Well, if you're going to test GPS navigation devices (my new obsession; last year it was wireless broadband) you've gotta have the appropriate testbench, right?
I reckon I got a fantastic deal on this car: $2300 for a 1990 Honda Civic in near-pristine condition. The couple that sold it to me were really nice, honest, non-car-sharkey people and had the service manuals and original purchase receipt for the car from when they bought it new!
The KMs are a little high at 250,000, but several of my friends' cars have higher KMs and they're still driving along fine with regular servicing.
I bought without getting an NRMA check because Civics don't hang around on the market — I had already been beaten to two others. However, I followed my friend Dave's advice and checked the oil for signs of milkyness (indication of a cracked head gasket) and ran through the other things on the RTA "How to buy a car guide" checklist. It all seemed fine.
Hope I didn't miss that the automatic transmission is dragging along the bitumen, or anything fundamental like that. However, for a $2300 car, I wouldn't be the least bit upset if I found something that was reasonably expensive to fix — Honda Civics of this era sell for up to $4000 (admittedly they're probably the more optimistic car yards that are expecting the price to be bargained down.)
All I care about at this stage is that it accellerates damn gutsily for a little car, the brakes work well, the power steering is schmicko for an old car and the aircon works.
Of course, the very first thing I checked was that the cigarette lighter (now more politically correctly called "accessory adaptor") worked, allowing me to charge GPS devices and iPod adaptors.
The inbuilt Honda-supplied 1990-era stereo is remarkably good considering its age. It's loud, clear, and while the bass is pissant on the scale of a doof-doof car, it's perfectly fine for listening to Nova on the way to work in the morning, which presumably is exactly what it was designed for.
The steering wheel is quite worn (the rubber comes away in granules in your hand if you don't handle it carefully, so I've ordered one of these genuine tophide leather wheelskins in black which I reckon should be pretty nice to steer with.