Two is the minimum amount of doors realistically allowed in a car, unless you're a masochist and drive an Isetta. That's why I asked you treasure seekers to find the greatest coupes under a $10,000 budget, and boy howdy, did you ever deliver. Here are the ten best 2-door cars for the money.
This Jaguar XK8 is a car that may not have been as well received as its designers may have hoped, but it certainly has withstood the arduous test of time. It's a shape that grows on you, even if its designed-in-the-90s body can have a few dated details. It's long, has a relatively cozy AJ V8 engine, and can hold its own against modern traffic. It's a Jag for the Jag connoisseur, call it Jagception.
(Suggested by Thor82)
The Lincoln Mark VIII (or Mark 8 for the ones that are a product of the American public education system) was,and still is a phenomenal automobile. A sprightly dual-overhead-cam 4.6 liter V8 with a relatively long 3:08:1 rear end ratio meant that this car was the epitome of highway cruising. It wasn't the fastest thing in the world, but the styled-from-play-dough looks made this car a sight to behold. Even at almost two decades old, it looks like the upscale future we all deserve, but never got.
(Suggested by BigNSlow EH)
Every single Toyota turbo car from the '90s has skyrocketed in price, except for this Toyota MR2 because it isn't very well known and received, but here's a secret that the entire kit car community has known for a long time - these cars are fan-freaking-tastic. The turbocharged 3S-GTE engine is one of the most potent 4-cylinder turbocharged powerplants ever made, and the fact that it's a mid-engine car that's made by one of the most reliable companies in the world, at a time when they overengineered everything, for less than a five figure price tag, is nothing short of a modern-day miracle.
(Suggested by PitCrew Lefties)
Blah, blah, 'Murica, blah, blah, huge V8, blah, burnouts, DID I MENTION BURNOUTS? This Pontiac Trans Am is everything that you'd want in a coupe - red, cheap, loud, and fast enough to run from Johnny Law, if'n you had a reason to run. This moonshine ain't gonna sell itself, Jethro. Get yer foot to the floor and haul ass!
(Suggested by MTY19855)
This BMW 330Ci ZHP is a stone's throw away from the performance yardstick that is the E46 M3. Some would also make the case that because of the less complicated mechanical components and parts availability, it's the better car to have. In any case, it's a ton of car for the money, and it will out-maneuver anything with a Mercedes or Jaguar badge from the era, so it's worth it in used car streed cred alone.
(Suggested by The Stig's Jewish Cousin)
The BMW 2002 is the car that started BMW's reign of terror in the mid-size car market. It was the E30 M3 before the M3 existed. It's the prototype for each and every Ultimate Driving Machine you see driving around today. And it's just as good as you think it is. This one is a clean example that deserves a second, third, and fourth look.
(Suggested by hankolerd)
Let's go back to the Mad Men era, when you could take your date out in the elegant, sporty baby brother of the Lincoln Continetal - a 1963 Thunderbird.
This was not a four-door re-paneled as a coupe, no, it was designed as a 2 door and it shows the wisdom of designing a 2 door from the ground up.
- Rocket-like styling - from the side it looks like it's ready to blast-off.
- Swooping curved dash interior - looks like you're in motion even standing still.
- Probably the best looking landau bars and vinyl roof combo ... ever.
- A 300hp engine to get you to cruising speed and keep you there.
- A good reason to enjoy the current cheap gas prices.
- A back seat that's made for the drive-in.
- Size matters.
Yeah, the paint's for crap, but it is one great ride!
(Suggested by KIlgoreTrout53)
The Chevy Corvair gets a horrible reputation for being unreliable and unsafe, when it was anything but. After the appaling "Unsafe at any speed" propaganda and the fact that this was an air-cooled, rear-engine car akin to the widowmaker Porsche 911, sales all but disappeared for the forward-thinking model during the era. Now, after hindsight has kicked in, you can buy a great example of a great car that we will never, ever see again for next to nothing and have a vintage car that will deliver an engaging experience every single time.
(Suggested by Jared Glentz)
The 6-series was a bit of a failed experiment in the '80s, then revived when Chris Bangle finally realized that he would one day run out of 7-series cocaine money. This clean 635 CSi, in my honest opinion, is one of the best looking BMWs ever made and I'm surprised by the lack of its appreciation in the used car market. It has a big 3.5-liter inline-6 engine and it can come equipped with a row-your-own manual transmission, for a price that would make you forget that the craigslist seller says it "just needs an A/C recharge". It's a serious bargain, and it may not be that way for long.
(Suggested by Arch Duke Maxyenko, ಠ_ಠ)
I'm partial to the 4-door variant myself, but the BMW E36 M3 coupe remains, to this day, one of the most underrated cars ever made (at least in the US). Its barely breathed on 3.2 liter made 240 horsepower, which was decent for cars of the era, but didn't come close to its 300+ horsepower European siblings. The chassis was still the same in both iterations, and that's why the E36 M3 (and 3-series in general) is used by many amateur racers looking for the best bang for their motorsport dollar. They won't be disappointed, and neither will you.
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.