Archive for the ‘My Car Reviews’ Category

Test Drive: 1996 Infiniti G20 (P10)

On February 18, 2012, I test drove a 1996 Infiniti G20 at The Import Connection in Yucaipa, California. The car has a black exterior with a tan cloth interior. It has over 219,000 miles with an asking price of $2,998. The Infiniti G20 has a SR20DE engine; a 2.0 liter DOHC inline 4 that produces 140 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm. The transmission is a 5 speed manual with front wheel drive. The P10 chassis Infiniti G20 is known as the Nissan Primera in Japan and other parts of the world. Infiniti first released the G20 as a 1991 model just one year after the birth of the brand and its base price was close to $21,500. In 1990, Infiniti only had the M30 coupe and Q45 sedan. Most G20s I have seen had 4 speed automatics and leather seats. This model that I drove didn’t have either one. When the car was first released, Nissan bragged in their advertisements that it was the first car to have a multi-link front suspension with front wheel drive combined calling it “One of the best handling cars in the world.” In 1994, the G20 underwent some minor changes such as dual front airbags, a new grille, color-matching bumper and side moldings, clearer taillights, and chrome exterior door handles. Also introduced for the 1994 model year was the G20t for “Touring Package.” The only thing noticeable between a standard G20 and G20t is the Touring Edition has a rear spoiler. Production of the P10 G20 ended in 1996 and in 1999, the P11 chassis G20 was released. Globally, it was still known as the Nissan Primera. Production of the P11 G20 ended in 2002 because of the release of the Infiniti G35 (Skyline V35 in Japan). The Infiniti G20s are rare cars and many of the older ones aren’t worth a lot of money. I have seen many of them priced under $1,500 on the internet that are in good condition and I can likely find one that needs work for under $1,000.
I was originally going to look at a 1995 Infiniti G20 that day, but I stumbled across this listing on and I thought this would be a better car to drive. The ad said it was a G20t, but it wasn’t because the car had cloth seats and no rear spoiler. It was a new listing and it didn’t say what the mileage was, so I called The Import Connection to find out. After talking to the dealer by phone I drove to the lot to have a look. The G20 was sitting at the front of the dealer’s driveway. I’ve been to The Import Connection a few months before to test drive a 1996 Lexus LS400 and the salespeople were friendly and not pushy. If they are good with making fair deals then I would highly recommend them. When I arrived they gladly gave me the key and scanned my driver’s license. The car was in fair condition with some noticeable scrapes on the sides and on top of the front bumper. There were some dents on the body too, but this car has over 200,000 miles on it so it’s to be expected. The interior was slightly dirty and the upholstery did have some stains. The fabric behind the seat pouch was badly torn to the point where you can see some wood inside the front seats. When I got in the car I thought I found the hood release lever, but I was wrong. It was a plastic piece I pulled off and behind it were some wires. The lever was located under that piece. The engine was a 16 valve four cylinder and as with most engine compartments it was filthy. I then looked in the trunk where I found the driver’s floor mat. It was 14.2 cubic feet in size which is pretty big for a car its size. After having a complete look around the car I put the key in the ignition and set it to accessories. A high pitched twinkle chime came on for the seat belts. All of the windows worked, but I couldn’t roll the front passenger window up from the driver’s switch, so I had to reach over to roll it up. It had an aftermarket radio but it had no faceplate so I couldn’t use it. The A/C worked, but it wouldn’t work in the first three settings so if I needed it I’d have no choice but to use it in the fourth setting (full blast). The A/C system might need recharging, but I doubt it’s worth the cost to fix it completely. When I started the car I thought it wasn’t going to start, but it just took a few seconds for it to start. Now let’s get to the test drive.
It didn’t take too much time to get used to the clutch. At first I had to give the car extra gas and then I knew how to drive it. I turned right onto Outer Highway 10 and then made another right just down the road into a residential neighborhood. The car felt quick for a four cylinder and I was able to hit 40 mph in 2nd gear. The car had very quick braking power and sharp handling. It definitely felt like a compact sports car. I have once driven a 2009 Toyota Yaris with a five speed and it wasn’t as fun to drive compared to this. The needle for the gas gauge was at pointing at the “E”, but no low fuel light came on and I wasn’t too worried because of the car’s small motor. For having such high mileage the SR20DE was very powerful. When I drove back towards the main road I stopped at a three-way intersection and peeled back onto Outer Highway 10. I then continued to drive on some curvy roads through some hills closer to Yucaipa Blvd. The G20 is smaller than my Acura RL so the roads were easier to handle. It’s considered to be a compact car, but I’d say it’s between compact and mid-sized. When I made a right turn back on a city street I peeled out again. Sometimes it seemed like the engine wanted to work at higher rpms or it could be the way I’m driving it. Either way I loved driving this car. After the right turn I drove back to the dealership.
When I returned to the lot I told one salesman that I couldn’t take the key out of the ignition. He showed me a button near where the key went that had to be pushed in order to get the key out. I’ve never seen something like that before. I asked him if they had the faceplate for the radio and he said it should be in the office. The reason would be because some kids would test drive cars and steal their radios’ face plates. However I ended up finding it in the glove box. Also in there I found a business card from Cerritos Infiniti, and I assumed that was where the car was sold when it was brand new. There was weather stripping along the doorway on the front passenger side that was dangling down, but some super glue could easily fix that. I went inside to talk to another salesman and I asked about the price. I told him that the suggested retail value on Kelley Blue Book was around $2,400. He said that they price their vehicles based on what they paid for them at the auctions. $2,998 was too much for this car but I didn’t say anything to him. He also said that it would be about $3,300 total out the door. The car isn’t worth anywhere near that, and if I was buying it I would not want to pay anymore than $2,000 for it. Even at that price I would lose a lot of money out of the G20 when I sell it in the future. If this car was for sale through a private party it would only be worth $1,000 or less. These cars do not have high resale values. Other than the high asking price I would recommend this particular car to someone and I would definitely buy it for myself.
Overall the Infiniti G20 is not really a luxury car, but it does have the feel of a sports car. It’s not really a car that I would want to invest in when it comes to customizing. I would also get more for my money if I bought one through a private seller instead of a dealer. If you want an affordable fun car that has fairly nice styling then this would be a good car for you.
Photos taken by The Import Connection


