Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

I've decided to have a mid life crisis and need a car to go with it.

I've always wanted a convertible so that I can feel the wind in my har - whilst I still have some hair!!

I'm allowed a budget of £7k and my only stipulation is that the car must be an automatic. Given the age of the cars I'm likely to be looking at, I'm guessing a petrol will be a better prospect than a diesel. (The only car that I won't consider, and which comes up on an autotrader search, is a Smart Fourtwo).

I'm just looking for something that I can enjoy driving occasionally - before driving for enjoyment is outlawed as not being green.

All suggestions gratefully received - especially personal recommendations.

Edited by Ian Etherton on 10/05/2021 at 09:56

Mid Life Crisis Car - 72 dudes

First thoughts are Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4.

There were a few Mazda MX-5 automatics sold but imo these don't sit well with the ethos of the MX-5.

If you need something with 4 seats, Audi A3/A4 or BMW 3 series.

A deciding factor should be the availability of an independent specialist garage nearby which will know the cars inside out.

I've owned an SLK350 auto for 7 years as an occasional use car, previously I had a Mazda MX-5 manual. Both great cars in different ways.

Edited by 72 dudes on 10/05/2021 at 10:08

Mid Life Crisis Car - skidpan

There were a few Mazda MX-5 automatics sold but imo these don't sit well with the ethos of the MX-5

The only auto "MX5's" I have seen were imported Eunos models. Most will have rusted away by now.

Mid Life Crisis Car - 72 dudes

There were a few Mazda MX-5 automatics sold but imo these don't sit well with the ethos of the MX-5

The only auto "MX5's" I have seen were imported Eunos models. Most will have rusted away by now.

About 7 on Autotrader Skidpan, it's the Mark 3, 2006 onwards. Not Eunos.

They called it Powershift so probably best avoided anyway

Mid Life Crisis Car - Manatee

There were a few Mazda MX-5 automatics sold but imo these don't sit well with the ethos of the MX-5

The only auto "MX5's" I have seen were imported Eunos models. Most will have rusted away by now.

About 7 on Autotrader Skidpan, it's the Mark 3, 2006 onwards. Not Eunos.

They called it Powershift so probably best avoided anyway

It's actually an Aisin-Warner 6 speed epicyclic with torque converter known as SJ6A-EL as far as I know, made specifically for Mazda and with paddle shift. Nothing to do with the Ford Powershift. .

There are relatively rare but people seem to like them. I have a feeling the same box is still used in the Mk4 MX-5, a friend has an RF version with auto.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Engineer Andy

There were a few Mazda MX-5 automatics sold but imo these don't sit well with the ethos of the MX-5

The only auto "MX5's" I have seen were imported Eunos models. Most will have rusted away by now.

About 7 on Autotrader Skidpan, it's the Mark 3, 2006 onwards. Not Eunos.

They called it Powershift so probably best avoided anyway

It's actually an Aisin-Warner 6 speed epicyclic with torque converter known as SJ6A-EL as far as I know, made specifically for Mazda and with paddle shift. Nothing to do with the Ford Powershift. .

There are relatively rare but people seem to like them. I have a feeling the same box is still used in the Mk4 MX-5, a friend has an RF version with auto.

If that's the same one as in the 3 and CX-3, etc, then its quite nice. Very smooth, an improvement on the performance defecit over previous generations compared to DCTs and manuals, but still not really a 'performance' auto box. I'm surprised they are offering it in the MX-5 and (US/Canada only at the moment) the latest Mazda3 2.5 Turbo (no manual yet).

I'm not complaining though, as I liked it.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Terry W

You probably need to decide first what type of convertible you want:

  • pin sharp handlling wind, in the hair, low slung seating, small - MX5 etc
  • comfortable 4 seater - old Saab, Volvo C70, Merc CLK etc
  • two seater quality - SLK, Audi TT etc
  • "modern" and modest - Mini, Peugeot etc

Fuel is a non-issue if you only do a limited mileage. At that price level condition and history are probably more important than precisely what it is.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Thank you, Good point, which I hadn't really considered.

It will be used for occasional blasts locally on sunny days, but also for linger trip to see friends. With the latter in mind, I guess I need to consider something that can carry a small amount of luggage. From what I've seen, this would suggest a soft top rather than a folding hard top.

I quite like the BMW 1 series, Audi A3 or TT, VW Golf or a Mini. We have a fantastic independent garage in my village and they would take care of it for me.

Edited by Ian Etherton on 10/05/2021 at 10:28

Mid Life Crisis Car - Manatee

Thank you, Good point, which I hadn't really considered.

It will be used for occasional blasts locally on sunny days, but also for linger trip to see friends. With the latter in mind, I guess I need to consider something that can carry a small amount of luggage. From what I've seen, this would suggest a soft top rather than a folding hard top.

