Greetings fellow Oppos, I come to you seeking advice once more. I apologize in advance that this is going to be a wall of text post, because for whatever reason Kinja doesn’t allow me to upload or link pictures any longer (using Chrome Version 49.0.2623.87 m if anybody has any ideas), and I want to give you a complete background to help you understand where I’m coming from.
Anyway – my lovely wife, who has more financial sensibility that I probably ever will, has temporarily canned my idea for snagging a used Porsche. She’s ultimately right, both financially and logistically, having a third car doesn’t make sense right now (limited parking space) and DD-ing the Porsche isn’t what I really want to do. My ultimate goal, probably like many of you, is to have a fun DD, but at the same time, have something a little special for the weekends. Carrera S, Cayman GTS, Corvette GS, GT350, etc. Something that, while unlikely to ever be a legit “classic”, could still be a kickass family heirloom of sorts.
Stepping back in time, I had a NC Miata. I was happy with it and it was a great car. I put nearly 100,000 miles on it in four years, largely due to a 60 mile daily commute. It was also fun and trouble-free. Then life happened and I got divorced. All of a sudden, the little Miata didn’t seem practical enough and moving out of my house (with garage) meant the little guy would be parked out in the elements. It was already at 100k+ miles at that point and about seven years old, but looked awesome thanks to being garaged. After letting it sit outside for a couple months, I decided I needed to get something else better suited to my new life, and something that didn’t have my ex-wife’s name on the title as well.
Winter of 2012 I found and purchased a CPO Lexus IS250 with the manual transmission. It was everything the Miata wasn’t – comfortable, quiet, exuded quality, upscale ownership experience, etc. For a few months, I was happy. Then, as they often do, all the cracks in my preconception started to form, grow and eventually shatter. It was a dog, the manual transmission was garbage and it wasn’t really any nicer than an Accord with equivalent options. I hated driving it and hated myself for selling my Miata down the river to get it. Shit.
Met an awesome girl in late summer 2013 and, at roughly our first anniversary of dating, with her (unnecessary) blessing, I decided to move on from the Lexus. I looked around for all sorts of cars, coming damn close to buying a 997.1 Cabriolet (still think I should’ve), but refused to take a loss on the stupid Lexus that I only owned for 18 months. Generally speaking, owning a car that short of a timeframe is going to result in you having a bad time, unless you put a ton of cash down. I eventually moved on to looking at 987.1 Cayman S’s, but they were either too expensive, beat up, or sold before I got there. I then considered alternatives, and checked out the Subaru BRZ – it follows the ethos of my beloved Miata, but seemed a little more serious and precise, two keen attributes of the Cayman S that I loved. Of course it was underpowered, but so was the Miata, and you can’t use all that oomph on the street (legally) anyway.
So I had my mark, which was sweetened by the fact that the manufacturer was running a 0% promotion at the end of 2014. I contacted every Subi dealer in my state to find a great leftover 2014 Limited model for a great price that would give me at least payoff on the Lexus, finally locating one after about a month of searching.
I admit, I’m happy with the car, but it has been a little taxing. I’ve gotten to meet a great group of local enthusiasts, used it to get wonderful track experiences and fully participate in autocross. The car has helped me become a better driver and has been nothing but mechanically sound. That said, the cracks are beginning to show again – the horrible paint, the cheap build quality, the lack of power despite spending wayyyyy too much. The regret of wondering what else I could’ve spent $25k+ on. Ugh.
I married that awesome girl who has been very understanding, if not completely supportive of my hobby and, over the course of the last two years, the BRZ has become rather extensively modified (to STX standards). Problem is, each modification to make it perform a little better has had the side-effect of making it ride more harshly, louder or less efficient. I loved the power of E85 (over 200whp), but fuel economy is dismal, and it’s likely rotting the lines from the inside out. At this point, I really don’t want to further modify the car as long as it’s my daily. The BRZ is fun to drive when you can wring it out on a twisty road, but on a commute in its modified fashion it’s a bit of a pill. The car being constantly loud and the relative lack of comfort really have worn on me over time.
Since my overarching goal is to have something that I consider special that would be a weekend/nice day/HPDE/etc car, I realize that at some point I’ll need a good DD, which finally brings me to the point of this extremely long post. I’m starting to wonder if I should play the long game and get out of the BRZ and get into something that’s a good DD now, and will continue being a good DD for many years to come. Fellow Oppos have posted about how inexpensive new GTIs are now, possibly as a bi-product of Dieselgate and VW wanting to move cars. It’s easy to find a base model for $19k, or a Sport or SE for a few thousand more. Reliability jokes aside, they aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be and from my casual sleuthing, the Mk7 seems pretty immune from widespread problems once they got that turbo issue under control very early in the model cycle.
The GTI would still allow me to compete in autocross, albeit in GS instead of STX. I highly doubt I would modify it beyond possibly a tune, a set of wheels/tires for autocross days and a rear swaybar. Even with a swaybar and tune, it should be just as quiet a stock example and ride as smoothly, a stark contrast to my BRZ. Clearly it’ll be a nicer commuter, but probably not quite as engaging a drive or as competitive in autocross (I won my class for the season in STX). But hey, challenge is good in that regard, right?
From a financial standpoint, switching up in cars is almost always a stupid decision, and this one would be as well. I’ve got the BRZ on a 0% loan and the best VW is offering right now is 1.9%, which still isn’t bad. I currently owe about $16k on the Subaru and have been overpaying my note to try and get right-side-up on it. I know that a dealer isn’t going to give me what I need on trade and the way to maximize the BRZ’s value is to part out the modifications (probably about $4k in collective used value) and sell the car as stock as possible privately. If I could sell it for $17k privately and the mods (over time, obviously) for $4k, that’d be a combined value of $21k against the new $19k (+tax) GTI (a little more if trying to go for the Sport or SE). Additionally, with the GTI, I’d be moving up three model years to a 2017 and down 31,000 miles.
I brought up my idea to my wife who pretty much shot it down, noting the fact that I owe less on the Subaru, it’s running fine, and the loan on it is free money (0%). I reminded her that the GTI would be more comfortable, can be had with DSG so the possibility exists that we could both drive it (she hasn’t learned stick yet) and it would have enough utility that we wouldn’t have to take her car everywhere (she has a Nissan Rogue). I pointed out the fact that the GTI can easily baby when that time comes, something not quite as easy in the BRZ with its tiny backseat. A rear-facing car seat in the BRZ basically renders the front passenger seat useless, whereas the GTI has enough space to use both. Not to mention loading in and out is much easier in a four-door.
She’s still rightfully dubious of all this and harbors the fear that I’ll want to swap again in a couple years. I’m not so sure that I would, unless the GTI turns out to be an unreliable heap. I think it would suit my goal of having a DD that’s not a penalty box, but a car that I could own for a number of years and have paid for by the time I can get something awesome to drive on the weekend and finally share miles with the GTI. I honestly do think I would miss the BRZ in time, and my biggest fear is that I would regret getting rid of it as much as I do the Miata. That said, the BRZ isn’t going to be the weekend/nice day/HPDE/etc, because I don’t consider it special, so I don’t see how it can ever fill that role. I highly doubt my wife, as understanding as she is, will ever be on board with me having a DD, the BRZ and then a weekend/nice day/HPDE/etc car all in the stable.
My wife wants to revisit the idea in a few weeks, but I’m not entirely sure my mind is going to change. I’m not going to do anything if she’s not completely on board, but what would you do in my shoes? Knowing my past, would I regret moving on from the BRZ? Or would this be a good step to finally being able to have a plan to get a great heirloom/forever-type car in the fold?