Used Car Ideas
What makes a car cool? Lots of power, a sexy exterior, pedigree, or top down driving enjoyment are all factors that can contribute. For the most part however, being cool comes at a premium price point. Many enthusiasts just cannot afford the cost of a brand new cool car. Instead, buying a used vehicle allows you to get more car for your money. Instead of purchasing a brand new automobile at dealership prices, you can get a cool used car that is a few years old and thus has depreciated by a fair amount. There are lots of great affordable cars on the market and this list spotlights 10 cool car ideas.
Pontiac GTO – Forgotten Muscle Car
With the demise of Pontiac the GTO has practically fallen off the radar screen for most muscle car enthusiasts. With the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger taking up space on the used car lots the GTO has been neglected. But this works in your favor as prices for the Pontiac GTO have significantly declined. The GTO only had a 3 year run from 2004-2006 thanks to lackluster sales due to a boring exterior and high $30k price tag when the car was new. Now you can find a wonderful deal on a used example. Opt for the 2005 or 2006 model which came with a 6.0 liter LS2 V-8 engine that put out 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of torque. This monster could run 0-60 MPH in 4.6 seconds. Prices range from $14k to $18k making the GTO a cool high horsepower car that is pretty inexpensive.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder – Affordable Cool Convertible
Looking for a low priced convertible car? The 3rd generation Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a great all around convertible for the affordable car shopper. Costing over $23k brand new in 2003, the Spyder had a much higher premium compared to the hardtop coupe. Can you really put a price on top-down driving fun? The 2003 Eclipse Spyder is powered by either a weak 2.4 liter engine or a cool 3.0 V-6. Definitely opt for the larger engine as you will be rewarded with 60 more horsepower with a minimal hit to fuel economy. The 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse Sypder GT is a very cheap and fun convertible priced at $6k-$8k.
Chevrolet Corvette - Uber Cool American Sports Car
The Corvette; the epitome of the American sports car. The C5 model debuted in 1997 and with it came a 5.7 liter LS1 V-8 engine capable of 345 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque. There was also a cool 6-speed manual transmission offered. No matter what type of car enthusiast you are; the Corvette most certainly has been featured in a day-dream or two. The C5 Corvette offers nearly perfect weight distribution, tight suspension, good gas mileage, and a sexy exterior. Performance wise the C5 could blast from 0-60 MPH in under 5 seconds with the quarter mile zooming by in just over 13 seconds. The Corvette has always been an affordable sports car that could ruin the day of most exotics costing 4X's as much. You can find a 1998 or 1999 model with less than 100,000 miles for about $14k.
Scion xB – Trend-Setting Box
The xB is the automobile that cemented Scion’s place as the go-to car brand for the youth of America. The xB is the first microvan that was a mainstream success and many automobile manufacturers have tried to grab a piece of the pie. With its cool boxy shape and hip persona, the first generation Scion xB proved to be a real winner attracting drivers of all types. Besides looking cool, this wagon/van blend proved to be very versatile and full of utility. Plus the Scion xB came standard with tons of goodies like: air conditioning, stereo, anti-lock brakes, and power everything. The best part was the very affordable price brand new. Now that a few years have passed the Scion xB has still held its value pretty well. A 2004 Scion xB ranges from $7k - $10k depending on the amount of miles and the options. Opting for a manual will improve the driving experience as 1.5 liter 4-cylinder engine only makes 108 horsepower. The flip side is the xB gets spectacular fuel economy averaging a miles per gallon rating in the low 30’s.
