How to buy a car? – Petrolhead edition

I was faced with one of the hardest choices a car guy can make. Buying a new car. I still own my first car, but it went under the knife in the beginning of 2016. We upgraded it with a new engine and ECU management, but more about that in another article.

So after realizing this overhaul might take quite some time as well as make the car impossible to drive every day I got myself a daily beater in the form of a 99′ Volkswagen Polo 1.4 8v. It acquired quite a few scuffs and bruises during its lifetime but mechanically it is (almost) impeccable.

Why would I even want to buy a new car?

Well »gramps«, as it is lovingly called, will get me from point A to point B no problems. But being a true petrolhead and a dedicated car guy, I’m missing the power, better steering response and suspension as well as creature comforts such as air conditioning, cruise control, heated seats and central locking to name a few.

That is why last summer I made the decision to buy a new (used) car, which would tick all the boxes.

shiftndrive snd petrolhead buying a new car tick boxes

Car Purchase plan

Here’s a car buying tip. Make a list of all the thing you would like from your car. Don’t focus on a specific make or model, as you will be limiting your options and missing out on that perfect car you never knew you wanted.

Taking into consideration the above purchase tip I segmented my needs into two categories, performance and comfort.

Performance aspect:

  • – At least 200 hp
  • – Petrol powered
  • – Rear wheel drive (RWD)
  • – Limited slip differential (LSD)
  • – More than 4 cylinders or an exotic engine
  • – Manual transmission

Comfort aspect:

  • – Xenon headlights
  • – Air conditioning
  • – Cruise control
  • – Half leather or alcantara interior
  • – OEM navigation

My budget was set to a maximum of 10.000 € and I really didn’t want a car older than 2005 as that introduces a whole set of different problems that come with older cars. The main objective was to find a fun but reliable car.

Selection of cars

Living in a small country this meant I was severely limited in selection of cars. There were actually only two vehicles that ticked the boxes:

  • – Nissan 350z – (2007 and newer, putting out 300 and 313 hp respectively)
  • – Mazda RX8 – (yes yes, I know all about the reliability aspect I pointed out above)

So I went to our local car website in hopes of finding a good car without too much hassle. Boy was I wrong.

Due to the list I posted above I ended up with just a few seemingly good results and all of them turned out to be something you don’t want to buy. Crashed, abused and badly repaired with missing service intervals, to name a few problems.

This is why I decided to lower my expectations and include other cars, which might not tick all the boxes but still provided plenty of fun factor. Expanded list included:

  • – Alfa Romeo Brera 2.5 JTDm – 200 hp, easily tunable to 250 hp. It is also exotic and quite rare, while providing all the comfort I needed.
  • – BMW E60 Serie 5 – I was looking at 530d or 535d as it was a good compromise of power versus comfort. Needless to say, none of the cars were in good condition for that price.
  • – BMW E90 Serie 3 – smaller than series 5, it offers just about the level of needed luxury as well as a range of petrol engines
  • – Audi A4 Quattro – Same a s above, just all-wheel drive
  • – Skoda Octavia RS – 4-pot turbocharged engine with good handling. But I’m not too keen on Skoda.

Even with the expanded list, my search wasn’t too successful. Either the cars got sold before I could buy them or they were not something I’d like to spend my money on.

More on my new car purchase coming up next week!

Anze Hribar

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