
Then there is my Fiesta ST. My first new car I ever bought.
Yes, the interior quality is horrible. Yes, the exterior quality is horrible. But I got this brand new for $22,000 CDN. For that price I got one of the best performance hatch backs ever made and certainly one of the best, if not the best to come to North America. It isn’t the fastest car, but for the curvy country roads near Fort Langley, it is set up perfectly.
It’s been in 3 accidents, has over 100,000km and was once coated with bleach. Yet, I have people ask me all the time if it is new. It’s held up extremely well and is always ready to rock when I feel the need for speed.
Again, when I look at the current market, there is nothing else that offers this level of value. Sure, the GTI is OK, but it isn’t a performance car. It is a “sporty” every day car. I’ve driven one with the DSG on the same roads as I drive in the ST and loved it, but I would have bought it to compliment the ST, not replace it. I actually ended up sitting with the salesman negotiating on the GTI, but we couldn’t meet in the middle.
Then there is the Micra. I know the Americans don’t get it and the only reason Canada does is Quebec, but it is a fantastic car for value. For $7000USD, you could walk out with a “new car” that feels so well set up. Decent manual, quick enough and handles actually really well. With some minor modifications, you would have a competent auto cross car for less than a used Fiesta ST. I’ve come close to buying one of these twice. Once I even put a deposit on it then backed out because the dealership wouldn’t let me put the whole car on my Visa (cash back yo!).
Lastly, the Jeep Wrangler.
I really think I am going to end up in a JK of some type this year. Maybe a 2 door, maybe a 4 due to the incoming puppy.
The base model sports (no ac, cloth top, steel wheels and a manual) really speak to me. Like the ST, I see a canvas that will allow for me to customize it in a way to fit my lifestyle and job.
As much as I like my dad’s Rubicon, the now $75,000CAD he’s into it for the purchase price/mods is insane. I am pretty sure that with big enough balls and slight modifications a JK sport could do most of the things you’d need from a Jeep.
As a car buyer, it seems that I favor quantity over quality. I’d rather have a bad car for each task than a good all rounder.