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Discussion Starter #1
Well my Wife and I are looking into used cars again. My “turple” (Nick name for my 98 neon AKA Purple Terd (hence TURPLE)) is doing alright, but I think its about time to start driving something that doesn’t burn oil . . or coolant :)

We got to take a 300m special home for about 3 to 4 hours yesterday, and man what an awesome car. This particular one had very high miles, but was very well maintained as the general manger of the dealership owned it and got the maintenance done for free. The car pulled very hard, actually It was surprising how hard it pulled. In autostick the tires chirped in two gears. I also didn’t realize just how many bells and whistles those things had, everything from a full programmable feature computer, to heated seats. It handled well in the turns, and the display said it was getting an average of 24.5 mpg even while I was beating on it. I also really like the Tire pressure monitor. All leather isn’t a bad touch either.

And you guys might not believe this, but I actually opened my mind and test drove a few cars that didn’t have a Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep or Ford emblem on it :eek: :eek: :eek:

We drove a Mazda 3, a Nissan Altima, a Pontiac G6, and I plan to drive a few more other types of cars. Oh I also drove a Taurus, but it wasn’t for sale, it was actually my Dad’s car (who passed away 2 months ago) I was doing some maintenance on it to make sure it was road worthy a couple weeks ago. I also took a long ride in a Mazdaspeed3

Two comments, One the Altima was much nicer than I anticipated, I see why people could really like those cars. Two, The 300m special takes the cake by a long shot . . . It also doesn’t hurt that it was voted the more reliable US made car in 2002 (which is the model year we are looking at)

Anyways, keep your eyes peeled for me. I live really close to Mad2Smile (murry) who is in central Indiana and am willing to go out up to 300-400 miles. I will also update this is as I test drive other cars, right now the 300m has my vote by a big lead. . . :wub:
 

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Ahh the 300M.
Great cars.
I LOVE my Intrepid (s).

May also want to look into the Intrepid.
Identical to the 300M underneath, just as reliable (WITHOUT the 2.7), and just as awesome of a car, usually for less money!
The simple difference is the dash, the lack of heated leather as an option (but it can be added quite cheaply and easily), and when you compare it to the M Special, the ride height (the Special is lowered) and the ride itself.
Check out LHforums.net (my regular hangout)
Theres a guy with a pretty nice LHS for decent money for sale (also identical to the 300M special/Intrepid underneath, just different styling).
 

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those cars had serious transmission issues, not sure where the most reliable vote came from, although beating a Taurus, Impala, Malibu, or Stratus probably wasn't too hard......

Mazda 3 uses Volvo/Ford C1 platform, excellent handling qualities. If I had the choice I'd go with the 300M though, looks better, is nicer on the inside, and has a bit more power.

If the 300M had been RWD, with a V8 optional (say like a mercedes E class's 4.2L) and a 5 speed auto........It woulda killed the Lincoln LS. I need to stop dreaming.
 

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Talk to Tom (TrueBlue). He's on his second 300M, and it just happens to be a special IIRC. He should be able to give you tips on what to expect and what to look for in a 300M.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
those cars had serious transmission issues, not sure where the most reliable vote came from, although beating a Taurus, Impala, Malibu, or Stratus probably wasn't too hard......

Mazda 3 uses Volvo/Ford C1 platform, excellent handling qualities. If I had the choice I'd go with the 300M though, looks better, is nicer on the inside, and has a bit more power.

If the 300M had been RWD, with a V8 optional (say like a mercedes E class's 4.2L) and a 5 speed auto........It woulda killed the Lincoln LS. I need to stop dreaming.
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From what I understand, the transmission issues came in the 99-00 models, and then again in the 04 models. The "golden year" (deemed by car and driver if memory serves) was 02. I am hoping to get an 02/03 . . .

(car of the year in 99)

I've had 6 Chrysler products and never had a transmission problem. My dad's ram did have an issue, but it was a programing issue and not mechanical . . I also think TrueBlue's transmission in his M has a programming issue as well . . . . I figured it up one time and I have put over 250,000 miles on a variety of Chrysler products. Have I had issues? ya, but no more than other people I know . . So I am hoping my experiences will continue to be good if I end up going down this route . . .

