View Full Version : The best beater cars thread


allbaugh_04
12-22-2011, 02:53 PM
I'm looking for a new beater. I want something that does better than 20mpg city ('99 grand prix)

http://www.ridelust.com/15-beater-cars-that-wont-disappoint/

How accurate is this list? I'd say there are some good candidates on there.

jbridwelltransam
12-22-2011, 04:40 PM
I've got the sentra they have on that list. Paid 800 for it with 146k miles single owner. I average 35 mpg and Havn't had to do a single thing to the car. I love it.

71novaguy
12-22-2011, 05:30 PM
i dont know why you'd give up what you got? any of these other cars will feel slow compared to what you drive now. you've got a solid, reliable car with the 3.8 (unless you got the SE....) hell, thats why I bought my 94. reliable and cheap.

if you picked any, I'd take the GEO. I think they started in 1990. We had a 91 metro that we put 300k on the first engine and sold it after we got about 150 on the second. solid 50's on fuel

allbaugh_04
12-22-2011, 09:00 PM
i dont know why you'd give up what you got? any of these other cars will feel slow compared to what you drive now. you've got a solid, reliable car with the 3.8 (unless you got the SE....) hell, thats why I bought my 94. reliable and cheap.

if you picked any, I'd take the GEO. I think they started in 1990. We had a 91 metro that we put 300k on the first engine and sold it after we got about 150 on the second. solid 50's on fuel

It does fine, a lot better than other cars.

I've just been thinking a diesel VW might be a better choice, almost double the mileage. I know some of the newer TDI Jettas are plagued with issues. I just don't know if all of them are.

djsanchez2
12-22-2011, 09:43 PM
I was in the market for a diesel Rabbit/Caddy/etc. before i got my Miata DD, they seem to have a solid drive train, but the bodies literally fall apart around the enigne/trans :lol:

If i were to find a solid Diesel Caddy I would trade my Miata for it on the spot. :nod:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tT4iVp4Ehb4/TJcfw7L3baI/AAAAAAAAAfg/huMg2xXsEpI/s1600/6a00d83451b3c669e2011570b051fe970b-800wi.jpg

50mpg + 30gal tank mod = 1500miles between fill-ups :D

willizm
12-22-2011, 09:45 PM
335xi, best beater ever!!

Dan Stewart
12-22-2011, 10:00 PM
I'm surprised the first gen Neon made the list over the second gen.

The second gens are dirt cheap and don't suffer the dreaded head gasket woes the first gens had.

As for second gen Taurus', I guess the author doesn't think the whole "the engine will catch fire because of poor fueling system seal design" is a deal killer.

I'm also surprised the Ford Escort or the Dodge Shadow did not make that list.

allbaugh_04
12-22-2011, 11:14 PM
I was in the market for a diesel Rabbit/Caddy/etc. before i got my Miata DD, they seem to have a solid drive train, but the bodies literally fall apart around the enigne/trans :lol:

If i were to find a solid Diesel Caddy I would trade my Miata for it on the spot. :nod:

50mpg + 30gal tank mod = 1500miles between fill-ups :D

See, that's what I'm talking about :D

AronZ28
12-23-2011, 12:02 AM
I was in the market for a diesel Rabbit/Caddy/etc. before i got my Miata DD, they seem to have a solid drive train, but the bodies literally fall apart around the enigne/trans :lol:

If i were to find a solid Diesel Caddy I would trade my Miata for it on the spot. :nod:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tT4iVp4Ehb4/TJcfw7L3baI/AAAAAAAAAfg/huMg2xXsEpI/s1600/6a00d83451b3c669e2011570b051fe970b-800wi.jpg

50mpg + 30gal tank mod = 1500miles between fill-ups :D


When you said diesel Caddy, I was thinking more along the lines of:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/4940255962_c5a0e3f873.jpg

And was thinking, this guy must be insane for trading in a Miata on a Cadillac with the worst motor GM ever made in it.

AronZ28
12-23-2011, 12:08 AM
Anyways, some of those options on that list are pretty whack IMO:

Late 90's/early 2000's Korean cars are pieces of junk that have been completely ragged out by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th owners. I've never seen one that wasn't beat to hell, and it was a pos to start with new.

Same thing with the 90's VW. Pieces of junk, there is a reason you don't see them on the road anywhere, nobody is going to pay BMW, Benz, Audi prices to maintain an economy car.

Ford Taurus, that car has been a total dog ever since it was introduced.


