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23baseball3 01-29-2014 01:44 PM

15 and Determined
 
I've been lurking here for quite a while, about 8 months or so. But I finally decided that my research on what car to get and what not to get wasn't enough, so I decide to join the family here. I'm nearly 16, so I have my Temporary License, but what I don't have is my own car. My older brother lucked out and got my dad's old 2003 Focus (with 280k miles on it), but I have to get my own car. I'm not too angry because then I get a choice on what I want to drive. I am very partial to GM cars, and was extremely disappointed in my dad when he decided to get a brand new Ford Focus rather than the Cruze Eco. Anyways, that's not what I joined this site for.

I wish to obtain a car and do whatever I can to save money on fuel and use less of it. I drool over the AeroCivic (the concept, not really the car. I refuse to drive a Honda, Toyota, or Hyundai) and boattail cars everywhere. I just need some guidance and help from the experts and once I get the car and the funds, I'll be doing some fun stuff.

So that begs the question: What do you think I should get to modify? I love GM so maybe I could start there. I was thinking a Cavalier/Sunfire, or maybe something older like a Skylark or something. I just don't want to get a car and destroy its value by modifying it like crazy, which is why I think the Cavy is a good place to start. Honestly one of my favorite cars of all time is the Buick Reatta but you can't destroy its originality, it's actually worth something.

Alright I talk too much. I love cars with a passion and I'm glad to be a part of this website and I hope I get to add a car to my garage here!

-Dominic

ecoTex 01-29-2014 02:26 PM

Welcome! I would look at a cavalier or cobalt 2-door. Make sure to get a manual trans. My sister had a 2002 cavalier 2-door, and always got 35mpg with a lead foot and no concern for economy. It already has a good shape too.

23baseball3 01-29-2014 03:16 PM

Thanks ecoTex. I think I should stay away from the Cobalt because it still has value, while I can go buy a cavalier for 1000 that's in perfect shape.

What if I could find a Chevette for cheap? I have been thinking about a brilliant idea for a collapsing boat tail that could retract once you park or whatever. I want to think that I'm making huge improvements when I do this, rather than taking a slippery shape and trying to improve that.

poomanchu 01-29-2014 03:23 PM

Chevette...brilliant idea...in the same paragraph. Lmao. Just getting one reliably running would be a huge improvement.

Frank Lee 01-29-2014 05:38 PM

Don't be too hard on Pa for getting another Focus- he's found what he likes and works for him.

The first car could very well end up wrecked in some fashion, in short order. At least that was my experience. Just get something cheap yet mostly reliable, then there won't be any- or much- guilt in riddling it with screw holes and whatnot.

Reatta- agreed, those are really nice. :thumbup: I saw some meathead driving one around in the wintertime salt bath we call a road up here and could only shake my head. Another nice car will soon bite the dust. :rolleyes:

HydroJim 01-29-2014 05:42 PM

This is strange. I was your same age when I joined this site back in 2011. I'm 17 now and I'm still active on this site. Based off your name, I also assume you like baseball. I've been playing since I could walk and have even had some offers to play in college.

One car I can vouch against is the Ford Focus ZX3. lots of nagging issues and a major design flaw in the manual transmission.

Problem around here in NE Ohio is going to be rust. One thing I can say is don't fall in love with the first car you go to look at. I fell in love with my Focus and bought it at asking price... and it's a piece of crap.

I'd recommend a Geo Metro, but you'll have problems with rust around here in NE Ohio. I'm not sure what your budget is for your car.

Provide us with some more information to help us help you.

Also, have you looked in to the Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair? I'm not sure what kind of student you are, but the fair is a great experience and as I'm learning now, looks great on college applications.

jeff88 01-29-2014 06:15 PM

Get a Metro! It's your brand and if you beat it up or modify it, it's no big deal and I'm willing to bet you can fit any gear you have in the hatch. Plus you have lots and lots of Metro experts (metrexperts) around these parts. If you can get it for under budget, then you can used the saved money for maintenance and mods.

