Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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My Car Options

So I’m deciding between two vehicles for the road trip now.

One is a Subaru Legacy. It is listed here: http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/subaru-liberty-1992-12155900?base=1216&vertical=Car&eapi=2&page=1&sort=LastUpdate&cr=1&__N=1518+1216+4294680280+903+1252+1282+1622&silo=Stock&Range=Price%3AMin%2C5000~1

Benefits of the Subaru are comfort, ability to sleep in the back, fuel economy, and general state of repair.

One is a Ford Maverick. It isn’t listed here, but pictures of similar vehicle are: http://www.tradingpost.com.au/Automotive/Used-Cars/AdNumber=D762301997060;pgid=7OpGyQkDJLY000QKp4cMsQgI0000qrqCDQp1;sid=PWhEazmVKUhEYXbzqX9OyjK3Ybbt5YhvvjgYtZAbjJLHOzV077sqN-UV0ucMEg==

Benefits of the Maverick are off road ability, reliability, mechanical work done recently, and general bad-ass-ness.

Here are my rambling thoughts on each. After that is a table laying out the battle. I’m still waiting on answers from the mechanic about repair costs for the Maverick to fill it out completely, but it is more or less where I’m at. Neither car is bad. I’ll be happy with either. I just really cannot decide which one to go with. I welcome any comments or suggestions you have. And I need to make this decision ASAP.

SUBARU LIBERTY

Subaru Liberty GX, 1992, 307000 km, $2750

The car is clean and has been owned by the same family for the past 15 years. They seem responsible and I feel pretty confident the car has been taken care of with oil changes and servicing. No stains on the seats. The seats are pretty comfy. They move fine. The back seats fold down and while it isn’t completely flat, I can stretch out, lay down, and sleep relatively comfortably on my back. To sleep on my side might require a mattress which would knock out the space. The car could easily transport 5 and their gear. CD player and working speakers, though I would change the head unit to get mp3 functionality. Lights work, ceiling is in fairly decent repair. Comes with a RWC and rego till October so I can get by without reregistering it if I get the month extension. Manual shift. Runs smoothly, relatively quietly. Certainly more so than the magna. Dent in the rear bumper, back driver panel, front driver panel with scratched paint and possibly rust. Didn’t check wipers, but has RWC. Drives smoothly. Feels like a car I could be happy to be driving, assuming I can get an assurance that it isn’t getting too high in km for it to be safe for outback driving. Lose the 4×4 capability, but get a comfortable portable home. Has roof-rack that affixes on but can come off. Has caused scratches to either side of the roof.

It would cost me $2750 for the car. It uses the bottom of the barrel gas, so no extra cost there. And I could probably sell it for $2000 without rego when I leave. Maybe $1500. I would be happy to have this as my home for a while. Wasn’t expecting to like the car; this complicates things. Now I have to decide between off-roading, sleeping in the car, fuel economy, resale value, manual vs. automatic, and what I want this trip to be about and feel like. Ugh. Stupid real decision making.