I quite like the BMW 1 series, Audi A3 or TT, VW Golf or a Mini. We have a fantastic independent garage in my village and they would take care of it for me.

That's fine of course if it's just the open top you want, but something like an MX-5 is a very different car to drive to a family saloon or hatch. That's not to say you'd like it better of course, the opposite could be true.

The Audi, Golf and Mini are hatchbacks without the roof, front wheel drive, and presumably very similar to drive to the roofed versions. A second hand BMW 1 series (pre the current model) is rear wheel drive so might feel more distinct if like most of us you have been driving front wheel drive hatchbacks for the last 20 years. And you usually sit a bit lower in BMWs.

I haven't driven a TT which at least looks like a sports car - I have been told they drive like the Golf but that's hearsay. There are of course some quick ones, although I don't actually enjoy very fast cars myself.

Mk3 MX-5s can rust. If you look at any, just make sure they aren't completely brown underneath, I've seen even 5 year old ones in that condition, but garaged or rust-protected one do exist. My son has a fairly non-rusty 2010 2.0 PRHT that he paid £4,500 for (it has well over 100,000 miles but runs very sweetly).

I declare an interest as a Mk4 owner. MX-5's don't have big boots but we have done 10 day touring holidays in ours. Just use soft bags.

Edited by Manatee on 10/05/2021 at 16:14

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

I think that's the trouble, I've always driven sensible cars, because I've had to, so this is the first time I have some money to be frivolous with and I'm still looking at soft top family saloons.

I think I need to approach this with a different mind set and decide if I want an out and out sport car, or an open top family saloon. Food for thought.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Manatee

The MX-5 is a definitely a sports car but in the traditional style...not hard core like say an Elise and not as powerful as today's hot hatches. Think MGB, done properly and updated. There aren't really any equivalents to my mind. The Honda S2000 is good but they haven't been made for over well over 10 years and decent ones are hard to find now.

I took My MX-5 for a run yesterday after I had washed a year's dust off it - I definitely wouldn't get the same feeling in a convertible MINI etc.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

I think that's the trouble, I've always driven sensible cars, because I've had to, so this is the first time I have some money to be frivolous with and I'm still looking at soft top family saloons.

I think I need to approach this with a different mind set and decide if I want an out and out sport car, or an open top family saloon. Food for thought.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Thanks

Edited by Ian Etherton on 10/05/2021 at 10:29

Mid Life Crisis Car - sandy56

Mercedes SL

Mazda mx5

Mercedes SLK

BMW Z3 or Z4

Any other convertible eg Audi Volvo Merc BMW Lotus Caterham TVR lots to chose from I do like the 2004 Merc SL 5.0l

Mid Life Crisis Car - elekie&a/c doctor
I run an Mlc car. BMW E 46 cabrio 330 with the silky smooth 6 cylinder engine . A lot of car for not a lot of money . Good clean examples of these are holding their money , as people realise what a load of rubbish the later models are . Avoid any 4 cylinder versions .
Mid Life Crisis Car - Engineer Andy

I've decided to have a mid life crisis and need a car to go with it.

I've always wanted a convertible so that I can feel the wind in my har - whilst I still have some hair!!

I'm allowed a budget of £7k and my only stipulation is that the car must be an automatic. Given the age of the cars I'm likely to be looking at, I'm guessing a petrol will be a better prospect than a diesel. (The only car that I won't consider, and which comes up on an autotrader search, is a Smart Fourtwo).

I'm just looking for something that I can enjoy driving occasionally - before driving for enjoyment is outlawed as not being green.

All suggestions gratefully received - especially personal recommendations.

...or you could always buy a motorbike or spend then money on buying/running a flashy car on track days, which are far safer but still very enjoyable!

Edited by Engineer Andy on 10/05/2021 at 10:57

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

I'm one of those really strange people who has never even sat on a motorbike, let alone ridden one.

Mid Life Crisis Car - nellyjak

Having had one in the past my choice would be a Saab vert...SO comfortable and pretty responsive even in LPT form...loved it, and the top down motoring can be very addictive.!..I'd consider the Volvo C70 too I think.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Andrew-T

... the top down motoring can be very addictive.!.

Perhaps less so in the current run of weather ?

Mid Life Crisis Car - nellyjak

... the top down motoring can be very addictive.!.

Perhaps less so in the current run of weather ?

TBH I never let that be too much of a problem...unless it was hissing down or freezin' ya wotsits off then I loved having the roof down and the heater well up.!!!

Mid Life Crisis Car - SLO76
A few nice private sales about. Ideally find one that’s been owned long term and well maintained. Buy privately and you get to meet the last owner face to face rather than listening to a salesman’s lies plus you’ll get to see the car without any dealer tarting up. Any warranty given on a car at this age will have little real value anyway.

