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Old 03-27-2007, 12:00 PM   #1
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I went car shopping, will soon be selling... BOUGHT THE CAR!!!

I truly do love my SVTF, but after 3 years and having come to a much better place financially, I feel like it’s time for a change. The wife is down with it and as long as I keep it under a certain payment I can get any darn thing I like. So, on my Monday off I got to do the thing that’s more fun for me than my birthday and Christmas combined, CAR SHOPPING!!!

Synopsis of the day;

Drop the Focus off at the dealer to get a few minor items taken care of and have it inspected before I offer it up for sale to my fellow Fanatics. No used 05+ 5-speed Mustangs for sale on the lot, and though they do have an ’06 Civic Si they want $26,000 for it with 13,000 miles already on it. What the heck is up with that? Anyway, walk next door to the Chevy lot and see that they have a Cobalt SS Supercharged for sale. I know it’s not what I’m gonna get, but the salesmen look bored as it’s 11:00 AM on a Monday, so I don’t feel so bad getting a ride.

2005 Cobalt SS Supercharged – Yellow, with matching inserts inside. Quite unattractive, and that wing looks awfully ricey in my eyes, especially when you see it flipping around in your rear-view at highway speeds. Decent steering response, and an extremely smooth and linear engine that doesn’t subjectively feel much more powerful, but definitely moves that speedo faster than it does in the SVTF. Ergonomics are good, shifter is fine, some body roll but nothing too troubling. Of course I couldn’t really push the handling much on these straight Iowa roads, (a re-occurring theme throughout the day) so it’s really hard to give it much of a judgement as far as chassis/handling. Altogether and nice little compact.

I get a Taurus rental because they are chasing electrons in my car and need to have the right guy take care of it tomorrow (something with a cruise control module and wiring, no driving issues, just a CEL I want to get rid of), and I drive that to my Father-In-Laws where we hop in his A6 and get to the serious driving. He was about as excited as me, and I knew that we would probably get more respect getting out of that car than a Taurus…

To the Ford lot, which has a selection of used 05+ manual Mustang GTs and a silver RX8.

2005 Mustang GT Premium I knew that this would likely not press all my usual buttons, but I thought that it might really compensate elsewhere, like with the loud pedal. First off, I found the interior decent looking, but you quickly realize that the materials they use are actually pretty cheesy. Hard plastics that look cheap and probably won’t age that well, along with things like the shifter knob actually spinning around in my hand when I went to make a fast shift, which was quite unnerving. Had a nice sound, but I also quickly found out that when you step on it you are sending a klaxon call to every cop within 2-3 miles. I didn’t get pulled over or anything, but I definitely noticed more cruisers on the way back, and they were eyeing me pretty hard. Definitely has power, and it was undeniably fun, but there wasn’t quite as much there as I expected. Also feels like a big car with the small windows, high beltline, long hood, and body roll. I didn’t really get much feedback either, through the steering wheel or the seat. I got the feeling, and my Father-in-law even said it before I did, “You’ll have fun with this, but only when you’ve got your foot in it.” I came out really wanting to like it, but when I got out I felt pretty underwhelmed. Which really puzzled the sales guy, matter of fact. I’m sure he doesn’t get many young guys hopping out of a Mustang GT and going, “Meh, it’s ok.”

On to the RX8…

2005 RX-8 6-speed I had the feeling before I even drove it that this would be the car I would end up with. After I drove it… that feeling was made almost completely certain. Gorgeous car, useable back seats (for groceries anyway, and that ‘freestyle’ door would actually make it really easy), and an interior that easily trumped everything else that I would drive that day. Fantastic seats (cloth, the way I want it) with bolsters that fit my body like a glove. Excellent ergonomics, with everything falling to hand easily and intuitively. Even my father-in-law mentioned how much more comfortable it was, even with his bad back. I was afraid the rotary would make it feel slow just because of the torque deficit, but it felt seriously quick. Sounds a little like an alien blender, but I got to like it. More than anything, though, within a block I felt completely connected to the car and the road. The steering wheel and the seat transmitted exactly what was going on with the pavement below me, but in a totally comfortable and intuitive way. I knew I had to find some good roads so I drove out to a local lake for some twisty country road and let ‘er rip. Good lord did she rip!!! Smooth, linear power with an utterly planted chassis and super-accurate steering. You would have to be a complete moron to put this car off, not to mention an idiot to drive it to it’s limits on public roads, as high as they are. It was a completely immersive experience, with all controls and every part working together in harmony. F-ing GLORIOUS!!!! If it wasn’t on empty I might still be out there, and after I parked it I didn’t even want to leave… But next on the list was the 350Z, and I wasn’t about to pass that up!

