Porsche 911 or Boxster or...?
February 17, 2011 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Porsche 911 or Boxster or...? Please help us choose our next car! My wife and I are getting a second-hand car and are looking for something fun to drive on the New Zealand B-roads. What we are looking for: - A fun and quick driver’s car. Practicality is not a major concern, but… - A reasonably comfortable and luxurious car (ruling out a Lotus for example!) - A reliable car. Neither of us knows anything about fixing cars - Price in US$ maximum $30,000 Which car would you choose?

For the above amount of money here are some examples of what we could buy (cars are more expensive in NZ than in the US; these examples are all taken from trademe.co.nz Mileage is in kms).

Which would you choose? Do you have alternative solutions?

Porsche 911. We could get a 1998 996 at 105K for $44. Is maintenance a major problem on these?

Porsche Boxster. Love the fact that it’s a convertible but it’s not the prettiest car on the planet. We could get a 2004 for $44, which has only done 25K

Jaguar XKR. A 2004 with 65K is about $48K.

Jaguar XJR. We are also considering a Jaguar XJR. These are available for us little as $48 for a 2005 having done 75K. Not as sporty to look at but apparently great to drive?

Other cars we considered were an EVO or a Subaru but these all seem to be pre-owned by boy racers and they are not (in our eyes) exactly beautiful cars to look at.

BMW M3s seem to be too expensive in NZ. The Z3 and Z4s we have heard very mixed things about, but are willing to reconsider.

We would also consider a sporty Mercedes but the range is bewildering to us – which one is the one to go for?

Which would you choose and why?

(I haven't been able to find a good (non US) website that would help me narrow things down further with regards to second-hand cards, but I'm sure these exist...any suggestions?)
posted by sinbarambam to Travel & Transportation (48 answers total)
Seems like you're considering a lot of models where maintenance might be an issue.

If reliability is a major concern, you should be looking at one of the Japanese sports models. Nissan 370Z?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2011

Aren't all of the cars you just mentioned outside your budget?

I've driven a few NZ B roads and I'm not impressed by their surfacing etc, so I would look for something that headed more towards the rally car rather than the track car ethos. Also, you're looking mostly at 2 seaters, and it's just you and your wife, but the convenience of 4 seaters is pretty high. Sure you couldn't get a WRX and have a thorough mechanical look over it?
posted by wilful at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2011

The cars you just mentioned are very expensive to repair.
You want the Subaru STi. It's powerful, capable, and a hoot to drive. And Subarus drive forever.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:07 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree Subarus are reliable. We used to have an Impreza. Two issues with them: 1) they're not exactly pretty cars, 2) most of them have been abused pretty badly. We might be able to find one that's mechanically alright. Not sure if I could fall in love with one though.

Nissan 370 - good idea. Only a handful available in NZ at the moment. NZ$50K (about US$30K) for a 2009 with 38K. http://www.autotrader.co.nz/used-cars-for-sale/nissan-370z

yes, all the above are below US$30K. The other prices are in NZ dollars, sorry should have converted.
posted by sinbarambam at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2011

What about a Mazda MX-5 or a Mini Cooper (if four seats are a plus)?
posted by evoque at 3:20 PM on February 17, 2011

My experience on both sides of this question is somewhat limited; I once spent a few months as an occasional passenger on New Zealand B roads, and I don't drive cars. What I have done is spent quite a while in a place where cars of all sorts had to get over a small ramp.

Do not get a porsche. they are very very low and wince as they crawl over the smallest of uneven surfaces. New Zealand B roads are ... are you familiar with the term 'corduroy road'? I'm pretty sure the definition of an A road over there is 'one that's (usually) more solid than gravel'. You want more clearance than that. In terms of pointlessly shiny pretty things, TVRs are nice (both pretty and able to get over our ramp without anyone crying), but apparently there are only fifty-odd road-legal TVRs in NZ, so that's probably not much help.
posted by Lebannen at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2011

NZ$50K (about US$30K)

According to the converter on the National Bank homepage, US$30,000 is more like NZ$37,000. I don't know if that's buying or selling and there's probably some wriggle room by finding better places to convert, but I think you need to check your budget. Unless you actually have NZ$50,000, in which case the US figure is a red herring.
posted by shelleycat at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2011

I say the following as a petrolhead who is strongly considering buying a used Porsche or a Z4 or M Roadster in the near future:

A low-mileage Boxster will be much more reliable than a high-mileage 911.

