12. Modern muscle vs. classic supercar

Window shopping for cars is one of my favorite past times.
I have a diverse love of cars.
New (2012) cars often outperform, or at least equal, old (2002) “exotics” or supercars.
So for this article I’m only considering cars built basically 1998-2014

1995/6 Dodge Viper

1995/6 Dodge Viper

The Flying mile:
This article is dedicated to window shopping (or Ebay shopping). For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to assume your great uncle Alfred has died and left you $35k to buy a car. Lucky you! But sorry for your loss. 😦
My favorite place to look for a wide range of cars like this is Ebay because of it’s quick sort properties. I generally type the vehicle I want, then “Buy It now” then sort by “Lowest Price first” and that tells you the absolute bottom price you can pay for a car of that make. There are other ways to car shop, as I’ve talked about before, but this is definitely the quickest I’d say.

With $35k you could buy a LOT of different cars, but again for the sake of argument, lets say you are into american muscle cars. V8 (or V10 – Dodge Viper). What kinds of cars can you afford in the $35k price range? There are TONS of cars you can buy for that. Porsches, Toyota Supras, Skylines, Camaros, RX-7’s, Mercedes. So let’s say you are in the market for a newer American Muscle car. But do you want an “exotic” such as a classic Dodge Viper? or a more modern car like a Shelby or Boss Mustang? Let’s investigate the merits of each.

I’ve picked 3 cars below, an older (10+ years old) Dodge Viper, a 7 year old Shelby Mustang GT500 and a 2012 Boss Mustang. Seems like a pretty strange comparison of cars? Why not a New Dodge Challenger? Because I like the Mustangs, and the Viper, that’s why. Also, for the people who are extremely brand loyal I ask why? Any one engineer could end up working for any of the Big 3 (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge) or any car manufacturer for that matter. They are all big companies and when it gets to these very fast cars everyone is on a pretty level playing field, despite what Brand Loyalists will argue. Perhaps in the future I’ll look at some more comparison. Anyway, onto the numbers.

The first car to consider is a 2nd generation Dodge Viper. I really love the style of this car, especially the coupe. There were approximately 10,000 Vipers made in this 6 year span. That low production,compared to 10,000 2007 Mustang GT500’s, puts the viper in the class of an exotic. Also that it was significantly more powerful than the “normal” muscle cars of the day, Camaros, Mustangs. It was in Lamborghini fast and powerful territory. What are the benefits of buying an exotic? For one exclusivity. How many will you see? From the production numbers, not many! What are the downsides of an exotic. Not as many people will be qualified to work on it and parts will be expensive. You see the Viper has taken quite a cost depreciation (for examples worth $35k vs it’s starting cost at the turn of the millennium. But there are also many selling for lots over the $35k mark. Despite being older the viper posts competitive performance numbers to the newer “common” car.

2002 Dodge Viper

2002 Dodge Viper

1996-2002 (2nd gen) Dodge Viper
Cost new: $70,000
450 Horsepower 8L Natural aspirated V10 engine
Quartermile 12.2-12.3 seconds
3420 Lbs (500lbs lighter than 2007 Mustang GT500)
Top Speed: 185 Mph

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

The 2007 Mustang GT500 is the next car we will consider. Funny that it’s another snake (Viper vs Cobra).
Cobra vs. Viper

Cobra vs. Viper

It boasted 500 horsepower which puts it ahead of the older viper yet you see the quartermile time is slower. Part of this can have to do with track prep, vehicle prep, driver. You can see times vary by as much as .5 seconds on a vehicle based on those factors. You’ll see the same time slip discrepancies for a 2012 Boss below .6 seconds between different magazine tests. For reference once a vehicle goes 11.5 seconds in a quarter mile you need to install a roll cage. So for the average Joe the Viper is probably a little faster, based on the test numbers. Also the exclusivity of the Viper is a selling point. “Total production for 2007 GT500’s comes to 10,844 units with 8,150 of those being coupes and 2,694 being” – MotorAuthority. And that was only one year! same as 6 for the Viper.You will also not that the top speed of the GT500 is limited to 155 Mph this is pretty standard, unless a car is an exotic, like the Viper, but really when will you go that fast?
2007 Mustang GT500
Cost new: <$50k,000
500 HP 5.4L supercharged V8
Quartermile 12.7-12.9 seconds
3920 Lbs
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang
The last car we will consider is a 2012 Boss Mustang. This “common” car is boasting 444 hp, almost as much as the 10+ year older Viper. The Boss went on a diet compared to it’s older brother the 2007 GT500. It also lost some horsepower, but you can see from the quartermile times that they are at least equal or some places measured the Boss as faster and equal to the 10 year older Viper which is a much higher class of vehicle. Again, this is based on a lot of factors such as track prep, driver, etc. This also goes to show what 10 years of technology will do for performance when this Mustang costs about 1/2 of what the Viper did 10 years earlier and is on the same performance level. For exclusivity there were approximately 4000 2012 Boss Mustang’s built in one year. You will see that the depreciation is not near what the Viper, being 10 years old, is, only a few thousand from the MSRP of $42k to our target of around $35k. Also you get the benefit of newer technology and with that reliability. I would say that a 2012 Boss will have more readily available and cheaper parts than a 2002 Dodge Viper.
2012 Boss Mustang
Cost New:$42,000
444 HP 5.0L Naturally aspirated V8
Quartermile 12.3-12.8 Seconds
3666 LBS
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang

