Let’s play Track, Daily, Burn: Ford Taurus vs Saab 900 vs BMW 735i

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Good morning, and happy Friday, Autopians! We’ve made it through another one. Today, since it was a short week, I figured we’d stop at three cars and use them to play a little game. But first, we need to officially crown our third winner

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To the surprise of absolutely no one, the bottle-green BMW takes it in a landslide. The Infiniti was supposed to be a Toyota Cressida, so it would have been two rear-wheel-drive inline sixes, but some jerk bought the Cressida before I could get around to it. I had to grab what I could find. These things happen. It’s why I can’t work too far ahead; I have to write each post no more than a day or maybe two before. But at least you know you’re getting your shitboxes picked at the peak of freshness.

Anyway, let me explain the rules of today’s game. This should be familiar to most folks who spend time in automotive-centric corners of the internet, but in case it isn’t: this is the car version of that famous party game involving celebrities. In our version, one car will become your new track toy, strictly for use at track days (or autocross/rallycross, or Gambler, or Lemons, or your preferred form of motorsport); one will be your one and only daily driver; one must perish by fire.

No poll today; I figured it would get too confusing with nine different possible choices. Actually, I’m not sure the poll generator will even allow that many. So post your choices in the comments. But remember, this is like math class: to receive full credit, you must show your work.

Oh, and no fair saying “burn them all, because cheap old cars suck and I hate fun.” Just play the dumb game.

Let’s have a quick recap of our contesants.

2001 Ford Taurus

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This boring-ass Ford beat out a boring-ass Chevy, largely due to being cheaper, I think. It has the Duratec V6 and a questionable-condition automatic. It does seem to be in decent condition otherwise, and it would make a comfy commuter, for as long as that tranny holds together. Or you could accelerate the slushbox’s demise in a fun way by using it as a Gambler car. But it’s also the least interesting, and most common, car here, so torching it would be no great loss.

1990 Saab 900S

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This old Saab was brought back from the dead and saved from the crusher by a true enthusiast, and then saved again when the gearbox conked out shortly afterward. This thing has more lives than a cat, it seems. I can only hope it finds enough favor with you lot to be saved from theoretical incineration. I really like this car. It’s tough, good-looking in its own gawky way, and it’s the only manual here.

1992 BMW 735i

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I like this old Beemer, too, but I’m not sure I trust it entirely. I’ve had a bad BMW experience before, but that was with a much newer E46 3 series. These older ones, built when luxury meant quality, not gadgetry, should be better cars. My dad had one of these when he lived in Germany, and it was a really nice car. And it’s likely the fastest, and maybe best-handling, of the three. But I know BMW hate runs deep, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few people condemn this one to a fiery grave.

So… there they are. I know how I would choose. But I’ll keep quiet for now, and let you all have your say. One must hit the track, one must take you to work, and one must go out in a blaze of glory.

Choose wisely.

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65 Responses

  1. I’ll be the contrarian and respond as if real dollars will be spent on these cars.

    Burn the BMW – Easier to burn the car than piles of cash to keep it on the road

    Track the Saab – Something cheap like a Gambler 500. Actually tracking a car also involves burning huge piles of cash

    Daily the Ford – Parts are cheap and everywhere. The Duratec V6 wasn’t a bad motor. Growing up in the Midwest I’ve known plenty of real people that have owned these vanilla cars and they ran without much fuss until rust sent them to the scrapyard.

  2. Paint a target on the Taurus and park it in Dragon car world like a sacrificial bull. Because, slipping automatic Taurus.

    Daily the Saab. Because I want to get to my destination more often than not. I also don’t want to be stomping around for an imagined pedal with my left foot while wondering what to do with my right hand everywhere I go.

    Track the BMW I guess. Ice racing in luxury.

  3. Daily the BMW to get around in the trappings of a King. Sure, it’ll need a lot of maintenance, but the parts exist and it’ll be supremely comfortable on the side of the road. Rally/track the Saab because it’s a lively, challenging car that will really push me to learn how to handle it properly, no fist-full of E-brake or stabs of the Throttle to bring this one around, it’s all in the balance and weight transfer. I wish I could just give the Taurus to my grandma but it’s getting burned down. Sorry, I just couldn’t live with a boring car like that.

  4. Daily the BMW: best car to cruise around in, wait for a tow in, look great parked all winter while I get around to doing something about it.

    Track the Saab: it’s a little smaller and it’s got a stick.

    Burn the Ford: I voted for it over the Chevy, and I can’t remember the last time I actually saw one of these that wasn’t a cop car (or ex-cop car, more likely these days) or that looked nearly this clean, but I’m still bored sick of Ford Tauruses.

  5. Daily the Saab for sure. I mean, I’ve been doing it for months gleefully. It’s not fast – at least not compared to its 300hp SPG stablemate – but it’s good fun nonetheless. If someone wants to track it, lmk, happy to put a turbo motor in it for you – it’s surprisingly little work on a ’90. 😛 Also, to whom do I speak about photography royalties? 😉

    1. Could it be we are in the presence of one of the sellers? I hope you’re not too offended by the term “shitbox.” That looks like a great car, and if I had money/time/bandwidth for something new, I might be tempted to fly down and drive it home.

      1. Yep, my car. Google randomly served up this page on my news feed. Internet double take moment for sure.

        I’m not offended at all. For a daily, it’s about perfect level of shitty I reckon. 😉 I leave it parked in midtown with the windows down and the doors unlocked and nobody bothers it, and I’ve positively flogged it heading up to Tahoe. Don’t tell my wife, but I secretly hope nobody buys it.

