Author Topic: Destroyed car; looking for advice on easy-to-work-on cars  (Read 2601 times)


  • Magnum Stache
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Destroyed car; looking for advice on easy-to-work-on cars
« on: June 14, 2013, 10:16:52 PM »
Well, I killed my little blue car. (picture)  If anyone wants any parts off a 1988 Chevy Sprint Metro (apart from the already-claimed cylinder head and carb), let me know.  This little beauty got me 54MPG going from Chicago to New York and back two weeks ago.

I would like to eventually have as a replacement two cars: one small efficient commuter, and a larger hatchback/wagon for "light hauling" and several-person roadtrips and dog shows (girlfriend's anti-mustachian hobby...).  I'd probably want to spend no more than $2000 or so on each, maximum.  "My car" will probably be the commuter, and "her car" will probably be the hatchback/wagon.

My mother will never let me live it down if I have another car without an airbag, so I'm thinking that my commuter will be a '95-ish Geo Metro.  They can still get around 45MPG, more with modifications.  I know how to work on these cars, as they are dead simple, and very similar to my '88 Sprint.

For the roadtripper, the two cars that keep jumping out at me are the Suzuki Esteem wagon (mostly because of its similarity to the Metro; the 1.6L engine in it is basically the same as the 1.0L in the Metro, but bigger) and early 90s Volvo wagons (240/740/940).  My girlfriend had a '93 940 sedan a few years back, and she loved that car.  Very comfortable and great for roadtrips.  A wagon would have lots of space.  The Volvo redblock engine is known for lasting forever. That 940 had 211k on it when she sold it, still running great.  I've also gotten the impression that those cars are easy to work on, but parts can get pricey.  Also, Volvos are known for being super safe, so it'd be a fun contrast to the Geo Metro.  The Esteem would be great due to its extreme similarity to the Sprint/Metro, and being able to easily fix/maintain stuff myself is very important to me.  The Volvos are known for lasting longer it seems, and have more storage space, but are less efficient (24MPG highway vs ~30 on the Esteem).  However, this car would probably get driven a lot less than the commuter, so MPG matters a little less here.

The main things I am looking for in these cars is efficiency, ease of maintenance, and within my relatively modest budget.  Does anyone have any other recommendations?  I'm open to pretty much anything that can fit my criteria.

My girlfriend is being flown out to Phoenix in early October by an old photo client that wants her to do some work for her, and I've decided that I'm going to tag along to buy a car there and then we'll drive it home.  Advantages to buying a car there being that cars in Phoenix tend to be a lot cheaper than around here (Chicago suburbs) and that they are rust-free, as they've lived in the desert.  Of course the drawback is that I only have about a week there to track down a car (although I do plan on looking into a bunch online before getting there).  I've decided that I will buy whichever car (the commuter or the roadtripper) presents itself best in Phoenix, and then probably buy the other next summer or so.

Thanks for any help!