Maintenance on an Porsche is outrageously expensive. My brother-in-law had a 911 for a year or so and sold it because he figured out that it cost, on average, $500 every time he drove it. Another friend of mine had an early-2000s Boxster that he loved. He says that the only real drawback to the Boxster (aside from it not being as fast as he would have liked) is that you get "nickel and dimed" on maintenance but a nickel is $500 and a dime is $1000.

An XKR will be less reliable than a Porsche and cost more than a Porsche to maintain and fix.

The Z3 is, frankly, no fun and the platic rear window is a deal-breaker for me given the age of the Z3 (I'll maybe put up with it in a Boxter, but I won't like it).

The Z4 I like quite a lot, actually, and the only real problem I can see with it is the handful of problems inherent in any BMW (e.g. the oil pump will eventually have problems). Aside from some sort of snobby things from petrolheads about the looks, I've never heard anything particularly negative about the Z4. The Boxster handles better because of the mid-engine layout, but I think the front-engine-rear-wheel-drive layout is more fun.

I've narrowed my own car purchase (which I will likely make in the next few weeks) down to a Z4, a Boxster, a new Mustang, or a new Subaru WRX. I've eliminated the WRX STi because the WRX is just as quick in every setting other than a racetrack (and quicker off the line) and costs $10k less. I've eliminated the 911 because I don't want a high-mileage car and I can't afford a newer one. I've eliminated used Subarus because of the boy-racer issue. I've eliminated the EVO because Mitsubishi quality is, as far as I can tell, horrible. And I've eliminated Mercedes because they're overpriced and don't come with a manual transmission. Oh, and I'm not considering an M3 because they're overpriced and I figure they've all been beaten to death by their current owners (and also because I live in Southern California where the BMW 3 Series is like the Honda Civic of Newport Beach - it's what bratty rich girls get for their 16th birthday).

I really like a lot of things about the Subaru WRX. But I assume that the high-performance nature of the beast means that it will not be nearly as reliable as a "normal" Subaru and that it will cost a lot more to repair and maintain.

Anyway, that's my current thinking on the matter. It looks like you and I have very similar wants/needs for our car. Best of luck to you.

Oh, one more thing: I currently drive an Infiniti G35 that is absolutely brilliant, has 4 doors, handles great, has loads of power and torque, and has been 100% reliable the entire time I've owned it. I'd get another one, but I'm being stubborn and wanting something of a change. So I highly recommend the Infiniti. It's fantastic.

TVRs are nice

TVRs are beautiful, terrifying suicide machines. My hat's off to you if you can handle one at anything approaching speed on a New Zealand B road.
posted by The World Famous at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, we have NZ$50,000. Since most readers on this site appear to be from the US I thought I'd convert it but apparently not very accurately :-) So yes, the prices above are in NZ$.

@Lebannen Good point about ground clearance

@ evoque My wife doesn't like the MX5, I don't like the Mini - neither is fast enough :-)
posted by sinbarambam at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2011

I've had a few of the cars you're considering. My advice would be to get a Lotus Elise (there's one listed for 44.5k NZ$ on the site you reference) -- mine was incredibly fun to drive, good on gas, and reasonable maintenance. My WRX went through two gearboxes and a motor in three years so I think I'd pass on that one, though the Impreza RS I had before that was completely indestructible so maybe the WRX was a lemon. I much prefer the way Boxsters handle compared to 911s, but the 911 is significantly more practical.
posted by foodgeek at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2011

The XJR is a great drive for a fast saloon, by all accounts, but it is a big old heavy beast, It's a long way from a Boxster and if twisty NZ lanes are anything like the UK, it's not the best bet. XKR also, to some extent. It's a great fast tourer (I have an XJ8, to allow you to calibrate) but for twisty stuff it is again a big heavy car and not as throwable.

