Car Corner
Cars for Photography - Part II: The List Narrows

April 3, 2015
By Scott Lewis

Last time I told you that I am probably going to buy a car this summer. You can read that article for the details. The bottom line is that since I am planning to get a car this summer instead of the summer of 2016, and it is not likely to be a really long term car, I want to at least get something that photographs well, so I can practice car photography techniques on it.

I am sure I want a bright red car. It just makes sense for practicing car photography. With that said... it's time to start narrowing downs the list. Here is a quick recap of the cars still on my list:

Audi TT, A5
BMW 2007-2011 328i/335i
Chevrolet Camaro, Corvette
Ford Mustang
Honda 2008+ Accord Coupe
Infiniti G37 Coupe
Mercedes Benz 2002–2009 CLK, 2012+ C-Class Coupe
Nissan 2008+ Altima Coupe

If you look closely you will see I already eliminated the Miata and S2000 for lack of room. But I still have the Corvette in here. It is a hatch, so I need to see if my equipment fits back there. I have a friend with one, I will check on it.

Here are the other cars removed form the list and why:

Audi A4 Cabriolet - The TT and A5 overshadow it.
BMW 2005-2006 M3 - I fear this will be too expensive in the long run (maintenance costs)
Cadillac CTS Coupe - I HATE to do this... but it is not available in bright red, just maroon.
Dodge Challenger, Charger - Can't stand the interior of the pre-2015 Challenger, and Charger is too big.
Lexus SC430 - Too weird, and I suspect too expensive.
Mercedes Benz CLK - Not inspiring enough and maintenance costs.
Mini Cooper S - I don't think it will photograph well enough.
VW R32 - I can't get interested enough in it.

With those cars out of the way, let's start looking at Autotrader and see what's out there. I am going to do my initial search as follows: 300 miles from my zip code, under 60K miles, color red. Let's see what's out there.

2006+ TT - None in red. Other colors: Prices range from $18,500 - $30,000+. If I go nation wide I can find a red one. So they are out there, but it could be a problem finding one when I want one.
2007+ A5 - These are harder to find than the TT. I had to go nation wide again, and raise the mileage up to 75K to find any red ones in the $20-25K range worth buying. Granted... in years past I thought of the A5 as a direct competitor to the Cadillac CTS Coupe... which as you just read was removed from this list.

2007-2011 328i/335i - Easy. I Saw quite a few red 328i & 335i coupes from $16-30k. Finding one under $20K should not be an issue. In fact, I saw a 2007 328i with the Sport package and manual transmission with 55k miles for $16,000. I wanted to call about it but I need to wait until child support stops first.

2010+ Camaro - Too easy. Staying under $20K in addition to the above criteria I saw 36 red Camaros. I even have the choice between coupes and convertibles. Selecting only ones with a manual trans still left 9 to choose from. Cool... if I can deal with this car.
2005-2009 Corvette - Not too easy. I had to relax my mileage restriction to 75K. This is not much of an issue here. Certainly the engine in the Vette is good for tons of miles. I am always willing to stretch the budget for a Vette, so I went with $26K for a max, and still found 9 "Little Red Corvettes." I don't know if I can stretch my budget this far yet, but it is an option. I really need to take my soft box over to my friend's and see if it fits in the rear hatch area of his Corvette.

Mustang - There are more Mustangs in my criteria than Camaros. 66 Red Mustangs from 2011+ with under 60K miles and under $20K. Sweet pickings. I went with 2011 because that's when the V-6 got good, with 300+ hp. Earlier ones suck with the V-6. What about Special Editions. Hmm. The least expensive red Shelby GT500 I could find was $32K. Definitely out of my price range.

2008+ Accord Coupe - Not bad... I found 8 under $20K with the above criteria.

2007+ G37 Coupe - I only found 1 under $20K. Most are over $24K, so this is looking like it will be off my list soon.

Mercedes Benz
2012+ C-Class Coupe - This was my biggest surprise. I saw a red C350 coupe for $27K. Yes, a stretch. I also saw a C250 coupe for $23K. I did a little digging, and the CPO for Mercedes has unlimited mileage. And since I drive about 25K miles/year... that could make this car very desirable. And... it is the best looking coupe on my list (currently). This car in red will make a great photo model.

2008+ Altima Coupe - Even more than the Accord, I found 13 red Altima coupes with less than 60K miles and under $20K. I think I like the looks of this car more than the Accord, too.

There are a lot of cars to choose from. I really need to nail down my budget. Also, I may need to wait for the equity from the house to come through. That could delay things. We'll have to just wait and see.