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Seeking recommendations for late 70s / early 80s sporty car

I’m approaching my 30th birthday and, truthfully, facing a one-third life crisis. Here are some things I don’t have: a wife, children, or very much debt. And some things I do have: a bit of cash in the bank, steady work, my health, and most of the original hair still on my head.

Seeing as how I’m still in pretty good shape, I’d like to investigate purchasing a fine automobile of similar condition and age that I can use as a second car. I’d be parking it at my brother’s place in Texas, where I frequently stay for business trips, and would like to use it primarily to commute around town (8-10 mile trips, typically).

Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with Porsche 911s. Growing up, my dad had a few 1980s Mercedes sedans off & on as second cars, and they were always a pleasure to ride in. And a friend drives his late 1970s BMW 6 series on a regular basis.

Sooooo…any suggestions on which way to go? My price range is capped at about $13,000 plus maybe $500/year in maintenance. Seating for 2-5 people is acceptable. Don’t need a lot of trunk space. Really, I’m just looking for a really neat late 70s or early 80s sporty car that’s fun to drive and great to look at. And that won’t break down while I’m stuck in highway traffic.

I’m all ears.

Everything made from 1975 until around 1988 was JUNK…"81 thru '88 model cars are hopeless.

Maybe you could find an E-type Jag someone has dropped a SBC in…Fun and reliable. The 6 cylinder Benz roadsters are nice if you can find a rust-free one…A Caddy Allante ('87-'92) are fun and the '92 models had the Northstar (Lotus) engine…But if they break, NOBODY can fix them…Porsche 911’a spend more time in the shop than they do on the road. Very expensive shops…

You need to revise your maintenance/repair budget. $500/year is pretty low even for a 5 year old car on average. A set of tires and your budget is nearly blown.

$1000/year is more realistic and creep up a bit more for an older car.

Also your requirement of won’t break down is nearly impossible to meet with a 20-40 year old car.

Spend $5000 on the car of your choice and save the rest for the likely repairs. It is pure and sheer luck beyond maintenance habits if it still works. Good luck

The only sports car of that era might be a 911, but you’re way short on budget. Get a used Miata, you’ll have more fun for less money. They are GREAT sports cars.

Have more fun and speed less money.  Get a Miata.

$500 a year for maintenance is not enough. Almost any car will cost more than that, even a relatively new car. An older sports car will cost WAY more than that each year. Figure $1,000 to $1,500 minimum.

Spend $5,000 on a used Miata and keep the rest in the bank. You’ll be much better off.

SO get the 911, have fun with it . . . then evaluate what you want next. The fascination you have needs to be addressed. Rocketman

If you could find a Datsun 240Z, or a later version renamed Nissan Z car that could be fun. These cars are about a reliable as an older car can get, and hold their value.

I have always wanted a Mercedes 450 since they were introduced but never had one. Parts are pretty expensive for them. You may be able to find one in your budget but you may want to go with the Japanese models since the European models tend to be more expensive to purchase and maintain.

I suggest a Miata or a 1990 or later Nissan 300ZX. I had one and the styling still looks great today.

If the 450SL is of interest to the OP, he should try to get the most recent one he can, the 560SL was the last and best of that model.

Best thing to do would be to scan ebay motors and see what the vehicles you’d like are going for.

If you have tools and can do your own work, then the equation is different. Maybe you can get an antique that fits your taste, restore it to whatever degree is necessary, and enjoy it. But probably not for $500 a year. A used Miata is probably your best bet.

Problem with the Datsun’s of that era…was RUST. It would have to be an Arizon car. Forget finding one in the North East. They’ve all rusted away.

Ugh. Why is everybody so keen on selling this guy a Miata? I have a lot in common w/ the OP (minus the crisis and 13k to blow), and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Miata. (no offense to anyone who owns one)…partly b/c I’m 6’4", so I’d look like a clown in it; partly because it has an unusually phallic shape; and partly because people tend to think of them as hair-dresser or girly cars. Miatas might be fun and reliable, but dude’s having a crisis, and he wants something with some class.

With that said, everybody’s right that late 70’s-early 80’s cars typically suck. I’d either go older (late 60’s-early 70’s), or later (late 80’s-early 90’s).
Certainly there are all kinds of awesome classic domestic models- which would be relatively easy to fix and find parts for. If he insists on going Euro, I might recommend the Volvo P1800, or BMW 2002 tii- cool cars, and cheaper than the Porsche… still might be difficult to find stuff for, but I’d imagine there is online support (forums and whatnot) for them.

If you’re mechanically inclined, have alot of time on your hands, and find the prospect of not knowing if you’re going to make it to your destination without incident as exciting, then I recommend the Triumph TR6. Once you get past the Lucas electrics, temperamental carburetors, and questionable build quality, they are really fun cars. We have 1974 that’s about 97% restored. As long as you don’t drive it at night, it’s a great car.

A 107 chassis Mercedes SL (450SL, 380SL & 560SL) would be an excellent choice if you want a rock solid roadster, but it’s not really a sports car. Any part on the car is readily available from many sources. Some models are prefered and some years should be avoided, like any other car brand out there.

That being said, every car enthusiast should own a Porsche 911 at least once in their life.
For $13k you should be able to find a serviceable 70’s 911 and maybe even an early '80s 911SC. Do your homework well before buying. Very few car guys regret buying a 911 Porsche.

How’s the body on your TR6, FoDaddy? Rocketman

Body is quite good. It was repainted in the mid-80s,and it’s about ready for another paint job. Now we did have to replace some of the floor pan due to rust, and we had to fabricate and replace a rusted out crossmember, but right now there’s very,very little rust. The car only had 60k miles on it.

My son had a Porsche - sold it when he was told “It needs an engine rebuild, which costs $15,000”. So, if you are dead set on a Porsche, keep it for 6 months, and then dump it. We’ve owned Beemers - my grandmother’s 2002 was a blast to drive - Alfa Romeo coupes and roadsters are VERY cool, but break down a lot - but still very cool (I spent the summer, driving my older brothers Alfa - awesome experience for a high school kid!). Dad owned an E-type Jag - totally unreliable, but pretty (kinda like having a mistress). I DO agree that Miata, though reliable, are “girl-cars” (okay, we live in a logging town, so “If it ain’t a truck, it ain’t squat”) - whatever you buy, plan to spend $1,000 a year, minimum. Just follow yours heart, and have fun!