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Blasphemy! Alternatives to a PL510...!@#$%^&

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It is with a heavy heart I must admit I most likely wont own another PL510. It was the first car I truly married, from the look to the engineering... I learned everything possible and built my baby from the ground up, It was an experience I would never trade for anything! I had to let her go due to financial issues just before the boom. I was raised in an American 'fix it yourself' family despite the hate of Japanese cars I found myself connecting with the modular designs and methodology. I started with an abused 510 chassis and a beat up L18. I poured my soul into fixing her up and making her my own, from hand wiring the entire car to learning every subtly of the L series engines. After I had her for over 5 years I got my hands on a Subaru LSD and bolted that beast up into my 510 with the tired L18. Holy shit! I have never been a insane risk taker or show off, however that posi showed me what was possible for a lightweight RWD car even with limited power. Now that PL510s in any decent shape are selling upwards of $30k+ I am longing to find something even remotely close to that potential. I understand that everything is more expensive these days with inflation and classic car prices exploding. I am not so attached to classic as easy to repair/mod/upgrade in a small sedan package. I would like to call on this epic collection of mechanic misfits for some thoughts on an alternative vehicles that could be a close approximation.  I don't have any brand specifics, as much as I enjoy commonality of parts and ease of repair. My wish list goes as follows:

1. Small size, Sedan, Coupe, Lightweight...

2. Easy to obtain parts mostly (I don't mind an engine swap to make this happen as I am a fabricator)

3. Limited slip rear end, IRS would be awesome, but I am willing to compromise. Does not have to be stock...

4. Fairly affordable/common ugly duckling.


As much as it breaks my heart, looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts!



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NA/NB Miata

I have 3 NA miatas, a 94 with a V8 swap, a stock 1995 and a 1996 spec miata that I race.


In stock form they are a blast to drive, easy to work and are relatively inexpensive.


My V8 miata is my spring summer fall daily driver.  I did the V8 swap myself and it is super easy.  I have a 89 mustang 5.0 and 5 speed in it.  Stock engine with fuel injection and even driving like a 16 year old I still get 20 mpg.


I never considered these cars until I drove one.  Now I think they are one of the best cars out there.

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Always liked the idea of the Miata when they came out. A true cabriolet sports car with 4 cylinder, 2 door, 2 seat, standard transmission, IRS and are relatively cheap. Unlike the Ford Thunderbird that started out as a 2 door 2 seater the Miata didn't morph into a 7 liter road barge. 

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What genre are you looking for. I did a pan off 68 beetle restoration. Parts are available, just very in quality. Spirited driving? The bug kind of scares me driving the speed limit on curvey roads. No power steering and 4 wheel drum brakes takes some planning and concentration. Looked at your profile and being out west at least you don't have rust issues. Owning a 4x4 720 for the last 33 years has me partial to them but I wouldn't want a second one. Old subarus should be plentiful in your neck of the woods. I always wanted an old wagon or Brat. My wife has a 98 sub wagon an although the car wasn't meant for drivers with testicles it kind of fun on dirt roads.

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         I bought a Miata a little over two years ago,when they were dirt cheap.

They're the perfect car,if you want to run autocross,track days,hill climbs,etc.

The downside is that there's not a lot of room inside,or in the trunk,plus they

all look pretty much the same,and prices are going up on them.

          It seems that all of the interesting older cars GTI,etc,are out of reach now

for most of us.

         On the other hand,I've noticed that Toyota FX16's are still bargains,as well as

the Focus/Contour SVTs.


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Thanks for the responses! From talking with some other car friends I knew Miata was going to come up and I am thinking that is a decent option. I don't know much about them other than small and rwd, do they have a posi option? I don't need room as this will just be my weekend scooting around the town for fun or cruzing the mountains! I love Toyotas and almost considered a starlet but they are very rare. The little FX16 is cool but I just cant make FWD fun.  I loath EVERYTHING VW from the engineering to the feel and the look.  My brother has HLA10 wagon I built for him he doesn't want, but the wagon just isn't sporty and small enough. 

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Yes some have a LSD rear diff, the early cars 90-93 are 1.6L and the diff is weaker.  You can swap in the later stuff, it just bolts in but if the car is stock then you probably wont have a problem.

You should check out this page, https://exomotive.com/exocet/

These use the miata suspension, engine trans etc and are supposed to be awesome to drive.  Then you can add a lift from https://pacomotorsports.com/product/3-lift-kit-combo-a/

They sell a 3" lift that you can add to a stock miata or a exocet and some off road tire for some gambler or rally fun.  I was going to add the 3" lift to my V8 miata and some bigger tires for some winter driving fun but that salt here is brutal.



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What decade Hyundais? Pony? Excel? Rio? 

Ladas can be fixed with a hammer... Dead simple, pretty reliable, no creature comforts..... 

They rust like anything else in salt country.

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Not sure if many people have seen the old British show, Red dwarf but if you have there is a part where the curry addict Lister finds out all the Indian food stores have been destroyed and is inconsolable while the servant Chriton asks if he could learn to love pasta... Thats how I feel with PL510's! 



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I thought about the Lada and just gutting the engine/tranny and swapping in a KA dual cam and tranny but importing and even little parts are still going to be a pain. The 510 you might not be able to get some trim pieces and good condition tail light lenses ect but you can acquire engine gaskets, bushings, bearings, and most parts to keep it running from just about any parts store.

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If you want to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole on Miata upgrades, this guy does a pretty good job of going from cheap upgrades to 500hp VVT turbo builds with lots of technical information, unlike a lot of YouTube content that just shows some dude doing a dyno pull or a bunch of glamour shots of their new wheels.



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Want over priced early 70s Japanese car that is very hard to find even though millions were shipped here ?? 

Go shopping for an early Toyota Celica, Jesus cabbage farting Christ . 

bought my wife one like her first car for her birthday a few years ago .. sticker shock for sure . 
  She bought the first one for $2500. In 1986 with about 50k on speedo ..  At a Tacoma dealership that is now the Dodge on south Tacoma way . 









. 1975_toyota_celica_1636385165086cd6bcfbI






Edited by bananahamuck
wife was being a weirdo about her car
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