I got some interesting advice from CC readers regarding the choice to sell my 1987 Plymouth Gran Fury. Most people seemed to be of the mind that I should keep my car, light the 1970 Impala sedan I was wanting to make my project on fire, and buy a modern car to use in the meantime.
Well, much like a certain CC writer, I took all your advice, weighed it in my mind, and then did what I wanted to do anyway. (Of course, I didn’t get a full size Ford from the 70’s…)
This adventure I had over the past weekend, began at my local Kia dealership. Now, those of you that know me and my history with this brand might be asking why on Earth I would set foot in another one of their vehicles. It was suggested I give every brand a fair shake, regardless of my past with them. I might be surprised with how nice their cars might be.
Taking this to heart, I test drove a base model Kia Soul in the above color. While it was a far cry from the POS Rio I used to have, it did little to impress. The high belt line made the ability to see out the back without the aid of a camera almost impossible. The car was a trade in, and the back up camera was added by the previous owner. I was surprised to find that such equipment was not standard with the above visibility issues. The plastic around the cup holders also felt very cheap and brittle. I then drove a 2014 Optima and was impressed with it’s high quality materials and windows you could actually see out of! Shame it was out of my price range… and a Kia. I knew I would never forgive myself if I bought another of their ilk, no matter how good they had become. The manager offered to buy Helen for $2000 on the spot if I made a deal on the Optima. I told them I’d think about it and lit out for the dealership next door.
The Mitsubishi dealership was happy to show me a fully loaded 2013 Ford Fusion Platinum that was at the very top of my price range. Sadly, the car broke during the test drive, the car slipping into some kind of limp mode, transmission refusing to move from third gear. I also drove a white Chrysler 300 C and found it oddly lacking. It was big and comfortable, but everything felt cheap and oddly laid out. It felt like a rental car, something you weren’t really meant to think about, but find pleasant enough.
While trying to find the Toyota dealership used car lot (which was located on the other side of the highway for some reason), I stumbled on a large Mazda dealership next to a bowling alley. I pulled Helen into a spot right in front of the used car building, which was lined with large windows, causing several salesman to flock over like vultures to a corpse. One person broke from the pack and came out the front door to greet me. He was a small, quaint man with a heavy accent. He commented that I was driving a very nice car and inquired what he could do to help. I explained that there was a chance I might be able to sell my car soon and wanted to see what my options were by test driving as many cars as I could in one day. As we sat in his cramped “office” which was more of a cubicle with glass walls, we discussed what I was looking for.
Now, I know it’s not right to call all car salesman sleazeballs, because most are just people trying to do their job. However, I got a whiff of sleaze when the manager walked in. It’s a scent of cheap aftershave, cigarette smoke, and desperation. He began to extol the virtues of the Mazda brand, of which I was only half listening, and trying to suppress the urge to let how annoyed I was slip into my voice.
I am a salesman. My job is to sell concrete pump parts to businesses all over the Americas (both North and South), in addition to managing the warehouse in which those parts are housed. I am the janitor, customer service rep, and receptionist five days a week, nine hours a day. I run the Dallas branch on my own. I am it’s backbone and mouthpiece. I’ll admit, I’m not always friendly. Sometimes I let the stress get to me and I’m trying to work on it. That being said… I hate certain kinds of salespeople that work on commission. I hate how they look at you like you’re just another deal to be made. A walking wallet ready to sign their paycheck. The car doesn’t matter. You don’t matter. As long as they get the commission, they could care less. I am very thankful I am paid hourly! Anyway, he said they had a Mazda 3 with only ten thousand miles and handed the key fob to the salesman that helped me originally. I could tell the poor guy was probably new and wasn’t cut out for the dog eat dog world of car sales.