FORD MAVERICK

Ford Maverick, 1980s (really not sure), 371000 km, $2000

This car is awesome in certain ways. It is a badass vehicle. There is no question about its ability for off-roading and 4×4 stuff. New suspensions, differential just done, aligned, and with about $2000 worth of tires on it. My limitations with 4×4 tracks would be my limitations as a driver. The vehicle is more capable than I am. It isn’t pretty, but it looks imposing. It has 4 headlights, but they don’t seem to be as bright as I would expect. I have had a mechanic vouch for under the hood. Everything there is tip top, much of it repaired in the immediate past, much more in the recent past. New alternator? New transmission? Things like these, though I don’t think these exactly. Gas mileage isn’t great, looking at about $1000 more than the magna and Subaru options for a year, based on an arbitrary calculation of kilometers I expect to travel. But it is the best of the SUVs for fuel efficiency. That is due to the length and weight trade off. It isn’t long. It is about the size of a RAV-4. Which means there is no real spreading out and sleeping in the vehicle. I can haul all the gear I need, but some of that gear will need to be tent and camp stuff, because it won’t be in the vehicle. The interior dome light doesn’t work. It is automatic. The engine is a carb, which the mechanic tells me means it should run for a million km, it is a tank, and it can be fixed easily. It also means I shouldn’t worry about the fact that the mileage is so far beyond something I would otherwise consider. The driver’s seat has a giant tear in it, getting in and out rubs it and it isn’t comfortable. The interior isn’t sexy. But it does fit with the badass look. The roof is rusting, but that will cost $600 to fix. Throw in another $1000 to fix the inevitable other things I expect the mechanic to find and need to repair, plus the things like speakers and A/C which I’ve already identified, and I’m looking at a cost of $3600 to get the car roadworthy. Throw in $150 for the RWC and $600 for rego, I’m looking at the cost of the vehicle starting off at $4350. Then add that I expect to use $1000 more petrol on this vehicle than the magna or Subys and the car functionally costs me $5350. But the mechanic tells me (and Shaun seems to also think) that this vehicle would sell for $4500 to $5000 at the end when I want to sell it, so I might break even, or come out ahead if you don’t count the cost of gas and the fact that I will still have 4 months registration at the end. This is likely the best “investment” car for the trip, the one I can be relatively certain will make the money back if it survives me. I’m feeling like I should just go ahead and buy this before Shaun rethinks his asking price, but I want to check out the Subarus tomorrow to verify that this is the way to go. The lack of sleeping room + the cost of gas is frustrating. But the price point might be right, especially compared to the Magna.

Two days later, I’ve now test driven this car twice. The engine sputters at lower revs. I’m told this is because the new carb is getting used to the engine and it will go away over time, but I don’t know how much I believe that. I do know that the tank only has ¼ in it, so that can’t be helping. It drives pretty easy for a 4×4, handling well, cornering pretty well, and largely feeling okay. I don’t feel nearly as comfortable as I do in the Subaru, but I’m a lot more used to driving a smaller vehicle like that. The engine is a little louder, but not as loud as I would expect. Overall it drives pretty well, minus the sputter. The problems with the non-mechanical aspects are long unfortunately. A/C doesn’t work (deal-breaker), only one speaker works, rear wiper doesn’t work, driver’s seat goes all the way forward or all the way back but not in-between, sun roof doesn’t have a shade, interior dome light doesn’t work, and neither do the fog lights. I have the list of questions ready for the mechanic to find out ease, time, and cost of fixing all of those issues. That may be the end of the debate depending on costs.

 

Maverick Liberty Winner
Base cost of car 2000 2700
Repairs needed roof rust, A/C, passenger door lock, rear window lock, dome light, speaker system, driver seat none
Cost of repairs 1000+ 0
Expected cost of gas 3440 2500
Cost of registration 750 70
Rego left at sale 4 months none
Expected resale 4000-5000 1500-2000
Guess at total loss 3190 3770 not sure till I talk to a mechanic
Transmission auto manual Liberty
Interior of car rugged and 80s remarkably good repair Liberty
Comfort fine feels like home Liberty
Driveability fine natural Liberty
Sleeping space no yes, but not perfect Liberty
Age ~25 20 Liberty
Off-roading the UN uses this no Maverick
Look of car badass station wagon Maverick
Mileage 370000km 307000km Maverick (due to type of engine)
Reliability the UN uses this it’s a Suby Maverick

2 comments on “My Car Options

  1. Alyssa Fowers
    March 20, 2012

    Honestly, I think you’re going to spend a lot more time sleeping and driving long distances with a car full of folks than you will off-roading. Plus the Maverick is going to cost you about twice as much as the Liberty, not to mention the cost of frustration for dealing with repairs. You’ll have much more fun driving a manual than an automatic. Go for the Subaru.

  2. Jonathan K T
    March 21, 2012

    You know what I like to do off roads?

    Walk.

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2012 by in Australia and tagged , .

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