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Car Corner
Time for a Convertible

May 2, 2018
By Scott Lewis

Now that I have a very nice 68 Chevy Camaro, what's next?

If anyone has followed my articles, you knew this was coming. In fact, as part of my deliberation for getting a classic car I wondered if I could afford 2 cars. My original goal, while shopping for a classic, was car payments of no more than $400... whether that was 1 car payment or 2.

If I managed to find a classic for under $20K I would have had enough down payment left and enough money in the $400/month budget to get a modern car. OK, I spent $25,500 on the Camaro. It was a good deal for a super clean and original Camaro. However, it shorten the budget for a 3rd car (my 1st car is my daily driver Ford Focus).

My payment for the Camaro is $330/month. That leaves only $70/month for the next car. That means that I could only afford about a $6,000 car right now. But what if I were to push the budget. Lets say I went up to $120/month. I could afford an $8,000 car. If I want to push that to $130 my spreadsheet tells me I can go up to a purchase price of about $9,000.

I can work with that. As I was shopping for the 68 Camaro, I was monitoring a 2002 Porsche Boxster S for $12,000 (about an hour or so away). If I had bought the green Monte Carlo I test drove ($19,800 asking price), I would have immediately contacted the owner of the Boxster. Alas, even if I wanted it it sold... the same weekend as I bought my Camaro.

I was also tracking a 1994 Camaro Z-28 Convertible with 18K original miles listed for $12,900. I regret selling my 1993 Camaro Z-28. I do want to get another one. The 93-96 Camaros looks essentially the same, so any year will do. Preferably in red (like the one I had).

Finally, I have a number of 2002 Thunderbirds saved in my AutoTrader wish list. Of course, they must be turquoise with the two-tone interior. There is something about these car that I really like. I have a friend that has a very low mileage one. He told me they were designed to last a very long time, and not to be afraid to get one with over 100K miles. I stick to looking at cars with less than 75K miles.

My top 3 choices (so far):

2002 Ford Thunderbird
1994-1996 Chevrolet Camaro
Early 2000's Porsche Boxster (Preferably an S)

As you can see by my top 3 picks for a "modern classic" are all convertibles (well, the Camaro can be had either way, but you see where this is going). That is the next search. I have decided my next car will most likely be a convertible.

If I push myself I have a current budget of about $9,000 for a modern-ish convertible.

I decided to let AutoTrader help me out. At this price range I am not in the mood to travel around the county. So I limited my search to 300 miles, max price $9,000 and mileage under 75K. Let's see what interested me.

Miata - Of course! There are quite a few. Even a couple of 2008 models (which are easy to get a loan for from my own credit union).

2004 Mustang GT - I saw a nice maroon Mustang GT that was very promising for $8,500. I thought it might be the perfect counterpart to a Camaro. Having one of each Pony Car. Alas, it sold fairly quickly.

1983 Mustang - This was very interesting. An early Fox Body Mustang with a 5.0 and 5 speed. It looked as plain as could be with only 34K miles. Price seemed reasonable at $8,900. A few days later I spotted it on Bring-A-Trailer. This car is in Austin. I might have to take a drive up and check it out.

Pontiac Solstice - I saw a couple of these. I remember getting a ride in one a long time ago and not being impressed. I think they will bottom out soon on depreciation. Not like you can moke money on it, but I think it will hold its value if you just want a fun car for a couple of summers.

BMW Z4 - There are enough of these that you can be a little picky. However, BMWs with higher mileage need maintenance and that might get expensive.

Mini Cooper - I had to trade in my Mini Cooper Convertible too soon. I still like them. I really liked the community as well. However, my last Mini was expensive to repair and left a bit of a bad taste behind. If I do look at these it has to be fairly low mileage. Also, these don't look special at Cars & Coffee.

Corvettes - I saw a couple of early 90's Corvettes listed. If (that's a big if) I were to go this way it would have to be a 92+ with the LT-1 engine (same as in my 93 Camaro Z-28). There is enough power (300 hp in the Corvette) to trump the earlier cars.

Conclusion

For the moment these are the cars that interested me. Top choices are the 02 Thunderbird, 94-96 Camaro & 00-04 Boxster. The other cars above are interesting, but will require more marinating in my mind before taking a hard look.

Unfortunately, I am taking a trip to Jamaica this summer, so my car budget is blown. That means it will be next spring/summer for a convertible (hopefully).

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