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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The city is hard on the R, so I'm kind of looking for a semi-daily driver beater/hauler car. Here are the criteria:

- European
- Classic (i.e. older than 2000)
- Cheap (sub $2k)
- Reliable (aka just won't leave me stranded every other week)
- Wagon
- Cheap parts
- Not a death trap
- Somewhat fun to drive
- Cheap to insure
- Probably a manual, especially if it's low on power (at least under-powered cars are somewhat fun to drive with manuals)

Does NOT have to be performance oriented, should NOT make me want to keep it nice/care about it too much. I already have one car I baby, I don't need two. Thought about buying a V70R but I just couldn't do things like put pets in it or haul a Christmas tree in it.


I was looking at late 80's early 90's 240DL wagons with the 5 speed, 1995-6 940-960 wagons. Any other suggestions or opinions?
 

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I'd look for an old Legacy or Outback. Usually in the $2500 range.
 

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I recommend a 1995-1998 960/S90 (or V90) if you can find one for $2k because they have Ultra High Strength Steel reinforcements to better handle offset frontal collisions and they have Side Thorax Bags. Timing Belt intervals can be very short on the earlier inline sixes in the first generation 960.
The 1996-1998 Volvo 960/S90 are chippable for a bit more power.
Other than that I would recommend 1992-1995 940 Turbo due to power, durability,reliability and handling - I think the steering feedback is better in the 740/940 from this period then the 1995-1999 960/S90. Also 1992 was the first year SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) was implemented.
 

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Saab 9-5 Aero wagon...without a doubt. I have a 2001 base wagon and I have used it to keep 12k miles off my R. It has some issues here and there but I never dread driving it.

You should be able to pick up one for under 5k. If you can shoot for a 2004 do that as they revised some things and upped the HP.
 

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I am looking for the exact same thing so going to steal this list. Looked at Subaru wagons, V70s, 850s, and older MB wagons. Saab is one I did not think of, what year did they pretty much become an Impreza/WRX with Saab skin?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Subaru's have no appeal to me. Only looking for European.

940/960/V90 are good options and definitely on the list. I've heard they can be maintenance hogs though?

Saab 9-5 Aero wagon is just too new, too nice. I'd feel terrible hauling stuff in it, letting it get door dings in parking lots, etc.
 

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djkronik57;1992582 940/960/V90 are good options and definitely on the list. I've heard they can be maintenance hogs though?[/QUOTE said:
The 940s aren't -they are very reliable and durable. The early 960s required timing belt changes as often as 30K IIRC part of the reason I would shoot for a 1995 or newer.
Brickboard.com has a good write up/used car buying guide and repair guide for the 740/940/960:
http://www.brickboard.com/FAQ/700-900/BuyingUsed7xx.htm
http://www.brickboard.com/FAQ/700-900/FAQSummary1.htm

I do recommend cleaning the fuel injector electrical harnesses as best you can and then wrap them tightly with 3M Flame Retardant Electrical Tape if you don't replace the the factory sheathing with new OEM sheathing.
I had a 740 Turbo catch on fire after two fuel injector harnesses arced due to cracks in their sheathing. I popped the hood with the car running and was watching a small fire glow under the hood!

Other advice if you ever counter running issues with a 740/940 Turbo ALWAYS check the large turbo hoses first, I wasted so much time and money trying to fix one only to find a hole in one of the main turbo hoses. One shop ripped me off
and told me the catalytic converter was plugged. Make sure to use a mirror so you can see the underside of the hoses.
 

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- European
- Cheap parts
Not trying to be an a$$, but those two words are usually considered oxymoronic.

My money would go to an older Volvo wagon.
 

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i think if you're looking for a cheap beater car you need to get another volvo wagon.. nice thing about volvo having long platform life cycles is that you can leverage your existing knowledge from your R to be able to do the (necessary) work on your new beater.

alternately with bmw 3 series or 5 series wagons you get a new can of worms, equal or lesser reliability i'd guess
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
i think if you're looking for a cheap beater car you need to get another volvo wagon.. nice thing about volvo having long platform life cycles is that you can leverage your existing knowledge from your R to be able to do the (necessary) work on your new beater.

alternately with bmw 3 series or 5 series wagons you get a new can of worms, equal or lesser reliability i'd guess
Yeah I was thinking a mid 90's 5 series wagon. 3 series may be a bit small. Repair costs on BMWs scare me a bit though. And they seem less durable than the Volvos.
 

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5spd mk3 jetta vr6 or 2.0L will do you just fine.
great in the snow too
 

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Yeah I was thinking a mid 90's 5 series wagon. 3 series may be a bit small. Repair costs on BMWs scare me a bit though. And they seem less durable than the Volvos.
My friend had a beater 3 series wagon that didn't work out so well, he got it with around 110k and not long after pretty much had to replace pretty much the entire front suspension, rear suspension, then the fuel pump went, the coolant res cracked and he had to redo the rear control arms. I think I'm missing stuff too but the car was totaled after nearly two years when someone t boned him.

I'm not saying the 3 series is a bad choice but you'll need to thoroughly check it out prior to buying one but a BMW is by no means a beater car. They can be expensive to maintain, and unlike some Japanese and American cars you can't really ignore maintenance or repairs because you'll just end up with a more expensive and bigger headache.
 

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a lot of used older 850 turbo wagons around me for $800-$1500. Maybe do a craigslist search around you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
a lot of used older 850 turbo wagons around me for $800-$1500. Maybe do a craigslist search around you?
I don't know what it is about the 850's, but just not really that into them. I think I have my heart set on something rear wheel drive, which pretty much means older Volvos, BMW, or Mercedes. The last two probably will be ruled out due to maintenance costs.

Seems there are a lot of mid-late 90's Mercedes E series wagons around for cheap. Anyone have any experience with them?
 

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I'm looking to do this exact same thing. My R is my daily driver, and I just feel wrong going to drive-thrus, parking it outside in my school lot, ferrying drunk frat boys around in it, etc. I'm not sure I can afford to keep two cars at once, so it may even have to go :(

In any case, I generally second the suggestions of the older volvo/subie wagons. A family friend has a 740 wagon with 289k on it that's never maintained and essentially used as a farm truck. Love that thing.
 

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djkronik, your post made me thinking.

My kid went to college and his 855 Hunter Green is sitting here. I was thinking to sell it but I got almost no bites on my CL ad in last 3 weeks and I had to drop price almost in half to get few emails. It has 155k, it's California cars that came here last summer - no heated seats, but no rust. Clear coat is peeling though, lol... It requires some suspension work, but in general it's good beater.

Am I making mistake trying to get rid of it? My R is going to be my only vehicle.. And I cannot imagine to have Xmas tree in it... On another hand R is winter car and I definitely feel safer driving with AWD grip etc with all other safety features.. I almost never go to city.. any thoughts?
 
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