2007 350Z Enthusiast They didn’t have a used manual coupe, so I drove a brand new one to see if I would want to wait for their next acceptable trade-in. Interior was nicer than the Mustang but not as nice as the RX8. Good ergonomics, though, and very comfortable. Almost no space though… I know I’m not shopping for a family car, but the ability to load up a few bags of groceries would be nice. That rear strut bar erases almost all available luggage room. Sounded absolutely fabulous, as anyone who’s heard one knows. Easily the best engine note of the day. The clutch was reeeeaaaally high on this car, so it took a bit to get used to the clutch, but the driveline felt pretty solid. In fact, that was the theme of this car, solid. Felt extremely tight and well put together. I was liking it, but not as much as the Mazda, as I was in traffic and not really able to exercise that engine much. Finally got a decent road and a really nice interstate on-ramp where I got to nail it and…. HOLY CRAP that thing has some power. Honest to god, big-boy power that was accentuated by the fact that with very little lean or squat it just took off and was able to keep pouring it on through the on-ramp. Then, on the interstate, it was able to easily punch us up to very high speeds without any trouble at all. Felt a lot more muscular than the Mustang GT, in fact. It really got under my skin, I have to admit.

I also drove a new Miata, very fun and I was able to drive just fine at 6’3” 200lbs, but the space really is cramped and I am not a fan of convertibles anyway. Lastly I drove an Impreza WRX, but after everything else that day it felt totally uninteresting. Some decent push, but couldn’t compare to the Z or the 8. Turned around after 3 blocks.

So, in the end, if you haven’t already guessed, I am getting an RX8. That Z had a ton of power, and really came close, but the fact that it has almost nil convenience and that it wasn’t as fun as the Mazda until I opened the flood gates means that it doesn’t get the final pick. I would just get in trouble with it as I would end up going Mach 1 everywhere, whereas with the RX8 I am able to enjoy it more at legal, sane speeds and can actually go to the grocery store without advance planning.

As soon as I have my mirror fixed my car will be up for sale on this site at a good price. It appears to be one of the very few 02 SVTs that is super-reliable. With just a couple small niggles in almost 60K miles that were easy and cheap to fix, if you have been wanting a low price entry into the SVTs that won’t have you in the shop a lot, this is it.

Thanks guys!


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Last edited by Carrera26; 04-23-2007 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:05 PM   #2
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350z FTW although that RX-8 would be tempting........
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:46 PM   #3
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good choice with the mazda
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:49 PM   #4
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The 350Z just didn't have that last, elusive degree of driver connection and communication that I love so much. It's what got me to buy the SVTF in fact, and what makes that car so incredibly easy to drive up to, over, and around it's limits at will and with confidence.
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:54 PM   #5
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Wow - Great thread, Carrera26.
Good choice with the RX-8. Are you going after the one you test-drove, or another one?. I know they had different performance / suspension packages (similar to the Z). Way back in (ahem) 1975, A Mazda RX-4 was my very first NEW car. I loved that rotary whine.

I was thinking that with you F-I-L owning an A6, you might have considered an Audi - say a late model A4 1.8T, or perhaps a A6 2.7?. I had a A6 Avant prior to the Focus, and it was a great driver.

Anyways, good luck with whatever you find.
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Old 03-27-2007, 01:55 PM   #6
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ditto for the mazda!!!! Ive always wanted on but havent had much in the way for $$ to get one!
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:01 PM   #7
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A 2004 RX-8 with good miles is only gonna cost me about $16K, so it's just $80 more a month than I am spending now. I won't be getting the local one because

A) I HATE that dealership. Used to work for the family, and they are pure evil.

B) They want way too much for theirs.

I like Audis, but I wanted a very sharp sports car, and while the A4 is a great luxury sedan with some sportiness, it's not even the same league for performance. I am an autocrosser, so I'll be competing all summer long in this and I want to start contending for FTD, or at least top 5 overall.
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:24 PM   #8
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Say it ain't so !!!

I can't say I blame you. I love my little roller skate, but I long for the days of romping the right pedal in my Formula Firebird.

As for the RX8. What a great, GREAT machine. Even with all its accolades, it went largely unnoticed. I never could understand why.

I had a chance to drive one a year or so ago and it is an incredible stable, FAST car. Especially through long sweepers. I love the suspension on that car.

When you get tired of stock, check out Acosta Motorsports and Speedsource. The Acosta upgrade will net you about 300 WHP with a 9500 RPM redline (if I remember correctly) by adding a 3rd rotor and larger Garrett Turbo.

If anyone gives you a hard time about buying an RX8, just remind them that Ford is a part owner of the brand.

Can't wait to see pics. Well done sir !!
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:32 PM   #9
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As soon as I saw the thread's author I knew this was going to be a good read.

Glad to see you're moving to such a great car at what looks like an excellent price. The only thing I wonder about right off the bat is insurance, I wonder how it stacks up with the SVT.

I trust you'll stick around man; and or course, pics when you get it will be mandatory.
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Old 03-27-2007, 04:24 PM   #10
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Well, since I am an insurance agent, let's plug it into the system...

Looks like about another $40-$50 a month. More than I was hoping, but a LOT better than that Mustang would have been!
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