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Mazda RX-8 Or Chrysler New Yorker: Infamous Hot Mess Or Safe Reliable Grandma-Mobile?

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Happy Thursday, everyone! Today we’ve got a couple of cars that I guarantee no one anywhere has ever cross-shopped before… until now. But first let’s check in on our two old diesel tanks that we cross-shopped yesterday:

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Yep, that’s what I think, too.If I were shopping for an old diesel Mercedes, I think I’d favor a 4-speed manual 240D over either of these, but those are getting really hard to find. So an S-Class will have to do. [Editor’s note: I have always had incredible respect for the “SDL” Mercedes Benz. The S-Class Diesel Long wheelbase. It’s everything I could ever want in a luxury car: It’s cheap, comfortable, and reliable. The dream. -DT]

We’ve been showcasing a lot of similar cars, or cars that at least have some tie that binds, but today I wanted to mix it up and feature two cars that have nothing in common except for wheel count, so I found us a really odd couple. (Those of a certain age have some distinctive bouncy theme music going through their heads now, I bet). These two cars are meant for completely different purposes, marketed to completely different demographics, and barely have any business being in the same parking lot, but together they form a sort of personality test: How risk-averse are you?

Given a little over two grand and a need for transportation, would you play it safe or go for broke? Do you take a chance on a beautiful, high-strung, fundamentally flawed sports car icon that could eat away at your soul one massive repair bill at a time, or would you rather have the little-old-lady-only-drove-it-to-church-mobile, even if it bores you to sleep? Is it, in short, better to burn out than to fade away?

1990 Chrysler New Yorker – $2,200

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.3 liter V6, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Duvall, WA

Odometer reading: 136,000 miles

Runs/drives? Current daily driver

Looking at this thirteenth-generation New Yorker, it’s hard to believe it was built in 1990. It wears the style of at least a decade earlier, with its padded landau roof, heavy chrome accents, deeply-tufted seats, and fake woodgrain, all of which were horribly out of fashion by the time Falcon Crest went off the air. Lincoln’s Taurus-based Continental looked like a spaceship by comparison, and even GM’s stodgy Buick Electra looked more modern. But this style still resonated with a certain demographic: One look at this car and you just knew you’d find a stick-on compass on the dash and a bag of Werther’s Originals in the glovebox.

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These days, there’s something quaint and comforting about the Brougham era (basically, the era when automakers offered weirdly opulent cars with vinyl roofs and Landau Bars). for those of us who grew up around these cars; it’s like Thanksgiving dinner in car form, warm and comforting and predictable. And you can’t say there isn’t some appeal to that. It’s still deeply uncool, and the lackluster build quality is starting to show after so many decades, but it sure does look comfy in there.

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This particular New Yorker is the “Mark Cross Edition,” which I think at one time came with matching luggage, or maybe that was just the LeBaron convertible. It does have those lovely cushy leather seats, and they look to be in fine shape. Under the hood is Chrysler’s own 3.3 liter pushrod V6, a nice smooth unassuming engine that does what it’s told while barely being noticed, like a mechanical butler. [Editor’s note: This is Chrysler’s “Minivan motor” that found its way into Chrysler products from 1989 all the way to 2011. The 2011 variant was a 3.8-liter, and it was highly underpowered for the Jeep Wrangler application and tended to burn oil. Good riddance. -DT] . The 4 speed “Ultradrive” transmission wasn’t as accommodating in all of these early-’90s Chrysler vehicles, but at 32 years old and 136,000 miles, it’s safe to assume this one has either been cared for properly or replaced. The fact that the seller is currently driving it daily speaks well of it, too.

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And now for something completely different…

2004 Mazda RX-8 – $2,300

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.3 liter 2 rotor Wankel rotary, 6 speed manual, RWD

Location: Ventura, CA

Odometer reading: 120,000 miles

Runs/drives? Runs fine but won’t pass CA smog

The Wankel engine was everyone’s darling in the 1970s, it seemed. GM was hard at work on developing the company’s own version, including a wild four-rotor that was supposed to power a mid-engine Corvette. AMC’s Pacer was originally slated to have a rotary engine. But only second-tier Japanese automaker Mazda really embraced the technology. In the early ’70s, rotaries were like Frank’s Redhot Sauce to Mazda: they put that shit in everything. Sporty coupes, family station wagons, even the B-series pickup were all available with a Wankel engine for a while.