I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202104291999379

I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202104241784477

I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202104291996294


I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202103290749641


I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202104091158510

Edited by SLO76 on 10/05/2021 at 12:24

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Thanks for taking the time SLO. Interesting ideas there.

I found this, which fitted the criteria and caught my eye

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202105092399210

I'm just slightly concerned about huge bills on a Merc and big BMW.

Mid Life Crisis Car - elekie&a/c doctor
The only one of those I’d want on my driveway would be the Mx 5 . Pretty much trouble free but watch for chassis/underside corrosion .
Mid Life Crisis Car - SLO76

Thanks for taking the time SLO. Interesting ideas there.

I found this, which fitted the criteria and caught my eye

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202105092399210

I'm just slightly concerned about huge bills on a Merc and big BMW.

Wouldn’t touch the Mini, especially one with the 1.6 PSA VTi petrol motor. They’ve a habit of eating timing chains.
Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Thanks for the warning, much appreciated.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Andrew-T

Not so long ago most small soft-tops were neither autos nor diesels. Personally I would prefer not to have a diesel exhaust behind an open car - although admittedly the exhaust of the car in front may be more important.

Edited by Andrew-T on 10/05/2021 at 12:47

Mid Life Crisis Car - Metropolis.
East peasy, late model lexus SC430. Edit whoa they went up in price

Edited by Metropolis. on 10/05/2021 at 13:15

Mid Life Crisis Car - ExNHS

I had a Smart Roadster for 12 years as my toy.Great fun. Auto- 6 speed AMT-no problems.

Now going up in price.

Mid Life Crisis Car - barney100

The SLK is a great suggestion. There is lots of info at the Mercedes owners club about what to look out for...seals on the roof been lubricated? check the boot has no water in it...expensive electrics in there. Had 3 Merc convertibles, SLK, CLK, E class (present) Depends on the size of car you want. Enjoyed them all.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Thanks for your ringing endorsement of Mercedes convertibles.

Looking on Autotrader I see I could get a 2012 plate diesel E series convertible or a 2010 plate petrol SLK for the same price. Diesel has higher miles but not bothered about that. Just wondered why the E class depreciates so much?

At the age I'm looking at, just wondering if they would he a money pit? We don't have an independent Merc specialist locally but the local garage is really good with most models.

Edited by Ian Etherton on 11/05/2021 at 12:37

Mid Life Crisis Car - Andrew-T

At the age I'm looking at, just wondering if they would he a money pit? We don't have an independent Merc specialist locally but the local garage is really good with most models.

As cars age, nearly all start to call for more expenditure - if that were not the case there might be some whose prices remained steady. There are other factors: going out of fashion, and owners getting bored and wanting a change - much the same thing I suppose.

At 10 years old, condition and history largely determine the wisdom of buying any vehicle - as is often repeated on here.

Mid Life Crisis Car - 72 dudes

Thanks for your ringing endorsement of Mercedes convertibles.

Looking on Autotrader I see I could get a 2012 plate diesel E series convertible or a 2010 plate petrol SLK for the same price. Diesel has higher miles but not bothered about that. Just wondered why the E class depreciates so much?

At the age I'm looking at, just wondering if they would he a money pit? We don't have an independent Merc specialist locally but the local garage is really good with most models.

I would say with any of the "upmarket" brands, you should have an independent specialist nearby.

Your local garage, as good as they may be, will not have access to the Mercedes Star diagnostic equipment or the knowledge to work on these complex cars.

I have two older Mercs (pampered 2006 SLK350 and workhorse 2007 A180 CDi) and I wouldn't trust servicing and maintenance to a non specialist garage, obviously apart from things like tyres and tracking, maybe exhausts.

The E Class convertible and SLK are two very different machines but both have that Mercedes DNA running through them.

Go and see a few cars on your short list, have some fun driving them, and you'll soon know if you want a sports car or an open top cruiser.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Alby Back
I had a Westfield as my mid-life crisis car. Utterly raw thing that was such fun. Wouldn't want one now though, as the years advance, I find I'm less interested in apexing the bends and cheating the cameras than wafting about and enjoying the view.

If it was me, I'd go for the EClass.
Mid Life Crisis Car - SLO76

Thanks for your ringing endorsement of Mercedes convertibles.

Looking on Autotrader I see I could get a 2012 plate diesel E series convertible or a 2010 plate petrol SLK for the same price. Diesel has higher miles but not bothered about that. Just wondered why the E class depreciates so much?

At the age I'm looking at, just wondering if they would he a money pit? We don't have an independent Merc specialist locally but the local garage is really good with most models.

