QotW: Take the JNC Challenge, Part 03

Welcome back gang to the third installment to the QotW Challenge. If you need a refresher, we took suggestions on what JNC daily driver would you buy with a budget of $2000. The result was a Civic Shuttle.

Afterwards, we needed to select how it would be used. The majority felt a show and shine car would best fit the Shuttle. Having a roof rack and other small details kept the clean appearance while still maintaining the daily driver theme.

Now, onto the challenge. We have a Honda with a relatively clean appearance and in running condition. Monthly income is tight but you have about $350 a month of spending cash to do as you will (gas, food, bills, etc. are already covered).

You run into two Shuttle fans at the local car club meet that just have to have the shuttle. Both offer a trade on the table.

Option 1: Trade for a 1st gen RX-7 that runs but “uses a little oil”, Manual, 120,000 miles on the clock in a faded yellow. Steering needs an alignment.

Option 2: An Isuzu Impulse 2.0L Turbo, 4-AT with 150,000 on the clock but engine was refreshed at 85k. silver color with much of the interior rotting away. Tires are as bald as Uncle Les.

Option 3: Keep the Shuttle with ideas to auto-x it in a month’s time using the $350.

You have $350 in-pocket so it can be used for diagnosing and/or fixing the options above as well. Choose wisely! Must back up your choice for consideration! The condition that you must daily drive it still applies.

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What car should my fiancée get?


Thanks to you, dear readers, Carrie and Ben have a lot of cars to choose from. The replies leaned heavily towards the Lexus family, from DallasD‘s suggestion of the flagship LS to Christopher Huffine‘s vote for the SC 430. Wagons were a popular choice. Our very own Ryan Senensky made a great argument for the Acura TSX Wagon, but it was Lexus wagons, in the form of dechan‘s nomination of the IS 300 SportCross and the many readers, like Chris Emanuel, making a case for the Lexus CT 200h.

You’ve given them a lot to think about, and I’m sure the final answer will be revealed in due time. However, we had to choose a winner, and the most entertaining answer was bert‘s and his pick of the Mazda 6. If they only imported the wagon…

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the 2014 up Mazda 6! An aggressively elegant (or is that elegantly agressive?) car, the 6 has one numerous awards and hearts for having one of the best interiors in the world, and being fun to drive as a true drivers car, taking Mazda back to their zoom, zoom roots. Since Mazda kicked Ford, they have been free to do their own thing again, which has resulted in the Sky active engines, which may not be the most powerful 4cyl in the world, but are very smooth, gas sipping, but performance oriented. Although you can get one with a 6 speed tranny in the lower trim levels, those cars barely sell, so it almost meets your two pedal clause! But who cares when you’re rolling in a 4 door that looks this good! I remember the first won that rolled through the Mazda dealer I worked at in 2013, stopped everyone in their tracks, no matter what they were doing! And if you are not convinced how cool a 4 door grocery cart can be, look up the SEMA cars from a couple years ago! And with the cars being a few years old by now, it would be easy to find a well equipped 6 with an excellent factory certified warranty for under 20k. And if you still need convincing, consider this, with the vast majority of Mazdas sold in the US still being made in Hiroshima, you would own one of the last true Japanese imports! Something to think about.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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21 Responses to QotW: Take the JNC Challenge, Part 03

  1. robin says:

    Yes im so glad to have run into two Shuttle fans… they can take this shuttle from me and i will pay them, it made me feel ten times older than I should feel and kids started saying words like check this Vtec yo and vtec kicked in yo all the time. This thing has to go.

    I told the guy with the Mazda rx7 I would like to see the car, when viewing I noticed it was an authentic Japanese model and all trim was still on. The motor sounded good but the paint was horrible, i doubt a buff and polish would revive it.

    Swapped reg papers and I was the proud owner of a sa22 rx7. I filled in $25 fuel and off i went to purchase parts to service the 12a motor. This set me back $120.

    Unfortunately I cant get the car onto my name yet as it won’t pass roadworthy due to some rust spots. I will Use the remainder of the money I have and get my friend (he is brilliant) to remove the rust and prep the body for paint.