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After a while, Mazda figured out that a small, high-revving, lowish-torque engine was best suited to sports cars, so the company went back to conventional piston engines for everything else. But Mazda kept on developing the rotary, and created the stuff of legends through three genreations of the RX-7.

That car’s successor, the RX-8, came out with a new version of the famous engine, and brought with it a new slew of problems: leaking apex seals (the blades at the tips of the rotors that perform the same function as piston rings in a conventional engine) leading to loss of compression and therefore power and economy; a weak and finicky ignition system; and fouled catalytic converters, to name a few. These weren’t quality problems experienced by a few cars, like some other well-known “unreliable” cars; they were baked-in to the design. It wasn’t a matter of if these problems would occur, but when.

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This particular RX-8 sounds like it is experiencing all those problems and maybe more. It runs and drives, according to the seller, but a failed smog test and difficulty starting the engine when hot doesn’t bode well. Plus, 120,000 miles is approaching old age for this engine. It may not be long for this world without an overhaul.

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The rest of the car looks alright; the interior is clean and well-kept, and the body is straight. The paint on the plastic nose is more faded than the rest of the car, and the paint elsewhere is scratched up with swirl marks (black cars are impossible to keep looking good), but it’s presentable. There does seem to be a title issue that needs sorting out, and that’s in addition to the smog problems. That sort of paperwork trouble would scare me off, but some people don’t mind plunging into the heart of DMV darkness. And I guess if you’re brave enough to take this car on mechanically, a little title snafu isn’t going to faze you. Remember, this thing’s cheap; $2,300.

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Two very different cars for two very different types of people. A solid, reliable, tidy Felix, or a fun but troublesome Oscar. Which member of our odd couple is right for you?


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100 Responses

  1. In my teens and early 20s when I would have depended on it for transportation, I’d have sighed heavily and resigned myself to the New Yorker. These days I’ve got options for reliable transportation and room in the garage, so the RX-8 project is an easy choice.

    I think that’s going to be how the vote splits for most. The New Yorker is the only viable option for a daily drive, but the RX-8 is there clear winner for a project/fun car.

  2. This cements me as an Old, but Chrysler all the way. I put about a thousand miles on a similar era Dodge Dynasty in 2001 or so on a road trip, and it felt like driving a nap.

    I’ve had multiple 90s-00s VWs and Audis, a 160,000 mile Mini Cooper, and a Cavalier that started with a light switch…but RX-8s scare me to death

  3. I once had a chat with a young guy who was looking to buy his first car. His budget would get him a seriously clapped out boy racer car or a tidy Grandpa car.
    Needless to say he went with the Boy Racer Mobile and it was dead in less than 60 days.

    1. In my case I had a reliable Honda Civic DX. Always wanted a 2 seater convertible so saw an MG at an used car lot. Mentioned to the salesman it would be my DD. He said you don’t want this car for a DD. Not all car salesmen are sleazy.

  4. After watching my parents deal with a New Yorker 20 years ago, I feel pretty confident that the RX-8 will be more reliable going forward. It’s a good thing the NY was a rolling couch, because they spent a lot of time lounging on the side of the highway in that thing.

    1. Please sir put down the bong. I don’t know what happened with your parents NY but an RX8 was a beautiful POS from day 1. And even keeping up with the insane maintenance and proper usage, like let it warm up 10 minutes before driving, you are lucky to get 1 complete trip from a Wankle.

  5. I’ve been looking for a cheap truck to use as an occasional weekend hauler.
    But, truck prices…
    Looking at that Chrysler’s trunk has got me thinking. Sans back seats I think that just might do.
    I’ll go with the New Yorker.

