I need a cheap muscle car! Which car should I buy?
Patrick has lived on the West Coast for fifteen years and is back in Chicago. He needs something affordable but also “respectable” for a reducer. He loves NASCAR and old school muscle, but isn’t sure anything quality will fit his budget. Which car should he buy?
(Welcome back to Which car should you buy? Where we give real advice to real people on buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
After coming back from the West Coast to Chicago 15 years ago, I haven’t needed a car for a long time. Now that our office has permanently restored working from home, my wife and I have decided to move the suburbs to a bigger yard and an honest two-car garage. (Goodbye, street parking!)
Now we already have a super minibus as a grocery / school shuttle for my wife and our four year old twins. But sometimes I might need to run errands in the middle of the day or enjoy a weekend driving in a park or something.
I grew up following ’80s and 90s NASCAR, and as my heart longs for an old school MOPAR or Chevrolet, I realize that my wallet and lack of confidence in my heartbreaking abilities rules them out. probably. I would like something in the realm of practice … but still want to have some credibility with my uncles and cousins who still dominate the dirt road where I grew up.
I can spend up to $ 10,000 but less is more
Budget: Up to $ 10,000
Daily driver: Yes
Wants: Affordable, respectable to reducers
Will not : Something super expensive to maintain
Expert 1: Tom McParland – Japanese Muscle
Patrick, my first instinct was to go all the way to Blues Brothers and find you something with a “cop engine, cop tires and cop suspension”. But these all look a lot worse to wear at this price. However, I haven’t given up on the dream of the V8 and rear-wheel drive. What I have found may not be recognizable for your average reducer, but those who know … know.
This is a 2003 Infiniti M45 with less than 100,000 miles for around $ 8,000. It doesn’t look like your typical Japanese luxury car from the early 2000s, as the styling cues are reminiscent of the Motor City. Under the hood is a 4.5-liter V8 that sends 340 horsepower to the rear wheels. This is all a recipe for a “muscle car” albeit one from a brand you wouldn’t expect, and these Infinitis are pretty reliable. This particular example looks well maintained, and the owner even has an extra set of winter tires. Nissan’s luxury division doesn’t do them like that anymore and probably never will. This means that these V8 cruisers could be a bit of a “classic” someday.
Expert 2: Mercedes Streeter – A V8 time capsule
Welcome to the region, Patrick! Chicago and its suburbs aren’t known for their motorable roads, so we’ve got something that exudes style even when you’re sitting in traffic. This 1968 Mercury Montego has an old-fashioned muscle car look and a 302 cubic inch V8 under its long hood.
This V8 makes around 220 hp, which won’t save you a lot of races, but should be good enough for fun. The engine bay offers a ton of space for repairs, and a simple old car is a great platform for gaining more tear-off capabilities.
The seller says this car is not quality, but it looks ready for you to hang your arm on its open window and go for a long drive. This is $7,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, and would have 27,000 original miles!
Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky – If you have to be cheap, be weird
Hey hey Patrick, thanks for coming. If you want to stick with old school muscle reducers, I think there are two ways to go – one way is expensive and requires finding desirable cars and sorting them out properly. Your budget doesn’t make sense for that, but luckily there’s another way, a way I actually prefer: go a little weird.
Against the backdrop of weird old-school American muscle, I think the Oldsmobile Toronado is a great choice: powerful and meaty V8 horsepower, but perversely driving the front wheels. And it’s not just a normal FWD rig like a Citation from the 1980s – it’s a longitudinal V8, so you get classic long hood / short deck proportions.
Toronados have always had a bold design, and while your budget won’t quite allow for the most iconic first-gen ones, the one from 1973 for less than $ 8,000 is still a fascinating specimen.
The styling of the second-gen Toronado was a bit more “personal luxury” than the first “gigantic, bonkers GT car”, but it’s still so awesome and full of weird details like a minimal, huge front grille. fun front fenders and extra high fenders. rear lights mounted under the rear window.
The interior is blood red, with amazing-looking seats and a new wrap-around dashboard. The trunk is a huge storage area, and since you’re in a real wintery location, you can actually appreciate the traction benefits of front-wheel drive.
It’s even in Illinois too! Every reducer you come across will want to inspect this burgundy beauty more, I promise. You will see.