Quite the Impulse Buy

The Used Cars We’d Buy Right Now For $10,000


February 23, 2018 Buying Guides By

Ten thousand dollars: it won’t get you far with a new car salesman, but in Used Car Land, it’s a fortune. A used car may be your first car or your city commuter; it may be your winter beater or a weekend toy. Around the office this week, we leaned into our favorite thought experiment: spend no more than ten thousand dollars and get something you really, really want. If we had a [limited] blank check, this is what we’d pick up.

1991 Nissan Silvia

Go and try to find a clean Nissan 240SX in the US — I’ll wait. The problem is that they’ve mostly all been stanced, drifted or modded into oblivion. Interestingly the 240SX’s Japanese equivalent, the sleek little Silvia, can be found in a solid condition relatively easily (that, or Japanese Classics uses sorcery to find good, clean examples). This one has some mods — notably, aftermarket Volk alloys (good), an Apexi high-flow filter (good), a Jasma muffler (good) and a slightly lower suspension (also good) — but they all offer slight improvements on this stunning chassis. This simple, balanced coupe is exactly what driving feel is all about, which is why I’d happily find the space and funds for it. Also, it’s blue. Blue cars are rad. — Andrew Connor, Associate Writer

Mileage: ~118,000
Original MSRP: Unknown

1993 Saab 900 Turbo

Ah yes, the Saab 900. One of Saab’s most iconic models, the 900 was one of the world’s first mainstream turbocharged cars. Saab built it with double wishbone suspension, which provided great handling characteristics… and the engine was mounted backward. It’s undeniably quirky and cool. My pick is a 1993 Turbo version, easily identified by it’s large yet modest “turbo” badge on the rear. Although a modern day Camry is faster than this ever was, it’s still super rad based on those timeless looks alone.
Hunter Kelley, Design & Photography Apprentice

Mileage: 204,128
Original MSRP: $30,555

2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion

I’m leaving myself open to heaps of criticism on this one, but I just can’t resist an AWD wagon —- especially one at the top trim level with a W8 engine. The ’03 Passat W8 4Motion wagon came from the factory with 270hp, and it stands to reason that this one for sale in Arizona still has most of those horses at its disposal. According to the seller, the engine and transmission have been swapped to with 89K mile examples, which is absolutely terrifying when mated to such a finicky Haldex AWD system. Loads of other odds and ends have also been replaced like the water pump, belts and engine and transmission mounts. Lots of red flags here, but again, I’ve got a soft spot for AWD wagons. — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

Mileage: 164,921
Original MSRP: $38,700

2004 Ford Ranger

Through a series of wonderful events, my second car was a nearly brand new Ranger, replete with an off-road package and sport package. It had a special lifted suspension and steel bumpers and an extended cab. And it was very red. I used to purposely get stuck in snow banks just to pop the truck into 4-Lo and crawl out; my friends and I would load the bed with blankets and head to the drive-in for some open-air entertainment. I always loved the Ranger because it’s the perfect-sized truck; this generation is profoundly handsome in a new-millennium kind of way, and since the new Ranger is bound for our shores any time now… this purchase — a top-end Edge version of the little truck — seems well-timed, as asking prices are bound to hike. Still, this price should be haggled intensely. — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

The listing price below has dropped to $9,499 from its original amount, $9,995.

Mileage: 84,501
Original MSRP: ~$20,000

1991 Lincoln MK VII LSC

My first car was almost a Mark VII LSC. It was painted a light champagne color and featured a terrible body kit. I loved it. A classy car that dripped luxury and screamed sport? For a 16-year-old kid, it seemed almost too good to be true. But that was when the Mark VII was just a handful of years old — this one is…significantly older now. But it’s got Ford’s 5.0 V8 and that edgy, barely softened ’80s styling; plus, I can’t NOT love a grand tourer. Lincoln is killing it lately, but where’s the new LSC?? — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor (Yes, I chose two cars. No, I can’t decide which I’d rather have.)

Mileage: 138,450
Original MSRP: ~$30,000

1995 Ford Bronco XL

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “[insert ‘White Bronco car chase’ joke here].” Despite its infamy, the last-generation Bronco is an icon for practical reasons as well. It was based on the F-150 pickup, and was a huge, capable, relatively bare-bones SUV. It can rock crawl; it can do ranch duty; it looks classy in a suburban driveway. That same go-to Ford 5.0 V8 from the Lincoln above is under the hood, meaning this truck is easy to wrench yourself if need be. It’s also a looker, and this example has been used very little by its current owner, the seller’s wife: “she takes more pics with it than she drives it,” the ad states. It’ll need a little sprucing up, but with some attention, it’ll run for another 100K, no problem. — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor (Yes, this is my third pick. I’m having an existential crisis.)

Mileage: 114,000
Original MSRP: ~$19,000
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