    1. If you get out of the Toyota circlejerk there are actually some solid options from the early-mid 90s. I picked up a 91k mile 94 b4000 4×4, 98% rust free, for $5200 a few months ago. It needed a new battery, shifter cable, filters cleaned, and a leak fixed in the fuel pump. $1k later and it’s perfect and my daily driver. That’s cheaper than the tires it came with.

      You can find Ford rangers with $150k miles and rwd (usually with the 3.0 Vulcan, which is terrible but reliable), for around $4k pretty easily.

  6. Hey guess what?
    I AM CROSS-SHOPPING THESE CARS! No, I’m not joking. I need a shitbox, and I happen to have sources for supply of both.

    And anyone answering RX-8 is fucking high. 120k isn’t “old age” on the Renesis, it’s “add one quart oil per drive and pray.” And I know this, because a friend is an RX8 owner. Bought it new. Has babied that engine like you wouldn’t believe. And at 120k with a religious adherence to no silly revving, low RPMs till warmed up, always the right oil, and mostly highway miles? Yeah. Apex seals are barely holding up.
    120k with an unknown history on engine maintenance? These things routinely need engine rebuilds at 60k; this one’s almost certainly on engine #2 and due for #3 shortly.

    The New Yorker though, ugh. It’s a 3.3. Now don’t get me wrong; the 3.3’s a wonderful motor in terms of reliability. The problem is it achieves this by making zero power in order to keep the stresses low. The transmission’s probably had it’s maintenance schedule followed; service your 41TE correctly, repair any leaks promptly, and they’ll turn to the end of time without complaint. I doubt very much that this has ever had more than routine transmission service.
    And if you haven’t sat in a Mark Cross New Yorker? Go do it. It’s not a car seat; it’s a couch. A very comfortable couch that you just sink into. And the ergonomics are surprisingly great. Everything where you expect, in easy reach, and setup for ‘just relax.’
    But yeah, ‘just relax’ as you attempt to merge onto the highway with more weight and SIGNIFICANTLY less power than the 2.2 Turbo I version of the same. Giving you a 0 to 60 sprint of 10.4 seconds on a good day. This is not a fast car. But it’s at least a safe car. (That is an airbag, yes. Chrysler very much led the way in airbags throughout the 90’s.)

    But in the realm of shitboxes? The New Yorker is that impossibly rare combination of reliable, comfortable, and cheap as shit. It’s a ‘shitbox’ that screams 1980’s, with the most advanced technology of the 1970’s, that will never ask anything more of you than maintenance for another 136,000 miles.

    1. You’re probably right about this RX8 being on its second motor– the 2004’s (first years) had fewer ports and were far more likely to be replaced under warranty. It is probably worth putting in a 2006+ Renesis on it due to the slight engine differences. Even needing a few grand for a new motor, it’s still a great car. I adore mine and the only issue I ever had was the ignition coils– but in Black Halo Racing coils and never had the problem again. I’m at 74,000 miles and still have good compression (I made a rotary compression tester using an arduino and some ebay sensors– super cool diy community for rotaries), and will rebuild the rotary when its time eventually comes.

    2. “Bought it new. Has babied that engine like you wouldn’t believe. And at 120k with a religious adherence to no silly revving, low RPMs till warmed up, always the right oil, and mostly highway miles? Yeah. Apex seals are barely holding up.”

      I’m confused by the “religious adherence to no silly revving” part. Low RPMs until warm is obvious for an engine of any type, but if by no silly revving it means he has never taken it to redline regularly, that is part of the problem. The RENESIS is susceptible (like nearly all rotaries) to build up of carbon deposits. Regular high revving once the engine is warm can help keep the engine carbon free. Maintaining them is crucial, babying them is a recipe for disaster.

      1. But that one guy had problems so they’re all junk no matter what!

        Then you’ve got the UltraFail that has to be cared for and babied and repaired regularly but that’s okay because seats.