    This car feels a lot better than the shuttle, now kids are saying “check this cool porsche out” sigh… maybe i was better off with the “vtec yo” remarks.

  2. Ant says:

    I fancy my chances fixing a rotary more than bringing an Impulse back from decrepitude, so that seems like the best option of the three.

  3. Jacob says:

    Coming into this challenge a little late, but I’ll give it a shot even though I’m not too familiar with the vehicles in these choices.

    Lets break this down here for a second …

    Option 1:
    Dorito’s will always be cool; but “uses a little oil” could open up a whole can of worms that will lead to many nights wrenching away at some magical triangle. That doesn’t sound too bad for a project to play with on the weekends, but you have work at 8am the next morning and you still haven’t put it back together even though its already pushing 1am. Now you sleep through your alarm, rush out of the house, you’re driving and notice the rx7 now idles weird and keeps stalling itself at stop-lights, and your day is filled with nothing but frustration because you didn’t have time for coffee or a shower and your car runs worse than before. That doesn’t sound like fun.

    Option 2:
    Isuzu Impulse. You see it and you quickly notice along with the rotting interior, it has no A/C, radio doesn’t work, and it smells like your arm-pits after not showering for 4 days. but it looks and drive solid so thats a plus for the daily commute. That daily commute can be ruined when its 5pm, your stuck in traffic on your way home, Its mid July so its blazing hot and humid (I live in Kentucky), and instead of listening to music, you’re stuck with the sound of honking horns because your windows are down due to the heat. A new radio could potentially help, but chunk of that $350 will go towards more shampoo and body wash from having to shower so much. Now you know why it smelled awful when you first saw it.

    Option 3:
    Next month rolls around and its a Friday. You get off work, drive a few hours with your buddies to the neighboring state to go to the auo-x event. you make it there with no issues besides your buddies miata over-heating because he bought a cheap thermostat, but your civic is great. I mean, you drive it every day to and from work everyday so it has to be solid. Saturday morning comes and you get to spend the day beating on the civic. Its not the fastest out there, but you’re having a blast. The event ends, and now that money you would have spent fixing the rx7 or impulse, you can spend on a few extra beers at dinner with your buddies. You drive home Sunday, and back to work Monday.

    That option sounds pretty good to me, so I think we have a winner.

    Plus I mean, parts are dirt cheap, everyone loves them, and they look so sick lowered on some CCWs or other vintage wheels.

  4. Kevin says:

    The only entertaining offer is Option 3. You just got the Shuttle, why trade it already? Those goons know how good the Civic is. Why else would they offer to trade their tired rides? Keep saving those pennies for that #racecarlife. PLUS, the Shuttle has enough greenhouse space to transport all you friends (Including Uncle Les) to the race track for a day of fun in the sun. Like those young whipper snappers always say, “VTEC, yo!” : /

  5. Does the Civic have comprehensive insurance covering theft?

    • Bob says:

      I can’t speak for everyone everywhere, but locally I don’t know of a single stolen EF generation Civic. It was always EGs/EKs/DC Integras. And they stole/stripped a lot of them. EFs ended up untouched.

  6. speedie says:

    Option 1: Trade for a 1st gen RX-7 that runs but “uses a little oil”, Manual, 120,000 miles on the clock in a faded yellow. Steering needs an alignment.

    Pros: Good club following with lots of DIY advice. Parts are readily available.
    Cons: Mileage is a killer for a rotary engine. If you do not know what an apex seal is then walk away. Rebuilt 12A would cost about $2000. That’s six months of budget! Ouch.
    Verdict: I love them, and it would be the most smiles per mile by far. But the smile will fade along with the engine compression. Too risky for the budget. It’s a pass.

    Option 2: An Isuzu Impulse 2.0L Turbo, 4-AT with 150,000 on the clock but engine was refreshed at 85k. silver color with much of the interior rotting away. Tires are as bald as Uncle Les.

