Author Archive

Mark Holthoff

Before joining Klipnik, Mark spent eight years at Edmunds.com developing and running their Live Advice and Consumer Reviews programs. His first car was a 1974 Triumph TR6 in Sapphire Blue, which he bought with his life savings of $2000 and kept running with a combination of spare change, duct tape and dumb luck.

Solar Yellow 2001 Lexus IS 300 with 60k Miles

For July 19, 2021, our used car find is this 2001 Lexus IS 300 in rare Solar Yellow factory paint. With just 60k miles on the odometer and looking like new inside and out, it’s got to be one of the nicest first gen IS examples out there. And it’s priced accordingly. It’s offered on Craigslist by a private seller in the Los Angeles area for $18,750.

Here’s what makes this one special.

Ford Flex: Model History and Buyer’s Guide

Mix one part minivan, one part wagon, add a dash of SUV, and what do you get? Probably something like the Ford Flex. It’s the Blue Oval’s recipe for stylish family transportation for folks who want something a little different — and, in many ways, better — than the standard fare.

The public got its first glimpse of the Flex at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, where it was introduced as a concept vehicle. It was a hit, and Ford put the concept into production three years later, as a 2009 model, selling over 300,000 units during its ten year run (2009-2019).

Ford discontinued the Flex in 2019. But that’s good news for used car buyers. The attributes that made it popular when new — its distinctive looks, spacious interior, and overall practicality — make it an even better used car. Thanks to depreciation, you can find a good used Flex for as little as $10,000.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to find and buy the perfect one for you.

Volvo C30: Model History and Buyer’s Guide

The C30 is a different kind of Volvo. It’s small and nimble. It’s entertaining and quick. It’s brash and stylish. In other words, it’s everything that most Volvos are not.

At the same time, it’s very much a Volvo — an upscale, safe, and reliable conveyance that traces its roots to classic models from the Swedish automaker dating back to the 1970s.

Best of all, the C30, produced from 2008 to 2013, is now an affordable used car, with excellent examples available for as little as $10,000.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to find and buy the perfect one for you.

A Few Days in Monterey with the 240D

The day after picking up the 240D, I met up with a few friends, and we spent a long weekend exploring the peninsula’s treasure trove of golf courses. They ranged from Pacific Grove Municipal, known colloquially as “poor man’s Pebble Beach,” which for as little as $34 offers golfers access to a beautiful stretch of seaside holes winding through the dunes, to the actual Pebble Beach Golf Links (pictured above), which is, well, quite a bit pricier.

While the 240D is not a large car by modern standards — at 186 inches long and 71 inches wide, it’s roughly the size of a new Honda Civic — its boxy design and large trunk make for excellent golf course transport. It can easily ferry a foursome plus their bags to and from the course, though with only 62 horsepower on tap, you’ll probably want to leave a few minutes earlier than usual for your tee time. You’re definitely going to notice the additional weight.

Puttering around the Central Coast for a few days gave me some time to get to know the 240D a little better before hitting the highway back to Seattle.

Limited Edition Mazda Protege MP3 5-speed

For July 23, 2021, our used car find is this limited-edition 2001 Mazda Protege MP3 with 99k miles and a 5-speed manual transmission. It’s offered on Craigslist by a private seller in the Seattle area for $4250 or best offer.

Here’s what makes this one special.

2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 with 65k Miles

For July 20, 2021, our used car find is this 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG with just 65k miles. It’s offered on Craigslist by a private seller in the Bay Area for $12,800 or best offer.

Here’s what makes this one special.

Driving the 240D Home to Seattle

The map between Monterey and Seattle presents some pretty compelling options. Of course, a drive up Highway 1 along the coast is tough to beat. It’s got great scenery, charming towns, and entertaining tarmac. It’s also fun to head inland and explore the two-lane blacktop east of the Cascades, perhaps with a jaunt to Crater Lake thrown in for good measure.

But I opted for the boring route: pretty much a straight shot up Interstate 5. Why? Because driving a new-to-you, 40-year-old car can dramatically shift your priorities. The 240D was running well, but it was still too early to be cavalier. Taking I-5 meant having consistently good cell phone service as well as better proximity to towns with repair shops that would know their way around an old Benz. Fortunately, for much of the way, it’s also quite pleasant to drive.

Toyota FJ Cruiser: Model History and Buyer’s Guide

The FJ Cruiser began life purely as a design concept. It’s retro lines — penned by then 25-year-old Jin Won Kim of Toyota’s Calty design studio in Newport Beach — recall many elements of Toyota’s iconic FJ40, the original Land Cruiser.

Even though Kim was born a quarter century after the original FJ rolled off the assembly line, he nailed the look. In fact, it wowed people so much at its 2003 debut at North American International Auto Show in Detroit that Toyota greenlit the FJ Cruiser for production.

Three years later, a new icon was born.