Best Used Cars for under $5,000

Best Sports Car: 1989-1997 Mazda Miata
The Miata was my generations MGB or Fiat 124, a simple, lightweight, 4 cylinder sports car. It reminded everyone that a inexpensive two seat sports cars did not have to be mega-dollar exotics. Having owned and restored a number of classic import sports cars in the past I was excited when I got to drive my first Miata and love getting behind the wheel of any MX5. If you are looking for the perfect car for commuting, fun weekend getaways, and a track-day or autocross every now and again you can't go wrong with a Miata. We even found some later model Miata's for under $5K, however, they appeared to have dubious modifications.

Best SUV: 1996-2002 Toyota 4Runner
A great all around SUV for fun and family with Toyota's bulletproof V6, it is smooth, comfortable, with enough room for the family without being an oversized gas guzzler. 4 Wheel Drive models are very good for light off-road driving. Our local classifieds had several listed for well under $5000.

Best 4X4:1987-1997 Jeep Wrangler
Jeeps are legendary and since they look pretty much the same since the 1940's it really does not matter what year you buy, avoid Jeeps with heavy modifications for the off road, as many-times they are unbearable on the road. We found several with and without hardtops, both stock and modified, just be sure to get a 6-cylinder.

Best Sedan: 2000-2001 BMW
Powered by a 4.4 litre V8 with twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder; develops 282 horsepower at 5700 rpm and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission only. These are stout cars, but be sure to buy the best one you can find. These pop up in the classifieds all the time, good luck finding one with out 22" wheels.

Best Convertible: 1987-1993 Ford Mustang.
Sure there are slightly newer convertibles in the classifies for under $5k, but they are mostly Chrysler or Mitsubishi products. The Fox Body Mustang is one of the best values on the road, the 2.3 liter 4 cylinder is ok for cruising, but the 5.0 v8 is the engine you want. With over 200 horsepower and more bolt on aftermarket performance parts than just about any car on the road the 5.0 is not only cheap to build, but cheap to run.

Best Hatchback: 2002-2004 Ford Focus ZX3.
The Ford Focus was one of the first in a series of Fun Fords, with its European Styling, great VW Golf like handling, and peppy DOHC 4 cylinders they proved to be not only fun to drive but great all around cars. I liked the Focus so much I have owned three of them. Beware of 2000 and 2001 models as they had a few bugs, but all issues were worked out by 2002, there is a large aftermarket for the Focus as well, in fact my father still drives a 2001 Focus that I put together for him as a commuter car, I installed a Jackson Racing Supercharger, Borla Exhaust, SVT Suspension, and ST220 wheels to make a even hotter hatchback that is a blast to drive, and with 136,000 miles on the clock it still feels strong and is fun to drive.