    Pros: Great design. New tires are affordable at $300.
    Cons: Isuzu stopped selling cars in the US in 1992 and pulled out of the market entirely at the end of 2008. Get used to the phrase “You need a what, for a what?” Forget about fixing the interior unless you can afford an industrial 3D printer.
    Verdict: Seriously? I would trade it for the Honda Shuttle if I got it for free.

    Option 3: Keep the Shuttle with ideas to auto-x it in a month’s time using the $350.
    Pros: It’s a product from Honda’s engineering golden age.
    Parts can still be found.
    Fun to do your own DIY on.
    Cons: Its dorky looking.
    Verdict: Easily the winner. As for auto-X, I actually saw one of these at an event about five years ago. Thought it looked pretty funny with all the Subies and old BMW iXs, but the 18 year old driving it had a smile on his face the whole day and then to top it off, he drove it out of the lot and headed home. Oh to be 17 again.

  7. LB1 says:

    Ok,sorry that this is regarding the fiance thread but, why is it that I mentioned the SC430 first but the other guy gets the credit??

  8. ahja says:

    So multiple people at some local gathering are offering to straight up trade for the wagovan? I’m not smitten with either of the choices offered, but that’s just personal preference. I would surely get more offers and potential trades if I were to openly advertise its availability. Option 3: Keep the Shuttle with ideas to auto-x it in a month’s time using the $350.

    But when I show up at the autocross in a months time, the wagon has a “for sale or trade” sign in the window. Maybe somebody who has a wife or kids on the way will trade me an impractical del Sol or Miata or something. …I don’t see a long term future with the Civic van, and ask myself “why did I get this?”

  9. Bob says:

    I’ve fought long and hard to find a shuttle and you’ll be prying it from my cold, dead hands. This is still my only transportation, yes? I don’t know how big of dullards the rest of you are that you have no other hobbies, interests, friends, and apparently never carry anything or travel anywhere. I can’t shove 10 dismantled bicycles into the RX7 or Impulse, I can only carry one other person in either, and I can’t sleep comfortably in either of them. I laugh at them and keep the Civic.

    I don’t even know what model the SA/FB is… it only comes near consideration if it’s a GSL-SE or an SA in a festive color scheme. Sports-only cars come when I can own a second ride, and I’m already eying a rough RA21 in a driveway I pass by, so we’re not even going to waste a thought on these two.

    Have I rust proofed the Wagon yet? That’s like #1 with a bullet here. I’m not going to an autocross to win, I’m there to have a good time, just like Jermaine Stewart. Hell, let’s get a little Bosozoku and put a few bucks into some used police grill speakers so I can blare New Edition at at triggered passerby (or the rest of you who hate this Civic so much… you gotta cool it doooownnn, ooooooooh watch out). The rest goes into freshening up the drivetrain and suspension… are there bushings, balljoints that need to be replaced? Little things. Maybe drop springs, since in dreamland I don’t live in a land of planet-sized potholes and 5 story bridges that you can literally see through as the concrete falls on passing ore freighters…

    • Randy says:

      Your bit about the bridges reminded me of the old Liberty Bridge here in the “Steel Buckle of the Rust Belt.”

      You actually COULD see the river WAY-freakin’-down-there through the holes!

      Thanks for the reminder!

      (BTW, crews were working on it a few months ago, and set the thing – a concrete-and-steel bridge – *ON FIRE!* PennDOT had some concerns if the warpage was bad enough that the bridge could have needed rebuilt! Wanna screw up Pittsburgh? Shut down any 2 bridges.)

    • slammy says:

      Damn it! Now i got that song stuck in my head…

  10. Randy says:

    None of the above…

    “Burn’s a little oil.” Good grief; that could be a few things; none of which is appealing. Stick shift’s probably been beat to hell, too. Parts cost for the alignment? Ball joints, tie rod ends, etc.? Is the alignment issue perhaps due to a curb shot, so now a lower arm? Did they have the issues with the shock towers getting weak over time? That’s a whole different issue, if they’re rusting…

    Haven’t looked at ANYTHING else about the car. Will it pass inspection? If not, what’s it gonna cost to get it through?

