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. Everyone seems pretty much in agreement, and their opinions match mine.

    So what’s left to say? The Destruction Derby idea for the Taurus qualifies as a Double Win in my book. That means taking it to a track and sends it off to the Great Crusher in the Sky all at once. You might get two or three minutes of laughs as well.

    For going around corners and stuff, the Saab is clearly best. Those big BMWs can do that, but not as well as, say, a 3-series. And they’re really nice cruisers.

  2. Track: Saab. Most tossable, even if underpowered.
    Daily: BMW. If it keeps running, it should be the most comfortable daily.
    Burn: Taurus. There is nothing special about these, even if the transmission was good.

  3. Daily the SAAB, since I love and miss the manual transmission, and seems just odd enough to strike up conversations.
    Track the BMW because you don’t need working turn signals for track. (Does the turn signal for any BMW work anyway?) https://images.app.goo.gl/hH4wu4jmAriXrFvz7
    Torch the Taurus. No redeeming features in that car unless it’s for a high-school kid and you don’t care if it gets banged up.

    1. Took the words out of my mouth. You could make an argument for dailying the beemer and tracking the Saab, I guess, if you’re some sort of weirdo, but it would be a damn shame for either of those to get burnt and a dishwater Taurus with a dodgy transmission is practically asking to be put out of its misery anyway.

  4. Obviously I am going to torch the Taurus. It’s meh and broken; I don’t even feel a little bit bad about flaming that Ford.
    Which leaves an interesting dilemma because on a track I would vast prefer to have to have the Right Wheels Driven, but I would also prefer to do my own shifting. Ultimately the Bimmer seems like it would be better suited for daily duty than the Saab. Also I vastly prefer to have the Right Wheels Driven on the road (I just generally prefer RWD), so I guess I will row row row my own gears on the track, and daily the big BMW.

  5. Daily the BMW because it’s the most comfortable and best looking. Track the Saab because it will kick ass doing winter Rallye with studded snows. Burn the Ford because, you know, nobody wants the bronze. Last place = first to burn.Ta ta Taurus.

  6. Daily – Saab ( was a toss up between track and daily but it would be easier to fix than the BMW which made it a daily)
    Track – BMW ( too big for an actual track car but Gambler or Lemons)
    Burn – Taurus ( this would have been daily if the trans was in better shape)

  7. First, I’ll be that guy and let you know that “Beemer” = BMW motorcycle. “Bimmer” is the car. I learned that lesson when theming our first 24 Hours of Lemons entry, The Porcubimmer, which was the world’s only BMW with the pricks on the *outside.*

    On the topic of Lemons, I have personal experience with racing a Saab 900 and Saab is now literally and figuratively a 4-letter word in my mind. The guy I was racing with was completely incompetent to the point where I literally screamed at him during a race and soured me on racing Saabs forever. The experience net me a J’nik Commenter of the Day award:

    And lastly, I was a Ford tech from 98-01 and there was a point I was replacing Taurus and Windstar transmissions so often I could literally remove one with my eyes closed. So I know how unreliable they are.

    So with that said, race the BMW, daily the Saab, and scrap the Caddy…err Taurus.

    1. Holy crap… I remember that whole story… “L” was a reject from OUR Saab team in 2006. We all felt for you in ’07, but we were also kinda quietly laughing as the shit show unfolded. Man, those were the days. Can’t imagine even fuelling a Lemons car in 2022! 😉

  8. I gave this more thought than should really be necessary, but I came up with the most reasonable answer (I think):

    Track: SAAB 900S. Sure, it’s got no turbo, but it handles really well, has a manual and would probably be the most fun of the three is in this slot (unless you take sadistic pleasure in flogging an old Taurus). FWIW, I was really torn between putting this in the Track or Daily position.

    Daily: BMW 735i. Okay, so you might not ALWAYS get where you need to be in a timely fashion, but it’s going to take you there in comfort and style. This would probably be fun on the track for about one lap, until you get seasick and toss your lunch in the finest Bavarian interior available in the early 90s.