Oh there's also an SVT focus down the road from me as well that I might take for a spin . . .
 

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Out of all the cars you listed, the Mazda 3 is my vote. I own one, and it's extremely reliable, turns like nothing I've ever driven, is pretty damn quick for a NA 4-cylinder with an auto, the transmission is firm, the suspension is nice and taught, and the interior is world class, even if it has some hard materials (what can you expect in a car that costs less than $17k?).

I test drove the Altima before we bought the 3, and I hated it. The build quality was ******, the 2.5L was a slow, loud fart of an engine, the interior styling was bland, and it handled terribly.

My wife used to have an 03' Intrepid and I wasn't a big fan of it. Numerous mechanical issues, even at only 55k miles, and it was dealer serviced for the entire life of it (up until my wife bought it). It was my step-dad's company car, and he babies his cars. The front wheel bearing went out at 55k, and that's when we decided to buy the wifey a new car. Couldn't stand the bearing, the crappy transmission, the sluggish engine, terrible brakes, or turd handling anymore.

JR
 

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Out of all the cars you listed, the Mazda 3 is my vote. I own one, and it's extremely reliable, turns like nothing I've ever driven, is pretty damn quick for a NA 4-cylinder with an auto, the transmission is firm, the suspension is nice and taught, and the interior is world class, even if it has some hard materials (what can you expect in a car that costs less than $17k?).

I test drove the Altima before we bought the 3, and I hated it. The build quality was ******, the 2.5L was a slow, loud fart of an engine, the interior styling was bland, and it handled terribly.

My wife used to have an 03' Intrepid and I wasn't a big fan of it. Numerous mechanical issues, even at only 55k miles, and it was dealer serviced for the entire life of it (up until my wife bought it). It was my step-dad's company car, and he babies his cars. The front wheel bearing went out at 55k, and that's when we decided to buy the wifey a new car. Couldn't stand the bearing, the crappy transmission, the sluggish engine, terrible brakes, or turd handling anymore.

JR
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The Mazda 3 is a great car. The Altima I kind of like, the interior looks awefully similar to Mazda's though, that's on the 08+ anyways. The 4 cylinder on the Altima has reliability issues, which is strange because the V6 is the best on the market.
 

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PM replied. :thumb:

Mazda3 is nice but it's way smaller than an M, and kind of cheap feeling inside, at least the '04 I had for a week's rental did.

Intrepid /= 300M Special. That's like saying a '00 Focus wagon is a '07 MS3. Same plat, wildly different car.

Trans issues were resolved by '02 ('01 in fact). Consumer Reports voted the M Special as the most reliable American sedan in '02, IIRC. Your fuel economy may be optimistic, but only by 1-2 MPG, the 3.89 gears and aggressive trans prog will eat some fuel.

Obviously I'm biased - but - I liked the car so much I bought another when the first died an untimely death. Voting with your wallet shows where most people's true thoughts on a car are!

Look for the 2002 MY. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
PM replied. :thumb:

Mazda3 is nice but it's way smaller than an M, and kind of cheap feeling inside, at least the '04 I had for a week's rental did.

Intrepid /= 300M Special. That's like saying a '00 Focus wagon is a '07 MS3. Same plat, wildly different car.

Trans issues were resolved by '02 ('01 in fact). Consumer Reports voted the M Special as the most reliable American sedan in '02, IIRC. Your fuel economy may be optimistic, but only by 1-2 MPG, the 3.89 gears and aggressive trans prog will eat some fuel.

Obviously I'm biased - but - I liked the car so much I bought another when the first died an untimely death. Voting with your wallet shows where most people's true thoughts on a car are!

Look for the 2002 MY. :smile:
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TrueBlue! thanks for the PM and the tips . . Ive been trying to get my membership at the 300m club approved and setup, but I think the admins are on vacation or something! I figured that would be a great place to get great tip on what to look for and such.

Yeah I would agree that the mazda3 is a decent car, but the one we drove felt like crap, it was used, so maybe it was VERY used, I dunno, even with only 30k miles. I feel like comparing the two is almost apples to oranges. I think both cars were designed with very different purposes in mind.

