The Ten Most Jalopnik Cars You Can Buy On A Minimum Wage Budget

Recently, I asked you to find the best enthusiast car on eBay that money could buy – if that money was limited to that of minimum wage AND included maintenance of that car on that salary. Without further ado, these are the ten cars that will likely save the economy, with plenty of style to spare.


(Photo Credit:

10. 1988 Civic AWD Wagon

For some reason, Honda never released another 4-door Civic hatchback in the US after this one. My theory is that it just made too much damn sense and short-circuited our fragile American sensibilities.

I sold my 2002 Mustang GT for $5000 and bought a 1988 Civic wagon with 200k on it for $1900 back in Dec. I love the car, the mpgs are great for road gigs (i'm a comedian) and when it overheated and blew a headgasket, I researched how to change it on the internet and did it myself on the street in front of my apt! Total cost for parts + tools was a couple hundred bucks and now Im back on the road! No A/C, no power problem!


(Suggested by Jacob4546)

9. 1987 BMW 535IS


What's more interesting and novel than a project 80's BMW - especially one that you can fix after manning the fryer for a day?

3.5L straight 6 row your own. Running shape after a clutch kit ($400). Easy primitive motor to maintain. Rare M-tech kit. Not the most fuel efficient but hey, minor trade off.Parts are abundant and affordable. Easy DIY car.


(Suggested by Titan-E34)

8. Ford P71 Police Interceptor


Why not stick it to the man while looking exactly like him? Just because you're near the bottom of the economic totem pole doesn't mean you can't drive something that dominates the road and commands supreme authority. Plus it's reliable, practical, and quite comfortable. So get one.

Crown Vic Police Car. This one was made after catalytic converters, however:


(Suggested by autocollectibles)

7. 1994 Mazda MX3


This forgotten 90s hot hatch looks much younger than it actually is, it's more practical than a glass of water, and deserves a second chance. You can find examples just like this one here.

Most Jalop used car? How about a 1994 Mazda MX3 with 43,000 miles bought for just $1800? Original paint was horrible. So horrible that if you wipe your hand on the car, your hand will be green. Also, someone puked in the trunk, the seller said it was a sandwich left in the summer heat for 3 months. No asshole, it was puke. Also, the owner wanted $2400 for this faded classic... I showed up with $1800.

I frequent the local junk yard as well, there are 3 MX3 sitting there. Since no one else is driving this, those MX3 in the junk yard are mine.

Repaint the car with Rustoleum Satin Green for $150. No, I didn't rattle can it. I actually sanded everything down to metal and paint the car using a gravity feed gun in a paint booth. Bought the wheels Motegi MR7 for $150.

I have driven this car for 2 years and it now has 65000 miles on it. The paint is still looking pretty good.


(Suggested by raytheater)

6. 1976 MG MGB


What's more Jalop than a British Leyland import from the 70's? You can fix this one with a hammer because that's probably how the car was put together at the factory.

The original Miata, otherwise known as the MGB.

Here's a decent one for five grand. It's British, it's manual everything, parts are plentiful and cheap, and if you can't figure out how to fix this thing yourself you should get it over with and just buy yourself a bicycle and maybe a skirt.


(Suggested by Buzz Killington)

5. 1989 Porsche 944


Have yourself an eBay Porsche adventure, just like I did. Results may vary.

Cheap porsche with a clutch issue, nothing is more jalop than having to fix a car you just bought:


(Suggested by realitycheckz)

4. 1990 Volvo 240 DL Manual


This Volvo has 254,000 miles, which is barely broken in. It's also built like a tank and has more iconic Swedish looks than an Ikea catalog.

Does Burgundy count as Brown?

(Suggested by emilminty)

3. 1985 Jeep Cherokee Chief Diesel


OK, admittedly this car needs a lot of work, but it's not anything that a week working a mop and a weekend working a wrench couldn't fix. A small price to pay for something that would likely out-torque anything coming from Jeep today.

Brown-ish Diesel Manual Wagon-ish

(Suggested by mcseanerson)

2. 1990 Mazda Miata


This car is arguably the best value you can get while climbing the corporate ladder.

Isn't the answer obvious?

(Suggested by KillerBee)

1. 1981 Pontiac Trans Am


This car bridges the gap between thought experiment and reality. Find one just like it here.

Started life as a 1981 Trans Am Special Edition Turbo, over the years it got trashed by previous owners. When I bought the car, it had a Chevy 350 in it, the body was mostly rust free but had a bunch of dents, and the interior was practically non existent. I built and installed a 1973 Pontiac 400 in place of the 350. As for bodywork and interior everything is 1978 style (gauges, wheels, nose, spoiler, seats, etc) except the tail lights, I liked the one year only style of the 81 (little bird emblem on fuel door). It started as a purple painted black and gold special edition, it ended as a 3 years younger black black and gold special edition. Bought this off Craigslist, daily drove it, and restored it on a minimum wage budget for the last two years.


(Suggested by Bandit - Vettel Approved)

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.


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