The man visibly relaxed as we headed out of the dealership and I got to see how this little sedan performed. It was very tight feeling, and the little 2 liter engine was incredibly responsive. No, it didn’t have the raw grunt of my 318, but there was an odd… willingness to how it pulled the car along. It felt like the engine was a little kid at a toy store, pulling the arm of his or her parent through the aisles to show them exactly what they wanted. It didn’t feel like any four-cylinder I knew. I had the chance to rent a turbo charged Honda Civic back in 2016 for a day, and even it couldn’t match the peppy nature of this naturally aspirated four banger. The car rode a little more rough than any of the other cars I had driven that day, and was more noisy, in that I could hear the exhaust through the car. It wasn’t super loud, or enough to annoy me, but was a pleasant background thrum the whole test drive. This felt like a compact car that was more than a commuter. It felt like a shrunk down muscle car, oddly. Fast, without having to scream it to the world. The screen was a little off-putting, but the control knob was easy enough to use and all the materials felt well screwed together. In short… it was a modern car I could not only live with, but could see myself driving. Perhaps hauling small parts to the yard on the way home, or dropping into Sport mode to liven up a back road. It felt right.
A little over three hours later, of wheeling, dealing, and chest beating, I had agreed to sell Helen for $2000 dollars and got financed for the standard seven years. The payments were more than I had wanted to pay at first, but I could still comfortably afford them with some smart budgeting and the like. I turned in my title later that night and began the process of moving things over from Helen to my new car. It was pretty late at night, and most of the salesman had gathered around Helen, admiring her paint and bodywork, asking questions and such as I worked. One young man, a mechanic who shared my name, seemed keenly interested in buying her and keeping her as a show car and cruiser on the weekends. He asked if he could hear her run and handed me the keys. In that moment, I had to stop myself from tearing up as I slid into the driver’s seat and ran my hand over her thin steering wheel. I took a breath and started her up one last time, hearing her big V8 roar to life and idle more smoothly then she ever had the whole time I owned her. In that moment… I’d like to think she was at peace. The last thing I removed was the handcuffs I keep hanging from the rearview mirror and moved them to my new car.
They were a silly decoration used at my parent’s wedding reception, used as a “ball and chain” gag to link two mason jar glasses together to compliment the Western themed event. My Mom asked if I wanted them at the end of the night and they have been in every car I’ve ever owned since then. They are sort of an odd symbol of ownership for me. A car just isn’t mine without them.
I took that poorly cropped photo just before I headed out to get something to eat. The car was originally from Florida which must have some lax laws about dark tint, because my car looks like it has limo tint when it’s dark outside, as you can see from the picture.
The next day, I set about making the car my own by getting a new steering wheel cover, wanting a black and red color scheme for my new sport sedan.
I also found the above sticker at a vintage music shop and thought it would look good on my car, me having a tradition of having at least one sticker on each car I own.
What you see there is the last picture I managed to take of Helen the night I bought my new car. I found it oddly fitting, somehow. Thank you to everyone that commented on my last post and I ask that you please respect my choices made. In the end, I feel I did the right thing and am looking forward to finding another classic car to work on while hunting more curbside classics as I tool around in my newest purchase.
I’m very excited for you. I think that you will enjoy a car which is both fun to drive and fun to not worry about something constantly breaking.
It sounds like Helen is in good hands and you’ll probably see her around town.
A regular commentator has a story about a Renault ?LeCar? which died on a test drive. I haven’t heard a “used car died on a test drive” story in a long time.
I’m a little surprised you didn’t like the 300, it’s very much in the Helen mode. Big, cushy, rwd, luxurious cruiser, but it sounds like you made a good purchase! Many years of happy motoring before you!
Many, many, many years ago my wife and I test drove a first generation Mazda RX7 she thought she wanted. Not a mechanical failure but the car ran out of gas on our test drive; obviously the salesman did not come along on this drive. This was long before the days of cell phones so I ended up hiking a mile or so to the nearest gas station; the closest place I could think of that would have a pay phone. It took the bastards about 30 minutes to come and get us and we were not happy campers. We did not purchase that car nor have we had any other dealings with that dealership.
