I have a 92 3000GT SL, which I love. I have been driving it for ten years and would love to drive it ten more. The car has 194,000 miles and is still tight and runs superb. It's been up and down the East Coast and Midwest, from Milwaukee to D.C. to Miami and many points in between. Regardless of where I take it, I still get compliments.
I have put some money into it, but nothing really extraordinary considering its age, number of miles, and the amount of reliable performance it's provided over the last decade. There have been a couple of anomalies, though, which I'd like to share with you.
First, I am in the military and twice the car has sat for months at a time with minimal use. When I came back from my last eight-month deployment, I replaced the belts, hoses and CV joints just to be on the safe side.
The car began doing something strange, however. Occasionally when I would shut the engine off, a metallic rattle would continue under the hood that sounded like a small air compressor. This would go on and drain the battery. So I traced the sound to the gizmo making the noise and disconnected it. That stopped the noise and eliminated the need to disconnect the battery, but cost me my anti-lock brakes. So the orange ANTI LOCK light now stays on and I have normal brakes, which still work extremely well.
Occasionally the suspension would get stuck in SPORT mode and the SPORT/TOUR light would flash. Then it would inexplicably go away and return to TOUR like nothing happened.
The transmission switch for POWER/ECON once got stuck in the POWER mode. So I ordered the part and had a friend fix it. The part was only around $50, but my friend said it was a difficult task.
I lucked out on the main computer replacement. It started having problems with driveability so I took it in. The shop told me what I needed amounted to a major, major tune-up which they did for about $900. Note: the back spark plugs are buried under the intake and fuel injection system and are difficult to get to, so make sure you use high quality plugs.
Anyway, this helped, but failed to solve the problem. They told me it needed a new main computer that would cost $1000 just for the part. I was a bit miffed about the incorrect diagnosis and don't like making other people's boat payments, so the shop finally did it for free. This happened at around 180,000 miles.
At about 165,000 miles I had the transmission rebuilt for around $2000. If you ever have this done, I recommend you replace the mounts as well. I wish I would have, but the shop didn't suggest it at the time. The transmission gave me plenty of fair warning, so I was able to shop around for the right facility to do the work. Furthermore, I had expected the transmission to go much sooner because I used the car to tow my two jet skis, and frankly, I thought it would cost considerably more than it did.
I had the engine rebuilt at around 150,000 miles. It ran fine, but would blow smoke out the exhaust, especially after idling for a long time. The rebuild cost around $3500 with a really solid warranty package. It's now stronger than ever.
Other failure modes included the A/C compressor (around $800), the power antenna ($150), the drivers' side power window motor ($250) and the blower motor for the heater/AC ($300). And that's really about it. The rest was just oil changes, a new radiator to protect my investment in the engine, and one headlight bulb. The vents on the dashboard where it meets the windshield have cracked, but I'm told it's not worth fixing because they all do that.
I find the car pretty easy to drive and I feel safe in it. The handling is precise, the brakes strong, and it's quick and nimble enough to dodge road hazards and bad drivers. I also like the fact that it sits relatively high and is rather large, heavy and quiet. It performs well on the highway and is comfortable on long trips for two adults and their luggage. The back seats are OK for kids, and they fold down to accommodate large objects. There's actually a lot of room in the rear with the seats down. Speaking of kids, when I have two kids in back the car seems to handle better and ride smoother. The additional weight low and just aft of center mast seems to balance it out.
Like many other cars, I'd imagine the 5-speed probably outperforms my automatic. But living in the city, I'm OK with that. The transmission could be smoother, and if you really get on it, it can shift rather rough. The front-wheel drive gives you plenty of "torque steer" which you can feel in the steering wheel. I would like rear wheel drive, but I will say this -- the car maintains solid traction under poor conditions. In heavy rain, the front wheel drive lets you know when traction is reduced (read: hydroplane).
Historically, I've had some pretty aggressive performance tires on it, but after a blowout on the 4th of July far from home forced me to get a tire from Wal Mart, I switched over to the type of Goodyear Eagles that they exclusively carry. The handling is now less taut, but they are quieter, smoother, and better in the rain than previous sets.
I have made minor modifications which I'm quite happy with. I bought a stereo from a VR-4 model on ebay and installed it. It's got the fancy graphics that match the climate control display. It was difficult to see in the daytime, until I got the windows tinted. THAT made a huge difference, and kept the car about ten degrees cooler inside. Anyway, it looks spectacular and sounds good too.
I was hit in the back, but the trailer hitch (which is just the empty square socket with the draw bar removed) is welded to the sub frame, so my car was barely damaged. The other guy's car took it hard. So I took this opportunity to paint the entire bumper red, and got rid of that tacky looking black oval around the license plate. I think they originally did that in an effort to make the car look more like the Italian exotics it seems to imitate.
After this set of tires, I plan to upgrade to a set of 17" VR4 rims, possibly chrome. By then it will have well over 200,000 miles, and be closer to the day when it is finally confiscated by my teenage daughter.