  6. I will burn the Ford, race the Saab because it has a manual, and drive the BMW. If the BMW had a manual I would likely race it instead and drive the Saab. I picture the Ford dying in a movie set crash that will require explosions and lots of fire because as science tells us, all cars explode and burst into flames when they crash.

  7. Four years working for a Saab specialist has taught me one thing: burn it.

    Track the BMW just for hilarity, I may never win, but everyone would be talking about it.

    And daily the Taurus bc that’s all it was ever designed to achieve.

  8. Okay so this one is weirdly specific to me, as I currently daily a gen 4 Taurus and own 2 Saabs lol

    First off, the weekend warrior/track car would be: the Saab. While parts are available, usually there’s a delay because you can’t normally find things locally and have to order them. So if you blow it up at the track, trailer home and you have all week to wait for the parts to fix it without any inconvenience. Plus, it is an awesome car to throw around.

    The next two are a toss up for me.

    I am a firm believer in having a cheap and reliable daily driver so the car budget can go into the fun cars. Having said that:

    The BMW is probably going to be expensive to maintain as a daily, which means less money for the racecar. But, I like the styling of these early 90s BMWs quite a bit. If this was a newer one, it’d be easy to say torch it and take the Taurus, but with this one? Eh…

    On the other hand, this Taurus has the wrong engine. The Vulcans have proved much more reliable than the Duratecs have, and coupled that with a questionable trans makes me concerned about this specific Taurus. Though, it’s possible even if you swapped the trans and did the headers, over time you might still make out better than paying to keep the bimmer going.

    Tl;dr:
    If I had a bigger budget, daily the BMW, torch the Taurus.
    In my actual real world budget, torch the BMW, daily the Taurus.

  9. This was east for me since the Taurus was known for having so many issues and Ford made them too too long.
    So Burn & Torch the Taurus
    Track: the Saab. It’s a charmer. Decent on gas. Still a head turner for its “vintage” looks.
    Daily: the BMW. Out if the 3 is the least embarrassing to drive. Still a head turner. It’s a fast ride. Fairly comfortable interior. Good trunk space.

  10. Tough call between the Saab and the Ford for torching. Former has dwindling parts stocks, latter is/was common as dirt and has a crap drivetrain.

    I think I’d burn the Saab after stripping it for parts, track the Ford until the engine/trans explodes, and DD the 7er. E32s are solid cars without too much electronic frippery to fail.

    Interesting that the 7er was initially to have been up against a Cressida; if that had been the last-gen sold in the US with the available manual, it would have been an easy win for the big Toy due to that and the same DOHC I6 as the same-year Supra (I forget what model that motor was), but I doubt more than maybe 10 were sold with the 5-speed.

  11. Keep the Bimmer for the daily driver. The 730i we had in Germany was not all decked out with extras. No A/C, power seats, but it had the sweet running 3 liter 6. The title guaranteed top speed of 222 kilometers per hour. Yup!
    Burn the Taurus. I also owned the only good Taurus, a 1992 SHO with the great Yamaha modified V6, and a 5 speed manual. All others are junk. Torch it or use a stick or two of dynamite!
    The Saab looks good for the track and some stick work which should just make you smile.

  12. Track – Saab
    Daily – BMW
    Burn – Ford

    Saabs had an excellent reputation on the Ralley Circuit and are rugged cars. This one’s had a drivetrain refresh. It also has a severely worn interior. Strip the interior, up in racing seats and harnesses, beef up the suspension, up on a set of mud grips and go for it. It’s even got a white paint job to make your “sponsor” stickers stand out.

    The 7-series Beemers are nice highway cars and should make for an enjoyable daily driver. That is, as long as things don’t start breaking. Parts will be costly.

    Burn the Ford. I really don’t have anything against Tauruses, but this one would be my last choice if these three cars were lined up next to each other on a lot. There’s nothing special about it and this one has a suspect transmission. There are plenty more where this one came from. Spark it up.

  13. Burn the Taurus, think of it as death with not so much dignity. Ain’t no one paying for a new tranny in this thing.
    “Have to daily one”. I have to get to work. Saab wins in potentially being reliable if you stay on top of it.
    Time distance rally the BMW. It’s a nice place to be when not pushed too hard. It’s a 7. If it finds a sneaky way to break that’s just part of the fun. If you get behind because of a missed waypoint, it can move.

  14. I’m not about to set fire to either the Saab or the BMW, so I guess the Taurus is going up in flames by default, even though it is arguably the most practical daily of the bunch. You could keep it going in beater form for years (I’ve known more than one friend who’s done just that with this generation of Taurus) at little cost, but if it means burning one of the other cars? Sorry, but no.

    Of the two remaining cars, the BMW is obviously going to be my DD as being a comfortable and cosseting daily driver is that machine’s entire mission in life. It would be hilarious to use it for motorsport, but only because it would be so deeply out of its element. However, if you can keep it running well and looking good, it would be a fantastic cruiser even 30 years after its build date. It will be expensive to maintain, but I expect parts are at least still available.

    The Saab is the obvious choice for track duty. It’s got a stick shift, a decent suspension design, an engine that should be up for some power mods, and it weighs under 3,000 lbs. The basic elements of a performance car are all there. It’s wrong-wheel-drive, but of the three cars here (and for the price) what more can you really expect? Parts availability will be a problem as things inevitably break, but at least when it breaks I won’t be out my daily driver.

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