Good luck!

rmay635703 01-29-2014 07:10 PM

There was a $1000 insight on insight central, sold for $1500 but worth keeping your eyes open for if one at the right price turns up.

RedDevil 01-29-2014 07:12 PM

The boy does not want a Honda, God knows why.

23baseball3 01-29-2014 08:03 PM

Poomanchu-Yeah, Chevette and brilliant idea should only be in a sentence together if "isn't a" is in between them! Hahahaha

Frank- It's not that he likes the Focus, it's just that the 2003 died this summer and he was desperate for a replacement. He was going to get rid of the car until he realized the problem. The valve seat on cylinder 4 fell out and got mashed up. He had the heads rebuilt and he reassembled the engine and it runs somehow!

HydroJim- Yeah baseball and cars are the common things in my family. My grandfather, and his three sons (my dad and two uncles) still play baseball. My dad and his brothers are on the same team. They've played for 60 straight years, 40 straight, and my brother and I have played for about 12 now. It's the best sport ever. Anyways, I kind of thought about a Metro for a while but I don't know too much about it, except that it's really a Suzuki Cultus. I just never really liked import cars and it's really my dad who taught me that way. He was a mechanic for a while so he does all of the work on all of his cars, and he can't stand working on imported cars. Though my mom had (it's still in the garage with an electrical problem) a 1992 Sentra 5 speed, and that car's great. I have not checked that out, I should though. I love that kind of thing but in a public school with about 100 per class there's not much to do.

I thought about a Metro for awhile but I wasn't convinced. It doesn't seem like a safe car to me, but I might very well be wrong. It's not really my brand though because it's a Suzuki Cultus.

Yeah I don't want a Honda. I just have a problem with imports unless someone can convince me otherwise.

A 90s Skylark might be a good candidate. Right?

cowmeat 01-29-2014 08:12 PM

I thought I was a Chevy guy when I was a kid, too, but then I moved out on my own and started paying for my own cars! So I have ended up owning:
Mercury (2) 78 Capri & 75 Comet
Ford (4) 71 LTD, 80's Fairmont, 07 Explorer, 93 Festiva
VW 78 punch buggy
Olds 71 Cutlass
Pontiac (2) 80's Phoenix, 92 Sunbird
Chevy (4) 77 Camaro, two Blazers 92 & 99, early 80's station wagon
Dodge (2) 80's Caravan, 75 3/4 ton truck
Honda (2) 79 & 85 Civics
Jeep 90 Cherokee
Jaguar (2) 89 & 91 XJ6s
Land Rover 98 Disco II

UltArc 01-29-2014 08:28 PM

I'll follow either way, a new car with low value is a great base for modifying.

I don't mean this in a critical way, more so friendly...
If I had the car I want to ecomod, I would be building a boattail for my 2013 Ferrari FF or 2007 Ford GT right now- but since I wanted maximum mileage, it's front wheel skirts for my Honda Insight.

Honestly, the most important factor is a standard transmission. A FF will be more fuel efficient than a FR, or AWD, and I doubt you will find a running MR available for you, so drive layout is valuable, too.

But a Honda Insight (gen 1) will do all by itself what other cars need crazy work to achieve. Some people are battery nervous, which is fair, but it is easy to bypass the battery and run as just petrol. A 1k Cavalier vs a 2k Insight to most people is a clear choice.

If you decide on a GM, no one will think less of you. What is right for you is right for you, but if you want the best MPG bang for your buck, you're cutting yourself short ONLY looking at GM.

I was a Dodge kid growing up- until I started learning about cars, and I realized the appearance of a car isn't the only factor. I loved GM while being in a Ford family, but around 2003 or so, I started to see where Ford was going. I still love what Ford is doing, and appreciate what GM is doing, but I am not a Ford, GM, or anything guy. I am a GOOD CAR guy. Ford makes some crap (Tremor, well, pointless, not really crap). GM makes some crap (diesel Cruze only in auto-WHAT?!). Everyone makes crap or bad decisions. So no judgement on what you want or decide on, just know for your budget it may be a more economical choice to look at other options.