IE: The M special that I test drove had well over 150k, almost 160k miles on the clock and still felt unbelievable. Pulled super hard and felt very smooth even on the high performance tires the dealer put on.

The other cars with FAR less miles didn't feel nearly as good. Now would I buy the M with 160k miles? NO, not unless they practically gave it to me, but it was a great chance to get to really throw one around. I can say that I haven't driven anything quite so fun since I sold my SRT-4 . . . I also can say I've ever driven a car with so many "features" - Maybe I'm simple, but the onboard computer amazed me haha. Ive always been kinda OCD about tire pressure, so even just having that read out at a glance amazed me, let alone the gazillion other things it can do

Anyways, We are definitely ready to move up to something with more room, and more comfort, but me being the person I am, I just cant sacrifice performance to have a boat, and I feel the M special is a great mix/compromise. I am still open to other options, and will be researching and driving other cars in the coming days and weeks, but It might be hard to convince my wife of something other than the 300 now :ph34r: (what have I done?)

Oh and +1 on the Altima, the interior was not great at all, as a matter of fact, the one we drove we even missing a small piece!
 

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PM replied. :thumb:

Intrepid /= 300M Special. That's like saying a '00 Focus wagon is a '07 MS3. Same plat, wildly different car.

Trans issues were resolved by '02 ('01 in fact). Consumer Reports voted the M Special as the most reliable American sedan in '02, IIRC. Your fuel economy may be optimistic, but only by 1-2 MPG, the 3.89 gears and aggressive trans prog will eat some fuel.

Obviously I'm biased - but - I liked the car so much I bought another when the first died an untimely death. Voting with your wallet shows where most people's true thoughts on a car are!

Look for the 2002 MY. :smile:
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Well, obviously I'm biased toward the Intrepid here, but the only difference between the cars is in the handling and the interior.

And unless you buy a 300M Special, then the handling isn't any different at all.
Plus, when you can throw a Special rear swaybar on an Intrepid for $35 (literally, and its like a 1/2 hour job) and make it handle nearly the same without the ****** ride (I know, my friend Bobby [SilverSpecial on MClub and LHForums] owns a 2002 Special, and I'm sorry, but in my opinion the handling upgrade isn't worth it for the ****** ride you get from it), then theres really no point in spending a bunch of extra money for a Special unless you want the styling difference, which I'll admit, is nice, but I prefer the Intrepid myself. Obviously, not everyone agrees and thats fine, because the M Special is still a damn good looking car, better than most everything else on the road.

The seats in the 300M are nicer, but I actually don't like the 300M special seats or the 300M dash.
I rode all the way to Carlisle, PA for 6 hours in them, and they aren't as comfortable as my regular 300M seats I have in my Intrepid ES.

At any rate, ANY of the LH cars is a nice buy, and not that much different then any other (only in styling!).
I've driven every model extensively, and I can honestly tell you that theres really no difference.

Also, the 2nd generation Intrepids didn't have huge transmission problems and neither did the 300Ms.
It was the EARLIER Intrepids (1993-1996) that had transmission problems, and they were utterly cleared up by the second generation. Obviously, there were cars out there that had transmissions go, but every model car has had some that needed a transmission, even *GASP* Tauruses, HONDAS, and *DOUBLE GASP* TOYOTAS! As a fellow Mopar fan, you have to know what its like to deal with this consistent criticism about transmissions from non-Mopar people. Its simply unfounded on the 2nd generation LH vehicles. If the transmission maintenance was completed properly (fluid changes every 50k miles), then there were NO issues.
And anyone who doesn't agree, tell that to my 2001 Intrepid SE with 108k miles that had simple fluid changes every 50k and has a PERFECT shifting transmission, just like it rolled off the assembly line.
The thing that was a problem was the 2.7L engine, which liked to sludge up. (which my SE has)

As for year to buy, of the 300M Special 2002 is indeed the best year.
They didn't make the Special in 2001, and there was some major decontenting that began in 03. Well, it actually began in 02, but it got worse in 03.
In terms of electronics and non-decontenting in the LH, 2001 is probably the best, because the car was available with the new wiring which allowed for the steering wheel audio controls, best overhead console, etc, as well as the least "little" things that were removed.