Despite its looks a Boxster is possibly the best bet if you are ruling out the Subaru's as all boy-ed up. They don't say 'luxurious sporty car' to me. I mean, they're massively capable, but not really what your question suggests you want. A good weekend car for thrashing and surprisingly reliable with a convertible advantage makes them hard to beat. I've driven a couple of them and they are really good fun to drive. One of which was on Swiss mountain roads and that was fun that everyone should get to try once.

An M3 is the most capable car there all round, without question. I have several friends (one of whom is an ex racing driver, another is the head of chassis development in one of the most successful automotive consultancies out there) who all swear blind by the M3 and are constantly impressed by it - there is a range of vintages too, and all of them seem to be pretty spectacularly good. If there are any in your budget (even slightly older ones) then I'd put this at the top of my personal list without question.

Have you considered an Audi? Some of the sportier versions are excellent cars - size and budget dependent, but the S3's are great and there are a couple of sub NZ$45K RS4's available in NZ I found, which are a very, very competent car. Nicer interior to my mind than a Subaru, but that's up to your own aesthetics.

Mercedes.... Hmmm. Some of the newer ones are getting better, but they're still the cars I'd go for when I was too old to consider an M3...
posted by Brockles at 3:30 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you'll take less than cutting edge, the 350Z is still perfectly serviceable, and much more affordable than the 370. I lucked into a low milage 2003 about 18 months ago for well less than your budget, and I love it. Be aware that non S-tuned pre-2005s have a camber issue that chews up tires, but if you can avoid those, they're fun little cars.
posted by Alterscape at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2011

Not on your list is the Honda S2000, but it should be. Last model year was '09, and a used, low mileage one should be well within your budget. Had an '04 and later an '06. Super stiff (approaching Lotus Elise stiff), super slick transmission, super fun to drive. It'll beat the '04 Boxster you're considering, but not the later models.

Otherwise, I'd look at the Boxster. The mid-engine layout is alleged to be superior to the rear-engine layout of the 911 (I've only driven a Boxster, so can't speak to that allegation), but then the 911 is a lot sexier to look at and to be seen in. Porsches are reliable, maintenance intervals are far apart, and there are probably lots of reputable repair shops more affordable than the dealer (and whom the local Porsche owner's club will be happy to direct you toward).

I've got a WRX wagon, and while it's lots of fun, and easy to modify to make even more fun, it's lots of fun for a souped up econobox. It costs a lot less than those fancier ones on your list for a reason.
posted by notyou at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2011

@Alterscape - thanks for the suggestions. Looking into the Audis now - would you go for an S3 or would you prefer an RS4?
There's a decent looking Nissan 350 (http://www.autotrader.co.nz/used-cars-for-sale/nissan-350z/697139). How are these to drive?

@foodgeek: I love the look of the Lotuses but doesn't a part fall off every time you take it out? (at least that's the impression I am getting from Top Gear, which shows you the extent of my car knowledge).
This one is an amazing stunner but a bit over our budget:

This one is within our budget but I have never heard of the VX. Any good?

What are these like in terms of maintenance?
posted by sinbarambam at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2011

Lotus does not equal reliability, nor does it equal luxurious interior to any stretch of the imagination. Although, it has to be said, An Elise or similar are stupendously well balanced and handling cars. I'd have one an just deal with the drama, but they're not comfortable tourers at all.

The VX is just an Elise made by Vauxhall (ie it's an Elise with some trim and a Vauxhall engine) It's not strictly speaking a Lotus (wasn't sold by them) but was made under license.
posted by Brockles at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2011

The 350Z is ok, but compared to a Porsche or a Lotus it's not what anyone would describe as "refined." It's a bit of a brute and doesn't feel like the back of the car is connected to the front of the car.
posted by The World Famous at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2011

BMW 300 for the win.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2011

Oh, seconding the S2000 consideration.

