Spring is Here and I Got A Bad Case Of “Car Fever”

More cowbell, I mean cars.

I have a terrible illness, and it’s called “car fever.” According to my made-up definition from WebMD, “Car fever is when you just can’t stop searching Craigslist, AutoTrader, Ebay, or Bring a Trailer for cars.” Car fever hit me about a week ago, and it looks like recovery isn’t coming anytime soon.

You see writing all those articles about sub $5,000 cars was simply my rehab from a previous car fever.

The problem when you have car fever is it won’t end till you’ve purchased a car. I already have a 200k + mile Toyota Previa minivan that I love and adore. In my dark state of illness, my mind is telling me I need something new, something different, something preferable that weighs 2,000 pounds less than my van, and has a manual transmission.  Hmmmm manual transmission.  And something that is not a minivan, sorry Previa.  I love minivans but it’s time to move on.

What is that something you ask? Great, well let me tell you its got to be cheap. Like dirt cheap. Like McDonald’s dollar menu for dinner every night for the last six months cheap.  I don’t have much money, and selling a 1996 Toyota Previa won’t make me rich. Also who doesn’t love a bargain basement sports car? I sure as hell do.

Here are my Top 5 choices …. for now:
1. NA Miata (first generation) – Obvious choice for a reason, and obviously great.  The Mazda Miata is the best selling roadster and more Miata’s are raced on the weekends than any other car.  I’d love to have an NA Miata that is my daily driver and weekend racer.  Finding an NA isn’t the issue, finding one that isn’t failing apart is.

2. 1991 CRX Si – Pretty much a front-wheel drive Mazda Miata.  I like the fact that this is not as frequently seen as a Miata.  It’s different.  But it can handle well, it has a lightweight design and has bullet proof reliability. The engine was never anything to write home about, but you can drop just about any Honda engine under the hood and you have a sleeper on your hands. The problem is finding one that isn’t molested/slammed/tuned by a 17 year old in Kansas City, Kansas.

3. B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R – It was my first love, and will always have a special place in my heart.  The Sentra SE-R from 1991- 1994 was known to enthuasists as one of the best handling bargain basement sport cars ever built and it still holds true to date.  Issue here is you just can’t find them.  For every 20 Mazda Miatas on Craigslist there might be one Nissan Sentra SE-R.  It came from the factory with a limited-slip differential, 2.0 140-hp engine and a slick five-speed transmission,  oh baby.


4. Toyota MR2 (first generation) – A cheap, reliable mid-engine sports car, can it get better than that?  The first generation MR2 had amazing handling, stunning looks, and great reliability.  It also rusted everywhere, finding one that has no rust is a challenge.  Toyota sold the MR2 like candy to children in the late 80s, and they aren’t super rare…..yet.  But you can’t argue with a two-seater, mid-engine Toyota that you can pick up for $3,000.


5. 1987/88 Porsche 924s – Essentially, a cheaper, faster, lighter Porsche 944 that no one wants to buy.  I feel like the 924S is definitely the outlier here, because it’s so different and Porsche’s are not known to be easy to work on.  But for some reason I have always wanted a Porsche, when I first saw a 1988 Porsche 911 I knew I had to have one.  And the 924S might be the sleeper Porsche bargain at the moment, Porschiphiles don’t want to touch it because it was developed by Volkswagen.   But what people forget is that the 1987/88 years for the 924S it was brought back to the United States as essentially a cheaper 944, with perfect 50/50 weight distribution.  The 924S is a great first car for getting into racing.


Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on what car I should buy to cure my “car fever.”

  1. Having owned all but the Porsche, I can tell you they’re all great choices – and all hard to find in half decent condition these days. I’d say search for all of these and get the best car you can find, whichever one it is. You’ll be happy either way.

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