Have you ever had that neighbor that just leased a Corolla and insists on telling everyone that it’s a Corolla S with the convenience package? That’s who I’ll be today by presenting the 10 rarest regular cars you picked for under a $15k budget. Don your smug hats, everyone. This is gonna be good.
10. 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero
This Saab 9-2x is a rare sight, not only because it’s a model from a company that has long since collapsed under GM’s crippling weight and management, but because it was a joint venture between the Swedish automaker and quirky Japanese car giant Subaru. Consider this the better looking Impreza that you want, but have probably never seen in the flesh. For this price, you can make your own Saab STi tribute car. Please, someone do this.
(Suggested by JayHova)
9. 1993 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T
In the early ‘90s, American car manufacturers were in this weird funk where they dabbled in both performance cars and planned obsolescence. This Dodge Daytona, with its turbocharged four cylinder, front wheel drive drivetrain was the result.
Although not an ugly car by any means, the production numbers were sufficiently low to galvanize the fact the fact that this car would never be ubiquitous, even though the idea was certainly a novel one. Even in this crappy of a shape, it’s worth restoring, if only to give you a car that’s faster than most new economy cars today, for a quarter of the price.
(Suggested by DougHarlow)
8. 1985 Toyota Diesel Pickup SR5
Oh so rare. 1985 Toyota pickup, turbo diesel, solid axles on both sides, less than 150k miles, interior looks mint, exterior appears to be flawless and has the classic ‘80’s stripes, the front bumper still has the plastic corner bits, the front valance hasn’t been destroyed yet (!!), it’s got the long bed, and the lil’ monster even has some absolutely amazing floor mats. The price is at $13,000 right now with ~72 hours left in the auction so it may go over the limit, but maybe not. If I had the money this truck would be in my fleet already.
(Suggested by doug.shaw)
7. 1969 Mercury Marauder X-100
This 1969 Mercury Marauder X-100 has perhaps one of the best names ever bestowed on an automobile. Say it with me - Marauder. With that, it has one of the most striking shapes of the ‘60s, with its make-way-for-the-70s pop up headlights coupled with a nod to the past with a partially covered rear wheel.
This car was made before the neutering emissions regulations, so it still has a bit of grunt, thanks to its 360 horsepower V8 engine. With 15,000 made, it’s not exactly Mercedes Gullwing rare, but with its age, you’ll be hard pressed to find any still on the road.
(Suggested by Arch Duke Maxyenko, ಠ_ಠ)
6. 1995 Toyota Previa LE S/C
This Toyota Previa is one of car culture’s best kept secrets. If you scour your local craigslist, you’ll probably find at least one of these rare gems because no one knows what they are. First, it’s a minivan that looks more futuristic than anything coming out today, with a mid-mounted four cylinder engine with a supercharger, with an available 5-speed manual transmission and all wheel drive.
While this example has an automatic and rear wheel drive, it’s still an awesome reminder of the forward-thinking used in this awesome and rare minivan that every enthusiast should own at least once in their lives.
(Suggested by j250ex)
5. 2003 Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG
This Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG is a factory sleeper because it’s almost indistinguishable from the more pedestrian C-class variants. The interior is the same and so is the body, save for some styling cues on the bumpers and side skirts.
What’s important is the 3.2-liter V6 under the hood that’s aided in large part by a sizable supercharger. The engine wasn’t used in many other models, but it does stand as an unsung hero in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. If you have a chance, I’d suggest picking up one of these super rare sedans.
(Suggested by bobkustofawitshz)
4. 2007 VW Touareg V10 TDI
Since VW is in the news for their slight bending of the truth regarding emissions of TDI vehicles, it’s fitting to include one of the most notable turbo diesel cars Volkwagen has ever made - this Touareg V10 TDI. It has enough torque to pull a house from its foundation and will still get Prius-shaming highway mileage.
It might be a little more dirty than its gasoline-sipping siblings, but let’s face it - the damage is already done, and this car is fast, cheap, and too nice to pass up. And because of the ban on selling new TDIs, this one will only get more expensive.
(Suggested by Shane Moore)
3. 1990 Plymouth Voyager Turbo
This Plymouth Voyager Turbo proves that not only do automakers have a sense of humor, but it’s delightfully dirty. In the late ‘80s, Chrysler decided that their Voyager minivan needed a little more pep, so they shoehorned their 2.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder from their more sporty K-cars and gave this, a goddamn American minivan, a 5-speed manual transmission.
When people caught on to the fact that the engine was incredibly stout and could handle astronomical boost levels on the stock block and engine internals, the model became known as the diamond in the junkyard that it is today. It’s crazy practical and can become Corvette fast with a few supporting mods. It’s the perfect van when you gotta go really, really fast.
(Suggested by BonEvilSSEi)
2. 2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Wagon
This Volkswagen Passat W8 Wagon isn’t known for its reliability. To be fair, it’s not that it’s unreliable per se, just that it’s nearly impossible to find parts anywhere that isn’t a VW dealer because they made so few of these cars. This example has a 6-speed manual transmission that’s a must-have if you wanna be the coolest hipster that ever did hip. Just swallow your pride and your checkbook and get this. Oil leaks aren’t that bad, anyway.
(Suggested by GTO62)
1. 1995 BMW M540i
In the ‘90s, BMW apparently got bored, because after making the M5 and 540i, two cars that were quite close to one another in terms of power, feel and handling, they thought that there should be a model in between the two that was a not-quite M5, but a heavily upgraded 540i. They called it the M540i because imaginative names isn’t their strong suit.
Unsurprisingly, there weren’t a ton of examples of this model, and thus it remained one of BMW’s most elusive cars to this date with only 32 made (in Canada, but still). If you want a perfect representation of BMW in the ‘90s, you’d be hard pressed to find something better for the price.
(Suggested by Ricardo (Pig Beanies))
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.