What's an affordable, reliable used car for this pizza delivery driver?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2005

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently left a career as a pizza-delivery driver to work for an architectural photographer. It involved changing cities and giving up what little social life I had. In short, I'm rethinking the decision, and thinking about going back to the pizza business. My question for you folks is this: The vehicle I bought for my new job is much too nice to use for delivering pizzas. It is a 2003 VW GTI VR6 (vroom vroom). Plus, I won't be able to afford the payments on the pizza salary. So, if I'm going to return to the night shift at my old job, I'm going to need a cheap car that gets reasonable gas mileage (low 20s to high teens is OK) and is relatively easy to work on. I can spend about $5,000, and I'm pretty handy with a wrench. I was thinking about a Toyota, because I hear they are very reliable. Any help you can offer would be appreciated, and if you're ever in Gainesville, Fla., and get hungry, give Five Star a call and tell them Bo sent you. -- Bo

TOM: What happened, Bo? Not as many women answering the door in their nightgowns in the architectural-photography business?

RAY: You definitely need something much more pathetic-looking if you want any chance of getting decent tips. If the pizza-delivery guy is driving a nicer car than the guy who's buying the pizza, you're going to have tough time getting sympathy.

TOM: You certainly could buy a Toyota Corolla. They're easy to find, reliable and economical. And you can probably get a 5- or 6-year-old one for $5,000. You really can't go wrong with one of those, and it meets all of your requirements.

RAY: But why not really go for the sympathy, Bo? I see you in a 1987 Hyundai Excel, blue smoke belching out the back from bad rings ... one headlight working.

TOM: Plus, it's got vinyl seats, so you can just wipe up the melted mozzarella and spilled tomato sauce. Try doing that with your beautiful Toyota velour! Good luck, Bo.

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