When my daughter was test-driving a used Honda Jazz from a large Melbourne dealer, the battery died leaving us stranded in the middle of a large intersection. Plenty of helpers to push the car out of the way, and the dealer cut the price further and installed a new battery. I later found out they’d been trying to shift this manual bright yellow pearl Jazz for something like six months.
Well, I hope you get many trouble free years out of your newish car. Seven, at least.
Now that you can get places reliably you can search about for a new project car at your leisure. I’m pretty convinced that the searching is the most fun part anyway 🙂
Excellent choice! The Mazda3 was my first choice the last time I was car shopping, as I’d gotten a few as rental cars in the past and liked them. But I really wanted a manual transmission and used cars with manual transmissions are quite rare nowadays, so I ended up buying a Corolla S instead. I know the Corolla is often derided as being boring by most car guys, but with the manual it’s really not bad, and at the time I was really just looking for cheap transportation.
I’ll take car guys saying car is ‘boring’, versus constant break downs and repair bills, just for “old style looks”
Well, I see you took 50% of our advice. That’s a much better rate than the take rate with my sons. 🙂
The Mazda 3 is a good choice, and you’ve described its appeal well, which is why it’s so often recommended by enthusiasts.
Here’s some unsolicited advice for the next time: Join a credit union, and then get pre-approved for a certain loan amount. You’d almost certainly get a better financing deal that way. Dare I ask what your APR is?
I would still join the credit union and refinance the car when your money situation improves. Many people don’t know you can refinance a car loan. In your case, 7 years is a long time for a car loan and you’ll pay a lot more in finance costs.
It’s five point six percent. I plan on doing like I did with my Rio and throwing everything I possibly can at the principal amount so interest doesn’t kill me in the long run.
My credit union currently has a 3.88% rate. That may require a certain FICO to qualify, but it’s just a reference point. And there may be fees and such to compare too.
Just remember that dealers almost always make more profit from selling F&I (Financing and Insurance) than on the cars themselves.
The 5.6% isn’t horribly high, but I would definitely look into a credit union membership and apply for a refinancing. CUs don’t always require stellar credit ratings to take advantage of lower interest rates on auto loans. I did a refinance years ago, and the whole process took less than an hour and I saved a ton of money as a result.
5.6% isn’t horribly high… it’s utterly insane, 5-pipes-of-crack high..
I cringed when I read the “standard 84 month loan”. Credit unions are the way to go but they can vary. When I bought a car this summer, I found out what the rate was at the credit union where I do my banking and when that time came at the dealer I told him that I would consider financing with them if they could beat the rate, with a reputable institution and that I knew my credit score was in the “perfect tier”. They did come back a 1/4 point lower. It however was another credit union, one that I’m not sure how I qualify as it is for state and other public agency employees.
5.6% isn’t bad, depending on credit score of course. I wouldn’t suggest throwing all the money you can at paying it off early. Start working on building up a rainy day fund, of a couple of months worth of pay and then you can start throwing some extra money at it.
Let me preface this by saying that I An Not An Accountant, but…
Every Credit Union car loan I have taken out has charged simple interest, vs. the compound interest charged by banks and dedicated car lenders.
I once had an accountant friend tell me that over the life of a loan, the effective difference in cost is 1%. That is, if you take the interest percentage of a simple interest loan and subtract 1%, that is the percentage equivalent of a compound interest loan.
By example, the loan on my Prius is a simple interest loan of 3.24%, which is the equivalent of a compound interest loan at 2.24%.
Simple interest loans get even better if you make earlier or larger payments than required. As you pay off the principal, the amount of interest you pay goes down. That doesn’t happen with a compound interest loan, where the interest is paid first.
And if you decide to sell or trade before the loan is over, you’ll be far less “upside down” than if you had a compound interest loan.
