How do I get a car without stuff that I don't need?

I am 50 years old and have only owned two cars–a 1995 Toyota Tercel and a 2005 Toyota Echo. I loved both of them because they had everything I needed and almost nothing that I didn’t need. The Tercel didn’t even have power steering, which was fine. Both cars had manual windows. The Tercel went to over 256,000 miles; and the Echo is over 276,000.

It seems that it is almost impossible to buy a car without all this extra garbage that I don’t need. I don’t need a stupid car alarm. I don’t want an expensive key fob. I don’t want these silly power windows. I don’t need a toaster oven, a waffle iron, or a foot massager.

Unfortunately, it seems that such cars are nearly impossible to find now. Both of my cars were a year old when I bought them, and they were great cars. I am definitely not interested in buying someone else’s old car. I live in Texas, so I will consider bringing a car in from Mexico if that is what I have to do. I want to buy a car that will last another ten years or more, so I’d like 2019 or later.

I do need an automatic transmission. I haven’t driven a manual and haven’t really had the opportunity to learn. I also realize that some of this unnecessary fluff (like air bags) is now legally required. I would also love to stay with Toyota, although it’s not a deal breaker.

Do you all have any suggestions? Where is the best place to find this? Would I find something in Mexico? What about other parts of the country?

That Fluff could save your life . All you can do is go on the manufacturers web sites and use the build your own feature . Also unless you have been living in a cave this is the worst time to be vehicle shopping . As for the Mexico vehicle many of the cars you see on the road with you were made in Mexico but importing one that is not sold here is almost impossible.

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You cannot import cars from another country until they are 25 years old.

You also cannot buy a car like you describe in the US market. Sorry. Get over it.

Most cars, however, will last 300k miles with proper maintenance.


I’d recommend getting the lowest option package possible. Stick with Toyota if you’ve had good luck with them and enjoy that brand. I am a Toyota fan myself. But airbags are not an option anymore. Power windows are pretty nice and can generally be repaired pretty cheap if they do fail in 10-15 years. Backup cameras- I’ll admit I was skeptical, but I like them. This comes from a guy who still has one vehicle with manual windows and locks. I’ll admit, some of the tech has gone too far for me too. I don’t care about pairing my phone with my car audio, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and some of the other newish tech. But I’ll admit again, I haven’t experienced it and might possibly find myself enjoying some of it if I had a vehicle equipped with it.

What do you not like about the modern conveniences? Do you think there’s a lack of reliability, or do you just not want to pay for that extra fluff? I agree, cars are expensive right now, and nothing is free even if it’s standard equipment. Have to roll with the punches, I guess. But a Ford work truck package (XL) is pretty darn nice these days…so there’s a positive aspect.

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Might as well go with the new stuff, then when it breaks no worries!

So, what makes it possible?

I slid into a wall going 65 without air bags, so I have no interest in debating this. I also realize that I have no choice on air bags thanks to the feds.

What do you not like about writing quality posts on boards?

Barrett Jackson or Mecum auctions. bid on a car that has been totally redone. they have just about every year, make and model at different auctions. but you would probably pay the same as buying a new car or more depending on the vehicle.

People like you, mainly.


So, you mean something like a redone 2005 Echo? That might be interesting.

No one in their right mind is going to restore a 2005 Echo .


Look on something like, I found new base Corollas for about $23k, it’ll have the minimum options you can get.

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About 57 years ago, I bought the bottom of the line Rambler–the Classic 550. It was a manual transmission with no power steering or brakes. It didn’t have backup lights or a windshield washer. There were no door switches to turn on the interior lights when the doors were opened. I bought this car before I met the future Mrs. Triedaq. She didn’t like getting into a dark car at night. I did have backup lights and a windshield washer installed. The Rambler was replaced with a Ford Maverick. It had an automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning. I liked these features. Moving ahead to my present ride, I have a Toyota Sienna. It has dual automatic temperature control for the cabin. Mrs. Triedaq sets the passenger temperature warmer than I set the driver’s side temperature. The Sienna has power windows–a real convenience at the drive up at the bank. The Sienna has power sliding doors which are a real help when I pick up passengers. I often receive phone calls. I like the blue tooth system that allows me to answer a call while on the road.
Yes, I thought a strippo was great until I got a vehicle with some convenience features. I would never go back to a car like the 1965 Rambler.