And personally, it would be an emotional process to do to my Mustang what I did to my Insight...lol

23baseball3 01-29-2014 09:08 PM

I guess you're right. I've always kind of sterotyped Honda for figuring out their engines, but not really knowing how to make a body last through the salt and winter. And I don't quite trust battery powered cars yet either.

poomanchu 01-29-2014 09:53 PM

Haha welcome aboard! I was huge into Chevy's when I was your age (always said real men wear bowties lol). First vehicle was a 78 chevy that I got to build the motor with my Dad. Honestly your original plan of going with a Cavi is spot on, you can mod to your hearts content and will probably be bale to sell it for what you paid. A $1k car that runs well but looks ugly is still worth...1k lol.

I fell in love with Honda's though, I have purchased many with under 150k miles and sold them with near or well over 200k miles for the same or more than I paid for them originally. They made great power for the mpg's, when I got the mod bug were cheap to swap and boost and easy enough for me to figure out. All of them were problem free miles as well, basic maintenance just don't forget that T belt every 100k :) Ok enough with the shameless Honda plug :p

Can't argue about the rust though xD both mine are rare for being clean and rust free. A 92 GsR, with perfect rear quarters! No Way!

roosterk0031 01-29-2014 10:14 PM

What kind of $$ you looking to spend. Being a high school kid your miles pre day/week aren't going to be very high. Looking for city or hwy mileage? My Cobalt is a good car, salvage title for $7k w/26,000 miles. Find the salvage car dealers and what for a deal.

As a 15 yo the RX8 with hail dents that the dealer I got the Cobalt from sounds way more fun, too bad it has auto, looks fun even as a 45yo.

If you really want to mod, how about a late 70's monza, or a luv diesel.

rmay635703 01-29-2014 10:25 PM

Well the best fuel economy from GM came in the 1980's

If your willing to take on a project car (and learn how to be free of car payments/high repair bills for the rest of your life)

Might I recommend any of the following

1. Chevette Diesel 5sp manual
2. Chevy Sprint Manual
3. Geo Metro Manual
4. Saturn SL1 manual
5. Chevy Cavalier Manual
6. LUV
7. Grand Prix manual (with a 4 banger)

HydroJim 01-30-2014 12:27 AM

I'm putting my vote in for a Geo Metro.

I love my Metro.

http://i1271.photobucket.com/albums/...ps3575f035.jpg

Really simple to work on. Cheap to work on. Fun to modify. I restored this whole car to like new for $4,000 including cost of the car. Only thing I did not rebuild was the transmission which I plan on doing shortly.

vskid3 01-30-2014 01:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 23baseball3 (Post 409051)
I guess you're right. I've always kind of sterotyped Honda for figuring out their engines, but not really knowing how to make a body last through the salt and winter.

Insight solves that problem, aluminum unibody. :D
To be fair, salty roads aren't kind to any steel car. I would like to say that my parent's '94 Civic has nearly 290k miles and still runs great and I had a '97 Civic with 230k that I sold a couple years ago and is still running strong. Bodies haven't rusted away yet.;) Both spent at least a few years in northern Utah, not sure about their lives' before then.
I understand brand loyalty and preferences, but keep an open mind about imports.

elhigh 01-30-2014 10:06 AM

Hi,

Don't be too hung up on the brand. You're a GM fan and that's great, but remember the Chevette (still chuckling over the "brilliant idea" juxtaposition) was built by Isuzu under design license from Opel. And the Geo Metro is also ostensibly GM as it was part of the family, but it's a Suzuki Swift or Cultus anywhere else in the world.

For your first car, get a beater you understand. If you're well versed in EFI, then the world is your oyster as far as cars are concerned, at least for anything built after 1992. I'm with the guys who mentioned Cavaliers and Cobalts, you can have a very nice ride for modest money. Not paper route money, but maybe McDonald's money. They aren't the quality and drivability disasters that older Chevettes used to be, so you have a fair chance at not spending a lot of time walking involuntarily.

roosterk0031 01-30-2014 10:09 AM

Can't get to the mpg of cars, but a mid 90's S-10 or Ranger could be a fun project. 2wd 4c 5sp, get to make a topper, grill block, air dam, lower it, power steering delete, receiver hitch mounted boatail. Change out the rear end to experiment with different ratio's fairly cheaply.