Personally (on Audis) I'd go for the RS4. But if you like smaller cars, the '3' is still pretty damn good - analogous to a Golf GTi (Same floorplan), but the RS's are much more powerful and sporty versions.
posted by Brockles at 3:51 PM on February 17, 2011

@The World Famous - how about the 370?

@Cool Papa Bell - BMW 300 is M3?
posted by sinbarambam at 3:59 PM on February 17, 2011

The 111R you link to has the same Toyota engine and gearbox as my Elise had. It started fine every morning, I put 35,000 miles on it in three years, nearly all on twisty back roads including several long road trips. The interior trim quality is poor and pieces tend to fall off at inconvenient times (the fuse for the heater fell out on a particularly cold night with the top down, the airbag cover fell into my wife's lap while we were sliding through a turn). I've got no idea how reliable the motor is in the VX, it's an Elise chassis with a GM motor stuffed inside - we didn't get them here and I've never driven one. If you're only buying the thing as a toy to drive on back roads then you're unlikely to care about any of the problems. If you're commuting to work in traffic, an Elise is one of the worst choices possible.
posted by foodgeek at 4:01 PM on February 17, 2011

I considered a twin turbo 3 series before getting my car (e90 M3). Fun to drive. Been compared to the earlier generation e46 M3.
posted by Cuspidx at 4:07 PM on February 17, 2011

Thirding the S2000: it's got a lot of the Elise's spirit about it, and you don't lose a massive amount in terms of the famed balance and responsiveness, while avoiding the whole "made in a shed" thing.

But I think wilful and others are right that you should have rallying heritage in mind for the roads you'd be driving on, unless you're absolutely set on something in the coupé/roadster mould: if the M3's out of range, then an Audi RS4.
posted by holgate at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2011

@Cool Papa Bell - BMW 300 is M3?

Apologies, I just meant the 3 series in general...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2011

@The World Famous - how about the 370?

I've heard and read that it's much better than the 350. But I have not driven one and I'm a little skeptical of it since it seems to have fallen off the enthusiast writers' radar since those initial reviews came in.
posted by The World Famous at 4:26 PM on February 17, 2011

Oh -- to get a firmer idea of maintenance, once you've narrowed your choice, visit a few enthusiast websites/forums (for example: s2ki.com for the S2000; rennlist.com for the porsches). They'll usually have stickied FAQs for common problems and remedies and etc.

Or you could just visit and ask.
posted by notyou at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2011

I would be surprised if anything but the most stripped down 3-series would beat the Boxster in price. I would go for the Boxster as the difference between that and an 911 is negligible if you're not taking it on a racetrack and haven't previously owned a 911. Do maintenance tasks yourself and find an independent mechanic.

I own a Boxster and the maintenance is the same as any European luxury car (BMW, Mercedes, etc.). If you're careful and have a second car you can use while you hunt down parts and get it repaired, it really won't be anymore than owning a normal car.

If you have your heart set on a Porsche, anything else won't cut it. I have a big smile on my face every single time I take it out. The entire world is my racetrack. It is one of the few things I felt guilty when buying and haven't had a single regret since.
posted by geoff. at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2011

The only negative I've heard about the WRX and WRX STi, aside from the looks, is that the interior looks and feels cheap. Mechanically I've heard only good things about it, and am considering one as my next car.
posted by zippy at 5:00 PM on February 17, 2011

If you're careful and have a second car you can use while you hunt down parts and get it repaired, it really won't be anymore than owning a normal car.

Before or after you factor in the cost of owning that second car? I'm very tempted to buy a Boxster, but you're scaring me with this talk of buying another car so I can hunt for parts.
posted by The World Famous at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2011

Late-model Porsche and Jaguar upkeep COULD be a problem. To say the least.

