What car should I get to look and feel cool 'n' classy?

There are superficial, vain aspects to my personality of which I am not ashamed. I think such things are truly dangerous in a moderately well-adjusted person like ME only when they lie beneath the surface of conscious thought.

So here goes. I am a business consultant but currently not particularly flush. I need to ditch my creaky Olds (thanks, Dad) for a stylish ride. I need a car that will seem consultantly, pretigious, and cool. I want a car that drives well.

But not something bling-bling ostentatious. That ain’t my way. And I think spending $60k on a car is a waste; lots of other stuff to buy. And, as I said, I can’t afford it right now, either.

In fact, my budget is about $5k to $10k. I know where I can get a pretty nice, new-looking 1980s BMer in this range. Still, I want a car that’s a little different. I mean, a 1970s Citroen sedan in good condition would do it for me. You see what I’m getting at?

Criteria in sum:

  1. $5 to $10k
  2. Classy (i.e., a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, however cool that might be, is not the vibe)
  3. Something different if possible
  4. Gives las chicas a case of acute panty moisture (hey, just kidding!)

Help me out, Dopers!

One thing to consider when buying a 5-10k car is the cost of repairs on it (if it is pre-owned). While that BMW might seem like a great buy, the cost of repairs could be over the cost and/or value of the car. This is basically the norm for any European car.

You could get a Japanese car for this price, but I am not sure it would be prestigious enough for you.

Would a good Hyundai suit you? You could get a new one for a little more, or a three year old higher model in that make for that price. And they have made great strides in their building of the automobile.

Yes, I have heard that Hyundai in just a few short years has achieved astouding quality, and I actually think their styling is pretty cool for a modern car.

A sleek, black Hyundai sedan might be just the compromise. Thanks for the advice!

Keep the ideas coming, O Dopers!

I would have no suggestions in your price range except for maybe a used BMW.

Although, you could get a used Range Rover. But the first repair could set you back more than the purchase price! :wink:

Where are the Doper car buffs?

More ideas, please!

Rather than focusing on the look you want, find out what’s out there for the conservative amount you want to pay. Pick from what’s available. This Toyota Corolla looks perfect for you. http://www.carmax.com/dyn/factsheet/factsheet.aspx?id=3902356

How about an Audi 80? Indeed, for $US10k, couldn’t you get an early (mid-90s) Audi A4?

Be a damn sight cheaper than having the hydraulics on a vintage Citroen fixed though. :eek:

I don’t mean to sound elitist, but $5K and “classy” are not ideas that go together. $10K you can start to see it from there on a clear day with a favorable wind.

My brother is a perpetually-broke carpenter. Besides his work truck he drives a late 70s Jaguar sedan. Looks classy from 30 feet away, but like a trim old woman it doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Up close it looks like what it is: a run-out rich man’s car driven by a poor man. And that is not classy.

As well, the day something essential fails, 100% of his "investment’ in the purchase price (~5K) goes down the drain; he’s driving a timebomb that will be a total loss one morning without warning.
I’m a big believer in buying 2-3 year old used cars & getting rid of them at 6-7 years. That seems (to me) to be the sweet spot between cachet & cost-effectivity. You can prolong the cachet by buying the first year after a major style change, confident that the car will be all-but indistinguishable from the same model 3 years hence. Keep it clean & shiny & don’t let the interior get grungy & it’ll look 3 years & 50,000 miles newer than it is.

For that money you’re not going to really wow any potential clients with your ride. So unless your expertise is art consulting or something similar where “impractical” is considered a compliment, I’d avoid something run-out & instead get something that says you’re a sensible efficient fellow. If you want some snazz, get a bright color or a sportier model vs the tan sedan.

For max customer impression, buy the $5K car & put most of the rest of the money in a better wardrobe & haircut. I hear that also works pretty well with the ladies. :slight_smile:

Admittedly, I’ve driven cars that might be considered ‘cool’ or ‘classy’. But that’s not why I got them. For me it was all about the fun factor. If people were impressed by them, that’s their concern. If they were not, then what did I care? I was having fun. (As I’ve gotten older, I do find it pleasing to make people smile by driving an old/unusual car. A friend called my old Willys a ‘happy car’ because it made people smile to see it.)

