Wandering eyes

We’re not going to be in the market for at least another year or two, but already we’re thinking about our next car (one that would replace the E30). The pursuit, after all, is half the fun— possibly more. For a budget of $10,000, we think we’ve narrowed it down to the following two choices— ones that shouldn’t be at all surprising to long-time readers of this blog. They are as follows.

BMW 2002:

A well-known car from the Northern California vintage road rallying scene. Pretty much our ideal, although $10K probably won’t get us an example this pretty.

Porsche 944 S2 (not Turbo):

Comments and stipulations:

  • The car must be well-sorted, up-to-date on maintenance, and tastefully/thoughtfully modified (if at all). The more turn-key, the better (not looking to acquire a project)
  • It’ll be a second car, so practicality is not a huge issue. Still, usable rear seats are a must (but to accommodate children, not adults)
  • It’ll first and foremost be a street car, though we’d love for it to be able to see up to 6-8 track days in a year. We suspect this may be a tall-ish order for the 02 (depending on how sorted and set up it is for the track), less so the 944
  • It’ll be garaged, so while not ideal, the non-galvanized steel 2002 would be OK. But given that we love spirited driving year-round, we do dock off some points for not being able to drive it in the snow (of course, one could, but it would be unkind to the car— not to mention its future owners)

While very different, both cars have their obvious merits. The 944 will be faster and more comfortable, offering – for better or for worse – a driving experience at least as modern as the E30’s, if not more (perhaps a lot more). The 2002 brings to the table vintage road manners and oodles of late ’60s-early ’70s charm, but will be less obviously athletic (if still plenty spirited). We also imagine it’d be a lot more fun to own insofar as, e.g., being an automatic conversation starter, eliciting random thumbs-up from passers-by— the sort of stuff one might expect from driving an obviously older car. In an ideal world, perhaps we’d have both – the 944 for the track and the 2002 for the street – but this car, whichever we decide upon, would be called upon to do both. We’re not complaining, though— one could do worse.

So, what would you do? Let’s hear it 🙂

(Images: jagpromotions via BaT; Flickr)

~ by velofinds on September 28, 2011.

18 Responses to “Wandering eyes”

  1. Such very different cars. The ’02 is a very enjoyable car and is still quite capable on a back road or autocross. A stock ’02 will be fun on the track it will just be slow.

    The 944 is a very comfortable, civilized car. Not a roomy back seat but kids will be fine. The 944 is a terror in autocross and very poised, if not exactly fast, track car.

    Either would be a fun second car and for use on weekends of tire reduction. I think I’d take the BMW 2002.

    • i’d love to run an 02 with some r-compounds and race pads on the track. i’d still be toward the back of the pack, sure, but i think i could surprise a few people through the corners. possible? 😉

  2. The charm of the 2002 is what would sway me. It’s not a perfect car but its easy to be in love with it (for better or worse). Its the perfect mate! I’ll have one one day 🙂

  3. R comps would be great, just don’t over tire (size wise) a stock car. With R comps your going to need those race pads and good dry brake fluid. You will get to practice brake fade management as well. Some upgraded brakes would rock!
    Your plan would be especially good if you could run it at a track without a lot of fast straight sections, they do exist.

  4. Seems like what you have now is the ideal cross between these two cars.

    • true— or you could see it as a compromise that isn’t quite as cool as the one nor offers the same level of performance as the other. an e30 m3 would bridge that gap some. an ‘m2’ (a 2002 with the m3 engine) would really take the cake though.

  5. It’s definitely a compromise, as the E30 has none of the personality of the 2002, but not all of the performance of the 944. But it probably is a better car than either when it comes to all-around capability.

    • has *none* of the 2002’s personality? now that’s a bit harsh. i’d say it has some 2002 redux to it, at least in terms of élan. you might almost say it was the culmination of small, 2002-esque models and that everything that came after [the e30] was a whole ‘nother car.

