What's The Best Sub-$2K Beater?

Illustration for article titled Whats The Best Sub-$2K Beater?

The über-wealthy may still be able to afford track toys, but most of us are lucky to scrape together a couple grand for a car. For the hoi polloi: what's the best sub-$2K beater?


For purposes of this QOTD, let's leave it at picking one vehicle as opposed to, you know, four LeMons cars. In this scenario, we're in rare agreement across Jalopnik, a late 80s-era/early 90s-era Toyota truck, whether short bed or long, extended cab or not, is an awesome beater for the money. The trick is to find one with the legendary 22R motor, with 4WD, and hopefully not too many miles on it (say, less than 250,000). Though best for a bit of off-roading or perhaps as a beach car, you can also use it to pull stumps and autocross. Plus, in a couple of years it might breach the $500 barrier and you'll be able to LeMons it. The biggest issue is rust but, given the way most beaters are driven, it's nothing to worry about when you have a robust drivetrain, ample parts and like to leap!


Can you find anything better?

(QOTD is your chance to answer the day's most pressing automotive questions and experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good "Question Of The Day" send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

Photo Credit: Final Gear Forums

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As far as trucks go, I do believe that a 1970-1980s Ford or Chevy full size will give your Toyota a run for the money. When you do need parts you can just about find them on the side of the road. Plus the Ford won't rust into the ground. My personal current sub-$2k beater is a 1988 Ford F-150 (XLT, long bed exteded cab, 2WD) with the 4.9L I-6 and a 5-speed. I picked it up for $1600. I don't plan on doing any mechanical work other than oil changes, brake pads, and maybe a clutch someday. The 4.9L doesn't even have a timing belt or chain to worry about, it has GEARS!

For cars, if you don't mind a little tinkering get a BMW E30, you'll get a better one for the money if you get an eta instead of an i. Just do a diff swap and most of the performance difference goes away.