When it comes to used cars, "cheap" doesn't always mean "horrible." You just have to know what to look for. Here are the ten cars you think can turn a long depression into a great one.
This is Answers of the Day — a feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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10.) 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R
Suggested By: evoCS
Kelley Blue Book Value: $1895
Why Buy This One: Often credited with starting the import tuner craze, the SE-R was for a time the fastest subcompact available in the US, with a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds. To some it was the budget E30, though the FWD makes the claim a slight exaggeration. They're also similar in appearance to the regular Sentra, so if subtlety is your thing, the SE-R is a cheap option.
9.) 1990 Honda Civic Si
Suggested By: boomchek
Kelley Blue Book Value: $1635
Why Buy This One: The first Civic to offer more than 100 hp off the lot, the fourth-generation Si was (and is) a speedy-feeling car. When new in 1988, it had 108 hp crammed under the hood, a year later that number had grown to 112 hp. This car was also the first to feature Honda's signature VTEC system. Can you hear it kick-in, yo?
8.) 1988 Mitsubishi Starion
Suggested By: Dirt Pirate
eBay Motors Value: $1000
Why Buy This One: By 1988, the Starion was nearing the end of its production run, but it was no less potent than when it had first appeared six years before. Its angular looks made it more slippery than the RX-7 and 300ZX of the time, and its 2.6-liter turbocharged engine put out between 150 and 197 hp (depending on the turbo & amount of boost used). This car has Super Potential!
7.) 1997 Jeep Cherokee
Kelley Blue Book Value: $2100
Why Buy This One: When it was released, the XJ Cherokee set the bar for SUV exterior design. It's the one people think of when they think of generic SUV shapes. That, combined with a new front fascia and a whole range of different engine choices makes the 1997 redesign a good option for someone who is looking for something reasonably priced, but still tough enough to take off-road.
6.) 1990 Ford Mustang GT
Kelley Blue Book Value:$2500
Why Buy This One: By 1990, the Fox-platform Mustang was growing long in the tooth, but is still no less potent than its predecessors. All came with headers from Ford's truck line, producing 225-hp. Only three years later, the Mustang would receive a major overhaul & redesign, but for 1990, it was still a pretty good car.
5.) BMW E30 3-Series
Suggested By: Luisthebeast
eBay Motors Value: $3,500
Why Buy This One: The E30 is what all actual driving enthusiasts are after. It's an unpretentious machine, quietly capable of spectacular feats of handling. It's light, simple design is rugged enough to run against $400k rally cars, but on the street it' communicative chassis delights even the most disinterested driver. It really is one of the world's ultimate driving machines
4.) Triumph Spitfire
Suggested By: TxBrumski
Kelley Blue Book Value: $2000
Why Buy This One: If you've got time (and motor oil) to burn, then the Triumph is for you. Studies have shown that for every hour put into fixing problems on the car, it'll pay you back with about 15 minutes of enjoyable motoring. Just make sure you get a crate of Lucas wiring smoke, as these cars have been known to spring leaks from time to time. With over 300,000 produced during its 18-year lifespan, finding a good example at the right price shouldn't be too hard.
Photo credit: TriumphSpitfire.nl
3.) 1991 Volvo 240 Wagon
Suggested By: smackela
Kelley Blue Book Value: $2550
Why Buy This One: Approximately one-third of all 240's were wagons. I can't speak for the taste of the other two-thirds of 240 owners, but with proper maintenance, these cars are fairly bulletproof, and can probably be kept as a second home in the event it becomes necessary to move. They're also RWD and make for easy engine swaps.
Photo credit: The Bassic Sax Blog
2.) 1990 Mazda Miata
Suggested By: essper
Kelley Blue Book Value: $1775
Why Buy This One: The cheap-but-fun-car poster child. Everyone knows about the original NA Miata: it's light, it's cheap, there's a ton of them out there, they're easy and cheap to hop up. If you're still on the fence about owning a "chick car" then you clearly don't know what you're missing.
1.) 1989 Toyota MR2
Suggested By: bugattatra
Kelley Blue Book Value: $3085
Why Buy This One: We're talking about the first-gen car here because the second one is kind of bulbous and weird-looking. Also, the 1989 model tips the scales at 2189 lbs, while the revised car from just a year later dwarfs it at 2782 lbs for the T-top version. In 1989, most of the cars were the final "Super Edition", which featured racier interiors, special exterior colors, and neat stickers that proclaimed its provenance.
Photo credit: Car Gurus