Category Archives: Used Car Gems

Late model cars that we have deemed worthy to road test. You will have to buy these pre-owned, but it may be worth it.

$25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

IMG_0354 IMG_0336

For $25K you have many great options for a high-performance daily driver. If you want a brand new car you can get a Honda Civic Si or a Volkswagen GTI, both great “hot hatches” with amazing handling and turbocharged power. Looking a couple years used, you can find a current-gen Subaru WRX, or variants of the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro. But what if you want something even more serious with more emphasis on luxury and even higher performance? For $25K, the cars will be a few years older, 8-10 years old in this case, but you are getting $60K worth of car for less than half the price.

I’m starting to look around in this general price range for my next step, and I have various options depending on what I decide to do with my current stable of cars. I decided to go have a drive in some of the cars I’ve been looking at to see what they’re really like from behind the wheel.

I went to a local dealer to check out two Audi B8 S4s, and low and behold, they had a Lexus IS F on the lot as well – it hadn’t been listed online yet. IS Fs are pretty rare, and this one was in my range, so I added it to my list to drive.

The S4 and IS F are a somewhat strange comparison, the Audi is AWD with a supercharged V6, and the Lexus is RWD with a 5.0L V8. When it comes to driving in bad weather, they don’t really do the same things. That said, both are midsize sedans that offer high performance with a lot of polish. Overall, they serve the same basic function for the same basic price, so, despite their vast differences in many areas, that means they compete.

Continue reading $25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

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Taking a spin in a BMW E86 Z4 M Coupe (it’s for sale!)

BMW Z4 M Coupe E86 1

A “special” car will keep your attention long after you’ve left it parked. It’s one thing to have a car you want to look back at as you walk away, but it’s a whole different level when you spend all day looking forward to your drive home. A car that has both the looks to make you turn around and the driving experience to keep you craving is a car that is truly remarkable, indeed.

“Special” is the single most important aspect of an enthusiast automobile, it’s what makes it much more than a mere transportation appliance. “Special” cars come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find one whether your budget is $10 grand or $10 million.

For a budget around $30 grand, an E86 BMW Z4 M Coupe is one of the most “special” sports cars you can buy. It has speed, style, and rarity. The Imola Red car you see here has just recently gone on the market for $33,500 with only 33,000 miles on the ticker.

I was offered a chance to take a spin in the car for this article, and how could I say no? I’ve been wanting to get behind the wheel of a Z4 M for quite some time now, and a more perfect example would be difficult to find. My impressions of the car are as follows…

Continue reading Taking a spin in a BMW E86 Z4 M Coupe (it’s for sale!)

A Farewell Ride in My Dad’s Porsche 996

Porsche 996 Carrera Arena Red 1

My parents are moving down to their place at the shore full time soon, and of course they’re taking their cars with them. They’re only going to be 2 hours away, but driving-wise the shore doesn’t hold a candle to the back roads of Bucks County, PA. The topography at the shore is all flat, the back roads barely curve at all, and the main roads are so crowded, and so heavily patrolled by cops, that there’s nowhere to really let the car run free. I may get to drive the 996 a few times when I visit, but it will never be like it was up here, with old our colonial roads that snake their way endlessly through the forest.

I had to take the Porsche for one more solid drive up here to say my goodbye, of sorts. So one night, after work, I spent 2 blissful hours in it out driving a greatest hits tour of my favorite roads.

Continue reading A Farewell Ride in My Dad’s Porsche 996

The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 1: April and May – Continuing The Story.

Mark VII Front Angle 3

This is Part 1 of an occasional series.

On April 16, as most of you dear readers know, I purchased this big gray Lincoln Mark VII LSC to replace my Miata, which I’d sold to Nick. What most of you don’t know, is the rest of the story. Through this occasional series, I will work to chronicle the past six months of what I’ve done with this gigantic piece of American history, and how it has fit into the other parts of my life in that time. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII LSC Chronicles, Part 1: April and May – Continuing The Story.

The Subaru Baja From Hell, Reviewed!

Subaru Baja From Hell by Area1320

This is a heavily modified, fire breathing example of Subaru’s lukewarm Outback-pickup-thing, which they called the Baja. It belongs to my friend, Rob, who has spent the last eight years corrupting every last inch of this once awkward and unassuming ‘Ute toward the dark side of The Force.

Why… Just why?

Because things like this need to exist. Subaru never made a blood thirsty rally version of the Baja, so Rob has taken it upon himself to make one.

What is the main thing I need to know about the Baja From Hell?

It is different, and its entire identity revolves around being so. Rob’s Baja is a car that is bursting at the seams with “special” and it has proven able to draw a sizable crowd at any sort of automotive gathering.

Continue reading The Subaru Baja From Hell, Reviewed!

2008 Subaru Legacy GT – Al’s Daily Driver (GRADE: B+)

Considering the time frame I had to buy a car back in May 2012, I lucked out rather well.  After narrowing down my choices of chariot to just two cars via figuring out that a Pontiac G8 GT would bankrupt me in fuel costs and a Dodge Charger was too much to insure, I was stuck between two cars after driving plenty, including a Volkswagen R32 (which turned out to be a dud with repairs needed immediately) and this black Subaru.  I almost didn’t even look at it.  It took a win by the New York Mets (yup, those 2012 Mets, not the 1986 squad) and some poking and prodding by my brother Matt, who knew I was still looking into this very car, to even dial up the dealership.  In the end though, the rest was history, and now, more than 18 months later, I’m making payments on this black bundle of joy and driving it constantly.  These are my thoughts.

