Thoughts of: MPG cars

My friend, Eric was explaining to me that he would soon be paying off his truck and planned on keeping it while buying the Camaro he always dreamed of owning.

That got me thinking.  My truck is paid off, but I don’t relish filling up the gas tank.  It might not be a bad idea to look for an economy car to zip around with while keeping the truck for the heavy lifting.  Besides, the truck’s been through multiple hurricanes and countless heroics.  How do you just leave a buddy like that?

So I let my mouse do the scrolling and looked at the two latest economy fun cars.  The Ford Fiesta and the Chevy Sonic.  $18,000 M.S.R.P.?  Yikes!  Yeah, It’s been a long time since I priced out a car, but that’s only six grand less than what my truck was with V-8, four wheel drive, and off road package.  Yeesh!

My mind went back to Eric and his dream car.  Why couldn’t I do that in a fashion?  Why couldn’t I look for cars I wanted back in my high school days and pick out the ones that had good mileage?

That’s when the fun began.  There is nothing like going from site to site, hunting down the cars of your past to see if any survived with dignity.

Two came quickly to mind:

  • The Dodge Charger Shelby 2.2
  • The Cadillac Cimarron

I liked the Charger because everybody wanted either a Camaro or Mustang back then.  The Charger was Dodge’s competitor until they came out with the Daytona.  Truth be told, the Charger was a slug!  It was so slow that when Lee Iaccoca advertised the thing, he threw 0-50 stats on the page instead of the recognized 0-60 stats.  He avoided quarter mile statistics all together.

That didn’t matter to me.  I liked how it looked and I liked it was an underdog.  I always liked the underdog back then.  (Still do sometimes.)

The Cadillac Cimarron is the complete opposite.  The first time I saw one was on a used car lot.  It was small like me, but it seemed to have style.  Especially when compared to the Cavalier, Firenza, and J-2000/Sunbird that were built along side it.  (Buick had a version as well, but I can’t recall it’s name.)

The Cimarron was a huge flop for Cadillac.  It was their first small car and they had no idea who to market it to, or how to market it.  Instead of focusing on the BMW 3 series, like they should’ve;  Caddy turned it into a mini deville.  Then they threw on an outlandish $14,000 price tag on it when the average Chevy Cavalier was $8,500.  Another way to look at it, that car was created twenty four years ago, but priced only $4,000 less than today’s Fiesta or Sonic.

Then I went completely selfish and looked up the two seat Fiero.  A decent car killed when Pontiac threw in a 16 valve, turbocharged 4 cylinder in it that was faster than the Corvette of the time.

I also looked at the Jeep Wrangler and Suzuki Samurai.  The jeep gets horrible mileage unless you get the four cylinder version.  Then it’s gets bad mileage while being slow as tar.  The Samurai gets great mileage, but the suspension will put you on a first name basis with your local chiropractor.

Out of nostalgia for my car sales days, I looked for a Saturn SL-2 10th Anniversary edition.

While sifting through all this, I was amazed at what I found.  There is a 1986 Shelby Charger, a 1988 Cimarron, and a Fiero all with less than 40,000 original miles on them listed for ten grand or less.

So for 10K I can get a low mileage, vintage 80’s high school dream car that gets mid-thirties highway mpg to drive every day.  But should I do that?  These cars have become rare just through attrition.  They somehow survived the rigors of daily life for the average car.  Should I force that upon one when I could honestly be considered a collectors or future collector’s item?

But then again, will they ever be truly collector cars?  There might be a case for the Fiero since it was a sporty two seater, but for the other two, one was a tarted-up Cavalier and the other was a stretched two door Omni.  Does anyone besides me ever look back at these two cars and regret not buying one?

Of course, there is another option all together that avoids the entire debate.  A first gen Miata.

There’s still scads of these around with low miles and they are priced every bit as low as the others mentioned.  With so many out there I wouldn’t feel like I was destroying a piece of potential history and could still one of the cars I dreamed of when I was younger, albeit at an older age.

So which would you choose if you had 10K to plink down on any of the older cars listed.  Let me know what you pick and why in the response section.  In the meantime, I’ll try to decide which one would be my best choice.  I doubt if I’ll get one anytime soon, but it’s fun to kick around.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts of: MPG cars

  1. Both the Miata and the Fiero GT would catch my interest, but….a little web searching found a few others in the $5,000 – $10,000 range that interest me. A 1982 Porsche 928 high performance model with matching luggage. Need I say more? A 1992 and a 1991 Cadillac Allante. Great engine and drivetrain, Pininfarina luxury sports design, Cadillac’s jump into the modern era. Finally, either a 1988 BMW 750 IL or a 1995 Mercedes Benz S600. Pure German luxury with V-12 power! Ahh….to dream and dream again.

  2. Reconsidered the dream, adding mpg concerns….2006 Ford Focus ZX4 SE – sports performance in a mini-box….2006 Malibu Maxx SS- closer to $12,000 but power and room for light hauling.

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