      2. Honestly that whole schtick about gently driven irks me. I’ve seen gobs of data showing that running engines hard helps their longevity. Especially on new motors, there is a better mating surface between rings/cylinders if you hammer it early, change the oil, then drive “normally”.
        Dad had an FC RX-7 in the 80s and although it’s not a Renesis, he wasn’t gentle on it and it never gave him issues except for how much fuel it required.

  7. If you actually need it for transportation, the Chrysler will get you there. Boring yes but pretty reliable with that engine and as previously stated, the trans has been replaced so it’s a good unit with good seals in it that were most of the problems with them. As a former dealer tech, I’ve seen them hit 250k with minimal maintenance.

    1. My next door had a New Yorker like this it went for an uneventful 400,000 km with structural rust spelling its final demise. Any easy choice for me, no way I’d touch that questionable Rx8 that California certified as a smoke bomb.

    2. It wasn’t super sporty. By any stretch of the imagination. But they were comfortable, got decent mileage, and ran for a long time.

      Some of them also had a real kick ass Infiniti Soundsystem. Get a cassette adapter, and a holder for your iPhone, and you have a nice road trip sound track.

    3. 250k? Your customers weren’t driving, sir!
      The grand champion is probably still the I think it was ’93 T&C that ended up being killed by electrical. Basically determined I’d have to replace every harness due to jacket degradation. Fix a dead short in the tail light, A/C fuse pops. Fix the short in the pressure switch, radio quits. You know the routine.

      Never did find out what the owner did, but in about 14 years, they had racked up 380,000 miles. On the original block and transmission.
      Most severe repair on the history prior to electrical was a bench overhaul of the 41TE (clutches and solenoid packs,) or the TCM due to leak.

  8. I’ll take the RX-8, and do an engine swap if it too far gone. Question about the title though. I lost my title to 2 cars. I called up the DMV and asked them for replacements and they sent me new ones for $20 each. Doesn’t CA do that? I mean the title is tied to the VIN, if you have the VIN they can find the title, right?

    1. I am with you.

      There is something genuinely wrong with me, but that RX8 excites me. I want that car. I want that car legitimately, mind you, so I’d wait for the titles, etc. While that was happening I’d be trying to figure out an engine swap.

      But holy moly, that RX8 lights my ass on fire. The other car? I already forgot what it was.

  9. As bonkers as it sounds, the New Yorker. You framed the question as “if you only had $2k for transportation” – I’d rather get there in the Chrysler than be let down by the Mazda.
    Besides, I’m all about unique driving experiences, and while you can get a new car that gives you a driving experience reasonably similar to the RX8, there is no car currently on sale that will float you serenely down the road like that New Yorker.

    1. Yeah if he had found a similar priced mgb or triumph or ideally a Jensen Healey screw New York and Yorkers, I want the project sports car. But a non running, non titled, rotary engine yeah screw that.

  10. I look at it this way: they’re both due to shit the bed basically any time. Which would you rather put money into? The Mazda wins by that account.

    The DynaFithYorker is a car to get you around until something breaks, then move on. I’m not doubting a true MOPAR fanatic would love it, but they’d probably rather have the LH version. I know I would. It’s redeeming quality is it isn’t white and gold.

  11. If you don’t have to deal with emissions inspection, get the RX8

    Otherwise, the New Yorker.

    Most states that have emissions testing exempt older cars like the New Yorker, so you’d be safe even in a state that has inspection. OTOH, the RX8 is way too new to qualify for that shit.

  12. I have fond memories of my dad’s RX-8. I have a serious fond spot for all Mazdas, really, right up to my own Mazda3.

    I also have memories of how often the RX-8 was in the shop. Worst car we ever had with regards to reliability. New Yawkah all the way.

  13. I have a strange affection for the New Yorker, the most grandpa car ever made. It’s not like, good, but it is charming and nostalgic in an extremely weird way.

    On the other hand, that RX-8 has more red flags than a Chinese parade.