  6. A really well sorted 2002 would be my pick. I’ve always wanted a mild hot rod with dual carbs and headers.

    The S2 is a cool period piece for sure but my first Porsche will be a 911 and I think anything less will always feel like a compromise.


    • I’ve always wanted a mild hot rod with dual carbs and headers.

      yes! this is what really gets me going with that car. and an ansa exhaust. and the chance to use a momo prototipo, as i’ve been reminding people.

      The S2 is a cool period piece for sure but my first Porsche will be a 911 and I think anything less will always feel like a compromise.

      so the only way into p-cardom for you is to go whole hog, eh? right on 😉

  7. oh boy, interesting 2 choices. Totally different cars here but like what was said before, both offer their own special points. Ive never been a big fan of the 2002 (this coming from a 510 owner haha) but its a fantastic little car. Id say go with the S2. Always loved the 944, good balance, decent power. I think you would have a lot more fun with the s2 (track days etc..).

  8. 944s2; meets all your requirements, especially #1 and much nicer to drive on road & track.

  9. My vote is for a 240Z. It doesn’t HAVE to be German.

  10. I think you should consider a mid-80s 635CSi (E24) as your combination street/track ride. You might not want to go all the way to an ‘M6’ (M635CSi) because of its added complexity and fragility. I’m not offering you mine, of course, because mine will never leave my ownership while I’m alive! If you can find a well sorted 635 you can have the best of both worlds. The rear seat while limited to two adults is well appointed and spacious compared to the 924S but maybe not so much more practical than the 2002. And, the 2002tii has become a more garden variety cult-car that nearly every BMW Club has at least one or two. And curb appeal? You’ll get way more ‘Oohs and Ahhs’ with the 635 than you’ll get with either of your other prospects. Make your ‘Shark’ rock stock and you’ll enjoy very spirited high speed performance as well as unsurpassed Eye Candy to impress your friends. You’ll outrun every 2002 in the country, too! Go ‘Old School’ with a Cosmosblau Metallic, Black leather interior, 5-speed transmission, really nice alloy rims (Style 5s are great looking on these cars), maybe an Ansa exhaust system (or stainless), and you’ll be set. Your kids will love it! (Don’t let your wife drive it because she’ll want one!) Good Luck!

  11. I have owned both, a “breathed on” 2002, dual webers, header, 5 speed + 4.11 rear end and a 944 with a track ready suspension (coil overs, lowered, corner balanced, bigger rubber, non S2 though) Both are great cars, the porsche being more balanced and funner on the track (high corner speeds). The 944 can and will beat most of the ’90 or earlier 911’s through the corners, as quite a few 911 owners are not really track compliant and are amazed by a under powered 944 closing in their mirrors. The 944 is a great car to improve / work on your driving skill in.
    Going for the S2 model does solve quite a bit of the “power” issue with the earlier 944’s.
    Kids too love the cache of a “porsche” My kids regard it as cool and “special”, especially since they are able to drive it!

    Not a bad choice between the 2, just how much track time are you planning would be the decider for me.

  12. I’d rather have the 02, all things being equal, but they’re not. For 10K you are not going to get a trackable 2002, and definitely not one with round taillights. From what I can tell if you push your budget to $13-15K you’ll find some really nice, sorted 74-76 models, though.

    …but then for $15k you’re into a decent 911 Carrera, and so on…kids’ll fit quite nicely back there…

  13. Well, I bought a 944 S2 with Koni adjustables about 2 months ago, and I love it. I’ve already done one track day, which was a lot of fun. I don’t have any personal experience with a 2002, so can’t make a real comparison. While the 944 is practical by sportscar standards, the back seats are pretty token. How small are your children. My Porsche replaced a Fiat Tipo 16V hot-hatch, which amittedly was lighter and more “chuckable”, but the build quality of the Porsche is just so refreshing after an aging Italian.

    Interesting another commenter saying his first Porsche will be a 911. I looked at 911s. I knew my budget: I could buy the best 944 S2 available, or for the same money, a nasty old bag-of-bolts 911 Targa. It wasn’t a hard choice.

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