I’d forget the diesel, it’s more complex and limited mileage use will hamper its reliability. Also don’t take our recommendation of Mercedes as cast in stone, these aren’t anywhere near the quality products the firm used to build. Looked after by a good specialist they can be reliable, the basic running gear is generally good but expect regular expense and be prepared for high parts prices. Even changing a from wheel bearing can be surprisingly expensive.
Mid Life Crisis Car - SLO76
I’ve been thinking about getting a four seat convertible too and my eye is drawn to the Volvo C70 at a much lower price. These are usually well looked after second cars and are generally very robust mechanically while quite decent to drive.

I just found a great car on Auto Trader:

www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202104141360085

Mid Life Crisis Car - nellyjak

Looks a nice example SLO....only the nigh-on £600 VED is disappointing.!..lol

But they have a pretty good rep tbh and certainly one I'd consider if I was wanting that type of motor.

Mid Life Crisis Car - SLO76

Looks a nice example SLO....only the nigh-on £600 VED is disappointing.!..lol

But they have a pretty good rep tbh and certainly one I'd consider if I was wanting that type of motor.

True, tis a bitter pill to swallow but you could always have this one at £340 a year. I just found a great car on Auto Trader: www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202105072330487
Mid Life Crisis Car - badbusdriver

Here you go (from Car and Classic),

C1336489

Or maybe this bargain on Autotrader?,

201807248756389

Edited by badbusdriver on 11/05/2021 at 16:44

Mid Life Crisis Car - nellyjak

Looks a nice example SLO....only the nigh-on £600 VED is disappointing.!..lol

But they have a pretty good rep tbh and certainly one I'd consider if I was wanting that type of motor.

True, tis a bitter pill to swallow but you could always have this one at £340 a year. I just found a great car on Auto Trader: www.autotrader.co.uk/car-details/202105072330487

Yep..that looks nice and cared for too, SLO..and certainly the VED is more attractive.

Mid Life Crisis Car - Stackman II

I went through this process last year with a slightly lower budget,

The problem is that buying at this age different models have different reliability issues which mitigate against particular aspects of the OPs requirements.

Firstly automatic gearboxes at this age need to be torque convertor type so that rules out most VW sourced DSG boxes fitted to various Audis.

This puts you in BMW Mercedes Saab or Volvo models.

The engines for Mercedes at this price are either too slow, the 200k SLK for example, or too thirsty and penalised by extortionate VED rates, 320 CLK comes to mind.

Similar problem with Volvo I'm afraid.

Saabs with the autobox aren't that quick and are also very thirsty. My old 2.0 turbo only managed around 27mpg with a manual box.

The best compromise is a BMW 3 series auto but again you have to avoid the 4 cylinder engines at this age so a nice 325 or 330 fit the bill without incurring high VED rates.

What did I end up with ? I dropped my requirement for the autobox and ended up with a late model Audi A4 convertible. It's very refined and the 2.0 engine has around 200hp and does around 30mpg.

Mid Life Crisis Car - johncyprus

Mercedes CLK.

I’ve had my 2001 320 for seven years and 40,000 miles now and have had Toyota like reliability and very low running costs. Apart from service items the only repairs have been two road springs, the AC compressor and a cam sensor. It’s just been to my local Merc Indy and I’ve had a service and MOT done for a little over £200. It mainly gets used for long journeys and I easily get mid 30s, late teens for short journeys though. I bought Michelin C Climates 35,000 miles ago and they’re still fine.

I understand the pre 2002 models the W208, are more reliable than the later models the W209 though the W208 has a reputation for rust however mine is solid. Avoid the CLK 350.

The difficulty of course, is getting a good one. Well off people paid £40k for them twenty years ago and they do pop up from time to time, originally they may have been a second or third car often left in the garage. Mine for example was a retirement present for the original owner who sadly passed away.

Best car I’ve ever had, before this I used to change cars every couple of years.

Mid Life Crisis Car - lucklesspedestrian

Another vote for the CLK here. Mine's only a lowly 2006 C200 Komperssor with the 1.8 184 bhp supercharged engine but it's been better in every respect to our previous 'fun' car a similar vintage C70 Volvo which was an utter dog of a car (although I am prepared to conceed that I may have simply bought a 'wrong 'un')

Mid Life Crisis Car - Ian Etherton

Interesting replies about the CLK of which there are a large number in my price range. After googling Independent Mercedes Specialists it would appear that I have one quite close by which I need to investigate further. If that's the case, then a CLK becomes a much more viable option.

Mid Life Crisis Car - elekie&a/c doctor
I like the Clk W 208 model . Would have to be the 320 V6 engine. Old fashioned MB qualities, but corrosion is the killer . The cabrio roof is not fully automated, there is a T handle that has to be released before opening. This mechanism can fail after so many years .
Mid Life Crisis Car - edlithgow

How old does a car have to be to have a mid-life crisis?

Assuming average life is about, what, 10 years, it'd be about 5.

I missed it

30 years too late.

 

Value my car