With that in mind, we turned to you and asked for your favorite cheap cars that you wished were still on sale today. Here are some of the best responses we received.
2 / 22
“I know this won’t be popular but I miss the Fiats, 500s and 124s. Especially the Abarths. they were the cheap, stylish, solid power to weight ratio, that is missing from todays market. Not to mention they sounded great. There is a new generation in Europe that is Electric only and an Abarth edition is supposed to be added nest year. PLEASE BRING IT TO THE USA!”
Ah the Fiat 500. This cutesy, European city car was cruelly taken from these shores in its prime. Anyone outside the US can get their hands on a lovely new electrically-powered model, or a budget-friendly gas option. We cant have either, though.
Suggested by: msibons
3 / 22
Suzuki Swift GTi
Suzuki Swift GTi
“This was a ridiculously tiny ‘economy’ hatchback, with the three-cylinder putt-putt motor replaced by a 1.3l, DOHC, 16 valve four-cylinder making 100hp. It was a hoot to drive. I almost bought one... the ‘rents wouldn’t let me because ‘what if you get hit by a truck?’.
“But I test drove it three separate times for over 100 miles total... I couldn’t get enough. That thing was all point-and-squirt and just ludicrous fun. Only small car that came close for years was the Impreza 2.5 RS (which made me giggle like a little girl when I drove it on tight, curvy, undulating back roads).
“Years later I bought an ‘04 Mini Cooper S, which was much bigger, much heavier, and quite a bit faster...it also handled better and was a ton of fun, but that stupid little Suzuki was just so insane that the Mini felt big and safe in comparison.
“If I could find one, I’d buy it in a heartbeat... if I could find one with a bad body and a Geo Metro ‘vert with a bad motor, I’d take the drivetrain and suspension from the GT and merge them into the ultimate summer-idiot car.
“P.S. I was going to say Ford Maverick, but I figured you weren’t looking for 52 year old cars that aren’t really small or cheap by today’s standards...but since I grew up in the back seat of a red one for the first 13 years of my life, I’ve always wanted one (that I could then make handle and go fast but still look econoFord).”
Available as a three- or five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan, the Suzuki Swift was a popular option in its day. Especially this amped up GTi model, which added in a 16 valve, 1.3-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that produced 101hp.
Suggested by: osmodious
4 / 22
“Chevy Chevette! I had one in college, I think I could get 7 or 8 people in it by popping the hatch back to make Sonic run for Milkshakes, fried pickles or any other item if I ate today I would get indigestion or gain 20lbs.”
You might be able to fit eight people and takeout in your Chevette, but can you fit a full brass band plus sousaphone as this photo would have you believe?
Suggested by: Alan Bruce (Facebook)
5 / 22
Proper Honda Hatchbacks
Proper Honda Hatchbacks
“I want actual Civic hatchbacks again. I want my fleet-chic S10 back (single cab, vinyl floors, and all). I want any fun 2+2 coupe that costs less than $30k without being the absolute base model. I want a designed-with-a-ruler full size truck with tweed seats that doesn’t cost 50 grand and can fit in a fucking garage.
“You can keep auto climate control, the huge integrated touch screens, etc. I just want some decent fit/finish and some nice seats. I can add pretty much any desirable modern feature myself, with the exception of smart cruise control, which I admit is a godsend on boring interstate drives.”
A proper Honda Civic hatchback you say? Well this was an opinion shared amongst many commenters today. And a bunch of you specifically yearn for the fifth-generation Civic hatchback.
Suggested by: ahintz
6 / 22
“Suzuki Samurai/Jimny in the USA market. Wrangler has become larger and more expensive than its predecessors. Lower cost alternative with a soft top would be awesome.”
José, is this your burner profile? Jalopnik’s own José Rodríguez is a major proponent of the Jimny and would happily see these friendly little SUVs make a mark on the USA.
Suggested by: Alan Pedesic (Facebook)
7 / 22
“I lost my left leg in 2017 due to a copperhead bite. I have a prosthetic leg, but it’s still uncomfortable for me to walk long distances.
“The Mazda5, with its sliding driver’s side rear door, allows me to load and unload a 30lb wheelchair unassisted from the driver’s seat even when not wearing the prosthetic. All other ‘mini’ vans sit too high up to accomplish this easily.
“Apparently, a number of other amputees and handicapped individuals share my appreciation for the 5 for the same reasons, because it is a popular option in the community.
“(And yes, we Mazda Mazda5 owners refer to our vehicles simply as ‘5s’ when we are hanging out at the local 5 waterhole trying to pick-up babes)
“My other options were the Honda Element, which is also no longer being produced, and the Ford Transit Connect passenger van which is extremely rare and seems sluggish and has sloppier handling than the 5.”