2012 Boss Mustang


Based on the above synopsis, which vehicles would you buy? I am torn. All will be great vehicles down the road and will get many looks from passers-by. Do you want the raw power and exclusivity of a V10 Viper or the newer reliability and equal performance of the newer Boss or Shelby. Once you get to vehicles of this performance in competition, a lot of the performance falls on the driver as these are all more car than most people are ever exposed to. So which one would you buy? What other vehicles would you consider?

6. My Wheel Life – How to buy a vehicle

How to buy a vehicle and look as happy as this guy!

My friend on the 1982 Virago 920 he just purchased. It was his first motorcycle. Bought from the 2nd owner who had owned it since 1984.

My friend on the 1982 Virago 920 he just purchased. It was his first motorcycle. Bought from the 2nd owner who had owned it since 1984.

Have an agreed upon way to transfer money between you and the seller.
Bring a blank Bill of Sale to fill out to show you have ownership of the vehicle. (just google “bill of sale or use this link http://www.jogero.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Car-Bill-of-Sale.jpg )
Do a bit of research on the vehicle you are considering buying for price and common failure modes of the vehicle (weak points, ex: this engine had a tendency to blow head gaskets, or the paint was bad on X year of this vehicle)

The Full Monty

While watching racing or walking through a car show is fun, there is nothing like having your own pride and joy to ride, drive, race, modify or show off. That being established, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned from buying cars with my father, from my own experiences or guiding friends as they buy their first toys. To be clear most vehicles I buy are toys but most of the points in this article can be applied to toys or to basic transportation vehicles or even lawn mowers or tractors.

Often the first thing you will need to identify is how much money you are willing or able to spend.This will depend on the year of vehicle you are buying and your access to credit. I have been lucky to be buying vehicles less than 10 years old lately so I have had access to credit. If you are buying a car more than 10 years old or an ATV/dirtbike you will likely have to come up with the cash. When calculating what you are willing to spend on a vehicle remember there are usually a lot more costs than just the purchase price. You will have to transfer the title to your name. That will cost somewhere between $20-$100 (rough guess). When you transfer the title you will then have to pay a “road use tax” at least in Iowa. This is basically “the Man” getting you for sales tax. You will also have to pay for insurance within a certain number of days. I like my current insurance company because all my vehicles are covered through them so any new vehicles are automatically umbrella’ed under my coverage when I buy it, so when I drive it home I am already covered. Lastly, if you are like me you will likely want to immediately modify your vehicle in some way to make it yours. You should keep in mind any maintenance you will have to perform immediately. New tires? $400. Oil change? $30-40. New wipers? $10. Fixing a leaky rear window that you forgot to ask the previous owner about because that seems like a silly question to have to ask? Turns out that cost me about $50 and a days work. More on that in a later post.

Where to find a vehicle?
The easiest place to find vehicles these days is Craigslist. It breaks the whole country down into areas that you shouldn’t have to drive more than an hour to find something you want. Browsing craigslist is tons of fun since there is new stuff everyday. If you are looking for a specific vehicle make/model you can become a CL power user and search via SearchTempest.

About the funniest Craigslist ad I've ever read.

About the funniest Craigslist ad I’ve ever read.

Another way to find a certain make or model is to look on a forum for that vehicle. Most specialty vehicles have a dedicated forum and usually there is a thread for vehicles for sale. Often these vehicles are well taken care of as the previous owner took enough time to look at the vehicle specific forum. Ebay Motors is also another good place to look for vehicles. My personal preference is to know what a vehicle will cost, so on Ebay Motors I prefer to search for “buy it now” vehicles only. Often Ebay Motors listings will include contact information outside of Ebay. I am not condoning or condemning that practice. I will leave that up to your judgement.

This is a 2001 Dodge Viper I found for sale on EbayMotors for $31k. The MSRP on this car new would have been anywhere between $65k-$75k. It has 15k miles which basically is a new car. For window shopping purposes, you can buy this Viper or a brand new V8 Camaro or Mustang for the same price. The Dodge will probably cost more for insurance and replacement parts. The upside of car like this is there will be thousands of other Camaros and Mustangs. How many Dodge Vipers will you see on the road? Not many.