Cobb 01-30-2014 10:22 AM

I too was going to mention a geo, but its made by suzuki or suzuka which is the stones throw from where Hondas are made. :eek:

Ill cut to the chase, keep dreaming of your ideal car and mods and in the mean time buy the first truck, van, etc that is in your price range. Dont worry about keeping it long as most new drivers are involved in an accident, but not necessary the cause of the accident.

My first car was a e250 econoline van extended body, 9mpg. It was soo ****ty it helped me to get my second car, a free mercedes 240d from my dad. :thumbup:

elhigh 01-30-2014 11:21 AM

Hey, I just thought of another option, and I think someone may have beat me to it:

An older S-10, 4x2, with the four banger can be pretty thrifty. If you're committed to the Made in America theme they have a lot more domestic content than some other GM options. They're stone-ax simple to work on, lots of room under the hood. And there are huge, huge gains to be made in simple aero mods. Under a truck the aero is just dreadful, but any belly pan you add will be nearly invisible from above. And look around here for aero caps to cover the bed, you'll see some nice ones that keep access to the back for modest loads, but the fuel mileage hops right up.

MetroMPG 01-30-2014 04:04 PM

welcome
 
Welcome, Dominic!

Quote:

Originally Posted by HydroJim (Post 409011)
This is strange. I was your same age when I joined this site back in 2011.

Ha - I immediately thought of you when I started reading this thread. There's hope for the future yet! :D

I think the big questions are:

1) Can you drive manual transmission? That should be priority #1 if you want to save a lot of fuel over your lifetime of (ICE) vehicle ownership (especially if you're going to be getting older cars -- newer automatics are improving).

2) How much are you going to spend?

3) Are you looking for maximum fuel economy right off the bat (see what I did -- baseball analogy!), or just an ecomodding project?

4) I'd lean towards 1996 or newer for OBD-II compatibility (plug & play fuel economy instrumentation like ScanGauge, Ultra-gauge).

Much fun & frustration ahead!

HydroJim 01-30-2014 05:06 PM

+1 on getting a manual transmission.

Gealii 01-30-2014 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elhigh (Post 409130)
An older S-10, 4x2, with the four banger can be pretty thrifty. If you're committed to the Made in America theme they have a lot more domestic content than some other GM options. They're stone-ax simple to work on, lots of room under the hood. And there are huge, huge gains to be made in simple aero mods.

I second an S-10. easy to lower, a lot to gain with mods, theres plenty of junkers to pull parts from

23baseball3 01-30-2014 07:37 PM

Poomanchu- A Cavalier seems like a good choice, but the issue I see is the wide rear end the the complications that would come in with trying to boat tail it. The car would become much too long for what I could deem useful I think.

Everyone that asked- I'm looking to spend around 1000-1500 on just the vehicle. I might go 1000 on mods if it would be worth my money to do that.

rooster- Unless I could find one for dirt cheap, I probably won't go with a Cobalt.

rmay- If I could find a Chevette for really cheap I think I'd go that route. I'm not interested in the Sprint but I am really considering a Metro now. Even though the Sprint is the Metro, just the earlier version. I might consider the sprint if I could find one.

vskid and elhigh- I'm slowly learning to accept all car manufacturers. Hopefully!

rooster, elhigh- An S10 huh? That briefly crossed my mind but actually that sounds like a great idea now. Aero cap bed cover, rear wheel well covers, moon disks on the front, lowered, grille block, manual 4 banger? Yeah that sounds great!!!

MetroMPG- 1. I haven't driven one yet, but the Nissan is a manual in the garage which is soon to be on the road I believe. I might be allowed to try my grandfather's '64 Corvette Sting Ray because my brother gets to take it to prom this year. I know how to do it, I just haven't done it. I actually want a manual.
2 (Answered earlier)
3 I'd like to be able to see improvements, not immediate 35-40 mpg.
4 What about an MPGuino?

rmay635703 01-30-2014 07:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 23baseball3 (Post 409224)
3 I'd like to be able to see improvements, not immediate 35-40 mpg.

