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10/20/2017 1:01:18 AM
9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/18/2005 8:08:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 10:31:33 PM EDT by Winston_Wolf]
... Yeah, like I need another friggin' project in my life - Oh well, you only go around once

... With fuel prices rising - no end in sight, I'm now considering a project rebuilding an older Japanese (or???) economy car with the primary target of efficiency - purely for running errands and leaving my nicer gas-hogs in the garage. Save those for duty, dates and weekends

My Criteria:

  • Must be a lighter chassis

  • Historically reliable make & model

  • No complex on-board computers

  • No high maintenance, expensive or complex sub-systems (like my friggin' Cadillac )

  • Efficient, naturally aspirated 4 cylinder mill

  • Manual transmission

  • Original (OEM) A/C system


  • My Vision:

  • Nice, older, simple, sturdy and reliable daily commuter

  • Clean body style (think function over aesthetics)

  • New paint, tinted windows - conservative in nature

  • New or rebuilt efficient motor

  • Build with economy in mind (using available technology to squeeze every mile possible out of every drop of fuel)

  • Add a mid-priced sound system

  • Tight suspension, nicer rims, fresh tires


  • My Plan:

  • Develop my budget and determine the schedule to complete the project

  • Elicit the help of ARFCOM members to ID the car that fits the bill

  • Purchase the junker

  • Tear it down to the chassis

  • Build it from ground up as economically as possible

  • Build it to be pleasing to the eye (no desire to ride around in a junker)

  • Build a reliable daily driver

  • Save the miles on my nicer vehicles

  • Save some bones by spending less for gas to get to work and run errands


  • ... I do not expect my driving habits to reduce due to the high prices of fuel, but I feel it's prudent to do something right and proactive regarding the inevitable. I wanna make this a fun project. With your experience, I think I can pull this off

    ... Your wisdom is welcome and appreciated
    Link Posted: 8/18/2005 8:41:27 PM EDT
    Define "complex on-board computer."

    I'm not too much of a motor head but two cars that come to mind are the Pontiac Fiero and the Toyota MR2.
    Both are mid engine cars that handle well and have small 4cyl engines.
    Maybe someone here knows if the Fiero is reliable but the toy sure as hell is.
    Lots of aftermarket parts for both.

    BOTD!! FIERO PIC BOTD!!


    Link Posted: 8/18/2005 10:25:52 PM EDT
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 4:56:32 AM EDT
    early 70s BMW 2002TII


    Boxy, can be made to handle like a go-kart if thats your type of thing. Being early 70s, they're pre-computer cars.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is wether they had AC. If you start thinking about them, drop me an IM or an email, and I'll hook you up with a couple of BMW 2002 forums. (Good friend of mine bought one, yanked the I4 that was in it and is in the process of dropping the I6 from a '92 BMW 325 in it)
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:08:42 AM EDT
    I had a fiero for about a year. Put a little work into it, sold it for more than I had in it. (Which came at a good time...it was starting to piss me off)


    If you go for a fiero:

    84-87 had crappy suspension, and therefore handling. The 88 was much better. Kits exist to retrofit the 88 suspension to pre-88 cars. Probably worth the investment.

    Engine compartment is rather cramped. Its "mid" engined, so there's just no nice way to get to it.
    The "Iron Duke" 4cyl engine used in them will take a LOT of crap and keep running.

    Engine tends to run cold. Radiator in front, LOOOONG hoses running from engine to radiator and back. Probably not an issue for you down in AZ, but something to think about when heading north.

    It has a computer, but it doesn't really do a whole heck of a lot -- manages mixtures in the fuel injected versions (I think 84 was the only year you could get a carburated version) and a few other things to make the "buy a new car" light in the dash come on.

    The headlights. Fieros are famous for having one headlight working, and the other not. Gives the car the sleepy, one-eyed look. Headlight motor runs just under $100 (give or take some, its been a couple years since I was in the market). Not too hard to replace.

    The 6cyl models (especially the GT and Formula versions) are in the biggest demand. Therefore the 4cyl varieties can be had cheaper. Likewise, the 88s are in demand, so 84-87s can be had cheaper.

    Manual transmissions are the way to go -- the automatics tend to be slugs. Especially when you have the AC on.

    Hit the forums over at www.fiero.nl/ for more than you ever wanted to know about fieros.
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:19:23 AM EDT
    [Last Edit: 8/19/2005 5:37:13 AM EDT by JAKE-T-SNAKE]
    Volkwagen Jetta Diesel

    Guy I know has one that gets 48 MPG. Very reliable.

    Another guy I kind of know also has one except his has a modification to burn USED vegetable oil. My understanding is hat with this kit/mod he gets over 200 MPG ! This kit is suppose to be readily availible and easy to install. BTW his mother owns the local German restaraunt so he has all the free oil he needs.


    Jake

    After doing some Googling I now realize 200 MPG is probably not possible but that is what he told me...

    ETA: greasecar.com
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 2:33:25 PM EDT
    Ebay Link' auction is from a friend of mine. It is a pretty nice car, and for a cheap older car it is a nice bodystyle.

    I don't know how cheap you are looking at. It did have factory air, but was removed for the 22r motor.

