Car Corner
Cars for Photography - Part IV: The Short List

July 5, 2015
By Scott Lewis

For part 4 of our little adventure in car selection, it's time to nail down the short list of cars. The cars I will actually go shopping for. I am just starting to get a handle on my new budget living in a 1,400 sq.ft. apartment with 3 bedrooms, and 2 sons. I am still waiting for my ex-wife to sell the house, which will provide me with my share of the equity.

Regardless of the equity, I need to make a decision. Here are my finalists... based on budget:

Under $20 budget (hopefully close to $15K). This assumes I put down enough on the car to keep my payments below $300 per month.

2007-2011 328i/335i - I was able to find a few under $20K, and even one for $16K. So I am hopeful that if I shop smart I can find one. I worry about maintenance costs, but hopefully I can get one with low enough mileage that I won't have to worry about it for a while. CPO and/or an extended warrantee might be desirable... if affordable.

2008+ Accord Coupe - Still on the list, and still boring. Hard to say if it will make the final cut. Maybe I just need to test drive one to see if I can live with it.

2008+ Altima Coupe - I find this car more attrictive on the outside than the Accord, but more boring on the inside. It should photograph well, and they are affordable. Maybe I can find one with some nice options to sway my opinion (like Nav and a backup camera, or a V-6).

Mid $20K Budget. These are cars I would consider special enough that I don't mind a slightly higher monthly payment... and hope to offset that with the equity I get from the house. That being said... I would not buy a car in this price range until the house sells.

2005-2009 Corvette - I was able to put my 4-1/2 foot strip soft box, my camera bag, and a box of accessories into the back of my friend's Corvette. So this car has just enough room for me to go on location to do photography. Sweet!!! Do I want a Corvette for a daily driver? I have a friend that did have one, so I will have to reach out to him and ask what he thought of the car as a daily driver. Will it be too much of a compromise in comfort to drive a sports car every day. We'll see.

2012+ Mercedes Benz C-Class Coupe - This is the big surprise. After seeing a couple I love the looks. And seeing how I could possibly get one just barely in my price range as a CPO makes this the lead car in this race. Unless I find out that the ones I can afford are the ones I would not want. We'll see when I go shopping. Oh... how do I know the ones I want... simple... they have a flat bottom steering wheel. So I can tell from the pictures immediately if I want to consider one.

What's Off The List?

The Audis got the ax because they were going to be too hard to find in a price range I am comfortable with... and in red. There just aren't that many bright red Audis.

The Camaro is off the list. With a new version just around the corner... I have a hard time thinking about this one.

The Mustang is off the list for the same reason as the Camaro. The 2015 is so much better (particularly the interior) that I just can't see getting one prior to 2015. I tried pricing a 2015, just to see. The base price is $23,800, so why not? Because I won't like one at that price... assuming you could find one that stripped on a lot. The only way to get a decent interior is to get the Premium version (regardless of engine). I would not want the V-6. I would love an EcoBoost model if the factory would tune it to about 375 hp (a real SVO inspired car) and a more performance tuned suspension. Even without all that.. An EcoBoost model starts at $25,300, but a Premium EcoBoost starts at $29,300. So over budget already. And no performance options. Yikes!

The G37 Coupe is off my list. It will be hard to get one in the price range I want, and they don't inspire me.


There you have it. Below $20K we are looking at a 328i, Accord or Altima. Over $20K we are looking at a C250 or a Corvette.

I'll let you know which cars I actually start looking at and test driving.

If all went according to plan... the ex-wife was supposed put the house on the market the first week of July. I'll fill you in on whether that happened next month.