    Burn: Ford Taurus. As mentioned above, this really could’ve gone in any of the three slots. It’s probably a more reliable Daily than the other two, aside from the ailing transmission. It probably wouldn’t be very fun on the track, outside of Slow Car Fast or Rental Car Execution: Track Day Edition, but in the end, when you have the other two choices available, Sophie’s gonna shrug.

  9. Because the F in Friday stands for fun, we’re killing the Ford Taurus.

    Choosing between an old Saab and a lux BMW for either daily or track duty is a real Hobbesian choice: do you want your life to be expensive and difficult or difficult and expensive?

    Let’s assign the Bimmer track duty, since RWD will always be more fun at the limits of grip, and watching a 20-foot-long executive car get flogged around a track never disappoints.

    The Saab is a better daily than the BMW purely by dint of its lack of stigma. Fair or not, BMWs attract aspersions. The Saab? You can show up to a job interview, a date, or your son’s banjo recital in a Saab with the understanding that people will mostly assume that you have congenial road manners, a good grasp of written English, and handiness with a wrench.

  10. I’m entering the Taurus in a figure 8/demo derby event (the 6 cylinder class is always much less crowded than the 4 cylinder), driving the BMW for as long as it lasts, and torching the Saab.

      1. I’m stunned at the level of love for the Saab in here.

        I’m entering the Taurus in a demo derby, so it’s not as if I have any great admiration for it either, I just think it could make me a few bucks before it expires.

    1. I’m with you on the DD (or better yet figure-eight… ever seen the “Train Races” they used to have at Cajon Speedway?) as a track event of choice, but I’d use the BMW for that, since it would be nearly as funny as the end of that Grand Theft Auto movie with Ron Howard. And I’d daily the Saab just long enough to make it to the following week’s DD event.

      The Taurus was always gonna burn. A few gallons of rubber cement poured over it at the starting line, a touch from a Zippo, and thus begins Week 3 of the figure-eight races.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. I’m going to track the Taurus. It isn’t remotely sporty, but it is going to be the easiest to repair and parts are cheap. All shitboxes run on a track will break, so I want one that will be easy to fix. Also, while stock performance is garbage, that could be improved with bolt on performance parts and added lightness (i.e. throw out every non-essential part).

    I would also daily the Taurus (again, because parts and repairs are cheap and relatively easy), but since I can’t pick that twice, I pick the Saab. These things seem to run forever, and the Saab quirks are endearing. Plus, it has a manual. Daily commutes are more fun with a manual.

    I would also pick the Taurus to burn (because while cheap and reliable, it is also bland and hideous). Since I can’t pick that again, I’ll torch the BMW. I never liked the 7 series. If you want a luxury sedan, buy an E or S class Mercedes. If you want a sports sedan, buy a 3 series or 5 series BMW. The 7 series struck me as too much of a compromise. That being said, I like the styling of 80s and 90s BMWs (i.e. BMWs built before Chris Bangle ruined BMW styling), so I would feel bad about torching this car. I’d happily torch most post-Bangle BMWs, though.

  25. Daily the BMW, it has a questionable trans too, but not yet showing signs of iminent demise.

    Lemons the Saab, Definitely think a fighter plane motiff would be in order. And a well endowed blonde should drive it.

    Burn the Ford after stripping it of all parts and selling them. Wonder if it retained it’s cat? Might be worth almost as much for that as the car as a whole.

  26. Saab is the daily. It’s just not quite enough fun to track. Not that I dislike the idea, but I’ve personally had more than enough front wheel drive understeer at the limits for a while.

    Track the BMW. You could save a lot of weight just by removing all the creature comforts, extra seats, door cards, etc. Harder springs will make it easier and more fun to wrestle with, BMW engine upgrades and transplants aren’t too hard to find, and you could transplant a manual if you had to. But it will be very painful to take the best looking 7 series and thrash it mercilessly.

    You could easily swap the above cars and get a much better riding, more comfortable and classy daily driver. I can’t argue against that idea. But rest assured, there’s no saving the Taurus from serving in Hell’s own Uber fleet.

  27. 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.

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