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On The Road with Johnny B ..What To Drive When You Can't Afford The Best


One of my favorite anti-hero’s is Al Bundy of Married With Children fame said it best. When his wife and constant source of torture Peggy noticed he was about the eat something with a very old expiration date she bellowed. “Al that expiration date is over 10 years old!!” Al replied. “Peg it says BEST if used by May 1989. I don’t want the BEST."

Well maybe Ole Al was just to broke to afford the best as he cruised thru life selling women’s shoes and loving his old Dodge. Truth be told I want the best sometimes but life and empty pockets tend to dictate what I drive. We all drool over these mega cars and dream of owning one.

A superb 1930′s classic Packard would be nice but I would settle for a rustified 1938 Nash that needs a total restore. A new VW Jetta Turbo Diesel Wagon would be my new car choice but a 30 year old “oil burner” 1982 Mercedes 300TD would serve my daily needs in style. That made me wonder what would all the “Al Bundy’s” of the world drive when we don't want the best.

1984 VW GTI..Why fork out over 40k for the newest hot hatches. A Mini-Cooper S or Honda Civic Si can set you back over 30 big ones. The original GTI defined the ”Hot Hatch” term. Powered by a bullet proof 1.8 liter Bosch fuel injected engine the GTI was quick, handled like a slot car and would give you 30mpg. You can still find nice examples for less than $2,000. Just carry an extra timing belt and a welding rod when the strut towers rot out and come crashing thru the hood.

The AMC Eagle. With no shortage of all wheel drive vehicles these days the AMC Eagle was one of the originals. Your local Audi dealer will gladly sell you a A6 Quattro for over 50k. Nice cars but for that price you can fill your garage with 20 AMC Eagles of all years and body types. The Eagle was introduced in 1980 and offered you full time or part time all wheel drive. Filled with everything good and bad about AMC the Eagle 258 six cylinder engine was robust but the plastic valve cover leaked liked the Exxon Valdez. Opt for the Weber Carb Conversion and say bye bye to the horrible Carter feedback carb. Eagles can be bought all week for under $1,500. Just wear a scuba suit when the heater core explodes and floods the interior.

1982-1986 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible. Ok stop laughing. A new Chrysler Sebring ragtop with the fancy schmancy folding hardtop is over 40 grand..Jeez. What people don’t know about these K-Car ragtops is that the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible was the first American produced convertible since the demise of the 1976 Caddy Eldo.In its first year (1982) Chrysler only made 1588 of the LeBaron folding top. Having owned a 1982 LeBaron Marc Cross edition it was a damn good car. Being a nut I figured out how to put rear fender skirts on it and some other classic bits to give it a retro look (again stop laughing.)

Just be aware the 2.6 liter Mitsu motor clicks more than an African trying to tell a story but they tend to run strong. These Iacocca mobiles are still dirt cheap. Values are ahhh well what you want to pay. Just remember you heard it here first. One day a mint 1982 LeBaron Convertible will one day go thru Barrett Jackson for big bucks.

Well Ole Al Bundy would be proud of our partial list. Can you think of any? ..Next up why A Mercedes 300CE-24 in all it's oil leaking electronics exploding glory is a the alter-choice over the Audi S5 Coupe. ”Hey stop laughing again your making Al mad."

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