Forgive this self-indulgent post, but I’ve got 40 hours to go in my Alfa GTV6 auction and 22 prospective buyers watching it. Chances are that it might actually sell (no bids as yet). So I’m trawling carsales.com.au like a man possessed at the moment.
- Must be fun to drive.
- Must be fun to drive.
- Must possess a decent quality interior.
- Must have reasonable ride quality for the east coast Australia trip later in the year.
- Must represent reasonable value for money with the prospect of not sliding in value over the near-medium term.
- Must be an interesting colour. No silver for me, thanks.
- Manual transmission preferred, but auto could be considered on the right car.
- Must be fun to drive.
I’ve not set a price limit because I do have reasonable capacity to pay something off. So whilst I could spend up to $45,000 for the perfect car if it had a reasonable assurance of holding value, it would have to be something really special (see below). I predict I’ll have close to $20K in savings once the Alfa and Subaru are sold.
Alfa Romeo Brera V6
Mentioned as a contender just over a month ago, the Alfa Brera has stunning looks, a beautiful V6 engine (a relative of the Saab V6 engine used in the 9-3) and it’s available for delectably reasonable money.
The downsides – what seems like good value now is not going to hold into the future and then there’s the undeniable fact that the body’s writing cheques that the chassis can’t cash. Like all modern Alfa’s, it just can’t drive to the company’s reputation and it’d be hard to own knowing that.
Nevertheless, a worthy contender for a short-term holding and one I’m seriously considering.
Red, manual V6 Q4 Breras start in the mid $20,000 range and go up from there.
This is new to the discussion but provides some serious foor for thought with a wonderful combination of performance and value. The 350Z looks fantastic, has Nissan’s rock-solid gem of a V6 engine (276hp) and has been the subject of a lot of very positive reviews. I’ve never driven one, but the ‘Z’ heritage is well known and this latest generation of ‘Z’ cars is very highly regarded.
Starting just below $20,000, the Nissan 350Z is the value choice and in many respects, the sensible choice. I think it’d be perfect for the east coast drive because of its modern construction and what I assume would be modern refinement, modern performance and interior comfort.
Downsides? I think there’s room for the price to fall further and I think the interior is a little bit plain, albeit well equipped. I’m also willing to admit that I’m a bit of a badge snob and the gravity of the ‘Z’ doesn’t quiet make up for the Nissan badge on the front. Then again, some seat time in something like this might be just what’s needed to turn that attitude on its head.
The red one below is available for A$23,000 at the moment.
BMW E46 M3
This is an interesting contender, mostly because it’s so left-field for me and offers so much performance – more than I really need. Obtaining the previously-unattainable makes the M3 a very attractive option.
The ride is renowned and the car is exceptionally well equipped, so what’s the downside?
It’s got a starting price in the mid-$30K range, which is getting up there. The E36 M3 sells for a lot less so that price is going to come down, but it’s still a hell of a lot of car for the money. Then there are the service and repair costs, which former BMW owners tell me will be considerable.
There’s a manual BMW M3 with reasonable mileage for sale here in Hobart at the moment for $37,000. There are others with higher mileage available for as low as $30,000.
A Host of Porsches
I had a Boxster on my contender list and on my bucket list but I crossed it off that list a few weeks ago, the reason being that I don’t want to live with what seems to be a ticking time-bomb in the engine called the Intermediate Shaft Bearing. There are kits to fix this potential problem, but I’m just not sure that I want to deal with it (especially when I’m questionable on the Boxster’s interior).
So…. to the rest of Porsche’s potential replacements.
Porsche 944 Turbo
I know. I know. I’ve tested a 944 in years past and been profoundly disappointed. BUT that was an early non-Turbo model and I’m very interested in testing a Turbo. I’m an admirer of Porsche’s early front-engined cars. I absolutely love the styling and if I could find one that had a driving experience to match, I think it’d be a compelling option.
944 Turbos are available starting at just under $20,000. The red one below has 250,000kms on the clock, is reported to be in great condition and is for sale for $20,200.
If I’m going to think about front-engined water-cooled Porsches, then I may as well consider what’s widely regarded as the pinnacle – the 968. I prefer the styling of the 944, but I’m warming to the 968 and the mechanical offerings only make the model more compelling. It’s got near-perfect weight balance and is renowned for its neutral handling. The 968 comes from a time where Porsche still had completely bullet-proof construction and quality and the car features a 240hp engine combined with a six-speed manual that can drive the car to 100km/h in around 6 seconds yet still use less than 10 litres of fuel per 100kms on the highway.
Landing a 968 will cost around the low $30K mark here in Australia.
The downside? There’s at least one 968 for sale here in Australia right now that was for sale by the same owner when I bought the Alfa 12 months ago. These are relatively rare cars but there’s also a lack of demand for them. I could buy one and get lumped with it.
My brother-in-law worked for a Porsche dealer in Canada and he’s often recommended the 968 when we’ve talked Porsches. Maybe I’d be happy to be lumped with it?
This black 968 is available for $27,000 and there are a few 968 Clubsport models available in the low $30K’s.
I have two cars at the top of my potentially attainable automotive tree – the Porsche 911 and a Ferrari 308. Getting the Ferrari would mean that a lot of things have gone my way. Getting the Porsche is a possibility right now.
I’d probably be wise to restrict myself to a 3-litre 911SC but I’ve also spent some time looking at 3.2 litre Carreras. The SC starts around $30K (for a decent one) and you can add around $10K for a decent Carrera. My fear is that if I were to get the SC, that I’d be wondering about the Carrera I didn’t buy.
The Carrera I’m looking hardest at is a 911 Carrera Super Sport – a 1988 model with a genuine Turbo body, suspension, powered and heated sports seats, the famed G50 gearbox, genuine RHD (UK import) and low mileage, too, at 104,000kms. It’s in my favourite dark blue, too, though with a less palatable white/dark red interior.
The downside? I’ll be carrying more debt than I’d like as this one’s for sale for $45,000. I think it would hold its value pretty well, though.
The other downside is that looming thought in the back of my mind, where I wonder how I’ll learn first-hand about the 911’s propensity for lift-off oversteer.
This post represents a nice problem to have. I’m not complaining.
The other consideration is that my job is under some small amount of threat at the moment, though not in the immediate term. There could be some danger in 12 months or so, after what looks like a change in both state and federal governments (my role is ripe for out-sourcing by an opportunist government, which is what we’ll get).
Given that, the Porsche 911 is attainable but the debt is dangerous. The 350Z is therefore the sensible choice, one that would deliver a good drive and involve little-to-no debt. Everything between those two is risk/reward proposition.