You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a car to have fun. As old adage goes, “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow.” Fortunately, there are a lot of slow but fun cars to find on your local classifieds for cheap. You may have to look hard to find them, but here are five fun cars that cost under $5,000.
1. 1994 Ford Taurus SHO
Who needs all these fancy turbocharged engines when you can have a 24-valve V6 engine made by Yamaha? That’s right, the old Ford Taurus SHO pumped out 220 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque and could reach 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.7 seconds. Believe it or not, that was fast for that time period and what’s even better is that it was offered only with a five-speed manual transmission. It’s no wonder that SHO stands for “Super High Output.”
2. 2003 Ford Focus SVT
The original Ford Focus SVT was no Fiesta ST, but it was quite the little hot hatchback in its day. Its 2.0-liter Zetec engine put out 170 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, which enabled it to scoot up to 60 mph in just 7.4 seconds. OK, it may not sound that fast, but it was still fun to drive.
3. 1990 Honda CR-X Si
Speaking of slow cars, the 1990 Honda CR-X Si wasn’t exactly a tire-scorching dream machine. But it was still fun to drive. It only weighed around 2,000 pounds and produced 106 hp, however, that lightweight and tin-can physique made it a hoot and a holler to drive on the streets. Also, with a little effort, you can make a CR-X into quite the race track terror.
4. 1993 Mazda MX-5 Miata
There’s no way we can have a list of cheap fun cars without adding the early-90s Miata to it. We’ll admit that finding a Mazda Miata of this vintage may cost $5,000 at the least in today’s market, but you could get lucky. After all, a tiny, lightweight rear-drive convertible is definitely worth the money.
5. 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS
Yes, the turbocharged Impreza WRX was a lot of fun, but its non-turbo 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS was just as fun, albeit in a different way. It didn’t give you the same punchiness as the WRX, but it still had much to offer. According to Road and Track, “What it does have, however, are much cooler looks, a lighter curb weight, and a rear locking differential.”
Fun car for less than $5,000
The cars on this list might be slow, but they are inherently fun to drive. Their manual transmission, AWD or RWD configurations, and lightweight architectures make up for their lack of power. Besides, do you really need 500 hp to go to the store and back?
We think not. So forget your turbocharged dreams and go with something older and more reliable. With some hard searching and a bit of luck, you may be able to find a car on this list for less than $5,000.