The copperhead is apparently one of the most venomous snakes in North America. So that’s me scared out of ever setting foot outside the city again!
Suggested by: earthbound-misfit-i
8 / 22
“I’m surprised not to see anyone call for old-school cheap and simple regular cab compact pickups. Like 80s/early 90s Nissan hardbodies, Toyota (pre-Tacoma) pickups, and Ford Rangers, in work-truck trim (manual windows and transmissions, surprising amounts of payload and very useful 6' beds, reasonably economical 4 cylinder engines).
“Affordable, because not only were they as cheap as the cheapest stripper compact econoboxes, but they were cheap to own because there was little extra stuff that could break, they were decent on fuel, they weren’t oversized so tires/brakes/etc. were all regular car priced - and because they had well proven simple drivetrains, they didn’t need much more than basic maintenance. Fun in the sense that you always felt you were hauling ass (because the rather simple suspensions bounced like crazy over even just a gum wrapper and NVH was a badge of honor, plus no A/C meant you always had the windows open and felt the wind in your hair most of the year), and because they got really fun and tail happy on a dirt road or a beach. Practical as all get out (be oh-so popular with your buddies when it’s time to move, or time to haul wood for a bonfire, etc.). And always great at getting fun stuff hauled to places where you had more fun (bikes/boards/whatever toys you might want to play with).
“Got my son a 2003 Chevy Colorado in work base trim as a DD – getting all nostalgic seeing him discover just how insanely useful that thing is.”
I think this is one of the reasons that the Ford Maverick has proven so popular among truck fans in America. The small, simple truck doesn’t cost the earth, looks great and gets good gas mileage.
Suggested by: g42dog
9 / 22
“Colts. My first car was a 1988 Plymouth Colt DL wagon I got in April 2001. Had 73,000 miles on it. $2,350. Died that September. Transmission issues that would’ve cost as much to fix as my purchase price. Still, was great on fuel, fun, got a lot of trail time in western MA and carried a bunch of friends.”
Fun and good gas mileage, that’s literally all most people look for in a daily driver. Bring back cars like this!
Suggested by: David Engel (Facebook)
10 / 22
Dodge Grand Caravan
Dodge Grand Caravan
“So, here me out...every minivan on the market now starts at $33,000 or more. They’re loaded with features’ and luxury and AWD and things to make people want to buy them over an SUV.
“But as recently as 2020, Dodge was offering the Grand Caravan well below $30K, and it had all of the stuff you actually wanted - cruise, power, Bluetooth, a 115-V outlet in the back, Stow-N-Go - because anyone who buys a luxury minivan is dumb. Your children and/or pets are going to destroy that interior. And what about the folks that realize that minivans are cargo-hauling, tool-storing champs for worksites and DIY adventures? Or #vanlifers looking for a cheap rig for builds but don’t want to start with something that’s been peed in daily for 100K miles?
“Chrysler kinda-sorta tried to offer a cheap version of the Pacifica, but the Voyager was missing second-row Stow-N-Go and several other amenities. Why Dodge did not offer a version of the Pacifica is beyond me - your company sold 25,000 more GCs than Pacificas in 2019, but you still discontinued it the following year. Yes, yes, something-something-financial-trouble-Stellantis-pandemic-blah-blah, but a cheap people-and-stuff-mover in these Uncertain Times™ would do far more for the brand than another version of the Challenger. Hell, shove a Hemi in there, why not.
“I just refuse to pay $50-$60K for a minivan that will be worth about $20 by the time I and my family are done with it. Bring back the Grand Caravan.”
Usually, we are a little suspicious of any suggestion that starts “here me out.” But, this poster makes a compelling argument for the return of the no-frills minivan.
Suggested by: dbeach84
11 / 22
“To point to an actual car built today that I like the idea of in the US....
“The UP! GTI. In England its 19,000 pounds, which is cheaper than a base model Civic there. So, I would guess in the US, it would be under $20k.
“It’s cute, it’s peppy, it’s fun. It would pass all the safety and emissions requirements in the US after going through a Certification process.
“Come on VW. Quit being cowards! Bring the UP! GTI to America. You’ll sell dozens!”
I dearly love the VW Up!, it’s a lovely little car that everyone should drive once - maybe as their first car after passing a driving test? But the Up! GTI is even more lovable. Come on VW, sell 12 of these to Europe-obsessed Americans, please?
Suggested by: yeardley68
12 / 22
“The El Camino. Why can’t we just have a sports car-truck hybrid that isn’t built to the same footprint as a Sherman Tank.”