Nissan 350Z – Affordable Japanese Sports Car
Most people dream of one day owning a nice little sports car to drive around. But the price of anything that has some guts and would make a fun car is usually out of reach. There are other alternatives though and the Nissan 350Z is perfect example of an affordable used sports car that is easily within reach. The Nissan 350Z made its first appearance as a 2003 model and came packing tons of history and heritage. The Nissan Z-Car spans the past few decades and the 5th generation Z-Car (the 350Z) marked a return to performance. The 2003 base model 350Z cost $26k brand new and came with a 6-speed manual transmission and a potent 3.5 liter V-6 engine that made 287 horsepower. The winning recipie for a great Japanese sports car involves a front engine, rear wheel drive, superb handling car; and the Nissan 350Z is a prime example. You can find an affordable used 2003 Nissan 350Z for $10k-$13k. There is also a huge tuner aftermarket for those looking to have the coolest 350Z in town.
Dodge Magnum - Cool Station Wagon
The Dodge Magnum may be single handedly responsible for reviving the station wagon segment. Debuting as a 2005 model, the Magnum looked cool while offering a huge amount of usable cargo volume. In 2006 the Magnum SRT-8 received a HEMI V-8 engine that produced 425 horsepower. That model is a bit too expensive but you can find a nice cheap SXT example. The 2006 Dodge Magnum SXT came with a V-6 engine that produced 250 horsepower. For a 2006 model with 75k miles you can expect to see prices between $11k-$13k. This is a great price for a vehicle that not only looks cool but that’s full of utility.
Pontiac Grand Prix GTP – Supercharged Family Sedan
The Pontiac Grand Prix dates all the way back to 1962 but was sadly discontinued in 2008. The 6th generation vehicle was produced from 1997-2003 and it’s the GTP model that is the real gem of the line-up. This attractive sedan featured a supercharged 3.8 liter V-6 engine that made 240 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque. The real bonus is the fuel economy ratings which check in at 18 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. A used 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP is priced around $6k-$9k depending on mileage. In the end the Grand Prix GTP is a great family sedan that combines a powerful engine, tight suspension, roomy interior, and good looks into one cool package.
MINI Cooper – Affordable Fun Compact Car
Ah the MINI Cooper, what a cute little car. MINI is an icon overseas and there is quite a large following here in the U.S. The MINI Cooper debuted here in America in 2002 and had a retail price of $16,300. Over the years the MINI Cooper has grown into a cool little ride that can be purchased with a fuel efficient 1.6 liter engine that gets 37 MPG on the highway. These little cars have held their value well over the years. Finding a low cost used MINI Cooper means looking at a model that is either has a lot of miles or one that is a bit older. In either case a used 2004 MINI Cooper will cost you anywhere from $9k-$12k.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS – Stylish Super Coupe
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo dates all the way back to 1970. Throughout the years many competitors have come and gone but the Monte Carlo soldiered on. In 2000 the 2+2 coupe got a nice makeover resulting in renewed interest. There were 2 different models that were differentiated mainly by the engines. The top of the line 2000 Monte Carlo SS cost $22k brand new. If you love Nascar then the Monte Carlo should appeal to you. The car was powered by a 3.8 liter V-6 that made 200 horsepower. The Monte Carlo is a well balanced car with a very comfortable ride. The SS model came with tons of standard equipment too. Fast forward a decade and there are many affordable examples on the market. The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS can be had for $5k-$7k.
Ford Mustang – Affordable Muscle Car
Muscle cars are back with a vengance. Unfortunately you have top shell out $25k to own one. Over the years many muscle cars have died out only to make a triumphant return to the lime light. Well; the Ford Mustang is an automobile that has withstood the test of time. During the early 2000’s the Mustang line-up consisted primarily of 3 different Mustangs models: a base model V-6, a GT V-8, and a Cobra V-8. There are of course many examples if each out there in the used car world but the 2003 Mustang GT offered the best bang for the buck. Costing $24k brand new in 2003 the Mustang GT came with a 4.6 liter V-8 engine that made 260 horsepower and 302 lb-ft. of torque. Fuel economy was pretty good at 26 MPG on the highway. On today’s market you can find a nice cheap V-8 muscle car in the 2003 Ford Mustang GT for about $8k-$11k.