Something they didn't put on the list is the 80's-90's Toyota pickup. You can get a decent 2wd model for $2500, expect to pay double or triple for any 4wd model in the same condition.

They put the Bonneville on there, but should've put the LeSabre/Park Avenue on there as well. Usually you can find these for cheap that were owned by dead senior citizens, and old people really take care of their stuff.

lt1slowz28
12-23-2011, 12:16 AM
Anyways, some of those options on that list are pretty whack IMO:

Late 90's/early 2000's Korean cars are pieces of junk that have been completely ragged out by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th owners. I've never seen one that wasn't beat to hell, and it was a pos to start with new.

Same thing with the 90's VW. Pieces of junk, there is a reason you don't see them on the road anywhere, nobody is going to pay BMW, Benz, Audi prices to maintain an economy car.

Ford Taurus, that car has been a total dog ever since it was introduced.


Something they didn't put on the list is the 80's-90's Toyota pickup. You can get a decent 2wd model for $2500, expect to pay double or triple for any 4wd model in the same condition.

They put the Bonneville on there, but should've put the LeSabre/Park Avenue on there as well. Usually you can find these for cheap that were owned by dead senior citizens, and old people really take care of their stuff.

this... in afghanistan they are by far the most popular vehicle. carry insane loads over the worst terrain I have ever been around with the worst operators in the world.


that or the venerable corolla.

versz
12-23-2011, 12:37 AM
you seriously cant go wrong getting a VW golf rabbit or thing >.> even the VW bus was on BullRun don't that count for something?

If you cant go German don't go Korean... Geo Tracker? Is there anywhere they won't go? We took a 3 cylinder 5 speed 4 wheel drive down in the woods with a 30 pack and windows and heat with a polaris RazR following us. Guess who was warm and dry at the end of this field trip through a forest? :usa: :chug:

If your specifically looking for a good little sedan.. Saturn or Chevy Malibu. we had a chevy impala 3.9L that got 30 MPG and still made noise like an angry vaccum cleaner. It gave off that "Im a v8 I SWEAR!" sound.

Catmaigne
12-23-2011, 01:44 AM
As for second gen Taurus', I guess the author doesn't think the whole "the engine will catch fire because of poor fueling system seal design" is a deal killer.

The 3rd and 4th gens are much better cars, especially if you get the 3.0 DOHC V6 with 200hp. I got a 98 Mercury Sable LS with that engine and 140k on the clock... the thing could pace with my friend's manual 300ZX 2+2. Grandma's $300 car had a good bit of pickup and was damn near indestructible. Infinite burnouts.

litemup02
12-23-2011, 05:55 AM
I figured a Honda would be up on the list...i picked up a 98 Accord awhile back and like it alot (as a beater) 4cyl 5 sp. gets around 30 mpg.. Its faster, hauls more people and gets 5 more mpg's than the S-10 it replaced. Just be careful, when that Vtec kicks in...its no joke:D

01ssreda4
12-23-2011, 06:22 AM
My second gen Accent got 35-40 mpgs regularly and was super easy to work on maintain.

BOBS99SS
12-23-2011, 07:02 AM
im looking for a new dd, just dont know what to get

ANTICOP RAM AIR
12-23-2011, 07:09 AM
^ I am too.. always wanted an S10 but theyre so damn small...

allbaugh_04
12-23-2011, 07:22 AM
I agree. The le sabre should be on there.

TheSilverOne
12-23-2011, 08:32 AM
90% of those cars aren't on the road up here anymore due to rust

87silverbullet
12-23-2011, 09:37 AM
I bought an 01 cavalier for the wife to commute (40mile one way to work) with. I bought it not knowing what was wrong with it. It had a few bent valves. I replaced the head with a reman and had to replace the pushrods and gaskets. Runs like a dream and it runs forever damn near on its 14 gallon tank.

Car 350
Head 175
pushrods 40
gaskets 60
total 625 bucks and 30+mpg

justin455
12-23-2011, 01:07 PM
The 3rd and 4th gens are much better cars, especially if you get the 3.0 DOHC V6 with 200hp. I got a 98 Mercury Sable LS with that engine and 140k on the clock... the thing could pace with my friend's manual 300ZX 2+2. Grandma's $300 car had a good bit of pickup and was damn near indestructible. Infinite burnouts.