    1. But most of these get listed at $4-5k and need a new engine. I think there was an article on some “other” automotive website a couple years ago about how reliable these are if cared for properly, and the affordability of a rebuilt engine shipped to your door:
      Some wrenching and $2,200 later you have yourself a fun sports car.

  14. The New Yorker is my choice. Had a friend who bought one and it a great cruiser.

    For the price, it is a great deal and if I could stuff another car in the driveway without my wife noticing….

      1. I already have a DTS and Crosstrek taking up most of the driveway. This might be noticed.

        “What is the blue thing near the shed?”

        “This is not the object you are looking for.”

        “Serious, before I throw something at you, what is that?”

  15. I’m voting RX8 simply based on how they drive. The New Yorker is a surprisingly solid Chrysler product, and comfortable for a highway commuter, but if I’m letting the enthusiast within me decide, it’s going to be the Mazda.

  16. If you take the engine out of the RX-8, you still have a modern and beloved Japanese sports car chassis. There is room for improvement for any interested gearhead.

    The New Yorker is an old lump of American cast iron…rather than having one glaring weak point, it has no strengths.

    1. Are you sure this isn’t reflexive and uncritical hatred of either Chrysler or Brougham era cars? No strengths? That interior looks super nice and the car seems well maintained. The styling is verging on classic and this example, if kept well, will appreciate while the RX8 will not.

      It’s an easy pick for the Chrysler. There’s plenty of other cars you can hoon.

  17. Well, that New Yorker would look dope as shit with some serious 18″ donks . . . Not! Still as is, it looks like a good way to drop 2K on reliable transportation. Ubiquitous enough any small garage can work on it and parts are never going to be an issue.

  18. *checks user name* *begins typing*

    GET THE RX8! Saying the engine is blown is pure speculation. Difficulty starting and failing smog, when taken together hints towards the other common fault on these cars–Ignition coils. These also happen to be very easy to replace and relatively cheap. Even if it is the engine, the car is still an amazing chassis and great transmission that can form the backbone of any number of solid projects, or even just overhauling the engine isn’t that big of a deal (though the rebuild kits are shockingly pricy for a few bits of rubber and small metal seals).

    Versus the old Chrysler pos (and be honest, of the landyachts, the pentastars were the least reliable by a wide margin) its not even close– take the ocho all day.

  19. Holy crap! I voted for the New Yorker, I want to be ashamed, and yet, I’m totally not! Yeah it is what it is, but my god those seats, and a backseat that’s big enough to fit grown men.
    I know I’m old when a comfortable daily driver beats out a hoonable (someday soon, maybe) attractive sports sedan.

  20. 1990 Chrysler New Yorker Landau, in that exact color blue, was my first car (but it was almost 10 years old at the time I inherited it). 16 year-old me driving that grandma-boat to and from highschool with three other friends. It wasn’t fast, the transmission was on its last legs, it leaned HARD on the highway off ramps, and it would overheat if you so much as looked at the Air Conditioner button, but dear god were those seats comfortable. I had the crushed velour, not the leather that this one has, but it was that same blue color.

    Crazy to think a car like that was being built all the way into the early ’90s!

  21. One of my best friends growing up in late 90s was gifted a 91 New Yorker, black with burgundy interior. Had an obscenely low mileage as it had belonged to some elderly folks that didn’t drive anymore and were family friends. Inside looked and smelled like a law office. I’m not big on shitty American cars of that era but all things aside it was a really comfortable car and it drove well. I remember it having these side lights when you turn on the blinker it illuminates the road in the direction where you are turning maybe dar enough to avoid squishing someone at a street light-less intersection.

  22. Never been in an RX8. Love the look, but title and engine issues, who knows what else, nah, I’m good.

    That New Yorker though…

    Rented a ton of these when they were new. Abused of course, but unlike so many other rentals, couldn’t rattle these damned things. Fun drive? No. Handled like a boat after it broke off its trailer. Good looks? Also no. But damn, it was like driving sitting on a cloud. Take a 500 mile drive in one, and it’s comfortable the whole trip. It runs and can probably run for some time to come.

