QotW: What car should our Touge California Rallymaster get?

The time has come for your faithful Touge California rallymaster to get a new set of wheels. A shift in family priorities means that my trusty 2003 Honda Odyssey will be returning to kid-hauling duty with the missus, so I’m looking for a daily driver to handle my LA commuting needs. Of course, as a contributor to JNC, owner of a diecast model business, and announcer at JCCS, not just any vehicle will do. Since the JNC community was so helpful in steering Mrs Hsu toward the perfect car for her new life in LA, I’m hoping that your collective wisdom will once again generate a list of suitable candidates. Here are my requirements:
 

  • It must have a back seat that can accommodate two young kids, one of whom still requires a full-sized child safety seat. No flexibility on this point.
  • It must be at least somewhat modern, with reasonable level of crashworthiness in a freeway environment loaded with inattentively driven crossovers.
  • It must pass California registration and smog tests with zero hassle. That pretty much means only fuel injected cars will be considered, and it definitely means that privately imported JDM vehicles are out.
  • If a car was offered for sale in the US with a manual transmission, then ONLY manual versions of that car will be considered.
  • It must be stock. Stock means stock. If you suggest a car with “easily reversible mods,” you need to be prepared to come to my home and easily reverse them yourself. For free.
  • It must have some sort of performance potential. That can mean high-speed touring on the interstate, or it can mean cone-killing prowess at an autocross. Whatever, it just needs to be fun to drive.
  • It must be $5,000 or less.
  • Obviously, it has to be Japanese. I’ve made a couple of ill-advised BMW purchases, and I’m pretty sure that if I do that again my wife will leave me. And if she doesn’t, then Ben Hsu definitely will.

What car should our Touge California Rallymaster get?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC needs to be Kylo Ren’s ride in the next Star Wars?” 

This week’s winner was Jeremy A, who went with the following rationale. If you saw the movie, it would make sense:

Subaru SVX. It reflects his status as being a bit late to the party, unpredictably tempermental, and trying to stand out in the shadows of giants.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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20 Responses to QotW: What car should our Touge California Rallymaster get?

  1. Nigel said:

    Here’s my two cents…Infiniti G35.

  2. Mazluce said:

    Infiniti M45 the 2003-2004 version aka Nissan Gloria. These are rare reliable and are very cool looking. They look like a muscle car, cause they are with that V8 power. No manual, but planting your right foot down will make you forget that. Remember the old saying no replacement for displacement!

    https://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/cto/d/2004-infiniti-m45-low-mileage/6351214927.html

    Jalopink also wrote a article on these: https://jalopnik.com/why-the-infiniti-m45-is-the-next-future-classic-678729583

    Oh since you did mention BMW, Infiniti did there own film for it when it was new:
    https://youtu.be/vkuRMQOTbRw

    Your right foot will thank you 😎

  3. fuel10922 said:

    Lexus IS300….5 speed!

  4. nlpnt said:

    Corolla/Matrix XRS. Pontiac Vibe GT if you’re flexible on the last point (still a 2ZZ under the hood).

  5. BlitzPig said:

    Accord Coupe with manual box.

  6. Marc said:

    1995 Acura Legend
    or 1992 Lexus LX400

  7. Toy_yoda said:

    Lexus, Infinity, Acura… all very nice but difficult to find any with a stick for under$5k. Same for the Subies.

    What about the 04-07 Lancer Ralliart? Cheap, sporty, easily modified later. Most of these came with a 5spd and have about the same amount of interior room as any upscale model. Infinity sound with subwoofer. And you can find them in your price range or less all day long and with the money you will save you can also buy one of those $$ Diono car seats! And if your cool with an auto you could opt for the wagon version.

  8. Dankan said:

    An Acura Legend/Vigor? Or some kind of Lexus GS? Should be able to fit the child seat and have some decent higher-speed cruising potential.