How common is Subaru in NZ? WRX would be fun on B-roads and semi-roads. I'd put it up against any common Jaguar on the track, as well.
posted by tremspeed at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2011

Sorry, didn't preview before answering. I like the Sub looks. Guess I'm crazy.
posted by tremspeed at 5:04 PM on February 17, 2011

If you can't find an M3 (which is awesome) in your price range, you could get a decked-out 335, that would be only ~100hp or so less (it's still fast, 0-60 in 5-5.2 sec or so, top speed limited at 145mph -- at least those specs hold for a 2008). The difference is you could get it with a lot fewer miles on it (possibly even CPO with warranty).

But that may or may not be fast enough for your purposes. It's a nice car though (I have a 2008 335i convertible with pretty much every options that I love, and I got it for about $1 off for every mile it had been driven).
posted by wildcrdj at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2011

I just bought a BMW 335i, which is the faster, 300hp 3-series (E90) sedan. It's not the M3, which is a 400hp beast of burden that is absolutely insane, but my 300hp is enough to get me rolling from 0-60 in 5.5 and it tops out at 155 mph (250 kph). That's DAMN fast.

It handles brilliantly, it's sporty but top quality inside, and it has so many amazingly comfortable and fun features that I find it a complete pleasure to drive. Plus, the sedan version seats 4 comfortably. I know nothing about pricing in NZ, or if only M3s are available though that doesn't seem likely, but it is an incredibly built car. It's fun to drive, connected to the road, but flexible and capable, and not QUITE as bad at maintenance as a Porsche, though I will confirm that a Porsche is absolutely brutal in maintenance.

(To be fair, my car told the dealer that it was due for an oil change and microfilter, who promptly called me to set up a very expensive service date, so...)
posted by disillusioned at 6:02 PM on February 17, 2011

Looking at your original question, it's pretty clear you want a real sports car. By nature, sports cars are completely impractical. They're loud, they use a lot of fuel, they have trunks that can fit a hatbox if you're lucky, they cost a lot to fix and the insurance is incredibly high. Still, if you really want a sports car nothing is going to scratch that itch. Throw practicality out the window and get something fun.

It would be really hard to go wrong with a 911. A lot of gearheads argue that 911 is the best all around drivers car you can buy. It would be worth hiring a mechanic who knows Porsches to look over anything you buy. Insist on good maintenance records. With a little caution you can usually avoid the catastrophe level repairs, but upkeep is definitely something to factor in if you buy a 911. A 911 is a classic. You won't ever feel bad about owning one.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 6:04 PM on February 17, 2011

The Audi S4 is in your budget and is a direct competitor with the M3. Audis are a lot of fun to drive and the AWD is fantastic for roads like earlier posters are describing. If you get the 4.2L S4 there is a reliable Supercharger kit for $8500 (US) from PES that would boost your hp from 340 to 490 and torque from 302 to 455ft/lb.

posted by thekiltedwonder at 6:17 PM on February 17, 2011

My vote is for the BMW 1-series hatch. Practical and more fun to drive than a 3-series.
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2011

Well, the 996 is a fun car, and about 85% of the fun of the 997. The Boxster is a good car, but doesn't quite have the spirit the 911 does. The same is true of the Cayman. That's what you're really after here---the spirit---if I were to guess. Porsches have a passion and intensity that no other car has, and the 911 has the most of it. I'd say that if you've ever driven one, and if you want one, which you do, don't talk yourself out of it. Get the 996. No other car outside of a Ferrari can compare. You won't be happy with anything else.

This is coming from a BMW owner who really, really wants a Porsche.

I personally have a 335i coupé with a JB3 piggyback tune---450 HP. I can beat e92 M3s like I was Mike Tyson, and it's an amazing car. It does everything well, but it just doesn't have the spirit of a Porsche.
posted by luckypozzo at 8:17 PM on February 17, 2011

posted by clorox at 12:09 AM on February 18, 2011

From a maintenance perspective: every European brand in New Zealand is pretty much slotted into the "prestige" segment, and hence you will pay an arm and a leg for parts and service. Cars that are cheap family runabouts in other parts of the world, like 318is, Meganes, and so on, are hugely, hugely expensive here, and the dealers expect to make huge markups on looking after them.

