I am a miniature car designer, so I want something distinctive! Which car should I buy?
Alex lives in Los Angeles and designs small cars. He has been driving his 2008 Corolla from college. While the old Toyota is still moving forward, he wants to move on to something that really stands out. Which car should he buy?
(Welcome back to Which car should you buy? Where we give real advice to real people on buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
I’ve been driving the same 2008 Corolla naked since I bought it in college. It remains, as expected, quite decent, with no surprises or major headaches over a decade and more of daily use. Despite this, I am now in my early thirties and every morning I walk into my garage, secretly hoping that he is gone overnight so I can convince the frugal part of my brain that ‘it’s finally possible to get something new.
Here’s the problem: I design miniature cars, so my aesthetic standards are somewhat … unreasonable, at least by grown-up, not Kajillionaire measurements. I have no interest in trading my bland, generic commute for another anonymous mover. I’m looking for a car with character, soul, something that makes you feel something when you see it and when you drive it. My knowledge of non-toy cars is quite limited (not very good with a key, I can’t drive manually, etc.), so despite a penchant for classic cars, I would be worried about owning one.
It will be everyday driving so it has to be semi-practical, but I don’t really have a body style preference, I don’t need a ton of cargo or passenger space, and it doesn’t have to be quick. It’s enough to drive well, bring joy, and not sink into the sea of ââdrab, identical crossovers.
I can spend up to $ 25,000
Budget: Up to $ 25,000
Daily driver: Yes
Site: Los Angeles
Wants: Interesting, distinctive, fun
Will not : A muscle car or a giant van.
Expert 1: Tom McParland – What if Hot Wheels were real life?
Alex, you have what most of us would consider a dream job. You can design fun cars without actually worrying about engineering or safety. Many of us haven’t grown too old to collect die-cast cars, because that really is the only way for us to own the fleet of our dreams.
While your 2008 Corolla sets the benchmark for reliability, I can understand why I’m not thrilled by it. Buy something that stands out in Los AageIt’s a challenge since even the most exotic rides seem mundane, but there’s a forgotten GM hodgepodge that will always grab attention. It’s the Chevrolet SSR. In the early 2000s, the retro trend was in full swing with the Big Three. Chevrolet decided the best way to capitalize on this move was to create an odd combination of muscle car, hardtop convertible, and pickup truck.
I realize you specifically said you didn’t want a muscle car or a big pickup, but SSR is neither of those things. Essentially, that’s what would happen if a Hot Wheels designer were allowed to fashion an actual production car. These SSRs are somewhat collectible now, and low mileage examples can fetch over $ 40,000, but you can find some with reasonable miles and still on your budget. Here is an example from 2003 with approximately 65,000 miles in your area.
Expert 2: Raphael Orlove – What is the most normal abnormality?
Damn, SSR is actually a good idea. I mean, SSR was a horrible idea as a van, but as a motive object, it is simply a question of perfection. I still think I can do better.
See, if you want a car that’s basically just your Toyota but somehow more fun, you’re not exactly trapped. While Toyota in America has just sold simple and reliable cars, in Japan it has sold a few more variations on the theme. This is what we have here, a Toyota Will. Seller only asks for $ 9,500, but that’s before you take it to an import store to make sure it’s legal in California.
The Sera wasn’t that different from your Corolla (under the skin, I believe it’s basically a Paseo), so you can trust it to be as reliable as any other Toyota product from the 1990s. difference is that instead of wrapping the Sera in a normal beige body like anything we got from the company, Toyota gave the Sera the best doors ever.
These are butterfly doors, in the same style as the McLaren F1. They are hinged at the front and top of the car, with small integrated sunroofs. I have already sat in a Sera (at Gary Duncan’s, who has an even nicer low-mileage Sera for sale) and it’s absolutely spectacular. There are convertibles that feel less airy and open than a Sera. It’s your perfect confidence car you want, only with the whimsy you need.
Expert 3: Mercedes Streeter – A legal small car on the road
Look, it’s hard to follow a Chevrolet SSR, but I’ll do my best. I’ll give you a Honda Beat. This little car is not very practical. The rear is occupied by its 656cc triple and there may be enough room to stow a single grocery bag. Up front there is space for the spare tire and not much else.
But what you lose in practice you gain in just about everything else. You just can’t drive a Beat without the biggest smile possible on your face. Children and adults alike will think of this as a small car and no one will mistake this for a generic crossover. Put a custom exhaust on it and it will sound like a mean motorcycle, even when you’re going at just 30mph. Buy a Beat and spread the joy on the road.
here is a 1994 Beat in Las Vegas which appears to be completely original, painted dark green with a low 21,000 miles on the odometer. If you don’t care about the low mileage, you can have them for much less, too much.
Expert 4: JosÃ© RodrÃguez Jr. – A different daily driver
Oh, my boy, Alex. You gave us an almost blank slate, the only constraints being budget and design. I want to recommend some of my favorites, like the Nissan 300ZX or the Volkswagen Corrado. I’m even inclined to suggest something rarer like a Saab 9-3 Viggen! But you mentioned you wanted a daily driver so I think you need a car that is a bit more practical.
You need it 2006 Subaru Baja Turbo. This one is a road trip to Portland, Oregon, and a bit pricey at $ 16,000, but it has an automatic transmission. And most of the repairs you might have needed at this point have already been done – at least, according to the seller. This Baja seems ready for everyday work without sacrificing its personality or unique design.
It is a practical but extravagant car that could carry both people and goods. I don’t run into Baja often, but when I do, I always double down and smile.
Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.