However, any year of LH will make you smile, I guarantee that.

Also, check out LHForums.net for LH info.
Its a lot like this place, but for the LH vehicles, a little less "formal" than the 300M club!
We include the 300M in our ranks as well, and theres several very active members who own them.
Plus, anything you want to know about the LH vehicles can be answered by the guys on LHF, our Intrepids are exactly the same car.

My Intrepids:
2002 Intrepid ES sitting on Magnum SRT8 20s I've owned since I was 16 and put a lot of work into:


2001 Intrepid SE, paid $300 for it in August 08. Needs a new engine. My winter beater summer of 09 project:
 

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the only difference between the cars is in the handling and the interior.
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No, not quite. There's quite a bit more than the handling and interior - even with a loaded Intrepid. Think late 2G SE Taurus and a late 2G SHO.

Don't take my word for it though. Drive an Intrepid and a Special back-to-back to compare for yourself.
 

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I have.
On many an occasion actually.

I've got nothing against the 300M Special, Tom.
And if you want to disagree with me, thats fine, I'm a man, I can handle it.
But in my opinion, the 300M Special is not a radically different car from the rest of the LHs.
The difference is in the factory duals, different seats, different suspension, and differently (firmer) shifting transmission, as well as the styling.
None of which make THAT large of a difference except to make the ride a lot worse than a regular M or Intrepid and to make it handle better.
Maybe it is a little bit faster, but its nothing radical versus a regular M or Intrepid R/T / SXT with the 3.5HO.

R3ydium:
Look, if you like the 300M Special, go ahead and buy one.
I think they are awesome cars, and I've got nothing against them at all.
You'll be happy with any LH you buy.
 

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The difference is in the factory duals, different seats, different suspension, and differently (firmer) shifting transmission, as well as the styling.
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Don't forget the revised engine output, 3.89 gearset, HID lighting, TPMS, factory 18's on the '02s, coolers, turnsignal lights, sound system, etc., etc.

Just saying "the only differences between the two are interior and suspension" is a pretty broad brush. That's like saying the only difference between a Taurus GL and an SHO is some body bits and the engine/tranny stuff. Yeah, it's true, but it's pretty general. That's like 2/3s of the car :lol:

So, w/e, they're the same car then.
 

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Call me a young whippersnapper, but I prefer a firmer "sh!tty" ride and handling capabilities over a cloud with wheels. Back problems run in my family, so I might as well start early. B)
 

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I'd say the differences between the two are Ford Taurus/Lincoln Continental.

Same platform, different approaches to what to do with it. The Continental may have had the same 3.8L in the early 90's as what you could get in the Taurus, but that didn't mean it would handle or act the same.

I did pull up some stats for the 300M and R/T Intrepid, taken from Motor Trend (they didn't have 300M Special stats) and for the heck of it I added in 2 competitors, the Aurora V8 and Bonneville SSEi.

1999 300M
  1. Curb Weight: 3567 lbs
  2. 0-60: 7.7 seconds
  3. 1/4M: 15.9 @ 89.2 mph
  4. Skidpad: .80 G's
  5. 600ft Slalom: 65.9 mph
  6. 60-0 braking: 128 ft
2001 Intrepid R/T
  1. Curb Weight: 3511 lbs
  2. 0-60: 7.7 seconds
  3. 1/4M: 15.9 @ 89.2 mph
  4. Skidpad: .85 G's
  5. 600ft Slalom: 65.0 mph
  6. 60-0 braking: 128 ft
2001 Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 V8
  1. Curb Weight: 3808 lbs
  2. 0-60: 7.5 seconds
  3. 1/4M: 15.7 @ 89.4 mph
  4. Skidpad: .84 G's
  5. 600ft Slalom: 62.2 mph
  6. 60-0 braking: 123 ft
2000 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi
  1. Curb Weight: 3691 lbs
  2. 0-60: 7.5 seconds
  3. 1/4M: 15.8 @ 89.6 mph
  4. Skidpad: .79 G's
  5. 600ft Slalom: 61.2 mph
  6. 60-0 braking: 131 ft
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow, Tom, I think we started something :)

I like both cars, and I think both cars are a good statement towards what Chrysler products can be like. The 300m is still a pretty classic and cool car even today 10 years later . .

