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Entry Level Everyday Classics...


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Please her little cotton sox, my daughter is taking an interest in classic cars.  Not in any way mechanical, its entirely about the looks and image.  She actually wants a dirty old hilux, but that is a not happening at this point.  So classic hunt is on.

The stuff that she likes is square, 3-box saloons from the 80s/90s.  Right on, I say.  It was an E30 3 series that kicked things off, but like everywhere, the NZ market for these has gone crazy - either overpriced 318s or engine swapped, incomplete, semi-drift cars.  And a 325i is well out of first car budget even if that is the pick of the bunch.

So, looking at the BMW back catalogue, the cars that make most sense value wise are E32 7 series.  I can't help noticing that this is a rather more complex car than a 3.  Could this be a colossal mistake?

Couple of things to note re the NZ market.  It is possible to find a 7 that is 30 years old and has only done 100k kms.  Usually elderly gentleman owner and decent service history.  Similar $$$ 3s will have been owned by undesirables.  Second thing - NZ roads and carparks are way bigger than UK.  Think, halfway to USA sizes, so a "big" 7 is ok as a learner car.  And insurance isn't stupid here, so a learner doesn't have to have a 1.0 litre noddy car.  Stuff is also not as rusty over here.  They are still waiting to discover salted roads here.

So, moving on from the BMW fixation, I then moved into Mercs.  There is another girl at her school with a much admired, very cool 80s 230.  Prices on decent 80s Mercs have also leapt, so I happened upon the unloved 190E.  This according to all sources looks like the ideal starter classic/daily driver.  I have never even sat in a 190E, but youtube tells me they are well made and generally drive as expected.  Like a slow, relaxing, little smoker, mini-barge.  The most attractive bit on a 190E seems IMHO to be the sportline interior in houndstooth.  How cool.

So the 190E meets daughter approval and accordingly, that is what I am thinking of starting the hunt for in about 2 months time.

Thoughts?  Experiences?  Practical advice?  I am not a total idiot, but do have a tendency to buy the first car I see...

BTW Market price for a decent-ish looking 190E here is NZD3500-10000.  There is a 2.6 Sportline local for NZD7500 for example.  There are probably only about 10 for sale in the whole of NZ at any one time (tiny country don't ya know).  Clean E30 prices are double that.  And I have just bought a (biggish) house here, so I am really poor.  And I have no income for a couple of months (sob story).  This is a bargain hunt territory.  

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As a learner driver I am guessing she will want/need a manual gearbox? Sure you will struggle to find a manual 7 series. 
190e (especially a 2.6) would be great and many more with three pedals. A boss of mine back in the very early ‘90s had one and as a 19 year old I often had to drive him back from the City home on an afternoon after a heavy lunch! It was never a chore 😎

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Hope you are well down there 👍  190E is a lovely thing and has that Mercedes build quality of old.  I’ve driven a rather sluggish diesel and a more punchy 2.0, but never a 2.6.  As a useable classic goes, they are brilliant.  That said, in the interests of being awkward I’m going to win this thread 🤣 I give you a very practical estate..........

 

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I had a 190E back in 2000ish. Auto. Dads cast off and I’d just finished college and started a job. Commuted from Cardiff to Bristol every day. Was a lovely motorway cruiser for a year. Like sitting in a boat. Wasn’t an inspiring drive by any means but solid and easy. 
Thing is, do you want your daughter to learn some driving dynamics? I’d get her an old golf or a little hot hatch of some description. Lot more fun to drive to be honest. Especially for a young person. Or a little Suzuki jeep. Tons of fun, old and simple to maintain. Plus in NZ, you need something like that for the surfboard, paragliding and base jumping kit right 😜

Edited by Busybee
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22 hours ago, Wingnonut said:

As a learner driver I am guessing she will want/need a manual gearbox? Sure you will struggle to find a manual 7 series. 
190e (especially a 2.6) would be great and many more with three pedals. A boss of mine back in the very early ‘90s had one and as a 19 year old I often had to drive him back from the City home on an afternoon after a heavy lunch! It was never a chore 😎

Manual or auto doesn't matter.  You sit your licence practical test in either and are then licensed to drive either.  99% of new cars here are autos and 99% of learners sit tests in autos, so that is the default.  She is happy with either.

13 hours ago, Jonny Hart said:

My mate Tony had a 190E diesel with 280,000 miles on it.   Quite a lot of that mileage was done on spent oil from the local chippy!

There is a youtube vid of a 2.5d with 1.4m km on it doing top speed runs in DE.  Its 94 hp for the 2.5 non-turbo.  Sounds like a ur-Quattro but obvs much slower.  They command a price premium because they last so long, but I would buy one if the right car turned up.