At low speeds any manual transmission Cobalt, Cavalier, Grand Prix, Metro, Saturn SL1, etc can easily get 35mpg right out of the box if it runs correctly.

23baseball3 01-30-2014 08:17 PM

Well if they start off that high then with aero improvements and an injector kill switch it'll go up!

MetroMPG 01-30-2014 08:25 PM

If you're sticking with GM - the earlier Saturns seem to be good choices. But they're getting older & rarer now.

The Cobalt XFE is good, out of the box, but I think you've already said they're likely too new for you to want to modify.

MPGuino will work for the MPG stuff, but it's not as full-featured as an OBD-II gauge.

23baseball3 01-30-2014 08:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 409232)
If you're sticking with GM - the earlier Saturns seem to be good choices. But they're getting older & rarer now.

MPGuino will work for the MPG stuff, but it's not as full-featured as an OBD-II gauge.

I don't think I'll necessarily stick with GM. My new way of thinking is that I don't want to depreciate the value of a GM but I wouldn't mind totally messing up a Ford or a Metro. Well, not really messing it up but you get the idea. Plus, I wouldn't really need to worry about the value if I'm just gonna drive it into the ground anyway. So maybe I'll get that Nissan in the garage and have some fun with that?

EDIT: Hmm...http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4.../ecorun047.jpg
http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...a-18575-5.html

Gealii 01-30-2014 09:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 23baseball3 (Post 409233)
I don't think I'll necessarily stick with GM. My new way of thinking is that I don't want to depreciate the value of a GM but I wouldn't mind totally messing up a Ford or a Metro.

One thing to keep in mind dont just buy a vehicle because you think it would depreciate with mods as mods can be reversible with no trace of them. If you cant enjoy being in the car bad things happen. From experience i'm on my 5th car at 19 and thats because my 2nd car i hated so i drove it into the ground literally. the 4th car was just uncomfortable to be in which i bought a 5th car about a month after buying the 4th which runs perfectly fine still to this day and still own.

UltArc 01-30-2014 09:25 PM

Keep in mind, if this is just a beater, you could rip off the trunk of a Cavalier, and use that as a base. I am not advising that, just saying- you can get wild.

I agree with your point on not wanting to ruin a car, but man, that S10 would be a great car. Rear wheel drive is a bit less efficient than a FF, but a standard S10 isn't hard to find, especially with the four cylinder (not sure on real numbers, just experience). A lot of good points on it, it's a vehicle (even here, in Ohio) that is still on the road. Yea, rust is an ehhhole, but it seems they still fair pretty well. A lot in wrecks (people making poor decisions), and a lot of people who make poor decisions invest good money into a vehicle like that. You could pull a part some nice stuff for it, really whatever you need would be available.

If I had a truck, I would drop the tailgate- legal, and then build the rear Aerohead style, but to the tip of the tailgate. Build it right, and it could be easy storage.

Chances are neither of these ideas will work perfect for you, but just remember you can get as crazy as you (legally/safely) want. So whatever you get, your imagination can run wild. I always hear good things about those Saturns, but a dear friend had two and they were both absolute garbage. She rebuilt a nice Chevy, and her family was rather automotive savvy, so for their situation, it was not a good car.

23baseball3 01-30-2014 10:05 PM

Gealii- Yeah I guess that is true. I could always remove them. But, it might be worth it to keep it and drive it until it's toast rather than reverse the mods.