  23. You’re kidding. The Rex8 is a no brainer. An easy fix. And a definite sweet drive- and seemingly no rust.

    This is not shitbox heaven like some here seem to pine for.

    My faith in folk here is being tested….

  24. Best Chrysler minivan motor was a Mitsubishi engine. Those seats are made for high school lovers, don’t rob them of their car.

    RX8 is needing a GM V6 transplant, like the one in my neighbors driveway (minor steering rack modification needed also).

  25. Given these parameters this is a no-brainer. I drove a dynasty for several years. David might not like that V6, and it’s certainly no powerhouse, but the thing just keeps chugging on. I also put 200,000 miles on an ultra drive transmission in a 3.5 liter Intrepid. The key was making sure that you changed the transmission fluid and used the correct Chrysler fluid. Most of the failures could be attributed to people going in and having the quick oil change place put in the wrong fluid.

  26. Nobody seems to understand the real problem with the RX-8 and that is under hood temps. They don’t have weak ignition systems they have coils that get literally cooked to death. The radiator is 2/3 blocked from the factory which makes cooling and moving air through the engine bay a problem. Move the battery to the trunk, put on an AEM intake and everything gets WAY better. On the gen 1 cars get an oil pump adapter to inject 2 stroke oil and on 2nd gen cars run premix and these cars will live a trouble free happy life.

  27. I have thought it would be fun to find a decent RX-8 (body and interior) and swap in a turbo’d NC Miata motor. It should pretty much plug in. It wouldn’t be hugely powerful, but it would be sufficient power for a great chassis.

  28. The Mazda would be fun at least. I’ve owned all the boring snoozemobiles my remaining life can stand. I’ll put that Chrysler’s seats in my living room and fiddle with the RX8 which will at least afford me intermittent giggles.

  29. The pants say RX8, the rest says Start Spreadin’ the News. Now at that price the RX is a prime candidate for a stupid ass LS2 swap, but since I don’t have time to fart in my oatmeal* let alone take that on that ain’t happening.

    *(ED: No idea where he came up with that one. DMP’s been into the bourbon gummies again. )

  30. The Chrysler wins by forfeit. This RX-8 is an absolute dog turd. It is a particularly bad example of a lousy car. Plus, with the title issues, getting full insurance coverage could be challenging. You may not even be able to push it into a lake for the insurance money when it inevitably drives you nuts.

  31. I’m somewhat new to this game, so I might not be playing it with the same mindset as others. I am not a man for whom the word “wrench” is a verb, so I usually scroll right by these articles about cars that need tons of work. But I’ve often wondered, in The Crazy Used Car Market™ what I might do if my car were to be totaled and I had to rush out to find a replacement — and that’s pretty much the situation where I’d consider a car like these. Just reading headlines for the past several months, I’m somewhat surprised to see any running driving cars for under $5k, so that’s somewhat encouraging.

    I like the RX-8 a lot, and I’m not scared off by the emissions issues (my state no longer has an emissions test requirement), but the hot start issues are a big strike against it, and then the title issues are a deal killer. The DMV is a nightmare when everything goes right, so I’d hate to deal with it when there’s a snag in the process.

    I was lukewarm on the New Yorker until I saw the interior. Those seats look VERY comfortable, and it reminds me of the car driven by a girl I dated when I was in high school (predictably, she got it from her grandma). The fact that it runs well enough to be a daily driver is encouraging. While Chryslers of that era weren’t designed to last more than a few years, the fact that this one has made it this long gives me enough encouragement that, with just a bit of car, it can continue to last at least long enough until I can get behind the wheel of something that I really want.

  32. That New Yorker would be like lazily driving a stick of butter across a warm pan, and would likely produce similar smells. Those seats look like you’d sink an easy 6-8 inches into them. I’d worry about falling asleep driving it.

    I’d still take it over the RX-8.

  33. I know the used car market is crazy and all but I wouldn’t drop more than 500-1k on either of these. Maybe it is the permanent malaise of the rust belt but you can find better cars cheaper on FB marketplace all day here.

