1M files: Choosing the right car for you

BMW 1M

There could be any number of reasons why you’ve got some cash to spend on a car that isn’t a shopping trolley. It could be a bonus, kids left home or maybe you’re still living at home mooching off parents, mortgage free, lotto, or you’ve simply been saving your rear end off for a number of years.

Maybe there’s a halo car you’ve always wanted and you’re dead set on getting it. Or perhaps, like me, the car also needs to fulfil certain criteria.

There seems to be a few different ways people go about creating their list of car choices but the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and work out what really matters to you, not what other people think.

My criteria was:

Rear wheel drive.
There’s something fun about rear wheel drive dynamics.
Manual.
Despite performing some domestic duties, this car will be about driving. I’d lived with an auto long enough to know how much it dulls the driving experience.
Reliable enough for domestic duties.
This is where some of the older cars on my list were struck off.
A little bit special.
Life’s too short to drive boring cars, right? There are a lot of chipped hyper hatches around which would eat my choices alive but they are a dime a dozen which leads me to…
Fun to drive even at low speeds.
Being able to drive slowly and know you’re driving something a little bit special means you’re enjoying the car more often, not just when you’ve got your foot down.
Nothing that needs work done.
“Honey, you know that car we just bought? It needs a new gearbox.”

I️ had a number of cars on my list to consider, all for different reasons. The cars that came into my consciousness around the time of getting my license were just about all of the Japanese hero cars which are fast appreciating today. So what was on the list?

 

BMW E46 M3

BMW E46 M3

A future classic, last of the naturally aspirated sixes. As most now have above 100,000kms could I️ live with that? And what about impending repairs and time off the road?

 

Mazda RX-7 Spirit_R

Mazda Spirit R RX7

One of my all time favourite cars. Unfortunately no matter where I️ looked online, there didn’t seem to be any way to make the car reliable enough for domestic duties. Chronic over heating and an engine rebuild every 100,000kms was a bridge too far.

 

Porsche cayman 987

Porsche Cayman S (987)

It was this or the 1M in the end. But I️ just couldn’t reconcile myself with IMS, RMS, cylinder scoring, etc. Yes most of it can be rectified but I️ didn’t want to buy a car then spend X-amount of dollars fixing it. I’d be driving down the road constantly listening for something to go bang.

 

BMW E92 M3

BMW E92 M3

I️ love V8s. The first and last M3 to get a V8 makes the E92 unique but this is a big car with a lot of tech and is one step too far in the modern category. Running costs seem to be quite high as well.

 

Nissan Skyline R32 GTR VSpec

Nissan Skyline R32 GTR

Another all time favourite. The chance to own an R32 GTR was very tempting, but prices have turned a page recently, now 25% or so more than just a year ago (thanks USA!). I’d want a V-spec as well, and these are asking similar prices to the 1M. And like others on my list, with over 100,000kms it would need a bit of attention.

 

The RX7 I️ lust after greatly but I️ had to be honest about its ability to reliably drive me to where I️ need to be, and the GTR is reaching an age where things need to be replaced. Insurance on these two could also be astronomical given they are imports.

In the end, the budget was stretched to the maximum but the longer I️ keep the 1M the less it matters. It doesn’t seem like it will depreciate at the rate of other M cars on my list, or the Cayman which probably has a little further to go before reversing the trend. Yes it’s a modern car but as it sits on a small chassis it sits on the road and in its lane like cars of 30 years ago. There’s sat nav and a few other modern electrical components but nothing tricksy which has the potential to spoil the fun and give your wallet a massive hit.

If you’re in the hunt, determine which cars tick the most boxes, then if you’re still unsure, go and drive the best example of each you can find and see which one speaks to you the most. We often seek confirmation bias when buying a car, that is seeking confirmation our decisions or choices are the correct ones without objectivity. Don’t clog up forums asking people for their biased opinions, get your list and criteria, narrow it down, and go and drive one if you can’t make up your mind.

Pro tip: don’t forget about running costs. Purchase price is one thing but how much is it going to cost you to insure and service? Exotic cars demand exotic parts and exotic money, like a Swiss bank account for instance. Do the homework before committing.

 

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