Minimalist/Low-Tech Cars

Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
Hey guys,

I'm sure I'm not alone in being unhappy with how computerized cars have become, and worried about the potential for hacking/tracking/etc.

My current car is nice and gets good gas mileage, but it's too small for me (2-door hatchback.) I want to upgrade to something more comfortable since I'm quite tall, but I'm not really sure what to look at. I'd like to get something reasonably affordable that is reliable, simple, easy to service, and with the least amount of high-tech features that I can manage. I'm not really much of a car person, preferring not to worry about my car when I don't need to - I see it basically as a tool.

I'm interested in both new and used cars. I quite like the 1980s Mercedes W-series, which has a reputation for being almost indestructible, simple, and well-engineered (and nice-looking too). However, these seem to be quite in demand and aren't easy to get in good shape/with decent milage.

Would love to hear suggestions from car-savvy folks on here.
 

...

Crow
Gold Member
1994 civic with that V-Tech yo!

It's spacious, light, lo-tech, and can be tuned to no end. It's also easy to fix and parts are easily available. Those engines last forever. It's a timeless style!

Throw in a huge wing, manual tranny, and NOS with tinted windows and you can be Dominic Toretto too!
 

The Beast1

Peacock
Gold Member
What's your wrenching background? Are you really comfortable doing work on your own? Do you have the enough tools?

From what you've written, I don't think an old Mercedes is good for you. Yes, they're easy to work on, but you will be working on it for various reasons. Old Mercs are hobby cars and you will have to put up with their "quirks" they're almost 30 odd years old.

You'd be better off with an old Toyota or Honda. Anything 1994 or earlier.
 
Anything old usually works. Old Mercedes are fine too, but you have to go before the mid 1990s - back to the 80s or even 70s. There are plenty of old 1980s Mercedes still driving around with 500.000 miles on it.
 

roberto

Pelican
Gold Member
A 1994 car is frickin ancient in terms of car engineering. Stuff older than that is getting into the realms of 'drive it because you love it'. It won't save you any money. It will cost you more, in gas, purchase cost if tidy and in demand, and repairs. It can also be an appreciating asset, but for a daily driver this is not always the best way to look at it.

Just because a car has electrics doesn't mean it's hard to fix. I remember ten years ago looking at new cars with new fangled stuff like common rail injection and thinking 'fuck that, it's not going to last nearly as long and will be a constant nightmare with electrics'. Fast forward ten years and I have two 2007 trucks. As technology moves on, what was new fangled becomes the norm, pattern parts become available and tips and tricks become known.

I agree that modern cars with GPS and telematics pose a security risk. But this is a fairly recent development, and again only in the high end market. You could pick up a mid 2000s VW estate for £1k which would be reliable and economical, as well as have things like ABS and electric mirrors/windows. No GPS in sight. I'd be more worried about your iPhone.
 
A friend of mine is 2.10 meters and he just bought a Skoda Superb and loves it. The newer ones are a bit computerized, but not as much as BMWs, Audis and Mercs. I'm sure if you get a 2008-2010 you can do most of the work yourself.
 

Meadowlark

Hummingbird
Gold Member
How low tech are you talking about? A 2000s Jeep Wrangler (TJ) is about as basic as you can get. No fly by wire on anything and mine doesn't even have A/C. Avoiding an automatic transmission means one less thing to break down.
 

Leonard D Neubache

Owl
Gold Member
How baked in are the GPS and chip issues in new cars?

The way people are paranoid these days (legitimately or not) you could almost premise a new business on the removal of these "features" if it were possible to do so for a reasonable cost.

In the next few years I'm going to be in the market for an old wb ute as a project car and eventually a daily drive. Start with this:

[img=500x466]https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/9e/17/9c/9e179c526d43ac567e1b22b9c418d452.jpg[/img]

...and eventually end up with something like this:

[img=500x366]https://d3lp4xedbqa8a5.cloudfront.n...tor-media/3010373/hz-holden-ute-009.jpg[/img]

It's a bit of a money sink but it's a piece of Australian history and something you can be just a little bit proud to drive.
 

