As a fan of CarEnvy.ca, your tastes run into the more eccentric, fun, and obscure realms of automobilia. You’re also very smart with your money. In short, you’re pretty amazing. Almost as amazing as ING Direct spokesman Frederik de Groot, also known as Mr. Save Your Money, seen above.
While your friends are buying the latest and greatest, you’re biding your time until depreciation strangles some poor, unsuspecting dude and leaves you with a bargain-priced gem that is a bit special, rewarding to drive, and easy on the wallet. If you’re looking at driving a brand-new car off the dealer lot, your Canuck Bucks can’t do better than a $15,094 3-door Hyundai Accent. For that tidy sum, you’re treated to roll-up windows, no A/C, a design that’ll look dated by next month, and a lifetime of heartache and woe.
But as you already know, that 15 large will stretch a lot further if you take the time to browse Kijiji and eBay Motors. So let’s pretend that you really do have $15,000 and that you want to make every penny count. What are the best cars you can buy?
1. 1999 Porsche 911
The first of the water-cooled 911s, a blasphemous smudge in the company’s history books, can now be yours for only $13,910! For that kind of money you could either have a Hyundai Accent with roll-up windows or you could have the quintessential rear-engined sports car in your driveway. The history of the 911 stretches back 50 years, which in car lives makes this first water-cooled model like the student entering high school: a little unsure of its identity but growing up fast. Through a series of relentless improvements, the 911 has matured from a terrifyingly charming curiosity into a more civilized instrument for everyday use. This automatic-equipped example will ensure that your daily grind is as uneventful as home room. Sure, this particular example has 143,000 miles (230,000 km), but that just means that it has a vast depth of experience to share with its new owner: you!
But that’s not all, five (5!) more sub-$15k used cars are after the jump!
Getting started is always the toughest part. It’s pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Putting your head down and powering through. Whether it’s starting a new job, a new workout routine, living in a new city, or starting a new business – it’s a (rewarding) grind. Starting something new, especially something challenging, is a long, arduous, and often thankless path. In the car industry – as brands like Saturn, Mercury, and Scion have shown – it’s a whole lot tougher than that. And those brands started under the umbrella of existing organizations with all of their existing resources and knowledge. But how difficult is it to start from scratch?
Currently, there’s a lot of hoopla surrounding Fisker Automotive and its far-too-recently-delivered Karma, and when you look at it on paper, it’s easy to see why. It’s electric (even if it gets terrible mileage), has Henrik Fisker’s peerless seal of approval, and might even come out with a wagon body style. Someday. Maybe. But probably not.
As we’ve seen with Tesla, it’s really incredibly unimaginably stupendously tough to make couture electric cars for only $100,000 and to return a profit while doing so. Especially when you’re a start-up company with no factories, tooling, or even expertise to handle such a monumental task. At $100,000, making a few hundred or even a few thousand cars does not a strong business case make when you don’t have an entire line-up of profit-producing cars to fund your project. Companies like Porsche have bread und butter models like the Cayenne und Panamera to stuff their coffers with cash, allowing them the freedom to develop the most amazing $100,000 car in the world: the 911. Compare this to Tesla’s funding model, which relies entirely on investors injecting cash (private, public [TSLA], and the US government) rather than sales profits.
It’s been 10 years to the day since American’s aura of invincibility was irreparably pierced by four hijacked airplanes. We all know where we were when it happened. It was the defining moment for a generation of youth who’d never known the horrors of a “real” war like WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. But that morning, our innocence was snapped over Osama’s knee like a twig (or was it, my dear conspiracy theorists?). Since then, the US economy – already beaten down by dot-com 1.0′s burst bubble – briefly rose like a Phoenix from the literal ashes, before economically imploding and returning once more. And so here we are, 10 years on. No wiser. Just older.
If times were uncertain then, they’re unknowably uncertain now. The intervening decade has done little to mend the scars that were torn into the world’s psyche on that cool Fall morning. After September 11, the world renewed its right to fear outsiders starting with radical Islam, followed by our greedy bankers and, ironically, the governments who were forced to save us from said bankers. Everything from airport security to the completely coincidental increase in the sale of 100mL bottles have since created a peculiar kind of conformity as citizens of the world are treated increasingly like numbered sheep for “their own protection”. In 2001 we talked about the world at 6 billion people. Today, we’re too scared to even bring up the subject, lest we offend someone.
Technological progress and the relentless drive of scientific advance make this following statement blatantly obvious, but never before has the world changed so much in so little time. Never. And, as fortune would have it, we were alive to witness it. But before you run to the car dealership, blessing your lucky stars with wallet open and ready, you deserve some car buying advice.