  9. Erik said:

    LS400/430
    Leg End/RL
    Q45
    Millennia

  10. Wing Hay said:

    Nissan 300ZX Z32

  11. Tom Westmacott said:

    There’s a Subaru SVX in that picture? Really, are you sure? I only see rotary 😉

    Actually, I think another Subaru is worth considering this week – the ubiquitous Impreza. The Impreza is common and thus cheap, but it’s actually a pretty strong performance package, being not-heavy, with turbo torque and total traction.

    Something like this seems to meet your criteria: https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sfv/cto/d/subaru-impreza-wrx-20-turbo/6353118578.html

    Back seat, crashworthy, 5-speed, and a real performance car – a continuation of the 90s bubble brilliance.

  12. SaveTheDragons said:

    Subi Forester – versatile and easy for parts.
    Toyota – various – Generation one or two Avalon? I would avoid Lexus because they were big $ cars when new – whilst still the most reliable brand – fixing the luxury stuff will be expensive and annoying on a cheap car.
    Most Toyotas will be front wheel drive and pretty boring but cheap on insurance and can do big mileage – the Avalon facebook group has some owners doing over 1 million miles with no engine rebuild – just routine maintenance.
    I keep my JDM for weekends and drive the legs off my avalon – super super comfy, dont care if it gets smashed, no one will steal it because it’s ugly, cheap parts, cheap insurance, good fuel economy.

    I spent weeks researching what to get. Avalon is the biggest and most reliable car for the cheapest money. Subi is what the Mrs drives and we can go offroad if the need arises – it never does. She feels alot more confident driving the Subi as it’s a box and easy to tell the exterior dimensions.

    Best of luck — but seriously – Subi or a Toyota,,, mainly – Toyota.

  13. Modded toaster said:

    Hmm reminds me of an old saying “cheap and safe is not fast, safe and fast is not cheap and cheap and fast is not safe.” I mean if safety is your concern then a 1995 accord wagon (stick ofcourse) is your best bet. Regular car reviews did a great video. It’s cheap and reliable with some poking above 3k. Speed then the big eye Subaru Impreza wrx. Turbo boxer and I’m sure you can find some in the 4k range. Another choice is driving a sick 90s civic wagovan. The main Mack daddy of EF civics. It has the doors of the sedan and the openess of a hatch. Plus bonus points if you find the 4wd real time. But I’d go with the Accord goon. So long and so spacious.

  14. RX626 said:

    Mazda Mazdaspeed 6
    If you don’t need to be in the best condition, you can get it within $ 5000.

    Mazda Mazdaspeed Protege
    Available within $ 5000.

    Subaru Legacy. Any model.
    I choose this. It’s not as radical as WRX, but it’s a fun sedan.

  15. Rob said:

    Subaru Forester – spacious, practical, mod-able!

  16. Randy said:

    I really have nothing to add to the above, but that never stops me… 🙂

    I’ll climb on the Subie pile.

    AWD; stick shift; easy to mod if/when you feel like it.

    No great stress for finding parts for repairs/maintenance.

    I WAS thinking along the lines of Acura Vigor/early TL or Legend, but as others have said, finding a stick model would be a challenge, probably at just about ANY price.

    ONE possibility I was thinking: Lexus SC300. Again, good luck on the 5-speed thing, and I honestly have zero clue about fitting a child seat in back…

    Something a bit more unusual, though no stick – Mazda 929…

  17. Miguel Sanchez said:

    2000 Subaru RS…….SEDAN!!!!! Boom I Won.

  18. Jeff K said:

    2007-8 Acura TL Type-S, 6 speed (of course). Then FINALLY, Pleeeease! Build a respectable die cast of this Honda reliable “Cool Dad” sedan. Btw, factory lsd.

  19. Scotty G said:

    That’s easy, a 1984 B11 Nissan Sentra 2-door 5-speed sedan. And, I just happen to know who has one for sale..

  20. Chris Green said:

    2004-2008 Acura TSX with 6-speed manual. Hard to find a good one, but they’re out there. About half a dozen are on LA Craigslist right now. It’s a great all-around car, clean styling that’s better-looking than most new cars, comfortable and fun to drive (I had one but with automatic).

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