    This does fit most of your reqs, the motor is rebuilt, runs good, and handles nice.
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 4:25:58 PM EDT

    Originally Posted By bigscrun:
    1989 Honda Prelude


    FIXED.
    Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:55:28 PM EDT
    Link Posted: 8/20/2005 9:05:47 PM EDT
    I think what would suite you well is a 1985...? Honda Civic CRX HF (high fuel economy)
    Not sure how many years they made them for.... anyone?

    52/57 Not bad for 1985 Huh?!



    A CRX HF (High Fuel economy) model replaced the CRX with the 1.3-liter engine. The HF had an eight-valve version of the 1.5-liter engine that produced just 58 horsepower but offered more torque and thus better acceleration around town. Mileage figures for the HF stood at 52 in the city and 57 on the highway.



    Link Posted: 8/20/2005 9:38:04 PM EDT
    Mid 70's Datsun 1200 or B210
    Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:07:57 PM EDT

    Originally Posted By FanoftheBlackRifle:
    early 70s BMW 2002TII


    Boxy, can be made to handle like a go-kart if thats your type of thing. Being early 70s, they're pre-computer cars.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is wether they had AC. If you start thinking about them, drop me an IM or an email, and I'll hook you up with a couple of BMW 2002 forums. (Good friend of mine bought one, yanked the I4 that was in it and is in the process of dropping the I6 from a '92 BMW 325 in it)




    Same thing I was going to say.
    Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:10:39 PM EDT
    Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:21:32 PM EDT
    first generation honda accord will meet your criteria. 77-81. the 76 did not have a/c. highway fuel economy in the mid 40s stock.
    Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:28:30 PM EDT
    Master POS commuter vehicle owner here!!!

    W_W - in my opinion, by going to the effort of rebuilding, painting, etc. on a car that you want to use for cheap transportation, you are kinda defeating the purpose. In my experience, the way to go is to just shop around until you find a good deal on a used Toyota or Honda in the best condition you can find. You're in Az, so rust isn't an issue - you should be able to find something that has been well maintained and is already in good shape for around $2-3k or maybe a little more if it's in really nice shape. The goal would be to find one that you could just drive and do NOTHING to (except maybe replace the timing belt if so equipped). Any additional money spent just offsets the savings potential.

    You should be able to find one that already has a good body and paint. If you end up painting one, it will cost another $2k plus, and then you'll worry about your POS in the mall parking lot getting scratched. One of the best attributes of the POS class commuter vehicle is that you don't care about a few scratches. I would avoid at all costs buying something that needs a total overhaul since by the time you're done you could just buy a new POS cheap car for the same money and get a warrantee.

    Having restored a few cars, I can assure you you will spend a ton of money on a ground up rebuild, even on some little Honda Civic. Just buy one that's already useable, buy a decent stereo system (something that will fit as many different cars as possible so you can keep the stereo when you replace the POS commuter in 5 years or so), and bank the savings. If it ever needs an engine rebuild or other majot work, sell it or junk it and buy another cheap POS. You already have a few schweet vehicles - no need to blow money on something that you could otherwise just bang around and use like a tool.

    JMHO.

    Oh - DO NOT consider a Fiero as a cheap POS. It will be an expensive POS, but a POS just the same.
    Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:30:57 PM EDT




    Link Posted: 8/22/2005 5:04:22 AM EDT
    I have a nice '77 Pinto with a 13hp Honda general purpose engine under the hood I would be willing to lease at the right price.

    As long as you dont mind the recoil starter handle poking throught the hood.
    Link Posted: 8/22/2005 9:43:01 AM EDT
    [Last Edit: 8/22/2005 9:44:58 AM EDT by Striker]
    Link Posted: 8/24/2005 6:48:43 PM EDT

    Originally Posted By gus:

    W_W - in my opinion, by going to the effort of rebuilding, painting, etc. on a car that you want to use for cheap transportation, you are kinda defeating the purpose.



    ... Salient and very good points to ponder gus. You're correct, I should rethink this. I still would like an uber efficient economy car, and I can get one that runs well much cheaper than building one up.
    Link Posted: 8/24/2005 7:05:58 PM EDT
    90' dodge omni. TBI, with a manual trans should be good for 35+ MPG, and handle pretty well.

    To make it ride like it is on rails it would not be that difficult to swap to 5 lug hubs and wheels. Caravan brakes bolt up and that makes them stop in a hurry. For asthetic purposes you could bolt up a GLH ground effects setup which would cost you ~150.
    Link Posted: 8/24/2005 10:21:03 PM EDT
    [Last Edit: 8/24/2005 10:24:03 PM EDT by bobfried]

    Originally Posted By CavVet:
    www.adclassix.com/images/78renaultlecar2.jpg
    hr

    And yet somehow it led to this
    http://sportcompactcarweb.com/features/0308scc_renault05_z.jpg


    Consider the Honda CRX, peppy motor, bulletproof drivetrain and great handling. Drive it stock or strip it and build it into a monster. I had a friend that bought one for $600, put another $500 into it and it will reliabily turn 13's (yes he is an auto mechanic god.) For us mere mortals, $2,000 into a CRX will produce a mean monster capable of hanging with more things than you would consider.
    http://wobbe98.tripod.com/yourcrx/1990/large/edward_r_yasko.jpg
    This is coming from a guy that hates Honda.
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