Let’s say that you don’t care what size of hair gel you can take on the plane, you don’t care how many people live on the planet, and you’re more scared of snow drifts than the stock market. You’re more interested in soft leathers, off-roading, and seating for five. If somehow, someway, you actually exist, we suggest that instead of going to the Mercedes dealership to look at that new (German) ML350, you pay a visit to the Chrysler dealer to check out the (mostly German) Jeep Grand Cherokee first. Wait, since when does a Jeep qualify as “German”?
It’s amazing to see what people drive when they don’t need to drive.
I’ve spent the past two weeks cycling and taking the S-Bahn everywhere I’ve needed to go in Berlin. It’s been punctual, efficient, healthy, and a fraction of the cost of car ownership. Berlin is no small town. With a population of 4.4 million, the capital city of reunified Germany (arguably the wealthiest country in the world today) covers a huge area, about as much as metro Edmonton. Yet, car ownership is far from a necessity. In this expansive cosmopolitan area, bicycles are not only given priority by automobile drivers, but cyclists are granted their own dedicated lanes in the overwhelming majority of the city, demarcated by a red tinged strip of special pavement three feet wide. The S-Bahn (above ground subway), which complements the U-Bahn (uh, underground subway), works in concert to provide a transportation network that whisks citizens and tourists whenever they are too tired or lazy to walk or cycle. So owning a car isn’t weird – it isn’t awkward – it’s simply a luxury.
As a result of this intricate and inspired alternative transportation network, Berliners make do with only 358 cars per 1000 people compared to an average of 570 per thousand in Germany and very nearly the same density in Canada (although personally owning two cars at home skews this somewhat). An S-Bahn pass for 5 days costs around $35, which is on its own less than the cost of the gas it’d take to travel the same distances we did, with none of the depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and interest payments associated with car ownership.
Yet despite, or perhaps because of, the obvious financial, logical, and environmental detriment entailed by car ownership, Berliners have nothing less than an eclectic taste in automobilia. Classic French icons mingle with Autobahn Destroyers, which in turn covort with British Bruisers and limited editions galore. The streets of Berlin alone are worth the trip and being on a bicycle is a great way to see them all up close.
“Would you wanna drive my Porsche to this Concours thing tomorrow?”,
came the voice of Des, owner of local detailing shop Auto Details.
I could honestly think of nothing I’d rather do, and I had fortunately declined to play in a friend’s slow pitch tournament that day, but it’s not very becoming to appear too eager. So I channeled by best James Dean impression, played it cool, and agreed to meet Des on Saturday afternoon at his shop in the industrial park tucked in behind Grant MacEwan University.
When I arrived there just before noon, Des was still waxing and polishing his gorgeously preserved 1990 MY 911 with care and attention. This wasn’t your backyard pressure washer once-over; this was attention to detail. You’d expect an owner who owns and operates a detailing shop to make sure that his personal car has flawless paint, and you’d be right. Despite being almost as old as my younger brother, the 4WD Porsche glistened, even in the unforgiving fluorescent lighting of the shop.
Catch up on the week that was with all five legs of the Australian version of the Targa Newfoundland. In usual Targa style, the racing was close, the weather was demanding, and the cars were inspiring.
Ultimately, Rex Broadbent and co-driver Chris Randell would take their fifth consecutive Classic Competition victory in their yellow 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS. After 5 wins, Rex was quick with a smile and a cheeky offer to race in Europe, should anyone out there be looking for an aging Ozzie with the reflexes of a 20-year-old. Rex, with the usual Australian modesty, attributed his success to the reliability of the 911 platform. I can’t honestly say that these videos make me want a 911 any less, so watch them at your peril.
Video documentation of legs 2-5 is below, including plenty of Walter Röhrl and his 1981 911 SC.
You may remember The Monkey from his Autocar and EVO reviews (Lexus LFA and 458 Italia vs. GT3 RS come to mind), but you may not know that he’s a bit of a stick behind the wheel of a race car. Specifically, a race-prepped Porsche GT3 RS.
Contemporary versions of the Porsche 911 have been tuned to be infinitely more docile, complacent, and manageable; essentially abolishing the legends of lift-off oversteer. Dentists and movie stars need no longer fear decreasing-radius corners. While the entry-level 911s have necessarily softened in efforts appeal to a broader clientele, the high-end versions of the enormous 911 range have set new benchmarks for power-to-weights ratios, straight-line speed, and blunt absurdity. No version of the 911 has ever been more alluringly absurd than the new GT2 RS, of which only 500 were produced and 500 now spoken for. Fifth Gear, the British car show with hosts who can actually drive, has taken a GT2 RS for a spin. They’ve put the 620 hp, twin-turbo Porker in the capable hands of Jason Plato, who is a pretty decent driver. Without further ado.