Test Drive: 1995 BMW 840ci (E31)

On February 10, 2012, I test drove a 1995 BMW 840ci at Paradise Automotive Group in San Juan Capistrano, California. The car’s exterior is black with a grey leather interior. It has 113,000 miles with an asking price of $10,500. Under the hood is a M60B40 engine. It’s a 4.0 liter 32 valve V8 engine that produces 282 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm. The transmission is a 5 speed automatic with rear wheel drive. The E31 8 Series is one of the most beautiful cars ever designed. Even today they still turn heads. Production of the E31 started in 1989 and was not yet released to the U.S. market. The 8 Series have been shipped to the U.S. for the 1991-1997 model years with both V8 and V12 engines. In 1991, the only model available was the 850i which came with a M70B50 V12 with either a 4 speed automatic or a 5 speed manual (1991-1994 models). Around the year 1995, the “ci” was added to the name of all 8 series models and the M70B50s were replaced by the M73B54 5.4 liter V12s. Around that same time, the M60B40 V8 became the car’s standard engine (840ci). In 1996, the 840ci models came with the M62B44 V8s which had 4.4 liters. From 1994-1995, there was a limited production model 8 Series called the 850csi. They offered S70B56 engines which were 5.6 liter V12s and 6 speed manual transmissions. 1997 was the last model year for the 8 Series in the United States. In 1999, the E31 was discontinued all together. The sharp design of the 8 Series give more of an Italian car appearance. I would refer to them as the poor man’s Ferrari because many people that know nothing about cars may look from a distance and say “Look! It’s a Ferrari!” and these cars are not as expensive. Compared to vehicles such as the 7 Series, 8 Series have more value and are less common. I would certainly say that they will have classic potential in the future.
I found this car listed on I was originally going to look at a 1991 BMW 850i in Costa Mesa, but it had already been sold. Instead, I decided to have a look at this 840ci. I called the dealer to make an appointment to look at it. I was supposed to meet with a guy named Steve, but instead I met with another salesperson named Lorenzo. When I got there, he told me that the car was his dad’s and he’s only had it for about six months. He bought it from another dealer for about $13,000. The car had one owner before the father, and about $10,000 had been invested in repairs before he sold it to the dealer. Lorenzo told me the car had a power steering leak, and it needed a new headliner. He said they would be fixed if I decided to purchase the car. When he showed me the car, it was somewhat dirty because of some bug crap on it. Condition wise, there were no noticeable dents or scratches. This 840ci also had 18” BMW M parallel chrome rims, which are some of the nicest wheels to have on any Bimmer. The interior was in excellent condition, except for the sagging headliner of course. The interior gives a sports car impression more so than of a luxury car, because of the grey color and no wood trim. It’s not bad, but I usually prefer a tan interior with wood trim. Lorenzo offered me to take it for a spin, so I started the car, and then tested all of the mechanical functions. All four windows worked (even the back ones). The A/C, sunroof, radio, and mirrors all worked. I think this car was well cared for, but the thought of $10,000 being spent in repairs sounded horrifying! It’s good knowing that what has been fixed shouldn’t break, but it’s bad because it makes you wonder if the car may need more expensive repairs in the future. Remember, Lorenzo told me the car has a power steering leak. He didn’t say how much it would cost; just that he’d fix it before it sold. Before I started driving, Lorenzo asked me what other cars I was looking at. I just told him “Some 7-Series and Range Rovers.” He then went on saying that what makes an 8-Series better than a 7-Series is that they are much harder to find and they have classic potential, which he is correct. He also stated that “Most 7-Series are beaten up and driven by old Persian men; no offense to anyone. I’m just repeating what he said to me. Now, let’s get back to the test drive.