Continue reading 2008 Subaru Legacy GT – Al’s Daily Driver (GRADE: B+)

Nick’s new daily driver, a 2012 Volkswagen CC Sport

Nick's 2012 Volkswagen CC

Those of you who routinely follow us, here at Mind Over Motor, may have noticed that my posts last week were a bit light. It wasn’t because I was nodding off, it was because I was going through the process of purchasing my new (but used) daily driver, this beautiful 2012 Volkswagen CC Sport.

I, like many car enthusiasts,  am seen as a sort of car guru by my friends and family, who often turn to me for advice on all things relating to automobiles. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back too much here, but they all know that I am quite well informed on many aspects of automobillia, especially when it comes to buying the right car.  So when I actually wind up signing papers on a car for myself, I always get a lot of questions as to why I chose the car I bought.

My purchase of this Volkswagen CC is the result of over a year of serious consideration, as well as many years of playing “what if” games on Auto Trader. Given that this blog is largely about documenting our lives as they relate to our passion for automobiles, I wanted to do a post that shows you, the reader, my thought process for the purchase of my CC.

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2004 Volkswagen Mk4 Golf R32 Used Car Review

2004 Volkswagen Mk4 Golf R32 reviewed by Mind Over Motor
2004 Volkswagen Mk4 Golf R32 reviewed by Mind Over Motor

What is it?

This is the original R-rated Volkswagen. After four generations of GTIs, VW decided that something more was needed to compete with the more serious performance cars of the world. Interestingly, the R32 was the first production car to feature a dual-clutch gearbox, although the US only received R32s equipped with manual transmissions. In total just 5000 mk4 Golf R32s were imported to US shores, making them one of the rarest cars in their range.

How’s the R32’s driving experience?

In short: fantastic, and a lot better that I had thought it would be. I’ve driven both of this car’s successors, the Mk5 R32 and the Mk6 Golf R, and I have to say that the Mk4 R32 has a certain something that its replacements do not.

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Nick’s 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Review

2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

It has been nearly three years since I began working on Mind Over Motor, and for some reason I have not gotten around to reviewing the car I know the best in the world, my 2004 Subaru WRX STi.

For most, it would’ve been the very first car to review, but I wanted to focus more on finding ways to get other cars and setting our foundation around that. Having said that, I do think it is high time that I do a proper article on my beloved Subaru, and what better way to begin 2014?

Incidentally, this article will also debut a new style of car review for me, on Mind Over Motor. It is one with a question and answer structure that will hopefully be more conversational in feel. Let me know what you think of the new style, and any suggested improvements you may have in the comments.

So with that, lets start talking Subaru.

Continue reading Nick’s 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Review

A Quick Drive In My Uncle Bill’s Mercedes 560 SL

1986 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL

Recently my family and I went up to Minnesota and visited my Great Uncle Bill. It was my first time at Uncle Bill’s house, a beautiful log cabin that he built with his own hands. Uncle Bill is a bonafide car guy, who still owns the Ford Model T that he bought when he was in the 8th grade. He also has another Model T, a Model A, and the silver Mercedes 560 SL you see here. After showing me around the garage, he asked if I wanted to take a drive in the Mercedes. Me being me, wanting to drive anything and everything, I jumped at the opportunity. Nice day, beautiful car, and some solid quality time with my uncle Bill, the situation was pretty ideal.

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Road Review: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera (9.5/10)

1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 996
Photo by Dan Valanzola

The essence of the Porsche 911 hasn’t changed all that much over the years, and when something does change it usually stirs up controversy. The car you see here is my Dad’s 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera (996 generation), and it marks one of the most drastic inflection points in the 911’s history: the switch from air-cooling to water-cooling. Here in 2013, early 996s haven’t had the most love from collectors, and their value has fallen far more than most 911s. That said this is still a Porsche, and Porsche doesn’t make bad cars. I have driven many Porsches, ranging from a Cayenne V6 to the mighty 997 Turbo S. All of them have been extremely entertaining within their own context, and my dad’s car is far from an exception.

Continue reading Road Review: 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera (9.5/10)

Test Driven: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS (9/10)

Chevrolet Camaro SS

At the airport terminal, having just arrived in Jacksonville Florida for our weekend at Amelia Island, we came to the the point in our travels where it was time to rent a car. The attendant asked us, in an ever so friendly manner, “Now, what are you boys in town for this weekend?” We told her about the car shows on Amelia Island, and a smirk came to her face. She had us right where she wanted us and she damn well knew it. “Well, have I got something extra special for you then. Are you Ford or Chevy fans?” We opted for Chevy. “Well guess what. I just happen to have a pretty little yellow Camaro SS on the lot for you”. We exchange glances, and then she said, “It’s normally pretty expensive, but I can give it to you for an extra $20 a day.” Considering we had booked an economy car, liable to be a Chevy Spark or some other gutless mode of transportation, it was a very solid offer. We accepted, and went out to the parking lot to see if the car was actually an SS. To our surprise it was, bright and yellow as described, with a big V8 under the hood. So with that we loaded up our bags, and set off in our 400hp rental car.

Continue reading Test Driven: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS (9/10)