Not all car fun has to be expensive. We’ve selected 7 cars you can pick up on the cheap and either drive as-is or upgrade, without spending a lot of dough.
Of the cars we’ve selected for this “Cheap Thrills” list, we went for the price mid-point and maybe a little below. You can spend a great deal more on any of these cars onan example in pristine condition, low miles, and so much documentation that the business card from the salesperson, with home number handwritten on the back, is in the pile of papers. But we were looking only for solid drivers that have an upside potential.
’90 – ’94 Mazda Miata
If you want fun, reliable motoring on the cheap, the first car to turn to is the original Mazda Miata. It offers all the exhilaration of driving a classic British sports car without it leaving all oil spots all over your driveway. For the most pure experience, we like the early model cars with the 1.6 L engine. While the later, larger 1.8 L engines provide more power, they’re not as flexible or responsive as the smaller 1.6 motor.
Most options on early Miatas had more to do with comfort and convenience, so there’s not much to worry about there. One thing to determine is if the car you’re considering is fitted with an optional Torsen limited slip differential. And, of course, there’s lots of opportunity for improvement.