I drove the car off the lot and turned right onto Valle Rd, and then I made another right turn onto La Novia Ave. It was a curvy street, and I was able to test the car’s handling abilities. The power steering leak didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the drive, but maybe it felt a small bit heavy. It’s still not really noticeable. I have driven a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle which had absolutely no power steering whatsoever, and it took more force to turn it. When we came to a stoplight, I noticed the temperature gauge needle was moving back and forth. Lorenzo said that it’s common for BMWs to do that and it was not really worth fixing. I put the car in “sport” mode before making a left turn, and after the light turned green I floored the gas and felt more power than I did before when it wasn’t in sport mode. For some reason, I wasn’t enjoying this test drive as well as I thought I would. It could have been because I had to drive with a salesman, some slight traffic that I encountered, or because I was too familiar with driving BMWs. I have driven a lot of them. Lorenzo was okay, but I think he was hoping that I would fall in love with the car right away. As we got closer to the 5 freeway there was some traffic. I will admit that I was going a little too fast, but the brakes were able to stop the car without squealing the tires. I made another left from San Juan Creek Rd back onto Valle Rd. I continued to drive past the dealer towards an office complex where I made a U-turn into the parking lot and drove back. When returning to the dealer Lorenzo showed me a few other cars on the lot that were around the same price as the 840ci. I didn’t have any interest in them and many of their brake rotors were rusty. They’re not a problem, but it shows that the cars haven’t been driven in a while. I felt that Lorenzo was being a little bit pushy, but not as much compared to other places I’ve been to. When I went in his office he started asking me when I was planning to buy a car and that he’d be on the lookout for other cars that I’d have interest in. He asked for my number and I just gave him a fax number. I always do that so salespeople don’t try and call me over and over about buying from them. Before leaving the dealer I had another look around the car. The E31 8-Series is a very sexy looking car and would definitely attract women. I hope to find an 850 eventually and drove it. Hopefully when I drive that car I will have a more enjoyable driving experience because for some reason the 840ci didn’t feel very joyful to drive. I went on Kelley Blue Book to see if $10,500 was a good price for this car. The suggested retail value in excellent condition is $10,648 which is fair, but I would try to negotiate around $8,500-$9,000 if I were to buy it.
Overall the 840ci is a car that stands out in the crowd. If any BMW dealer had this in their showroom it would most likely get more attention than the new ones around it. This car isn’t a classic yet, but in the next 10 or 20 years it can likely become one. I do think that the 850i, 850ci, and 850csi models will be more demanding however because of their V12 engines, and I would prefer to buy one of those over an 840 model. This car is perfect for weekends, dates, or just to cruise around town in. You could use it as a daily driver, but I wouldn’t. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t have the most fun test drive, but hopefully the next time I drive an E31 it will be a more exciting experience.

Photos taken by Paradise Automotive Group