Someone will correct me if I’m wrong. They always do 🙂
In a loan with regular payments that is amortized and payed on time there is no difference in the amount paid. The only time a compound interest loan would cost you more is if you missed a payment. In that case the amount interest due in the missed payment is added to the balance used to calculate the amount of interest owed in the next period.
Most loans with regular payments are simple interest because they instead use a much more profitable mechanism the late fee that is usually significantly more than the compound interest would be.
Now if you are talking something like a savings account or CD compound interest is your friend and the shorter the compounding period the more you will earn.
Example a $1000 deposit and a 6% rate.
With simple interest paid annually at one year they would pay you $60.
With simple interest compounded and paid monthly. 1st month you would get $5 added to your account and in the second period you would earn interest on $1005 for a total earning of $5.03 Add that up and at the end of the year you would have earned 61.68.
Congratulations. It seems to me that Helen and your present car are two completely different things, which is OK. Helen was unique and fun. She was a hobby. Your Mazda is a normal car. But this is no reason for you to not bond with it. Perhaps this will become the car you look back on later in life saying “if only I could have another one of those.”
I do not have any recent experience with Mazda, but understand that they tend to be more engaging cars than many. They do seem to retain an unusual ability to rust, but as I recall you do not live in a northern climate, so you should be OK.
Congrats! I think you made a fine choice. The 3 has always been considered a car for those who like driving, and I have no doubt that Helen positively contributed to your vehicular self-awareness.
I also think your car will eventually be able to run Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the near future.
Smart move! now you can go buy that ’70 Impala you like with your friend, or something else you really like, and have some vintage fun without worries about getting to work!
‘yup. I agree.
Peak Chevrolet for that era, older models would require immediate upgrades (specifically larger wheels, disc brakes and sway bars) to properly enjoy while the next iteration suffered from varying degrees of build issues and driveability problems.
Excellent! The Mazda is a fine car, and now that you’re all set for reliable transportation, you can take your sweet time choosing the perfect vintage hobby car.
You’ll never regret your choice. My 2002 Protege has over 200K on the odo and it still makes me smile when I’m behind the wheel. Enjoy !
You have the perfect combination of car and climate. I have always loved the Protoge and especially the Protoge5 but they do not like my salty climate. I wish I could have gotten the phone camera in position for the one I saw the other day with virtually no exterior sheetmetal on the liftgate below the midpoint of the license plate.
Clearly they didn’t use all 4 bolt positions of the plate, then it might have held more of the car together!
Great Choice! – The Mazda 3 was on my short list when I got my 2016 Civic Coupe instead… The fact it was a 2 door swayed my decision.
My stepson has a Mazda 3 of the previous generation (which may as well be the same platform… 2012 I think). His has the 6 speed manual, and wow… I LOVE driving his car when I get the chance.
Personally, I think that my turbocharged Civic is quicker having driven both, but that perception could also be swayed on a test drive; from 0, before you get to the sweet spot of my Civic’s power-band, the Mazda’s larger 2.0L just might have more grunt.
But in either case, these ‘commuter pods’ can be a blast to drive on the twisties, making them quite a treat. Sometimes if traffic sucks on my commute home, I take the scenic route, so I can enjoy the drive.
I never thought in a million years I’d like a ‘practical car’ as my wife puts it, but as toss-able as it is, what’s not to love? Zoom-Zoom indeed. And in my case, I got my way with being a little impractical by purchasing a coupe… Or was it impractical? It’s just me on my commute, and me and the wife on the weekends, so 2 doors is plenty. ;o)
Enjoy the new ride and congratulations!
Having done several years in automotive sales, thankfully past, it is an almost universally brutal and degrading way to make a living. They money can be quite excellent, and if you ever need a job, as in “need a job today” you can find employment selling cars. You just have to live with the stigma of even your own family hating you, your wife’s family encouraging divorce, etc. etc.