Jason55

Sparrow
I would suggest 90's Toyotas for being cheap, reliable, and not too complicated. If you want real simple, the cutoff for OBDII electronics was right around 1995. So like a 1994 and before is a simpler OBDI computer, and can even get you exempt from emissions testing, as many testing centers only have the newer plugs to hook up. It kind of depends where you live too, in a snow belts these cars will rust to pieces, where in Florida you could keep one for years.
Even simpler and earlier, I like BMW E30's. Not too bad to work on, and look cool and drive awesome.
 

Easy_C

Peacock
If you don't mind being exposed to the elements, also consider a motorcycle. Should two wheels bother you a lot of them have trike options. They're all generally easier to fix than cars, most don't have any computers in them, and being able to find an off-grid mechanic is relatively easy.

I see old Mercedes a lot and I can think of one person individual who was a hardcore survivalist(not the crazy type, this guy had an amazing military resume and a lot of life experience) that swore by them as being easy to fix.
 

Kona

Crow
Gold Member
My favorite vehicle ever:

70c5bebbc42449a733e1a21908c53836.jpg


Get yourself a 1998 two door Tahoe. They were made as Yukon's too a few years earlier, but this version started in 1995.

In the nine or so years they were made, they had so many different options and lifts and packages and what have you.

Some were made in Mexico, but mi amigos did a good job on those too.

Get one.

Aloha!
 

weambulance

Hummingbird
Gold Member
Gotta find one of these:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_600

As far as I know, they have no electronics at all. Everything is mechanical or hydraulic. Probably a bit rough on the wallet gasoline wise, though.

I like Toyotas and Hondas for maintenance. Get a basic Toyota from before 2010 or so and it won't have anything remotely hackable in it unless you attach the OBD-II port to a wireless/bluetooth adapter like some people do. They also last a long time.

Domestic vehicles are much shittier maintenance-wise in my experience. And they use crappier materials. Not that all Japanese cars are amazing but they're a safer bet than a domestic. I don't know much about Korean vehicles.

You could think about a late 90s Miata that lived in a garage. I see them all the time with less than 50k miles and they're not that expensive ($5000 or less). Parts are cheap and maintenance is not that difficult from what I know, and there is an active market because they're popular track and race cars. Tires and wheels are also cheap because they're small and light. Maybe you need more room, though.

Hopefully in about 10 years car manufacturers will stop fucking the dog on security and software with vehicles, or at least a robust market in securing vehicles will spring up by then. It's insane how insecure modern heavily computerized vehicles are. You know when I want my car to connect to a wireless network? Never.
 

Hell_Is_Like_Newark

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Saturn SLII from the early to later '90s. Plastic body doesn't rust or dent easily. Very simple car (manual windows). I drove one for 13 years (hard city driving) and it held up well with the exception of the motor mounts, which had to be replaced every couple of years.
 

weambulance

Hummingbird
Gold Member
^

I'd take the first one. Maybe put a small turbo on it for fun.

I like my cars to perform; does the suspension even function on a car with the tire like 1.5 millimeters from the fender? Driving something like that around here, I would totally fuck the car in a week. Way too many unavoidable potholes.
 

The Beast1

Peacock
Gold Member
OP still hasn't mentioned his wrenching background and capability.

I just purchased an early eighties Mercedes gasser and spent the better part of three days replacing essential safety items that the jack off of a previous owner failed to do. It's incredible he didn't kill himself driving it.

This is a hobby of mine and something I enjoy very much. Most people don't want to get dirty and oily.

Unless the OP enjoys wrenching which it sounds like he doesn't, buying an old car like this will be nothing more than a deep money pit.

The CIA isn't interested in people like him. Besides, if the CIA wanted to kill you they would put clamps onto your brake lines. Your pedal will still be hard, but your braking power will be heavily diminished or muck with stuff underneath your car.
 
HermeticAlly said:
Hey guys,

I'm sure I'm not alone in being unhappy with how computerized cars have become, and worried about the potential for hacking/tracking/etc.