Also, European reliability ain't all it could be: Audis from the 90s had horrid transmissions, Jags until 2001/2002 had a problem with engine sleeves that cause the engines to die prematurely. Mercs are a mixed bag.

As you no doubt know, more than 140 km/h on the open road is an automatic loss of license, so cars with a great top end are pretty much a waste.

If you gave me $40 - 50k for a sports car here, I'd be looking for:

* A Nissan Skyline GT-R that hadn't been butchered.
* A Mazda RX8 or a "Batmobile" RX7 in good condition.
* Toyota Supra that hadn't been butchered.
* A mint MX-5 or Honda S2000.

All of them offer good to excellent handling, plenty of low end, and will be easy to source spares for and find mechanics that won't extort you to fix them. They don't, I admit, have the prestiage factor of the Euros.

(If you've really got NZ$50k I'd find a bit extra and grab this, but I'm a sucker like that; if I wanted to be completely silly I'd get that, but I'd expect to be cleaned out if anything went even a bit wrong on it.)

If you aren't used to performance cars... I'd be pretty careful with some of what you're looking at, including some of my suggestions. The 911 is notorious for testing drivers; the Supra and Skyline are both potent cars that can get you into trouble quite quickly.
posted by rodgerd at 12:20 AM on February 18, 2011

As the owner of an entirely impractical, difficult to service, impossible to find parts for sports car, (1973 Jensen Healey - Lotus 907 engine, oh my) my advice is to first find your mechanic.
If you know anyone with the class of car you are looking for, ask who their mechanic is. Stop Porsche-drivers as they climb into their dream machines and ask who their mechanic is. There is probably one specialist in your area with a great reputation - he will be the mechanic you will want to make friends with.

Visit his workshop. Take a nice bottle of something. Ask him what he would recommend within your criteria. Don't feel you have to pretend to more auto-knowledge than you have. They will have in-depth knowledge of the kind of issues rodgerd outlines - this model had transmission problems, these years tend to explode, etc.

Trust that this professional gets plenty of work without having to steer you into buying a lemon - and that they don't really enjoy working on lemons.

(Every mechanic I spoke to who knew anything about classic british sportscars told me not to buy the JH, but love is blind.)
posted by Catch at 1:50 AM on February 18, 2011

Thanks everyone, these suggestions are just brilliant. A month of websurfing didn't get me half of the useful advice I've gotten here. And it's great to get some new suggestions as well.

MX5 and Honda S2000 are out because neither of us like their looks, but we're seriously looking into the 370, which I'd like to test drive.

Maintenance aside, the suggestion of a BMW 335 is interesting and the convertible is pretty indeed, but can't find any cheaper ones at the moment. I did find a beautiful M3 convertible:
2002, 80K for $48K.

The S4 looks like a great driver's car. It looks like any old family car (NOT a plus!) but I'm intrigued by the reviews and they're well-priced. I found a 2004 for $28...that would leave quite a bit of money for maintenance.

Woaw, the RX8 is cheap! Looks like a fun car and quite practical too. I kind like the looks of it. Have never driven one but reviews look good.

Great to get some extra options - thanks everyone!
posted by sinbarambam at 2:13 AM on February 18, 2011

The RX8 is cheap for a reason. The engines are fragile and need incredibly regular oil changes and much maintenance. I've worked on a race series that uses those engines and everyone is constantly concerned about oil pressure and little niggles - that is not a robust car at all.

I loved them when they first came out - especially the rear suicide doors - but the Wankel Rotary engine really is a minefield in terms of maintenance cost. Yes, some of them are trouble free in road cars, but the ones that go wrong go WRONG in a costly manner.

I agree with the suggestion to find a mechanic, and meant to say it earlier - the availability of an independent specialist should steer your decision if maintenance costs are likely to be a problem for you. Even if you get a BMW.