    That being said if I am so broke that I am picking one of these I would take the Chrysler, sell all my shit, park at a planet fitness and sleep better on those seats than in my own bed.

  34. Easy choice, RX-8 all day. A good condition New Yorker is interesting but FWD Malaise Era American cars do absolutely nothing for me and I have no interest in owning any of them. The RX-8 will need work soon/right now but once it’s fixed it will be tons more fun to drive than the New Yorker could ever dream of being.

  35. I had a ’90 Dodge Dynasty, which was the same platform as that New Yorker, with the 2.5l 4 banger. For what it was, it wasn’t a totally horrible car for someone fresh out of college. Bought it used, it was a fleet car for an insurance company. It ended up getting totaled when I got t-boned by an ’89 Lincoln. Amazingly I walked away without a scratch.

  36. I owned an Rx8 for literally one monthba few years ago. I traded a shitbox $1k sequoia for it and sold it for a little over $4k. My overall impression is that I loved everything about the car except the wankle. Not much power, sucked gas, and I knew it was a ticking time bomb. But the actual car was great. I didn’t realize how handy the rear half doors are until I was putting a car seat in.

    I still voted Rx8, assuming that I would set aside a couple grand for an LS swap. The Chrysler is just so boring. I’m falling asleep looking at the pictures

  37. New Yorker for me. There are a few cars that I have always wanted but will never buy, and the RX-8 is one of them. Based on my morning perusal of Craigslist (filtering only for manual transmission cars), there are always a few with bad apex seals or worse problems. Some look really nice, and they are all temptingly cheap, but even If you rebuild the engine or source a used mill, you still have a car that you can’t trust and that the market is sour on.

    One of the other cars on that “never buy” list is the 986 Boxster, yet I bought one a few months ago because I found one in great shape, with low miles and a good backstory (pampered, one owner car with great service history, IMS/RMS done). It’s an amazing car, and a true joy to drive but within the first 500 miles it slipped a sleeve and the engine was toast. Now I’m into this car at about 18K after putting a used 35K mile engine in it and a new clutch while it was apart, so I can never sell it without taking a big loss. I’d seen countless 1st gen Boxsters with cracked heads, IMS failures, slipped sleeves, etc, on CL over the years but I thought I might be lucky and get a good one. Anyway, learn from my mistakes. There are certain cars with such notorious reputations that they should be avoided regardless of how cheap the point of entry is, and the RX-8 is probably one of them.

    1. I get what you’re saying, but is a 1990 Chrysler that much more reliable? And even if it is, it’s always going to be a 1990 Chrysler stretched K car with seats from a 1981 airport bar.

      I have similar craigslist searches. Some for manual transmission only. Some for 1999- or 1995-and-older only.

  38. I almost voted New Yorker because I have a very weird obsession with taking a K car and turning it into a freak bosozoku/kaido racer kind of thing. But that is better suited to a Reliant or Aries. This one is too nice? I don’t know, but either way, not exactly a good starting point for my stupid idea.

    RX-8 it is then, knowing full well that an engine swap (rotary? LS? K series? who knows?!) is a foregone conclusion. The rest of the car looks solid, so might as well make the most of it.

  39. I see what’s wrong with that RX8 right there, the battery is disconnected. Sure connecting that will set everything right. Seriously tho, I was ok w RX8 until I saw that the title would end up as salvage or rebuilt. That’s more than a “missing” title. I guess I’ll take the New Yorker.

  40. That New Yorker is pretty fuckin’ aesthetic and those seats look COMFY. I love Mazdas for sure, but if I’m in shitbox budget territory, that’s not a wise choice.

  41. I’d only take the Chrysler over a bus ticket.

    Rebuilding a rotary is the easiest rebuild you can ever hope for, and used rotaries are cheap. I’d just buy one, rebuild it in my garage (or pay someone to do it if you can’t be bothered), then swap’em out.

    The hot start problem is a rotary trademark, so I’m not sure that’s a real issue (unlike the inability to pass smog).

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