Exactly, everyone craps on those cars because the OHV 3.0 equipped cars were just ridiculously horrible. The OHC 3.0 cars were quite the opposite and even though they were short on torque, with 200hp they go alright. I still want a 4WD Escape because of it. 3200lbs, 200hp, goes places stock that only lifted trucks should go. Great winter vehicle.

My second gen Accent got 35-40 mpgs regularly and was super easy to work on maintain.

Current girlfriend has a 2003 Kia Spectra from the list, and while I don't really care for the car at all, she gets about 30-35mpg all day long. I don't believe mechanics ever go near it (for repair or maintenance) either.

I bought an 01 cavalier for the wife to commute (40mile one way to work) with. I bought it not knowing what was wrong with it. It had a few bent valves. I replaced the head with a reman and had to replace the pushrods and gaskets. Runs like a dream and it runs forever damn near on its 14 gallon tank.

Car 350
Head 175
pushrods 40
gaskets 60
total 625 bucks and 30+mpg

Ex wife had 2 cavaliers and no problems out of either. All models are good, but if you want the best for efficiency and longevity you gotta go with the iron 2.2.

murphinator
12-23-2011, 01:51 PM
I have had a lot of 3800 cars as beaters ,daily drivers ,street/strip etc... before ls1 f body prices finally tanked to the point I have bought a couple decently modded ones for 3 grand and change each.

mileage and 3800's- you didnt say it was a gtp so I will assume its a gt or an se which got 3.23 gears while gtp got 2.93's like all the other supercharged 3800 cars old enough to be beaters ( I think only the comp g got 329's supercharged)

I ran a super nice 3800 na/329 geared gp gt back and forth to work in mass all spring before getting a job closer to home and averaged 27 mpg & change mostly 70-75 highway commute , bought the car for $400 and sold it for 1300 after putting 15,000 trouble free miles on it in 6 months.

the supercharged 3800's with 2.93's get better mileage than the NA cars , one of my regal gs's got 30 mpg stock after breathing mods and a lot of time spent tuning cruis cell timing it would knock down 32-33 mpg for me again all highway between maine & mass 6 days a week... now my commute is 7 miles each way , same car gets 20-21 mpg on this local road commute. Side note its got 216000 miles on it currently and has run a best of 13.5 @104 stopping at the track on the drive home without spray and 13.1 @109 on a small dry shot , still stock internals both engine & trans , the 3800 is on wards best 10 engines of all time because it is simple and durable.

back to buying a cheap beater in regards to 3800's normally aspirated ones have an achilles heel of losing intake gaskets , its problem with sc cars too but I have bought 3 na cars for $300-400 that were real nice cars mis diagnosed as siezed engine, cracked cylinder head , or blown head gasket by the sellers mechanic - none of these are common on these cars , in each case I bought them as having "bad" engines , got home pulled all the plugs turned over till all the coolant was out of the cylinders , put dry plugs in and fired them up , they will run smooth until the t stat open then I shut them down before they shut down and hydrolock again and do an intake gasket job.

sold 2 to friends and another to a friends dad all still going strong today so keep your eyes peeled in your area for these misdiagnosed cars:D

I dont make it in here to the racers lounge often and what I expected being the racers lounge and a best beater cars thread was a best drag car beaters thread lol in that case one of the best I have seen is a sc'ed 3800 regal gs that the car and its mods were purchased for a grand total of $800 bux and change - well under a grand and it ran 11.9 @114 on spray and 13.0 no spray with $500 total spent including purchase price , lots of weight reduction and free mods , I came close to this full weight once with a sprayed gtp that ran 12.2 @118 for me

so after you beat it around a while you can convert the 3800 car to a cheap drag car like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPiP28ozOKQ&feature=player_embedded

71novaguy
12-23-2011, 03:36 PM
back to buying a cheap beater in regards to 3800's normally aspirated ones have an achilles heel of losing intake gaskets , its problem with sc cars too but I have bought 3 na cars for $300-400 that were real nice cars mis diagnosed as siezed engine, cracked cylinder head , or blown head gasket by the sellers mechanic - none of these are common on these cars , in each case I bought them as having "bad" engines , got home pulled all the plugs turned over till all the coolant was out of the cylinders , put dry plugs in and fired them up , they will run smooth until the t stat open then I shut them down before they shut down and hydrolock again and do an intake gasket job

And they do sell an updated gasket that will take care of this problem once and for all. pretty cheap insurance...

allbaugh_04
12-24-2011, 01:04 AM
Are the gaskets all that hard to change? I seem to be losing some coolant and can't figure out where. This is probably it...it's a GT

AronZ28
12-24-2011, 01:36 AM
Its not TOO hard if you're a decent wrench. Just very time consuming, have to take half the motor apart to do it. I'm sure a Buick tech who's done it 5 or 10 times can get it done well before lunch.