    Paint back then was single stage, so the fading – assuming the paint is otherwise in solid shape – could be dealt with at least pretty well over the course of a weekend. Patience, and 1-2 bottles of M7, then polish, then sealant (synth. wax). Small enough to do by hand, without cursing your life. Patience. If the paint’s flaking, it can still be made better, but there is no magic cure in a bottle, so now we could be looking at sanding, etc. The paint is the LEAST important aspect of this little exercise. Oh yeah – how ratty is the vinyl-seated interior?

    Rotting interior and bald tires… Just popped over to Seat Covers Unlimited (.com), and $350 ain’t puttin’ new skins under my butt. What are the door/side panels like? I doubt they’re exactly falling from the heavens… Carpet and headliner are probably available online.

    Tire rack shows the lowest-priced 185/60-14 tires at just under $45/ea., + shipping, so about $215 to-the-door. That leaves $135 for “whatever.”

    I could accept an A/T, since it IS a used car. “Engine was ‘refreshed’ at 85K.” What does that even mean? New oil line for the turbo? New rings? Was the block honed? Any issues with a head gasket/overheating/head issues? BTW, that 85K was 65K ago…

    How’s the paint, BTW? Faded? (Probably clear coated, so different issues if looking ratty.)

    Like a couple of others have said: either one is a cool car, but it’s gotta be able to do the daily driver thing, and carry your stuff… That’s where they fail. Too many unknowns.
    Either one would/could be a fun driver – AT SOME POINT – but RIGHT NOW? Nope; not enough trust there. RIGHT NOW, they are both projects, and $350 is just not enough of a buffer; far better to just put the money aside, in case the Shuttle needs struts, or brakes, or you’re helping your fiancée with her moving. 🙂

    Any time someone comes along and wants to straight-up trade you, the answer is “NO.”

    Now, about this autocrossing thing:
    Why do y’all insist on beating the hell out of the car that has to get your butt to work tomorrow? Go ahead; one drift into a guardrail or a ditch has you taking the bus, skippy, AND you now have the expense of repairing whatever bad happens… Betcha your insurance won’t cover that… Going grocery shopping on a bus… Yeah – that’s a happy picture.

    If you wanna take “it” racing, you’re gonna need a second “it.” Save the $350/month, and put it aside for that toy; whether it be a Show-n-Shine, piece, or a track racer, or that mountain road carver. Something you CAN risk.

    • Jacob says:

      You don’t drift at auto-x events Lol. Hell, you don’t even shift past 2nd gear haha

      • Randy says:

        Obviously I’ve never gone to one… I should look into it more! 🙂 Work “schedule” tends to get in the way of ANY sort of “day out.” I don’t even know if they DO this stuff in the northeast/Midwest…

        I’m just really risk-averse when it comes to things I *MUST* keep functioning.

        • Randy says:

          Just for laughs:


          What could possibly go wrong? 🙂

          (Gotta get away from you tube NOW, otherwise I’m on there ALLLL night long…)

          • Jacob says:

            I’ve only done it once, and that was a few years ago. Too busy with school and work nowadays, but I remember that one time I did participate, it was a blast. I had a EM1 Civic SI at the time. The super small and technical tracks really test your driving abilities, plus since its all low speed it levels the playing field for all cars.

            And that video …. LOL. How do you crash from going in a straight line?!

          • Randy says:

            Go to youtube, and type in corvette crash. Apparently, i’s quite easy to do that… They’re about as bad as Mustangs!

            I like the one where the guy recording from his car calls it about the TWO silver ‘Vettes at the stop light. You can guess…

            There are a couple of segments in the vids at autocrosses with both Mustangs and ‘Vettes, where they put them into curbs, trees, walls… That’s why I figured there was a level of danger to the car.

            I think I only saw one blatantly stupidly-driven J-car; he came around a turn, and slid HARD into a curb, but that was on-road; not auto-x.

            One vid leads to another, and another, so I try to not go there more than 2X/month… “I can give you 18 minutes…” “It’s not THAT late, and this is only 16 minutes…”

            School AND work – I remember those days! What WILL you do with the time when school is past!? Enjoy it now, man!

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