While you should consider a top end 3 series convertible, don't be fooled that a chip will turn it into an M3. Before you commit to one, drive an M3 in a spirited manner if you can. Like the M5's, they aren't just 'the model above the one below it' like in most other performance brands. They have completely different suspension (not just dampers and spring rates) and are a totally, radically different beast. Now with the style of roads you apparently have maybe the full M3 would knock your teeth out (no more than a 911 would, though) and convertibles are buckets more fun for a car that's part toy, so maybe the loss of overall handling (no BMW is crap in that department, let's be honest) wouldn't be a major issue.

And to clarify someone above - the RS4 is the true competitor to the M3, not the slightly more sedate S4. That aligns more closely with the 335 you mention. It's slightly more sedate, but like for like RS4=M3.
posted by Brockles at 6:04 AM on February 18, 2011

2nd-ing the Toyota Supra. They are beautiful cars, have great handling and power, have some usable room, and have bullet-proof reliability. The 3.0L straight six is wonderfully under-built. The US spec Turbo model has 320hp stock but can be taken up to around 450hp with some pretty simple go-fast parts without losing any reliability or drivability. The trick is finding one that is well maintained and either stock or has been modified by people who really know what they are doing.

They are older cars and the Turbo (which is what you want) is kind of rare. The prices will seem kind of high but I think this car has pretty much hit classic status so if you spend $30k on one now and take care of it, you can probably expect to sell it for at least $30k somewhere down the road.

Doing a quick search, it looks like there are a few for sale in NZ.
posted by VTX at 7:22 AM on February 18, 2011

@Brockles - good points. There do seem to be M3 convertibles though, which would kill 2 birds with 1 stone. I found a beaut for under NZ$50. Thanks for pointing out the difference between the RS4 and the S4. I find neither of them particularly beautiful cars, but that's not the only thing that counts.

@VTX $40K for an 18 year old car with 120K....I see your point about it being a classic but that might be a bit too classic for me...
posted by sinbarambam at 7:31 AM on February 18, 2011

Before or after you factor in the cost of owning that second car? I'm very tempted to buy a Boxster, but you're scaring me with this talk of buying another car so I can hunt for parts.

Really, the Boxster is very reliable. The problem is that sometimes, something will break and the dealer will say that it is only available in Germany and is going to take 2-3 weeks to get in or something. Usually I'll find it on e-bay for half the price and install it myself or take it to an independent mechanic.

It is one of the most reliable cars I've owned, I don't know what all this worry about upkeep is. If you're used to keeping a Honda Civic, sure it'll be a shock. Previously I've owned 4-wheel drive vehicles so I've actually found myself saving money.
posted by geoff. at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2011

I have to admit I'm not too terribly worried about the cost of the maintenance (within reason) but I don't want to get stuck on the motorway either. I used to own an old Jaguar XJS and it had too many mechanical problems. Newer cars should hopefully be more reliable...
posted by sinbarambam at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2011

Compared to an XJS, only the Lotus (and the Jensen) would be comparable in terms of reliability. Modern cars have come a LONG way since the XJS.
posted by Brockles at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2011

C6 Corvette?
The price/value vs. a Boxster might be worth looking at. Here in the U.S. a 2007 coupe for $25-30K is tempting for a comfortable sports car of this caliber. They've come a long way...Le Mans, ALMS, etc.
A little too showy for a lot of people's taste (well, I might be able to make a black one work).
Anyway, just an idea.
posted by artdrectr at 10:27 PM on February 19, 2011

Er, twisty bumpy roads are precisely the kind of environment that the Corvette seriously lacks in, for suspension control and stability. I'd scratch any US designed car off your list, there.

They've come a long way...Le Mans, ALMS, etc.

Very little Corvette racing is works supported, and so not as much technological bleed back from the racing programmes exist as the company... suggests (?) it is. While they have come a long way, they are still pretty agricultural in design compared to the serious sports/tourers mentioned here. The US manufacturers are slowly getting rid of their 'only any good at engines (that do crappy fuel economy)' stigma, but they're not by any means there yet.
posted by Brockles at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2011

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