Subliminal Hit
12-24-2011, 01:56 AM
Are the gaskets all that hard to change? I seem to be losing some coolant and can't figure out where. This is probably it...it's a GT

Most likely needs a new intake (plenum). They're plastic and are notorious for
melting. Pop it off and look at the bottom.

dsmfan95
12-24-2011, 02:03 AM
I have the 6th generation Civic for a beater. Paid $2400 for it a few years ago and have put 30k trouble free miles on it.

1995blacktattop
12-24-2011, 09:07 AM
When you said diesel Caddy, I was thinking more along the lines of:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/4940255962_c5a0e3f873.jpg

And was thinking, this guy must be insane for trading in a Miata on a Cadillac with the worst motor GM ever made in it.

:lol:

as bad as the diesel 350 was, imagine if they would have made a diesel version of the V8-6-4

oh the horror!

justin455
12-24-2011, 12:25 PM
:lol:

as bad as the diesel 350 was, imagine if they would have made a diesel version of the V8-6-4

oh the horror!

why don't we just go ahead and put the 4+3 Corvette transmission on that thing too?

02ws.sik
12-24-2011, 12:35 PM
My 03 camary is a good beater

CaptainDirtymax
12-24-2011, 01:11 PM
I still want a 4WD Escape because of it. 3200lbs, 200hp, goes places stock that only lifted trucks should go. Great winter vehicle.

until the trans lets go. my dad has an '05 V6 FWD, and it's on it's 3rd trans. oh and this one is slipping already too. less than a year old and it's slipping.

edit: i'll probably be called crazy for this, but Olds Aurora. i have a '98 that's just a tank, it has 200k on it and it runs like it just left the showroom floor. rides like a dream and still has a decent amount of pep, while averaging 20mpg in town. not too shabby for a 4000lbs, 4.0L V8 powered, full size luxury sedan.

71novaguy
12-24-2011, 02:01 PM
edit: i'll probably be called crazy for this, but Olds Aurora. i have a '98 that's just a tank, it has 200k on it and it runs like it just left the showroom floor. rides like a dream and still has a decent amount of pep, while averaging 20mpg in town. not too shabby for a 4000lbs, 4.0L V8 powered, full size luxury sedan.

i'd back that up. a good friend of mine had one in college. never gave her issues, got good mileage. only trouble she had was a low battery. It was the winter of 2008. I looked at it for her and I was pretty impressed. It was the factory delco battery from 98. I guess it helps that they put the batter under the back seat!

justin455
12-24-2011, 09:12 PM
until the trans lets go. my dad has an '05 V6 FWD, and it's on it's 3rd trans. oh and this one is slipping already too. less than a year old and it's slipping.

edit: i'll probably be called crazy for this, but Olds Aurora. i have a '98 that's just a tank, it has 200k on it and it runs like it just left the showroom floor. rides like a dream and still has a decent amount of pep, while averaging 20mpg in town. not too shabby for a 4000lbs, 4.0L V8 powered, full size luxury sedan.

Hmmm...I never heard much bad about them, generally only praise, but I haven't looked into it for a couple years. I assumed it was basically the same trans considering they used the same engine and similar chassis as the taurus. With the taurus the OHV engined trans were made of glass, but the OHC ones run forever.

On the Olds front, the Aurora is a nice car, but you can get "more" power much easier with an L67 powered H-body (for the luxurious front) and get a little better mileage. Plus when looking to buy they all seem to be either overpriced cream puffs or ragged to shit crunk mobiles.

TransAmWS.6
12-24-2011, 10:51 PM
I would look into the following:

-EK/EG Civic's
-DA/DC Integra's
-CB/CD Accord's

With the pricing, availability, aftermarket support, known reliability and most importantly gas mileage that you're able to get out of these cars, I would have a very hard time not picking one up if I were in the market for an efficient daily driver. That's just my $.02 though.... I'd rather have one over some senior citizens Oldsmobile or Grand Am like people are suggesting in this thread.

arioch
12-24-2011, 11:11 PM
2000 Mazda 626 here.... was pretty clean until a mustang (sn95) lost all brakes and SLAMMED into me at a stop light....