My recommendations to those who dislike the automotive shopping experience, and wish to save time are:
1) Get pre-approved at your financial institution, this will let you know exactly what kind of price range and model years you need to be looking at
2) Do an online Kelly Blue Book appraisal on your trade, be realistic, almost no vehicle is in excellent condition. This will also save you time at the dealership
3) Know what the payoff is on your current car
4) If there is someone else who has a say in the purchase, have them with you.
Taking these steps will reduce the amount of time you spend, and frustration with the process greatly, even better is if you can make it to a dealership during the week, avoiding the insanity of the weekends.
There’s a reason why the Mazda3 is one of the three best-selling passenger cars in Australia and why Mazda is one of the best-selling brands here. While they may sacrifice a little refinement – something they seem to finally be working on – they make cars that are fun-to-drive and, once again after a brief awkward period, cars that look great. Plus, the typical Japanese quality and reliability.
I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out with your Gran Fury but I’ve been there: having a car where things go wrong and you just don’t want to keep it going. The difference with me was mine was only ten years old and I’d very much cooled on it by the time the issues popped up.
Only you can make decisions for yourself! And I commend you for this purchase: the 3 is a car that’s both exceedingly sensible but also entertaining. Good choice.
Totally agree. Here’s my old 3, in pickup mode.
Making those tough choices are an unfortunate part of being an adult but you obviously have practiced such before. You did what had to be done.
The upshot is the GF will likely go to somebody who can have a different relationship with it. And you’ve now got a Mazda that is as opposite the Plymouth as can be – and it sounds like you are having a blast with it. May you have many good years and miles from it.
The 3 has always been a popular seller here in Canada. The 2.0 is a good little engine, well proven, too. And rust won’t be a worry in Dallas where you are. Fine choice.
Congrats on your new car. Looks sharp! That APR isn’t bad, and you can refinance like everyone says. I would have liked Helen as a “play with” car. I drove one of those in the 90’s thinking it would be horrible but it drove very smoothly. It belonged to a guy I worked with and seemed really neglected. He said he would actually flush water into the carb/throttle body (whatever it had) to clean it out. I thought, and still do, that it is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Has anyone else ever heard of this before? I’ve known some, uh, “interesting” people…
Using water down the intake is an old method of cleaning carbon deposits from an engine. I have used it before in the past.
Here is a video showing how’s it done, Ford Fairmont no less:
“Blowing out the carbon” was usually code for “I took grandma’s Electra up to 100 mph.” As the video shows, there is no need to beat on Grandma’s Electra.
Yup a common old timer technique the “coke bottle tune up” is one name I heard back in the day when you actually bought coke in bottles and not cans.
If you’ve ever done a head gasket replacement you’d know just how effective steam cleaning the piston and combustion chamber is.
I imagine that was an attempt to clean carbon out of the cylinders. Nowadays people use seafoam to do the same thing; in the old days I had heard of people using ATF for the same thing.
I can imagine that a 318 from that pre EFI smog era would get pretty ‘carboned-up’ and those deposits can cause pre-ignition/pinging and other problems.
Maybe your buddy’s technique actually worked!
Okay, so he wasn’t crazy. Never thought of it as steam cleaning. I remember that tiny carb from my Zephyr, which ironically I had at that time I’d heard about it. Thanks for the explanations, everyone!
Like you, I heard of using ATF to clean carbon out of the cylinders, and more often these days, I hear of using Sea Foam Motor Treatment.
The advantage to Sea Foam is that you’ll not only clean out the carbon, you’ll also fog the neighborhood for mosquitoes at the same time…
Excellent decision! You ended up with a great daily driver that should serve you for many years without issue. It’s too bad you couldn’t afford to keep both the Gran Fury and the Mazda, but you made the best call you could considering your circumstances. It’s also good to hear that you were able to get a fair price for the Gran Fury, certainly far better than the $1000 you spoke of in the other post.