The El Camino, the perfect car for a bit of horse spotting. Or whatever it is Chevrolet was trying to promote with this old marketing shot.
Suggested by: skeffles
13 / 22
“Three-cylinder geo metro. Seriously. I routinely got 50+ mpg in mine, and it was a 5-speed power nothing. leased for $99/mo back in the day. Used to strap cafeteria trays under the back wheels and find empty parking lots to go to and perform my rendition of the “less friction is better” ballet. That car begged to have you beat the literal shit out of it.”
Sure, it’s just a Suzuki Swift with different badges, but that didn’t stop a whole host of you calling for the Geo Metro to make a comeback. Killed off in 2001, would there be a place for a small, economical city car in the America of today?
Suggested by: ranma
14 / 22
Chevrolet Bel Air
Chevrolet Bel Air
“The Bel Air. I love mine, but Chevy threw them in the trash.”
The Chevrolet Bel Air is one of my bucket list cars that I need to drive while I’m living in America. Its iconic looks and chrome everything help make it the American car you think of if you aren’t from ‘round here.
Suggested by: @pekoboo2u2 (Twitter)
15 / 22
“Grandpa says Fiat X1/9. Not powerful but so much fun to drive. I got mine in 1979 for the lump sum of 10K$ Canadian, about 8K$ US. Kept the car for eightyears, drove in the winter and never had an issue, ever.”
A cute Fiat sports car with pop-up headlamps, what’s not to love?
Suggested by: minardi
16 / 22
“Volkswagen Scirocco! I’m really aging myself here, but really any small, fun practical hatchback coupé (Not bloated CUV “coupés”) in the U.S. would be cool.”
VW had a new version of the Scirocco that it sold in places like Europe until 2017. But, for some reason, it never made it over to America. VW, give the people what they want! As long as it’s a small, sporty car.
Suggested by: mattpipes
17 / 22
Ford Fiesta ST
Ford Fiesta ST
“Gotta go with my boy, the FiST. (Ford Fiesta ST)
“No longer can you find a hot hatch for anywhere near $20K.
“That was the whole deal with the Ford Fiesta ST. It was a fun, zippy, turbocharged hatch for $20K.
“What’s even more insulting, is that Ford didn’t stop making them, in fact there’s a new generation of them driving around.... in Europe.”
File this one away with “give the people what they want” as well, please.
Suggested by: Knyte
18 / 22
“Chevy Cavalier and Z24 variant, maybe make it a little turbo 4. Chevy sold them by the bushel in the 80s and early 90s in coupe and convertible as dependable cheap transportation. You couldn’t drive thru a high school or college parking lot without spotting them everywhere.”
The Cavalier was marketed by Chevrolet between 1982 and 2005. At its peak, the firm sold 462,611 Cavaliers in a single year.
Suggested by: Bill Keenan (Facebook)
19 / 22
“I would totally buy a cheap-ish five-door hatch. The Dacia Sandero outside the US market seems fine, and I’ve always liked modern Skodas. Kia sells a 5-door Forte in some markets, but not the U.S.
Jalops will hate it, but the 1st gen Versa hatch was a lot of car and a lot of room for the money. The Versa Note that replaced it seemed goofy, cheap, and weird, but the first one was an honest plus-sized hatchback (and not all of them had CVT’s). Nostalgia is fun, but I wouldn’t go back to the days before fuel injection, airbags, ABS, and bluetooth.”
A lot of good suggestions for budget runarounds from this poster. While the Sandero has the upper hand for price-conscious consumers, I agree that modern Skodas are pretty tidy.
Suggested by: spookiness
20 / 22
Just a Plane Old Golf
Just a Plane Old Golf
“The base VW Golf. I love my 2015 2-door with a manual, and I would be interested in a MkVIII if the features are what I want, at the right price.”
Sometimes, you don’t want something packing all the bells and whistles. And then, you might find yourself in the market for just a plain old VW Golf. But in America, you can’t have one of them, it has to be the Golf R or GTI.
Suggested by: Paul Duarte (Facebook)
21 / 22
“The Dart. No, not the classics. The first Fiat-Chrysler by-product of that merger.
“The 1.3T and 2.0T Stellantis now has would be perfect for the Dart.
“The 1.3T replaces all three engines the Dart debuted with: it makes less horsepower then the 2.4 (at like 177) but makes 200 ft-lbs of torque. Match that with the nine-speed, and 40mpg on 87 octane would be easy...
“The 2.0T is enough said: it’s what that chassis needs to be AMAZING.”
I’m not sure there are many people calling for a return of the Dodge Dart, but this poster does make a compelling argument in its favor.
Suggested by: turnworld
22 / 22