I will be honest and say I have never driven an Intrepid, but I have driven a "plain" 300m, and I can say the difference between the special and the "plain" were noticeable, but the great thing is that they are subtle at the same time.

I think sneke_eyez is right that I will be happy in most any LH car, as I've seen the reliability in a family member's 300, and have a friend at work that swears by his Intrepid. I guess I bleed pentastar. . It's a problem I have :salute:


Don't forget the revised engine output, 3.89 gearset, HID lighting, TPMS, factory 18's on the '02s, coolers, turnsignal lights, sound system, etc., etc.

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Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think I know what your talking about when you say "coolers" ?

Oh and I was also impressed with the "premium sound", not to shabby at all.

1999 300M
  1. Curb Weight: 3567 lbs
  2. 0-60: 7.7 seconds
  3. 1/4M: 15.9 @ 89.2 mph
  4. Skidpad: .80 G's
  5. 600ft Slalom: 65.9 mph
  6. 60-0 braking: 128 ft
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Here is a link to a motor trend article . . . the special pulls to 60 nearly 4/10 of a second faster then "regular M's" bringing it down to 7.3, and I think car and driver squeezed it down to 7.1 on one of its test runs . .

Not that it REALLY matters, humans can barely feel .4 seconds

Not that I'm trying to argue for or against, but I figured I would add to the information

Also this article put's the 1/4 mile time at 15.5 @ 91mph and 0-60 in 7.2

Again, not that it really matters . . . .
 

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Here is a link to a motor trend article . . . the special pulls to 60 nearly 4/10 of a second faster then "regular M's" bringing it down to 7.3, and I think car and driver squeezed it down to 7.1 on one of its test runs . .

Not that it REALLY matters, humans can barely feel .4 seconds

Not that I'm trying to argue for or against, but I figured I would add to the information

Also this article put's the 1/4 mile time at 15.5 @ 91mph and 0-60 in 7.2

Again, not that it really matters . . . .
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I don't find MT completely precise all the time, but I figured I'd use the same source for all of them because they should be accurate in relation to each other.

I believe I read somewhere that the 300M special was supposed to have a 3.5L DOHC V6 with 300 horses, that would have been something impressive seeing as how today a brand new Maxima still doesn't have 300 horses.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I don't find MT completely precise all the time, but I figured I'd use the same source for all of them because they should be accurate in relation to each other.

I believe I read somewhere that the 300M special was supposed to have a 3.5L DOHC V6 with 300 horses, that would have been something impressive seeing as how today a brand new Maxima still doesn't have 300 horses.
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Yup, you are right. I remember when My step dad brought home a magazine article on it (He had only been with Chrysler for a few years at the point) - He's always been a big fan of the 300's and was ewwwing and awwwing over the articles . .


Actually I was able to dig up a few of those old school articles

here

and

here

Should would have been awesome.
 

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<div class='quotemain'>


I don't find MT completely precise all the time, but I figured I'd use the same source for all of them because they should be accurate in relation to each other.

I believe I read somewhere that the 300M special was supposed to have a 3.5L DOHC V6 with 300 horses, that would have been something impressive seeing as how today a brand new Maxima still doesn't have 300 horses.
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Yup, you are right. I remember when My step dad brought home a magazine article on it (He had only been with Chrysler for a few years at the point) - He's always been a big fan of the 300's and was ewwwing and awwwing over the articles . .


Actually I was able to dig up a few of those old school articles

here

and

here

Should would have been awesome.
[/b][/quote]

300M was one of my favorite cars when it came out. I don't understand why they didn't make it RWD, I mean the motor is setup longitudinally, and 300 horses to the front wheels is a bit much. Do it with the intrepid too, and try and fit a 4.7L V8 from the dakota or something under the hood and they would have made a very interesting vehicle, even if it was only 240 or so horses.
 
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