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12 hours ago, Busybee said:

I had a 190E back in 2000ish. Auto. Dads cast off and I’d just finished college and started a job. Commuted from Cardiff to Bristol every day. Was a lovely motorway cruiser for a year. Like sitting in a boat. Wasn’t an inspiring drive by any means but solid and easy. 
Thing is, do you want your daughter to learn some driving dynamics? I’d get her an old golf or a little hot hatch of some description. Lot more fun to drive to be honest. Especially for a young person. Or a little Suzuki jeep. Tons of fun, old and simple to maintain. Plus in NZ, you need something like that for the surfboard, paragliding and base jumping kit right 😜

She has no current interest in driving dynamics.  We have done the Golf discussion as there are a ton of them here imported ex Japan at very good prices.  Not interested.  And she can drive my car any time if she was interested.  The insurance here is super reasonable.  I am paying £400 for our Audi with her as 17 yr old learner fully covered.  And we have no insurance history in NZ, so zero no claims.  To be honest, this car is just for smoking around Christchurch really and learning to drive.  It will go as far as 100km South and about 50km North.  There is nowhere in Christchurch that is more than 15km away.  It may go to whatever Uni town she goes to.  Its a fairly narrow brief.

On the Suzuki idea, yes that style of car appeals, but they are all super over priced because everyone in NZ wants a lifestyle vehicle, particularly utes, jeeps, zuks, hilux surfs etc.  People want stupid money for absolute cr@pbox cars here *IF* it looks like something a surfer might drive it.  Hence also Subaru Outbacks are mega popular with youngsters and while they are good cars, they are not good VFM.

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18 minutes ago, World Citizen said:

What about an Audi 80 cabriolet in a manual V6 flavour 😉

I've always thought these look great

Audi 80 Cabriolet in UK | Cabriolets, Audi, Car interior design

Oh yes - on my list too. Or the coupe. They seem quite rare but the early 2.3e ones can deliver that 5 pot quattro sound. Shame the cabrio never had the 20v engine (at least I don't think they did). 

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I had a 1993 190E around 2007 as a daily driver. I was very impressed with the build quality, and practically every part was still available from the dealer.  Nothing major went wrong and was ultra reliable.

It could either be a bit like wafting around on a magic carpet, or you could push on and it had surprisingly good handling for a big heavy car.

After a short spell with a '98 A4, I actually switch back to Merc and bought another 190E, this time a 1990 version, and it proved to be every bit as good and reliable.

The 2.6 is supposedly a great motor, but I've never driven one, and the road tax over here would be a killer.

 

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36 minutes ago, declang said:

... surprisingly good handling for a big heavy car...

 

This intrigued me enough to investigate.  If you believe tinternet the lightest base cars only weighed 1110kg with a 2.3 at 1220kg and the heaviest 16v cars being nearly 1300kg.  That's light.  I also read that it was the first car of this size with multi link rear suspension that was carrier over into the later Cs and Es.  

So much is happening so quickly in our family life right now, who knows if this idea survives the next coupe of months, but right now the 190E idea seems pretty sound. 

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13 minutes ago, Richard Bernau said:

This intrigued me enough to investigate.  If you believe tinternet the lightest base cars only weighed 1110kg with a 2.3 at 1220kg and the heaviest 16v cars being nearly 1300kg.  That's light.  I also read that it was the first car of this size with multi link rear suspension that was carrier over into the later Cs and Es.  

So much is happening so quickly in our family life right now, who knows if this idea survives the next coupe of months, but right now the 190E idea seems pretty sound. 

They certainly don't drive like those weights. Think a mini limo and you'd be closer. Was a long time ago for me though.

Let's put it this way. Daisy and a 190E do not handle in the same galaxy never mind the same planet. Not that your daughter would likely want a car that handles like Daisy.

From memory, the suspension was uber compliant. Soaked up everything and if you pushed into a corner, they rolled like any big merc of the time.

But incredibly solid. Reliable. Beige. 

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Must admit to being a bit "Meh" about all old cars becoming classics. When old fiesta's, metro's and chevette's etc start being lauded, I roll my eyes. Nostalgic yes, classic no. True classics are the aspirational cars of our youth. Porkers, Lambo's, BM's etc. And the exotica we used to drool over like Lancias, Alfa's etc. I never drooled over Mrs Thomas's Mk2 Fiesta 1,1l popular down the road. 

Could just be me of course.

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3 hours ago, Busybee said:

Must admit to being a bit "Meh" about all old cars becoming classics. When old fiesta's, metro's and chevette's etc start being lauded, I roll my eyes. Nostalgic yes, classic no. True classics are the aspirational cars of our youth. Porkers, Lambo's, BM's etc. And the exotica we used to drool over like Lancias, Alfa's etc. I never drooled over Mrs Thomas's Mk2 Fiesta 1,1l popular down the road. 

