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Selecting and Buying My First Car

Hi, car fanatics!!!! I am looking for your exprtise in picking fine automobiles. My price range is about eight thousand dollars. I like cars that look good, that are spacious, have excellent interiors, and are reliable. Please help me come up with choices. I prefer imports over American cars. Help me choose between old cars from the seventies or eighties or newer cars from the nineties.


  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    suggest a '93 BMW 5 series, should fit the bill
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,409
    "I like cars that look good, that are spacious, have excellent interiors...."
    Whoo-Hoo! 1993 Audi 100 quattro

    "...and are reliable."
    Dang. So close.

    Dude, if it really is your "first car", maybe you should look for a pair of sensible shoes first... "excellent interiors" pretty much narrows it down to some nasties like anything German above VW and things like Jaguars. The Germans have longevity, but reliability is a different story... maybe something special and Japanese, such as a Supra or ....

    I've got it! Howze about a nice early-to-mid nineties Acura? Dunno which one, I'm not really up on these, but they tend to be a lot cheaper than Lexus, they are reliable, and I think they're don up nicely.

    Good luck,
    [for the more frugal-minded: ]
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... Let me just delete 3 off your long list, I will let the others fill in the blanks ..

    No Kias

    No Daewoo's

    No Hyundai's

                   Other than these three, the world is your Oyster .....

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,356
    I think he said "reliable"

    A ten year old BMW ?
  • Lexus, Acura, Mercedes. Shoot for the lowest mileage you can find, mostly high-way miles, if possible (I'd stay well under 120,000). Only buy if it has a complete service record. Make sure timing belt and water pump have been replaced when called for. Battery, tires, shocks, springs, bushings, control arms, oil leaks? Leave ~$3000 in your bank account for repairs over the next 18 months or so.

    - D.
  • themanxthemanx Posts: 110
    Terry, why no Hyundai's?

    Since they lose resale fast, wouldn't that mean
    you could get them at better than reasonable prices?


  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... Of course the horrible resale value comes into play .. but add that with the reliability of a plastic chainsaw and you have two losers ...

                         Terry ;-)
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    I think a Nissan Altima would be a good choice. Our 1994 Altima has been a great car, and our son still loves to drive it. I think Nissans depreciate faster than Toyotas and Hondas, so you may be able to get a good Altima for $8K.

    Keep it for several years and save up enough money so you can pay cash for your next car.
  • Hi partyboye1. It's always exciting to purchase one's first vehicle. I remember when I bought my first ride many moons ago. In your post you mentioned that you are in the market for a used vehicle with a price tag of less than $8,000. Here is a small list of vehicles that I would personally consider if I was in the market for a a used car below $8K: a Chevrolet Prizm, a late-90's Honda Civic, a late-90's Acura Integra, a late-90's Nissan Altima, and a late-90's Nissan Sentra to name a few. These all should be less than $8,000 and prove to be very reliable. I personally would rather buy a vehicle that was originally less expensive and has lower mileage than an older more expensive vehicle with high mileage. has a couple of articles that I believe you will find very helpful in your search for a new vehicle. Definitely make sure to check out these: 10 Steps to Buying a Used Car and How to Get a Used Car Bargain - Part One: Identifying Your Target Cars & Arranging Financing, How to Get a Used Car Bargain Part Two - Part Two: Locating and Test-Driving Your Target Cars, and How to Get a Used Car Bargain - Part Three: Negotiating and Closing the Deal.

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • Hmmm...I'd go with a mid 90's acura Vigor. Legend to, but you should find some bargains on the Vigor.
  • mn_patmn_pat Posts: 67
    As a replacement for my recently crashed Legacy, I'm looking at the Chevy Prizm. The Prizm is a rebadged Toyota Corolla. Is cheap buy, cheap to run, cheap maintain.

    I've see several examples for with 35-45k priced from $6k to $7K
  • I think a Corolla / Prizm as well as a Civic or Impreza would be good suggestions for a first, used car except they certainly don't satify the OP's cars that look good, that are spacious, have excellent interiors by a long shot.

    I wouldn't count an Altima in there either. Perhaps a 626.

    - D.
  • asafonovasafonov Posts: 373
    Yes, the ubiqitous Prizm is probably still the best used-car bargain (had a 96, now drive a 02 manual). Mathias mentions it in his excellent car buying guide - I'll let him repost the URL if he wishes. But make sure you like it before you buy since you may be stuck with it for a long time. My 02, while bought inexpensively, reasonably peppy, ok on wet roads, and very economical fuelwise, has very cheap looking and feeling interior with annoying squeaks, and a substandard stereo (the latter can be replaced, of course). Its that interior of the 98-02 generation that's bugging me more than I expected it would. To be fair, the Corollas of that vintage are no better. Also, the insurance on the Prizm turned out to be unexpectedly high - more than on a 03 Accord!

    In retrospect, after driving in friends' cars, I realized I should have shelled an extra X thousand and bought a new or almost-new Protege . Also high insurance, parts and repair costs are greater than on a Prizm/Corolla, lower fuel economy, but a nicer car to drive, and hopefully (almost) as reliable as the Primrolla.

    Watched a private seller eBay auction recently for a 02 Pro5 with 25k that sold for 8.5k; I was very tempted to bid on it and try to sell the Prizm, but was able to restrain myself, as car trading is usually a very expensive hobby for an individual.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A lot of compacts are being mentioned, but you did ask for spacious so I'd stay with mid-sizers.

    Altima, Maxima, Accord, Camry, Legacy/Outback, and 626. Half of those even came as wagons, if you want more space and a roof rack.

    Caveat on that last one, avoid 4 cylinder automatics, that CD4E tranny is awful.

    You could look at Acura and Lexus, but to be honest they'd have to be older and/or higher miles.

  • asafonovasafonov Posts: 373
    Late 90's seem to be better made than the more recent ones, 4 cyl in 140 and 160 hp available. Can be had (much) cheaper than all of the midsizes on the list with a possible exception of a 626.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    One things I hated about cars from the early 90s was the motorized mice seat belts that came on some cars with no air bags. They were so incredibly annoying, you could not give me a car with those (if I had to drive it).

    I think the 626 got air bags in 1993. Not sure about the rest, but for $8k you should be able to find a newer model that isn't burdened with those silly belts.

    I passed on a Galant VR-4 for that reason.

  • Daewoo Leganza
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They were giving those away, used. I was worried about parts, but they were so cheap you could basically buy a spare car and scavenge the parts! LOL

    They've updated it and renamed it a Suzuki, BTW.

  • asafonovasafonov Posts: 373
    I was actually thinking of a 97-99 Galant, those did not have motorized belts AFAIK, and definitely had both airbags.

    Back to subcompacts/Prizms: two ads in a local newspaper car classified section, one right under the other: 1999 Prizm, $4500, 50k miles, bla bla, and then 1992 Geo Prizm, $3500. If only some cars depreciated by only 1k$ over 7 years...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Oh, gotcha. Yeah, I guess they started getting air bags some time in the early 90s.

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