I am happy to see someone else posting who feels the same way I do. I want a basic car with a NA 4-cylinder engine, no power windows/seats/door locks, no security system/alarm/remote control, no sunroof/moonroof, no touchscreens, no “driver assist features”, etc, and nothing which infringes my privacy and communicates with a remote server. As such, I prefer to buy, restore, and drive cars from the 1990’s, when quality reached its peak, and before all the “high tech” BS and “nanny features” became unavoidable.

As you have correctly pointed out, buying such a car here is extremely difficult, unless you live in a region where rust is not a problem. Even then, it only makes sense if you can DIY, and/or are willing to pay more than the car is worth in repairs to keep it running.

Buying a car in Mexico is a nonstarter unless you want something which is 25 years or older based upon the manufacture date. Anything more recent cannot be legally imported, and cannot be registered for use on public roads. Even importing a vehicle under the 25-year exemption might be challenging, though I haven’t really looked into it.

BTW, the 1995-1998 Toyota Tercel was a super high quality car, and I always wanted one, but never had the opportunity to buy one. Now they are extremely rare, and when one pops up for sale on Craigslist, it is beat-to-hell and has over 200,000 miles on it.

I had a 1991 Tercel, which had excellent seats, visibility, and comfort, but mine had to have the engine replaced at around 78,000 miles. This may be due to something the previous owner did to the car, because it had frequent problems starting soon after I purchased it, and it never ran right until the engine quit and was replaced.

After the Tercel was destroyed in an accident (what a big shame), I decided to go for a new car, and ordered a new 2004 Toyota Corolla with no power options, no security system, but with the automatic transmission. I still have that car, now it has about 122,000 miles and my wife drives it.

Currently, the car I drive every day is a 2002 Daewoo Lanos. It is a comfortable car with excellent seats, visibility, etc, and the kind of features which I like. I would not recommend that you buy this type of car used (or the mechanically similar Chevrolet Aveo) unless you can DIY because it requires–and has required–a lot of difficult repairs and maintenance to keep it running, and it only has about 93,000 miles on it. Certain parts, such as the fuel pump, thermostat housing, timing belt tensioner, head gasket, shocks and struts used in this model were severely cost-cut, although the aftermarket replacements are of much higher quality.

Therein lies the difficulty of finding a used economy car in good condition. By the time such a car has depreciated to the point that it’s on its third or subsequent owner, it is usually treated very poorly, given minimal maintenance, and run into the ground. Expensive recommended maintenance such as changing the timing belt, changing the transmission fluid and filter, replacing worn shocks and struts, etc. simply do not get done, and then when the car ultimately quits or won’t pass emissions it is junked or sold cheap as a “mechanic’s special”. It is often very difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to restore such a car to good condition.

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You would be surprised. When time permits, I am going to restore my 1993 Plymouth Sundance and register it as a historic vehicle. If I didn’t have to repair the engine in my daily driver Daewoo, I would have worked on the Sundance last summer.

Here is the perfect car for the OP.
The Nissan Tsuru, sold in Mexico, is a durable stripp-o sedan devoid of most modern creature comforts and–most importantly–has none of those “unnecessary” features such as air bags and crush zones to protect passengers from impact. :smirk:

Seriously, however, the regulation that blocks the importation of foreign-made cars less than 25 years old is the major stumbling block for the OP. But, since he wants a car like those that are sold in Third World countries, the solution to his problem might be to move to a Third World country, where his type of vehicles are available in huge numbers.


Agreed, the OP could emigrate to Mexico.

Virtually all cars have some kind of passive anti-theft these days.

You can still find a few cars without keyless entry

I won’t have a car without them. There’s very little downside IMHO. They are exceptionally reliable and in the unlikely event they do fail, repairs are cheap. The one time I had a power window regulator fail. The repair cost was under $100.

Probably doable if it’s the same model of the car that was sold in the U.S., probably not doable if it’s a market specific model that doesn’t meet U.S. safety/emissions regs.

Base model Corolla. base model Versa, base model Civic or a base model Mazda 3. Keep in mind you probably won’t be able to get something without an infotainment screen these days, and features like a backup camera are mandatory.

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Here’s a list of vehicles for people who prefer minimal tech: The Honda Fit is on the list and might be worth a look. You should be able to find a lightly used example in the low $20k’s. If you prefer a sedan, maybe look at a Hyundai Accent. And it’s not on the USNews list but before we bought my wife’s Tucson, she test drove a Chevrolet Trax that was pretty basic.

He could look up @irlandes when he’s there.