My brother was recently looking to replace his daily driver 2011 Corolla with something newer. His fun car fair weather car is a Camaro, so he wanted something more engaging to drive during the off season. The Corolla was a rock solid car, but even with a manual pretty boring to drive. I pointed him towards the Mazda 3 and he ended up buying an almost new one this past spring. He is very happy with the car so far, and finds it far more engaging and enjoyable to drive than his Corolla. On the plus size, he’s tall and found the Corolla quite lacking in leg room, while the Mazda 3 was one of the best small cars for leg room he drove. His car is quite similar to yours, but has a manual transmission. I have since driven it and it is definitely one of the best small cars I have driven in a long time, and far more enjoyable and comfortable than the Corolla my brother had.
My only advice to you about a classic car is take you time before you buy another one. Do your research and talk to some experts on the model you are interested in. Joining a forum that specializes in a particular make/model will help for some good information. You are far better off to save for a while to get the best classic you can afford, rather than buy one that needs a lot of work, especially if you don’t have the skillset to restore it yourself. There are lots of classic car bargains for relatively low prices, if you’re willing to go outside the mainstream popular cars or buy an unpopular body style.
Good luck and happy motoring…er zooming in the Mazda.
Congrats!!! Sounds like a reasonable choice for a DD! Welcome to the adult world,
Hey that was fast! But excellent choice, and the Mazda3 is a great car, it should provide you with lots of good miles and smiles. I’m glad things seem to be turning around for you, just enjoy the car, take good care of it, and it’ll take good care of you. I’m very excited for you, any new (to you) car in a driveway is a cause for celebration around here!
Some people always seem to be surprised that other people are allowed to change their opinions.
Congrats on the car and may it serve you well!
Congratulations…that is a very sharp looking vehicle, you made a great choice, and it sounds like you were careful on the negotiations and financing. Impressive for a 22-year-old; I was 24 before I dared to buy a new car all by myself, without bringing my father along. And I had a finance degree by that point!
I have access to auto loan rates throughout the US (I’m a banker with friends who price loans, and checked this out recently when I bought a car myself), and the rate at which you financed is in line with the national average for the age of the vehicle, and the term of the loan. That being said, don’t be afraid to refinance it at a better rate or shorter term, as others have suggested.
Don’t worry about others not respecting your choices, or the deal you made. When people want to start paying my bills, THEN, and only then, may they criticize how I spend my money… 🙂
Good choice! I rented a 3 a few years back, for a day arond Mt Hood and The Gorge in Oregon, and it was my favorite rental car (at least in North America) ever. Though not yet as CC-worthy as some of my ‘70’s and ‘80’s rentals.
A friend recently bough a used Mazda 3 Sporthatch, I got to test drive following her to the wrecking yard to dispose of her previous Mazda, even on the earthquake rippled streets of Christchurch it was quite comfortable to drive, quiet, peppy, and it steered well, I let the owner get a kilometer or so lead along the motorway and gave it some gas to see how it went and was impressed the transmission dropped a couple of gears and we were past the speed limit easily, not a bad little car, it wouldnt get me out of my C5 with its comfort, quiet, incredible diesel fuel economy/torque and most of all manual box but they a nice car.
I love the long hood, short deck RWD profile of these new ones. It’s very retro and muscular; unlike anything in this class where every sedan is rapidly morphing into a lumpy, bulbous mutation of the 2006 Honda Civic cab-forward “pod” style with no distinguishing cut off between the hood, doors, and trunk section. These and the current 6 always catch my eyes because they are genuinely stylish and unique from other recent sedans. I’m sure I would have enjoyed one if there had been any available to test drive when I was shopping for a used compact sedan a couple years ago… but these were way out of my price range at the time and practically non-existent in Michigan with a stick shift. I’m envious you found such a nice example at a good deal!
