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Old 08-25-2004, 07:14 PM
surfblau's Avatar
neue Dieseler
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: san francisco - immer kalt, immer windig, I want to move
Posts: 382
recommendations for a cheap vehicle for a friend

I have a friend who just toasted the motor on his crummy old tercel. New engine will cost $1300. Car has 140k on it.

Does anyone have a solid opinions on what my friend should do?


He is not mechanical and is responsible for the untimely death of his engine - "I drove for a couple of days with no oil. I had a lot on my mind"

If he gets an MB he has me to assist with relatively heavy repair work.

He only has 2000 or so to spend.

I have seen numerous 190s for sale in his price range. Tercels 7 years younger are in the same price range. Hondas are about 1000 more.

All comments welcome.


84 300TD - 235k - Farbe "Surfblau" bought at 213k
87 300SDL - 131k - Farbe "PimpGold" bought at 115k
00 Klepper Faltboot Expedition Double
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:17 PM
This space for sale
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3,351
I wouldn't recommend a benz. I suggest something like a 90's Honda Civic. Incase it needs work.. there will be TONS of mechanics capable of working on them.
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:52 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18,355
Cheap solution:
Go to the local pick and pull and find a wrecked Tercel with a good engine. ($125--regular price $60 on sale) Pay someone else working in the pick and pull $100 cash to pull the engine and put it in your truck.
Take the engine to a mechanic and have him install it in your friend's Tercel. ($500???) Maybe the friend you make at the pick and pull will install it for $250.
Have the mechanic replace the oil idiot light with a siren.
1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:56 PM
KirkVining's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,303
Tell him to spend the 1300. Otherwise you will be an accomplice in the murder of a Mercedes Benz some time in the future, and you will spend eternity in hell. SO take your pick, $1300, or your eternal soul.
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Old 08-25-2004, 09:44 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 336
Maybe the friend could use an old Olds or Buick. Get him that 3800 engine, and it should last pretty well. The 1988 Olds 98 I used to own is still going strong today.
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:02 AM
KirkVining's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,303
I've been buying my teenagers Mazda Proteges in that price range. They are indestructable and I have yet to have a major repair bill after owning three of them, and the drivers are all testostorone-crazed boys who beat the living $hit out of those things.
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:46 AM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Originally Posted by KirkVining
I've been buying my teenagers Mazda Proteges in that price range.
I agree. 88-92 626's and pretty much any Protege are bullet-proof cars. They are priced much lower than comparable Toyota and Honda cars, and are every bit as durable, if not more so. If equipped with a manny-tranny, it's not unusual to see a 15-18 year old Mazda with 400K and going strong. Rattles? Yup! Rust? Yup! Reliable car? Yup!
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
Ditto on the Mazda Protege.

We had a 1994 Protege, and put 160,000 trouble-free miles on it. The Protege has regularly been Consumer Report's Recommended pick in the compact class. It is not a Toyota or a Honda, so it gets overlooked by many consumers.

Ours was an "LX" model, and came equipped with the hot DOHC 1.8 liter engine that is / was used in the Miata.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 08-26-2004, 01:29 AM
Provo Spain?
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 656
I never knew that about the protege....

Honda is my pick. I have sold maybe 5 of them and all of them were wonderful cars. I was thinking of one today that I sold a while had 239k on it and was still a great/zippy little car. I have seen many of them in the high 100's/low 200's and still running great. With owners who didn't take great care of them either.
1994 C 280 117.5k, White (Good as new)
1997 Toyota Camry 149k Miles (Not so pretty anymore)

1990 190e 2.6 95k (Sold-Should not have)
1981 240d Stick ??? Miles...sold
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Old 08-26-2004, 01:49 AM
Posts: n/a
What is it about Mazda's? My dad loves them after years of loyal US stuff. Everyone seems happy with them. I would have recommended a used Saturn. A friend bought one as a second car, and it was cheap (3K), has held up well and has about 80K, and its like a 95 or 96. Very no frills and ugly as hell, but it works.
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Old 08-26-2004, 02:31 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,303
I love them. Here's another secret: Ford Escorts built from 1990 to 1995 are really Proteges. Because they carry the dreaded Escort name you can pick them up for a song, about half the price of a branded Protegem and they are the same darn car.

In answer to your question, they simply run forever and require no work other than a regular oil change. They will go to 200,000 miles without needing a ball joint, a water pump, you name it, they simply do not need any repairs. You just keep slapping tires on em. The 5 speeds get phenominal gas mileage, and they are fun to drive. If they get hit, you can beat them back into shape with a hammer, pick up a hundred bucks worth of body parts at the junk yard and you are back in business. There is no better car for someone with limited funds. Of the three I've owned, the most major repair I had was a worn bushing at the top of the rear shock tower on my wagon. 70$, at Firestone, to fix. Another one wouldn't start once, needed a new set of battery clamps. Best bargain around for a cheap car.
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Old 08-26-2004, 03:16 AM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862

Originally Posted by kerry edwards
Cheap solution:
...Have the mechanic replace the oil idiot light with a siren.
Brilliant! Funniest thing Iíve read all week! :p

'00 ML320 "Casper"
'92 400E "Stella"
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:50 AM
surfblau's Avatar
neue Dieseler
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: san francisco - immer kalt, immer windig, I want to move
Posts: 382
thanks all

I really hadn't thought about the protoge. Seems like mazda is a good alternative to honda and toyota. I know the honda is a good cars, but like I said before, I just cant see how a 15+year old car with 150k+ is worth on the order of $3000. I will also look into the mitsubishi, and who know maybe subaru and nissan also.

I also hadn't considered the engine replacement my self. With my new job and pair of kids, my free time is worth a premium, so I am leaning towards not learning how to pull an engine on his car. If it was a benz, maybe it would be worth it, but I really don't want to learn all about compact japanese front wheel drive cars.

I am surprised (or maybe not) how nobody seems to think much of the 190s. Could they really be that bad? It seems like the basic mechanics must be pretty solid, especially if you get a manual. Who cares if the power sunroof or ac eventually don't work....

84 300TD - 235k - Farbe "Surfblau" bought at 213k
87 300SDL - 131k - Farbe "PimpGold" bought at 115k
00 Klepper Faltboot Expedition Double
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:13 PM
The Warden's Avatar
Certified diesel nut
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pacifica (SF Bay Area), CA
Posts: 2,946
Originally Posted by tkamiya
I definately do NOT recommend any Benz if budget is an issue.
I beg to differ...I live on a shoestring budget (broke college student), and my Benz has been the most economical vehicle I've ever owned. Maybe g@$-powered M-B's are different, but I don't see my diesel as being any less reliable than the econoboxes out there (in the same price range), and she's a heckuva lot safer (and easier to work on, too!) and feels like she's built much more solidly.

That said, unless you're willing to do all the basic work for your friend (oil changes, valve adjustments, etc), it doesn't sound like that would be a good idea. Other people have said good things about the g@$-powered 201's, but I haven't had any firsthand experience, so I can't comment.

Just my $.02...good luck!
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:46 PM
yal's Avatar
yal yal is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York, Long Island
Posts: 2,706
I second the protege suggestion. My sis has a 1.6. If you can get the 1.8 or 2.0 engine even better!
Bullet proof. Only thing you have to look out for is some annoying suspension clunks that are easily fixed AND the MAS sensor failure that is fixed for free by the dealer on the 99-01 protege.
Mazda protege's and 3's are a best kept secret...shhhhhh don't tell anybody

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