UltArc- There are really endless things you can do, within the law of course. This is really what I'm after I think with that Sentra in the garage. It's identical I think, with the 2.0 5 speed and everything. I sent some pictures to my dad and now he seems suddenly interested in fixing the fuel delivery issue. I have tried to learn and help, but he's stumped too. The fuel pump is not getting any power and we cannot figure out what the problem is. Other than that, he just rebuilt the Transmission and it's been sitting for ten years with only 120k on it. Practically rust free too.

roosterk0031 01-30-2014 10:23 PM

I've had 2 sentras, semi totaled the first a 87 while the wife was driving it, later bought a 90 and drove it to 195,000 miles, Ithe 2.0 is thirstier than the other engine options no doubt fixing it is cheaper than pretty much buying anything. I want to try a SE-R sometime. My 90 had the 1.6 but it's 96 hp, 3 valve head was almost 30 hp stronger than the 87.

Revive that sentra, tune it, get some good rubber, get a good baseline, then start moding. Don't know why but still like those Sentra's, only car I've ever bought 2 of, and love to find a reasonable SE-R 6 spd manual. My Cobalts OK, but a SE-R is sweet.

On your car, do some swapping of the relays in the fuse panel under the hood, I had problems with the clutch interlock one going bad keeping the starter engaging, maybe theres a fuel pump one. I push started it for a few months leaving home, and parked accross the street at work to gravity bump start it.

Cobb 01-30-2014 10:37 PM

It looks like from your profile you live in Ohio. I take it you live in an area with adequate snow removal? May want to consider an awd vehicle or a 4wd like a suzuki tracker or geo tracker.

Gealii 01-30-2014 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cobb (Post 409256)
It looks like from your profile you live in Ohio. I take it you live in an area with adequate snow removal? May want to consider an awd vehicle or a 4wd like a suzuki tracker or geo tracker.

nah, FWDs run the snow area (more weight over drive wheels). 4wd is useless on ice, which is the only time the roads get bad which NEO is good about plowing and salt laying.

23baseball3 01-30-2014 11:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gealii (Post 409262)
nah, FWDs run the snow area (more weight over drive wheels). 4wd is useless on ice, which is the only time the roads get bad which NEO is good about plowing and salt laying.

Yeah most of the cars I see in the ditch are the Jeeps and trucks that belong to people who are overly confident. My road hasn't even been salted or plowed except for the only dangerous turn. Everything else actually still has ice on it. It's a back road, in my little town, but it's the most common back road.

elhigh 01-31-2014 09:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 23baseball3 (Post 409266)
Yeah most of the cars I see in the ditch are the Jeeps and trucks that belong to people who are overly confident. My road hasn't even been salted or plowed except for the only dangerous turn. Everything else actually still has ice on it. It's a back road, in my little town, but it's the most common back road.

It's what I keep telling people: you might have 4WD or AWD, so you can keep going - but your brakes were always on all four wheels. People forget that if conditions are so bad that they need all four corners to get going, they have always relied on all four corners for stopping, and that that performance must be similarly degraded.

There are certain drivers I'd trust in bad weather with only two wheels driving, much, much farther than I'd trust other drivers with four.

Smurf 01-31-2014 02:24 PM

Personally, I like the idea of an S10 to start with. Get a 1993-or-earlier Dime, because after they redesigned the S10 (1994-97, then 1998-2002) the trucks started to get heavier. Four cylinder, rear wheel, five speed manual. Parts are plentiful! Think of all the S10s, Sonomas, Blazers, Jimmy's, and Bravada's over the years.... then remember, the S10 shares many components with the Camaros, Firebirds, 1980's era Monte Carlo/Cutlass/Regals.. etc. Want a lower rear end ratio, and maybe upgrade to disc brakes? Then just grab a Blazer rear axle! For that reason alone, I'd suggest the S10/Sonoma over a Ford Ranger or the Dodge Dakotas.

Also, the Cavalier has been mentioned several times, and that's a good option as well. If you're going the car route, then try to find something that has plenty of parts available. Cavs/Sunfires/Aleros/Grand Ams/Malibus/blah blah blah are all the same drivetrains. The Neon/Eclipse/Talon/Avenger/Stealth, etc all used similar parts.

JRMichler 01-31-2014 02:52 PM

Another possibility for a low cost good mileage car is the Chevrolet Aveo: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...mpg-24988.html

I put a total of 789 miles on it, and averaged 35.8 MPG. In the winter.


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