This is a 2001 Dodge Viper I found for sale on EbayMotors for $31k. The MSRP on this car new would have been anywhere between $65k-$75k. It has 15k miles which basically is a new car. For window shopping purposes, you can buy this Viper or a brand new V8 Camaro or Mustang for the same price. The Dodge will probably cost more for insurance and replacement parts. The upside of a car like this is there will be thousands of other Camaros and Mustangs. How many Dodge Vipers will you see on the road? Not many.

It’s a great practice to bring at least one friend when vehicle shopping. Often you can get caught up in the excitement of buying a new vehicle and you can look over any problems the vehicle has. Review the following questions with your friend, bring someone you trust and enjoy the car buying experience.

Once you have found a vehicle and set up a meeting there are a myriad of questions that you should ask.
Does the seller have the title? If not why?
How long will it take to get the title? Will they hold the vehicle until they get the title for you?
Does the vehicle have a clean title?!? If not why?
Is the vehicle still under a loan? (In Iowa the bank holds the title until the loan is paid off.)
How long has the seller owned this vehicle? If it’s been a short time it’s ok to be a bit suspicious and ask a few more questions about that.
What is the primary reason for selling this vehicle?
What problems are there with the vehicle?

Then you should check the vehicle over for a few things:
Do you see any rust?

The bad spots on this car were a bit more apparent than on some cars. Floors and quarter panels, and around windows are good places to look for rust

The bad spots on this car were a bit more apparent than on some cars. Floors and quarter panels, and around windows are good places to look for rust

Do you see any dents or dings? If so where did they come from?
Take the vehicle for a drive. You should actually drive the vehicle a little “hard” during a test drive, at least I think so. You should probably ask the seller and be clear that if you break it you don’t buy it. I’m not saying hard as in reckless, but accelerate, brake, turn sharply a little, obviously safely. Note any strange noises, slow accelerations or hick ups etc.

The topic of cash is an interesting one all by itself. Do you really want to pay for an $8000 vehicle in cash? Will the person selling the car be willing to take a check? The last vehicle I helped a friend purchase, a pristine 1982 Yamaha Virago 920, we had to make an atm run the day before and the morning of, because he had hit his daily limit for withdrawing cash. If you don’t have a physical bank in your area, just getting a large amount of cash can be difficult! One time a friend of mine paid the seller via paypal. The important thing here is to establish with the seller before you show up how you will pay them, and have the money ready when you get there.

What to pay? The negotiation.
If you decide you are ready to buy the car the next thing to discuss is the price. Here you should always do your homework before you go. Kelly Bluebook is always a good place to start at least. It will get you in some sort of neighborhood if you have no clue what you should pay.

Hemmings Motor news, ebay, and craigslist are all good places to baseline similar vehicles too.
The most important thing when negotiating is that you never pay what seller is asking because he undoubtedly inflated that number because he was sure some donkey like you was going to come along and lowball him, and he was right. Ok that is a joke, but normally, in my opinion, people are willing to come down a few hundred to maybe even a few thousand, depending on exactly what you are buying. If you don’t ask you will never know. One thing though, often I will not enter a negotiation unless I’ve already decided to pay the asking price and I am mostly looking for a good deal. I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it, maybe you really won’t buy it unless the seller comes down $500 on a $10k car, but really, if you are that interested is $500 really worth you not having the car you really want? Sometimes the extra time you’d get driving the car will be worth the little extra money. Also you need to consider the time and money you are investing driving to look at all these vehicles. Gas isn’t free and neither is my time (maybe your’s is). In case anyone is interested in hiring me for anything my time starts at $100/hour, but I can be negotiated with also….

Once you have sealed the deal on your new beauty you are almost ready to take it home. You should always bring a blank bill of sale to get signed. This is always good to cover your butt. It is a document both you and the seller sign with all the relevant vehicle information and it is a legal document. You can use it in lieu of a title for 30 days (at least in Iowa). It also is something you can show the police officer when you get pulled over on your way home testing the limits in your new pride and joy.

The last vehicle I purchased (April 2014).

The last vehicle I purchased (April 2014).

I’ll share a quick story of when I bought my crotch rocket. I was cruising back to my home, it was about 60 miles away. As soon as i got on the freeway I thought “lets open it up and see what she does!” then i had a 2nd thought that said, “That’s too stereotypical crotch rocket guy I’ll just cruise” and not 1 minute later there was a cop camped between the 2 lanes. I was so happy that i had not gunned it because I probably would have ended up with a ticket and it probably would have been fast enough to lose my license! So let that be a lesson to you all!

Keep the rubber side down and go out and buy something!
Do you think I missed something? Let me know! The best thing about the internet is I can always edit it away!
What was the last (preferably fun) vehicle you bought?