Since new and used cars are getting more challenging to obtain and even more expensive, those on a budget have asked me to offer you a list of the most fun used cars you can buy for under $5000.
Just because you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a car doesn’t mean you have to buy something boring. You don’t have a big budget, but you want something that does more than getting you from one point to another. You have $5000 to spend; consider these vehicles, and please list your personal choices in the comments. A brief disclaimer, prices change all the time. These were the deals I found which have most likely been scooped up by savvy buyers. Keep your eyes open.
1994 Ford Taurus SHO – around $2500
Ford’s Taurus SHO sport sedan of the Nineties came with a high-revving Yamaha-tuned V-6 engine paired with a five-speed manual. Because so many were built, prices remain low.
2003 Ford Focus SVT – $4000
It’s no Fiesta ST, but the Focus SVT is still a fun-to-drive hatchback if you’re looking for a fun drive and should be easy to find for under $5000.
2003 Ford Mustang – $4900
If you want a nice, running V-8-powered Mustang for less than $5000, here are a few choices, look for the Foxbody Mustangs. They are also fun to modify.
1997 Jeep Wrangler – $4770
If you’re looking for a different sort of off-road fun, consider a Wrangler? Newer ones will take years to depreciate to under $5000, but plenty of other choices are available.
1988 BMW 3-Series (E30) – $3600
This may be an older choice but really a ton of fun to drive and none of the high-tech gadgets that are expensive to repair. Prices are on the rise, but it’s still easy to find a good E30-generation 3-Series for under $5000. If the E30 is a bit too old for your tastes, consider its successor, the E36. Pretty much any non-M3 version can be found under budget, whether you want a strong inline-six or a frugal four-banger and a manual transmission.
1993 Mazda MX-5 Miata – $3000
This is one of the most fun cars for the money. The first- and second-generation Miatas or MX-5’s can easily be found for under five grand, and for that price, you can’t go wrong.
2002 Subaru Impreza WRX – $3900
If you need a cheap performance car that can plow through any terrain and can be auto crossed, too, the Subaru WRX is the car to seek out. Powered by a turbocharged boxer-four cylinder engine, it shouldn’t have any trouble getting you through the toughest of blizzards.
1984 – 1986 Chevrolet Corvette (C4) – $5000
This is the first of the newer C4 generation, many people think the C4 is the “worst” Corvette, but there are many deals to be had on them. The late-production six-speed transmissions are under $5000, but early cars can easily be had within budget.
1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (Fourth-Gen) – $4700
If the Corvette isn’t really your thing, maybe you’ll like the Camaro Z28. It has a totally different look but packs a Corvette-sourced LT1 V-8 under the hood. There are deals out there on this generation.
1999- 2002 Porsche Boxster (986) – $5000
Ok, this car is far from today’s Boxster, but it is a Porsche. Though it may be tougher to find a first-generation Boxster under five grand, there are some on websites like AutoTempests, AutoTrader, and Craigslist. The mid-engine flat-six engine layout is one of the most capable cars and will put a smile on your face.
The Bottom Line
No matter what you choose, make sure to have an ASE-certified mechanic check it out for safety and possible upcoming unexpected expenses. If you know what you are doing under the hood, you will save money, but these cars will require repairs and maintenance. Hey, you only spent $5000, what do you expect.
If you have additional questions, put them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer.
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news, and safety issues.
Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. She is an automotive contributor to national and local television news shows, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN International, The Weather Channel, Inside Edition, Local Now News, Community Digital News, and more. Lauren also co-hosts a regular show on ABC.com with Paul Brian called “His Turn – Her Turn” and hosts regular radio segments on USA Radio – DayBreak.
Lauren is honored to be inducted into the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame and a Board Member of the Buffalo Motorcar Museum and Juror / President for the North American Car, Utility & Truck of the Year Awards.
Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @LaurenFix.