As gas prices fall, more people are considering larger displacement vehicles to drive to and from the buffet. Newsflash, Cletus - it makes more sense than ever to buy a car that gets great mileage, while still giving you a swift kick in the back every now and again. Here are the ten best cars for less than $4,000 that you chose and voted for.
10. 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
In the '80s, Ford had some revolutionary ideas that fell flat because they were 15 years too early. They took one of their best looking cars on the Fox Body platform and paired it with the four cylinder engine that was originally used in the Ford Pinto - the Lima 2.3 liter. However, this wasn't any run-of-the-mill iron dud, it was a turbocharged, intercooled, and fuel injected beast. Its power figure didn't boast world-beating numbers, but with its insanely stout agricultural construction, it had an absolutely insane potential. This '87 Coupe is no different. Although it may need some work overall, it's a solid entry in the best cheap four cylinder club.
(Suggested by Takuro Spirit - TRANS cAMry)
9. 1989 Volvo Bertone Turbo
This car may be the cleanest and cheapest example of the model I've ever seen. It has styling by a world famous Italian design house, a bulletproof turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a safety record that couldn't be more pristine. It will be an appreciating classic, and at this price, it's tough to let go. Keep it as a quirky second car or dependable million-mile daily driver.
(Suggested by My citroen won't start)
8. 2003 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V
In the early 2000s, Nissan released their brand new QR25DE engine, a torque-filled, relatively large displacement 2.5 liter four cylinder to go in their hot-hatch-killing sedan. What resulted was a small car with more than adequate power for its size, a six-speed manual transmission, and an aggressive look that would set the fire under the ass of any #millennial in a three-mile radius. This one is a hair over budget, but with less than a six-figure mileage figure, it's worth it for anyone that wants daily fun without having to pay a steep price.
(Suggested by TimTheNinja)
7. 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce
Here's an Italian, two-seater, rear-wheel drive, manual convertible that you can get in great condition within a $4,000 budget. It's not the fastest thing in the world, but it doesn't need to be. This is the cheapest A to A car you can buy, and although it may be a bit finicky, there may be nothing better than having the top down on a coastal road in the middle of summer wit the dual overhead cam inline four screaming at 4,000 rpm as you grab third gear. Do it to remember why you love cars in the first place.
6. 2004 Saab 9-5 ARC Wagon
Wagons make a crazy amount of sense. They have more usable space than a regular car, yet drive exactly the same as one. Saabs, in particular, are at the top of this practicality pyramid, with their cars depreciating into nothingness, while having a staggering power potential and reliability that would make a Wrangler collapse under its own weight. This 9-5 is one of the most modern looking cars Saab has ever made, and although it has enough miles to have driven to the moon, it's still a great candidate for a dependable daily driver.
(Suggested by tehkav)
5. 1971 Saab Sonett
When Saab makes something, it will never look like what that something is supposed to look like. That's why this sports car, instead of looking like a streamlined fish or bird of prey, looks like a green loafer. It's the quirkiest thing on this list by far, and one of the most unique cars you can buy at any price. This one is a bit of a project, but what Swedish car built in the '70s isn't?
(Suggested by The Stig's Rustbelt Cousin)
4. 1999 Mazda Miata
There's one thing that surprises me about the "the answer is always Miata" meme - it almost never is the answer. I've been doing these ebay challenges for over half a year, and I can count on one hand how many times a Miata has been mentioned, much less topped any list the readership has concocted, and I'm not sure why. Miatas like this '99 may need a little work, but have a dual-overhead cam inline four, six-speed manual transmission, some race-ready mods for way under budget. That's a value that can't be overstated. It'll run without question for many, many years and will be your forever track rat until you sell it or put it into a wall. Get one now.
(Suggested by alecmets2011)
3. 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX
This car does not pretend. It pulls no punches. It's a car that has seen the wrong side of a hedge, has done donuts in the snow, and has seen the business end of a full-bore drag launch or seven and lived to tell the tale. How do I know this? It just so happens that this car belonged to Opponaut and snow bank destroyer Aaron Max Brown. Aaron, the Jalopnik and OppositeLock stickers were a dead, giveaway, man. This car is a good deal for anyone that wants a great beater without having to worry if someone else has farted in it, because they definitely have.
(Suggested by alecmets2011)
2. 1986 Toyota Xtra Pickup
This car has a salvage title, but you shouldn't care, because this car is like a cockroach, spam, and Celine Dion's career rolled into one - impervious to any weaponry known to man and unable to die under any circumstances. It's unkillable.
This listing also holds a cool easter egg. In Back To The Future, Marty McFly has a black version of this truck waiting for him when he returns back to 1985, when things made sense. However, one of the last things he did in 1955 was play a song at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, a song called "Johnny Be Good". In this eBay listing, what's the seller's name? johnnybegood6969. Half Life 3 confirmed.
(Suggested by NeilR)
1. 2003 Ford Focus SVT
There was a time when Ford was really, really good at churning out hot hatches worldwide. In the '80s, they had the firebreathing Sierra Cosworth, known here as the lesser Merkur XR4Ti, then made the awesome '90s Escort GT with Mazda powerplant, before the company sort of went away for a while, until they came up with this, the 170 horsepower, six-speed manual Focus SVT. It was the hot hatch we all wanted for a price we could actually justify, and now it's at the price where you could pay for it with a year's worth of pocket change. Get it before someone dumber than you does.
For more great ebay challenges, check these out:
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.