A seven year loan makes me cringe a little but if you don’t put a ton of miles on it you should be fine. You get to a point in your early/mid 20s where you’re not rich or even solidly middle class yet… but you’re finally making decent money, working all the time, and secure enough with your job/income situation that a – reasonable – monthly payment on a dependable newer model car takes a HUGE load of stress off the daily grind and your overall budget versus an older car that’s breaking down and requiring expensive upkeep all the time. As long as you get a good interest rate, ***do the math to avoid going underwater*** (this is a MAJOR point people always ignore), don’t drive too much, and actually maintain the car… having a car payment really isn’t the death sentence people sometimes make it out to be. Worst case – you can sell the car on craigslist for whatever you owe, just pay off the loan, and start over with something else… whether it be another loan or an older beater for cash. I did exactly that with my 3-year old Jetta after the lease ended and I was forced to buy it due to excess mileage and a some body damage, and I was surprised how painless it was to get rid of the car and out of the loan without taking a huge bath. That’s where not going underwater comes in, but you seem like the kind of person who actually takes care of your vehicles and wouldn’t put 30,000 miles/year on a financed car without realizing the toll it takes on your resale, or at least purposely paying the loan down quicker. At any rate, I wish you many dependable miles!
Congratulations! You’ve made a good choice and I understand how hard it can be to give up a beloved car to a faceless dealer. Sounds like that service tech could give her a good home. I park my 2000 Saturn SL2 next to my co workers’ 2017 Mazda 3 every morning and am a little envious. Black on black it’s a sharp ride and very comfortable. He loves it and hasn’t had any issues.
Congrats on the new car! As much as we all like the feel and look of the old classics, sometimes a nice efficient, new compact car is just the way to go. And a Mazda3 is perhaps among the most engaging of the bunch.
I gotta admit though, those cheap fat steering wheel covers make me wretch: they make a modern car’s steering wheel diameter even fatter to grip, look cheap, and they are a filth-magnet. For each their own I suppose!
Excellent car and an even better writeup, thanks for tapping this series out for us.
“Sadly, the car broke during the test drive, the car slipping into some kind of limp mode, transmission refusing to move from third gear.”
Bullet dodged. Imagine this happening 100 miles later after you signed over everything and were driving to work. In the new reliable car you don’t really like but bought to replace the old unreliable one you loved.
It would be a sequel to Falling Down.
Congrats on the new car! As much of a hassle as it is to shop for cars, I think you did well. More importantly, you’ve taken care of business, meaning you got a solid dependable car that you can make it to work every. day.
I hope the car gives you years of good service. The best part is, you can start scraping a few bucks together and get yourself a nice hobby car when the time comes!
I’ve had my 2015 Mazda 3 hatchback for 3 years now and run up 50k miles on it. It’s amazingly versatile for carrying stuff like 2x4s, ladders, etc. I travelled 800 miles straight thru from Ohio to Maine with no automotive or ergonomic issues. And yes, it is fun to drive, plus when I feel like being frugal I get 30+ mpg. My project car is a ‘71 Buick Riviera Boat-tail which is in need of brakes and exhaust in order to be driveable. My one and only complaint about the Mazda is the steering wheel’s chrome emblem, in bright sunlight the sun’s glare can reflect right into the drivers’s Eyes. Yikes. It is especially problematic with an open sunroof, but it also happens with sunlight from drivers side window. Google this and you may find some home-spun solutions, my personal work-around is to put my left hand on top of the emblem until the angle of the sun or road changes. Not a big problem since I’ve got an automatic, if I had a manual I’d probably resort to covering it with a sharpie.
Mine is a 2015 too and other than the glare – with which I never had a problem (perhaps because my car is not fitted with a sunroof) – I can confirm what you say. I drove a similar distance from Vienna to Dusseldorf and it was fine, and I have a bad back – I can honestly say the best seat I have is in my car. It’s not the world’s most refined car but that’s the trade for having good handling I suppose. Perhaps the only complaint I have is that in the EU we only get the 2.0L with alleged 165 horses which it does not have, so performance is adequate at best.
And I heave a project car too (64 Comet) so am not subject to the compromises involved when using an older vehicle as an everyday car…