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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so my '10 Golf TDI is fun, but I was thinking more of fuel economy than fun when I bought. So now I am looking for a second car to be my fun sunday driver sports car.

I'm looking to buy used because I can't afford a complete second car payment, not to mention the added insurance of new. And my budget is about $10k-$12k, so I'm probably looking about 10 years old judging from some searches I've done.

Here's a list of the cars I am looking for and have seen recommended on lists for good cheap sports cars:

-BMW M3
-BMW Z3/Z4
-BMW 3 series
-Honda S2000
-Mazda MX-5/Miata
-Mazda RX-7/RX-8
-Nissan 350Z
-Porsche Boxster
-Porsche 911
-Mitsubishi Lacer
-Subaru Impreza WRX


As you can see, I'm looking more for a european driving style car than a straight out muscle car. Right now I'm leaning towards one of the roadsters but still considering everything.

Anybody have any of these and can vouch for them? Any other suggestions?

Thanks.
 

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BMW M3 is a very good car but reliability is not as good as some of the other choices. I wouldn't bother with the 3 series, not fun compared to some of the other cars on your list.

BMW Z3/Z4 are decent but if you're going to get a roadster, I would rather have the Miata. The M3 roadster (not the M3 convertible) is supposed to be a pretty nice car. Never driven them though.

RX-7 is a great car but they are maintenance nightmares, parts are getting hard to find, and you'll have honda civics race you all the time. If you are willing to do the work, find an unmolested one and swap in an LS1 = supercar. The budget is getting up there.

Rx-8 very good handling and cheap, gets no respect because it doesn't have much torque. MPG is bad but I really liked the car. Good value due to no respect. Some people have complained of engine flooding but it's just something I remember hearing. You can probably find more withgoogle it

MX5 - near perfect fun car, great styling. I just don't like convertibles though. It's not as fast as some of the other cars on your list but it's fast enough and this is the perfect example of how it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. I would go with the latest 2006+ generation since they have a lot of improvements over the first, second gen cars.

Boxster - see Miata and add a douchebag ;) Just kidding, it's a nice car but the early examples have absolutely horrible interiors and are too slow for their projection. The first gen cars also have engine problems. The CEL is known as the change engine light. As many of us VW owners know, German companies tend to beta test on their customers. Intermediate shaft problems. Power steering leaks and boiling during racing due to bad design. They finally started with a clean sheet engine to fix many of these problems in 2009. I think the incidence of engine problems isn't as bad around 2004-5 and later but not sure the exact date when the first gen problems were supposedly not as bad. In addition, just because you bought a cheap Boxster doesn't mean the maintenance and parts are cheap.

911 - ugly interiors for the price but they are surprisingly good values because their new car depreciation is so bad.

Honda S2000 - what torque? Yes I've driven it so I'm not just making fun. It's a handling car.

(S2000 pic from the fast and the furious)

Nissan 350z - relatively low build quality for a Japanese car and transmission/tire wear issues. I never liked the styling but they did a much better job with the 370z. It will never be a classic like the Miata or some of the other Z cars like the 240z or 300zx (z32).

WRX - getting revved at the stoplight. They're fast but I think they have transmission issues, or maybe it's just because they are modded and the transmission can't take it.
 

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My other car is a '02 BMW Z3 3.0. It is fast, fun, and reliable although I only drive it in the summer. I can't vouch for the other cars you have listed except to say my friend's wife has a Miata which he refuses to drive because he considers it to be a "Barbie Car".
 

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Great list. You can't go wrong but there are some cars which can be trouble.

The Rx-7 as chitty said, have maintenance problems and it's hard to find an expert to fix them. I wouldn't get the Lancer or WRX unless you want AWD. A nice weekend car should be light so that it's tossable and RWD which the other cars fill nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the long post chitty. So first I still need to save some money for it but until then I'm just going to plan some test drives on the new versions just to get an idea of what some of the cars feel like.
 

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-BMW M3
-BMW Z3/Z4
-BMW 3 series
-Honda S2000
-Mazda MX-5/Miata
-Mazda RX-7/RX-8
-Nissan 350Z
-Porsche Boxster
-Porsche 911
-Mitsubishi Lacer
-Subaru Impreza WRX
If your budget is $10k-ish, you can confidently chop down your list to the Miata. It's the most fun car on the planet that is also affordable and reliable. The S2k is also fun but it's essentially a sexier design with an engine that revs higher.

If you can bump up the budget, consider an early BMW Z4 or C5 Corvette if you like the whole Dr. Strangelove symbolism [riding a big wang].

The rest of the list is nice but not life-changing, IMO. If you've never had a Miata, for goodness sake, go buy one, it really is the best option. :thumbsup '95 w/LSD or '99 w/LSD will be your best buys and will give you a ridiculously huge grin. No offense to chitty but the early NC's [2006-2009] aren't as good in terms of "man & machine oneness" as the NA and NB's. The facelifted NC's [2010+] are a big improvement, however definitely more than you want to spend.

Cheers,
Ryan
 
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