I don’t agree with buying a car for ‘image’. As LSLGuy points out, it can make one look like a poseur. There’s nothing wrong with driving an old Jag (to use his example); but if one’s aim is to impress, one should ensure that the car is presentable from close up. That takes money. I remember reading once that exotic and semi-exotic cars could be bought cheaply. (e.g., back in the late-'80s a ten-year-old Ferrari 308 could be had for 25 kilobucks.) But no matter how cheaply one buys a car, one is still maintaining a very expensive car. A lot of people converted their '70s and '80s Jags to Chevy power because it was too expensive to rebuild the original motor.

So don’t buy a car for ‘image’. Examine who you are, and what kind of car pleases you. Forget what others think. If you like the car, then other people can like it or not or be impressed by it or not as they wish. That’s their business. Sell yourself with your expertise in consultancy, not with your chariot.

Of course all of that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to post photos of my MGB when it’s done. :wink: :smiley: )

I don’t see ANY contemporary car as “cool or classy”. Almost all of them look alike-the melted icecube look. Much better to drive something from the 1950’s or 60’s-my choices would be:
-1958 Studebaker “Golden hawk”
-1967 Camaro RS
of course, these cars are rather hard to maintain-but at least you won’t see yourself every day!

But I would doubt that a car in good condition in one of these models would fit in the price range of the OP. Unless you get the ‘Champion’ model, and it would have to be the hardtop version, in non show-room condition. But like you said, the parts could be very costly.

Stick with a new or a few year old Hyundai, I tell ya’!

In about 1980 my father suffered a confidence crisis along with his rather good job and company car. He bought a Renault Gordini - but rather dimly ignored my advice to get a welder to adjust the seat.

Another example, about 1992 a ‘collegue’ of mine got an old, not classic, but impeccable Mercedes, it was admired and he was amused by the fact that it was worth less than a normal ‘small car’.

I personally favour old Golfs, my favourite car was the ‘old style’ body of about 1992, I toyed with getting it resprayed British Racing Green.

My guess of your best bet is to find a small outfit of mechanics who deal with older and rather unusual cars, it will be a bit like paying alimony, but it could provide you with what you want.

Does it need to be comfortable on the inside, or just from the outside?

I have an 80s Mercedes sedan. I think with some detailing it can be classy from the outside. It’s not pretentious, just a well-built piece of machinery that lasts forever if properly maintained. It gets 30mpg city, and it’s been more reliable than my previous car ('98 Dodge Caravan - I know, that’s not saying much). But it’s rather loud, vibrates a lot at idle, some interior panels rattle, and the AC is temperamental. The stereo sounds horrible and there are no cup holders. And cleaning a 20-year old carpet is much harder than polishing 20-year old paint. I love it but it’s not for everyone.

Get an Escalade.

I’m driving a 1989 Mercedes 190E, which scr4 described pretty accurately :slight_smile: The engine is solid as ever, but the car vibrates, interior panels rattle, the AC is temperamental (which drives me nuts in summer), the stereo sounds horrible and there are no cup-holders.

I don’t love it, but it was dirt cheap and it gets me around.

Also, the Merc is rear-wheel-drive, which is just so much more fun to drive, even with an auto-box.

Then you would have loved my first car- a 1957 Nash Metropolitan, turquoise and white. That car was a people-magnet, even if they just came closer to assure themselves that it wasn’t an upside-down bathtub with wheels on it!


I got it in high school, and it was a boy-magnet too… but they wanted under it’s hood instead of mine! :eek: :smiley:

Interesting thread. I’m looking at an 84 BMW 733i that is in really good shape and has <100K on it. I can get it for a song if I play my cards right - one owner, he babied it up till he had a stroke three years ago and it’s been sitting ever since.

Beware old Bimmers! how does $500+ for a new fuel pump sound? Or if you get into an accident- new body panels are almost impossible to find. also, check the A/C carefully-if it isn’t working, you are looking at $1300+ to rebuild the system.
My advice: pay an experienced BMW mechanic to check this car out throughly-and DO NOT buy if many major systems (brakes, A/C. tranny are showing signs of failure).