My current car is nice and gets good gas mileage, but it's too small for me (2-door hatchback.) I want to upgrade to something more comfortable since I'm quite tall, but I'm not really sure what to look at. I'd like to get something reasonably affordable that is reliable, simple, easy to service, and with the least amount of high-tech features that I can manage. I'm not really much of a car person, preferring not to worry about my car when I don't need to - I see it basically as a tool.

I'm interested in both new and used cars. I quite like the 1980s Mercedes W-series, which has a reputation for being almost indestructible, simple, and well-engineered (and nice-looking too). However, these seem to be quite in demand and aren't easy to get in good shape/with decent milage.

Would love to hear suggestions from car-savvy folks on here.

They are all W - something. This is the body number.

eg
W222 the current S class
W213 the current E class
W210 the 96-02 E class
W140 the square 91-99 S class

Sometimes they use S for the wagon but this is a nickname of sorts. All Mercedes are W something.

To answer your question yes many of the older Mercedes are great cars, most still on the road run but are not well maintained. They are "renewable" in the sense that you can basically rebuild them to a standard that they will last many years and miles to come.

Any and all haters don't understand and are operating with really bad assumptions. You will hear people say I had one and it was a pos and it cost me so much money. They bought the wrong car at the wrong price and didn't get it checked out. Then when they need normal maintenance items like rotors and find they are $180 each rotor instead of $25 for some china crap to be put on a plastic little car they don't understand the difference or the reason why certain cars and parts are made better.

That being said the Mercedes are neither minimal nor low tech. The older ones are just a. tanks and b. pre-complicated computers. if you want a true low tech minimal car there is nothing better than 50s or 60s american pickups. An 8 year old could work on them and they are so low tech its funny. Also great vehicles.
 

Hermetic Seal

Pelican
Orthodox
Gold Member
Thanks for the replies guys.

I admit, I don't know much about car maintenance, but I'd be motivated to pay more attention to my car if I liked it. I had a '96 Honda Civic when I was in college and it was a good car with few problems in the 6+ years I drove it. However, I felt it was too small for me because of my height.

Despite the cool factor after reading up I don't think an old luxury car like an 80s Mercedes would be a great match for me.

Kona, I actually really like the 2-door Tahoe and was thinking the other day that one of these could be a good ride. When I was a kid my parents had a late 90s Suburban and I loved that car, it felt really nice, and the Tahoe is basically the same thing in a smaller package. I also like the Ford Bronco from around the same period - any opinions on how these two compare to each other? I can say that I don't like the Wrangler, there are way too many where I live and I don't like soft tops.

Off The Reservation, I absolutely love the look of the 4th and 5th gen Ford pickups from the 60s and early 70s. If I could find one in good condition for a good price, I'd be really tempted.

I live in the metro Atlanta area (so no rust issues), and I'm sick of driving a manual transmission. Not pleasant in bad traffic, though I avoid that for the most part.
 

Kona

Crow
Gold Member
HermeticAlly said:
Kona, I actually really like the 2-door Tahoe and was thinking the other day that one of these could be a good ride. When I was a kid my parents had a late 90s Suburban and I loved that car, it felt really nice, and the Tahoe is basically the same thing in a smaller package. I also like the Ford Bronco from around the same period - any opinions on how these two compare to each other?

I have very strong opinions about fords, ford products, people that like fords, and henry ford himself. Sharing these opinions might get me banned from this forum. Let's just say I'd advise against a ford.

That being said, broncos of those similar years hold their value and most owners maintain them pretty well. If you get the white OJ one, its worth quite a bit.

It looks like atlanta Craigslist got a few: https://atlanta.craigslist.org/search/cta?query=2+door+tahoe

The tan one in Snellville (that's a shitty name for a town) for 6k looks phenomenal. You want the tailgate option, not the barn door style.

This yukon : https://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/cto/6087114565.html has a great interior but that paint and wheels look kind of odd.

Absoluetly in the south, as you probably already know, check the title. Definitely walk away if a previous owner was in Louisiana. Especially with a truck totally painted with a brand new interior like the ggray one. Those trucks were around during major hurricanes, and you don't want anything to do with flood cars. If it smells moldy walk away. Look under the oil cap and at the hoses. Watch out.

Aloha!
 
Top