Could just be me of course.

I think that's one view but others may disagree. I love Sunday Scramble because of all the assorted old cars that are there. I get bored very easily when confronted with rows of 'aspirational cars' because they are done to death on Instaweb and Facetube etc. Highlight of my last Scramble was a Hillman Avenger. Haven't seen one for decades. And Ian Tyrell got loads of comments to feature the Citroen BX GTI in the background to one of his Lambo videos.

So there is a place for nostalgia when it comes to classic cars 👍

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37 minutes ago, Lesworth said:

I think that's one view but others may disagree. I love Sunday Scramble because of all the assorted old cars that are there. I get bored very easily when confronted with rows of 'aspirational cars' because they are done to death on Instaweb and Facetube etc. Highlight of my last Scramble was a Hillman Avenger. Haven't seen one for decades. And Ian Tyrell got loads of comments to feature the Citroen BX GTI in the background to one of his Lambo videos.

So there is a place for nostalgia when it comes to classic cars 👍

Yup. Horses for courses I guess. Highlight of the few scrambles I've been to is a metallic blue Ferrari F40. My poster car as a kid (in red of course) and it looked so damn cool. I just gawped at it. 

3 hours ago, njpcarrera32 said:

What about Mrs Thomas's 18 year old daughter?

Trying to keep daughters out of it! 🤫

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14 hours ago, Busybee said:

Must admit to being a bit "Meh" about all old cars becoming classics. When old fiesta's, metro's and chevette's etc start being lauded, I roll my eyes. Nostalgic yes, classic no. True classics are the aspirational cars of our youth. Porkers, Lambo's, BM's etc. And the exotica we used to drool over like Lancias, Alfa's etc. I never drooled over Mrs Thomas's Mk2 Fiesta 1,1l popular down the road. 

Could just be me of course.

No, you are dead right.  Some old cars were sh!te when new and are still sh!te.  They should be crushed, except for one thing.

If you 100% don't care how a car drives then a sh!te car becomes desirable and worth restoring if enough people want it because enough people decide it is nice to look at (say, a Morris Traveller) OR historically/culturally significant (say, an Aussie muscle car or a Capri) OR it is rare enough (can't think of one right now).  All those things are really about owning something that makes people look at you differently.  For men, its an acceptable kind of jewellery.  Its so other people say "look at the at that guy/gal, they are cool/rich/quirky because they drive an old car".  Lets be honest, none of us drive 911s etc only because of how they drive.

My daughter is in that nice to look at camp - she just wants a car that projects a certain image and for want of a better description, that image is "I am not completely predictable".  She is hardly radical in her choices, but to be fair, going out and finding a half decent 80s/90s car requires more effort than your average cheap car, so not many actually do it.  She likes the way Mercs, BMWs and Audis look from that period.  The Saab idea went down like a cup of cold sick.  She also likes the interiors - houndstooth, checks, blues, beiges, browns - and how different they are from the unremittingly grey/black of more modern cars.

This is win:win for me.  If we get something nice-ish, I can make it nicer.  OEM+ beckons with new 20% stiffer springs, Bilstein B6s (or Koni, KYB etc), decent brake pads, a tiny bit of stance and so on.  When she is done with it, the car is mine.  Then my son will be making a decent argument for a 2JZ swap... 

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20 hours ago, Busybee said:

Must admit to being a bit "Meh" about all old cars becoming classics. When old fiesta's, metro's and chevette's etc start being lauded, I roll my eyes. Nostalgic yes, classic no. True classics are the aspirational cars of our youth. Porkers, Lambo's, BM's etc. And the exotica we used to drool over like Lancias, Alfa's etc. I never drooled over Mrs Thomas's Mk2 Fiesta 1,1l popular down the road. 

Could just be me of course.

I think the problem with this Haith is you are showing your and probably most of our ages. One mans classic is anothers old banger. I look at Morris A30's etc and think they are just old and crap. However a 25 / 30 year old may feel the same about an Alfa GTV. What they are interested in is 80's hot hatches. Maybe it is nostalgia, what your dad drove, or your dads mate who had that cooler car that your dad would never buy. But thats what makes the classic scene so diverse, its not about how fast they go, its about how they make you feel. On this forum, we just happen to like Porches.

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Wonder if an early porker figures price wise, cool wise and functionality wise? 
924, 944, early Boxster. Cheap as chips in some cases. Even a 914 if you can find one cheap enough. No idea of the kiwi car market btw. Proper classics 😂

I do infrequently look at other marques btw. Looking at a series 3 fulvia that I’m sorely tempted by at the moment. Didn’t someone buy one of those on here a while back? Any good? Fun to own? 

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