02ws.sik
12-24-2011, 11:14 PM
Didnt his insurance have to pay for that?

Irunelevens
12-24-2011, 11:52 PM
I would look into the following:

-EK/EG Civic's
-DA/DC Integra's
-CB/CD Accord's

With the pricing, availability, aftermarket support, known reliability and most importantly gas mileage that you're able to get out of these cars, I would have a very hard time not picking one up if I were in the market for an efficient daily driver. That's just my $.02 though.... I'd rather have one over some senior citizens Oldsmobile or Grand Am like people are suggesting in this thread.

This. :nod:

CaptainDirtymax
12-25-2011, 12:03 AM
Hmmm...I never heard much bad about them, generally only praise, but I haven't looked into it for a couple years. I assumed it was basically the same trans considering they used the same engine and similar chassis as the taurus. With the taurus the OHV engined trans were made of glass, but the OHC ones run forever.

On the Olds front, the Aurora is a nice car, but you can get "more" power much easier with an L67 powered H-body (for the luxurious front) and get a little better mileage. Plus when looking to buy they all seem to be either overpriced cream puffs or ragged to shit crunk mobiles.

true it is easier to get power out of the L67 powered cars, but this is for a beater. also, off my last tank with the Aurora, i averaged 25.2mpg in town. and it really depends on where you're looking. just looking on craigslist locally i've found 3 at or under $2500 that all looked to be in quite good shape, none over 160k miles either and looking to be stock. idk, i guess it just depends on where you're at.

arioch
12-25-2011, 01:48 AM
Didnt his insurance have to pay for that?

Oh i forgot.....NO INSURANCE!! he was going to try and run but i left him pinned in between the mazda and the other car he hit until the cops arrived....

Ya bashed in the entire left side of the car and his mustang was barely roughed up.....atleast the police slammed him with 4 or 5 tickets for not being insured, failure to maintain a safe distance, failure to maintain brakes, etc....

justin455
12-25-2011, 02:20 AM
true it is easier to get power out of the L67 powered cars, but this is for a beater. also, off my last tank with the Aurora, i averaged 25.2mpg in town. and it really depends on where you're looking. just looking on craigslist locally i've found 3 at or under $2500 that all looked to be in quite good shape, none over 160k miles either and looking to be stock. idk, i guess it just depends on where you're at.

I guess my standards are just too high. I don't like to pay under 3k for a car unless it cost under 20k brand new. Bells and whistles wear out too, haha. Then there's the fact that I absolutely hate the styling of the first gen, and love the second gen. The aurora just isn't in the cards for me. If I was looking for a comfy DD like that I would probably be looking at 00-04 Bonneville SSEi's.

AronZ28
12-25-2011, 02:49 AM
:lol:

as bad as the diesel 350 was, imagine if they would have made a diesel version of the V8-6-4

oh the horror!

Actually the v4-6-8 is a great motor once you disable the cylinder deactivation. There's one wire you cut, and it tricks the ecu to run on 8 cylinders all the time. Its a 368ci Cadillac big block motor, with a throttle body fuel injection system on it.

The main reason this thing got a bad wrap is the cylinder deactivation system was utter garbage. Plus Cadillac really dropped the ball on training their dealers on how to fix this, the cut the one wire to run on all eight cylinder trick solves all the drivability issues, but I guess people were pretty pissed off that the cylinder deactivation didn't work as advertised.


EDIT: Getting back on topic, for that under 3k price, you can't buy shit for a Honda or Toyota. They'll all be ragged out pos's or have over 200k miles on them. Older model Buicks are generally in better shape and have a ton less miles for the same price.

WayFast84
12-25-2011, 03:40 AM
For 3k you can get a hell of a saturn

allbaugh_04
12-25-2011, 10:06 PM
i'd back that up. a good friend of mine had one in college. never gave her issues, got good mileage. only trouble she had was a low battery. It was the winter of 2008. I looked at it for her and I was pretty impressed. It was the factory delco battery from 98. I guess it helps that they put the batter under the back seat!

My parents have a '00 Bonneville and it still had the original AC Delco battery in it as well.

I think heat kills them faster than they should, gets pretty warm under the hood.

I might actually look into a Bonneville perhaps...they don't look all that bad. Just the dang luxury registration tax....

I didn't embed cuz it's too big.
http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2009/04/14/09/56/2003_pontiac_bonneville_ssei-pic-25046.jpeg