Having a turbocharged car is like eating a calorie-free bacon cheeseburger that just deposited a wad of cash into your bank account. It’s just more of what you love, tax-free. That’s why last week, I asked you pleasure seekers to find the best turbo cars on eBay for under $15k. Clear your schedules.
10. 1991 Toyota Celica GT-4 Alltrac
In the ‘90s, Japanese manufacturers were trying to outdo themselves by cramming as many components into a chassis as possible, this car being the result. Here we have a compact Toyota Celica, with a turbocharged 3S-GTE engine that drives all four wheels. As a child, you probably played as this car in Sega Rally Championship - that alone should make the want needle jump off the scale.
(Suggested by burdickjp)
9. 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS
The Chevy Cobalt SS in its first iteration was a supercharged compact front wheel drive car, which is clearly wrong. You can’t sap power away to drive a blower on a relatively low displacement engine and expect stellar results. That’s why the next one had a turbocharged four cylinder engine which was clearly better in every way imaginable. The moral of the story? Friends don’t let friends supercharge economy cars.
(Suggested by Toni_Cipriani)
8. 1992 Toyota MR2 Turbo
There’s an unwritten rule in which Japanese cars like this Toyota MR2 made in the ‘90s have to appreciate to astronomical amounts because they have engines that can outlast the next ten North Korean regime changes and go like stink on a Grateful Dead roadie. This car is no different other than the fact that you won’t have to option your kids’ organs to afford it. It’s a mid-engined turbo car made in Japan. What’s not to like?
(Suggested by smalleyxb122)
7. 2010 Saab 9-5 Aero
Saabs like this 9-5 Aero are getting harder and harder to come by ever since the company shut its doors and its General Motors parent company turned its back on the quirky automaker. However, the well-known secret is that these cars were supremely stout and were quite fun to drive, even in bone stock trim. That’s not to say you can’t crank the boost on it and drive like your bumper is on fire (it probably is). This one is a little over budget, but you’ll be able to find other examples well within reason.
(Suggested by Kyree S. Williams)
6. 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX Limited
Sure, the Subaru Impreza WRX is a car that has a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that made the company a star on the world’s rally stage, and it has a turbocharged boxer engine that sounds like a subdued Harley motorcycle, and it can handle better than almost any competitor, but would it kill them to install a few more cupholders? My Big Gulps keep falling over.
(Suggested by Stig-a-saw-us-wrecks)
5. 1989 Toyota Supra Turbo
It’s happened - the Toyota Supra Turbo Mark III is now a collector’s item. The good part is that you can still find them in weird corners of craigslist for less than the price of your leaning Ikea bookshelf, but to find clean examples like this one will take some cash and a good eye. It costs more, but I’d argue that this price is what the car’s really worth for the performance and looks value alone.
4. 2007 BMW 335i
This BMW 335i is a car that I didn’t expect on this list because I didn’t know that it was available in this price bracket quite yet. For those considering one of these, here’s a fun fact: an off-the-shelf ECU upgrade would net one of these cars more power and torque to the wheels than an M3 of the same vintage, with a less arduous maintenance schedule and cheaper parts. I mean, there is a reason why the new M3 is a turbocharged 6-cylinder, right? It’s just better.
3. 1984 Buick Grand National
This Buick Grand National is the what happens when an American car company takes a car that’s made for people with denture budgets and constructs a drivetrain made by a person that has padded walls because they think the government can’t read their thoughts that way. It’s a crazy car with a comical amount of power, especially when you modify it like this example. It’s the murdered-out car you never knew you wanted.
(Suggested by BigNSlow EH)
2. 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo
This Porsche 944 Turbo represents everything that was great in the ‘80s - out of the box thinking, lots of power potential, and the need to turbocharge freaking everything. If you actually take a look at the mechanical layout of the car, the turbocharger isn’t set up like it would be in a regular car, there’s a convoluted set of twists and bends in the piping to get the air to the compressor. I love the sort of engineering that could so something simply, but just doesn’t because it looks way cooler if you loop it around a few times.
(Suggested by Color-Commentary)
1. 1990 BMW 750iL With Dinan Twin Turbos
I’m not usually one to advocate that one turbocharge their luxury sedan, especially when space is at a premium like in this BMW 750iL, but holy hell does this look like a great idea. Just imagine - you’d have all the low-end torque of a huge engine and you multiply that by the audible rush of air that you’d get with two sizable turbochargers. It’s the sleeper to end all sleepers.
(Suggested by Mini_Fanatic)
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos 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.