Coolest cars under $10,000

 

Cars that exude cool for less than $10 grand, can it be done? Look, it’s a stretch but I think we’ve got you covered for cool rides on the tightest of budgets. Here’s our Top 5

 

5. BMW E28

In fifth place, and if you want to see just how cool this car can be, go and watch Mission Impossible Fallout, it’s the E28 BMW 5 Series.

 

Why is the E28 so cool? Well to many, this is the golden era for BMW design and these days the E28 is pretty much the perfect size. Big enough to have presence and some aggression but small enough to exude that understated cool aesthetic.

 

Plus the E28 was the basis of the very first M5, a car that pretty much set the benchmark for all fast sedans that followed.

 

An E28 M5 is going to be way out of the $10,000 budget but $10 grand will get you into a pretty decent 535i or 528i.

 

4. Peugeot 504

In fourth place, this thing will make you look and feel like you’re living in a 1960s French arthouse film, it’s the Peugeot 504.

 

What makes the 504 so cool? Well firstly it was designed by Aldo Brovarone of Pininfarina and who’s he? Well he designed the Ferrari Dino so he knows a thing or two about designing cool classic cars.

 

Secondly, and like the E28 BMW, the 504 isn’t shouty or obnoxious in anyway, it just oozes that cool french je ne sais quoi but at the same time, the 504 has been praised for its quality, chassis balance, ride, strong engine and refinement.

 

10 grand will easily get you behind the wheel of a 504, with some money left over, to…ah fix the inevitable issues it will probably have.

 

3. Honda Civic

Now look, bear with us on this one, but I swear to you, these things are cool, and a little weird which just makes them cooler. In third, it’s the Honda Civic but, the really old one.

 

We needed a small car in this list but with old school Minis, Mk1 Golfs and Peugeot 205 GTis skyrocketing in price, the 10 grand budget requires some deeper digging to find gold when it comes to small cars. And when it comes to small and cool, the first-generation Civics from 1972 to 1979 are the picks.

 

Japanese made, retro styling and some genuine reliability, ignoring any potential rust issues, these little Civics are the car equivalent of a vintage Seiko or Casio watch.

 

They might not have the pedigree or image of an old mini, Volkswagen Mk1 Golf or Peugeot 205 GTi, but trust us, these early Civics are only getting cooler.

 

10 grand will get you either an immaculate original or restored Civic or a slightly shabby one with money left over to restore it yourself.

 

2. Volvo 142

In second place, this one is pretty cool when original but throw on some period correct aftermarket wheels, lower it a little and my god, it exudes cool. It’s the Volvo 142. 

 

It’s Swedish, which is cool. It’s a 2-door coupe version of a 4-door sedan, which is cool. It was made in the late 60s and early 70s, which is cool and it was the first Volvo to feature boxy styling, which is cool.

 

Plus more than a million 140 series Volvos were sold, they’re built like tanks and being a Volvo, they’re kinda safe, so that’s good.

 

Even 7 grand will get you into a 142 leaving some money left over to buy those wheels and suspension mods, very cool.

 

1. Mercedes Benz W123

In first place, and for us a clear winner for being the maximum amount of cool for the minimal money spent, its the W123 series Mercedes-Benz. Any of the 4-cylinder 230 or 6-cylinder 280 models are the ones to go for. 

 

What makes these things so cool? The W123 is classless. And what does that mean, well the W123 was both a firm favourite for the German taxi industry and the car of choice for the likes of John Lennon, the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb and the Queen Mum.

 

Not only that, the W123 is arguably the epitome of Mercedes-Benz quality. It positively radiates Mercedes’ old-school ethos of absolute engineering integrity.

 

This superbly-engineered car was built for supreme comfort, safety and longevity yet still exudes class, sophistication and yes, an understated yet obvious cool.

 

10 grand should get you behind the wheel of a W123 and yes, it may require some TLC but it will be worth it. These things are just so cool.

 

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Worst first cars under $5,000

 

You want your first car to be safe and economical and, at the same time, fun and enjoyable to drive. While a budget of $5000 doesn’t exactly leave you with the room to be too picky, there are certain models that you must avoid at all costs.

 

For that purpose, here’s our list of the 5 worst first cars under $5000. Let’s dive right into it.

 

5. Citroen C4

In fifth place, we have the Citroen C4. While the C4 oozes style and French elegance, it is not a car you wish to spend your hard-earned money on. The car performed poorly even when it was first launched. The first-generation C4, manufactured between 2004 and 2010, was, in fact, subject to a host of factory recalls. Now that they are well past their prime, their performance has gone further downhill.

 

In a recent reliability survey, Citroen finished 28th in a list of 32 automobile manufacturers. One look at the C4 and you will know why. Faulty electronics, dodgy suspension, and wonky gearboxes are only a few of the issues you could face with this car. Add to that the difficulty of procuring many of the defective parts which are both outrageously expensive and hard to find, and you have a car that will give you frequent nightmares. 

 

4. Holden/Chevrolet Cruze

In fourth place we have the Holden or Chevrolet Cruze. The Cruze proved to be a huge disappointment from the very beginning.  Even in its heyday, the Cruze failed to inspire much faith in its overall safety and it consistently scored the lowest rank in reliability surveys conducted among compact sedans.

 

You can imagine how well they will fare with a few kilometres on the clock. Faulty transmissions, weak engines, electronic defects, dodgy brakes and poor suspension make the C4 one of the most persistently malfunctioning cars. You really do not want this in your life.

 

3. Peugeot 307

The French will always be known for giving us some of the finest food, movies, art, wine, cheese, clothing, architecture that the world has had the fortune of experiencing. And we’ll certainly never stop thanking them for perfecting the exquisite art of kissing. What we will not be thanking them for is the Peugeot 307. 

 

It is truly difficult to fathom how a company, that gave us iconic cars like 205 GTi, 106 and 306 Rallye, could produce such a colossal disaster. The Peugeot 307 comes with a nightmarish list of defects. Malfunctioning electronics, faulty indicators, lousy ignition systems, sloppy suspension, leaky fuel systems and a lackluster interior trim make this one of the worst products of French engineering.

 

2. Volkswagen Golf

In second we have the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf. This might upset some Volkswagen fans who have long been smitten with the uber stylish Golf that promised to be everything that they had hoped for in a car: well engineered, safe, practical and efficient. But, if you buy the Volkswagen Golf, especially one with the 1.4-litre engine and a DSG gearbox, chances are you will cry yourself to sleep every night. 

 

In a customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2014, the Mk5 Golf held the unenviable position of being the lowest-ranked family hatchback; and the years haven’t made the car any better. You may, on rare occasions, come across a well-behaved Mk5 Golf. But, most Mk5 Golfs are notoriously unreliable. You will face persistent issues with water pumps, oil leaks, suspension and electronic gremlins.

The DSG gearboxes are also absolutely atrocious. Equally appalling is the wheezy and underpowered engine that will beg to be replaced in only a few years. This is one car that will certainly suck your bank account dry.

 

 1. Holden Astra TS

In first place is the Holden Astra — infamously referred to as “Dis-Astras” by mechanics in Australia. The Astra is truly the stuff nightmares are made of. It is riddled by a million defects. Misfiring engines, clunky transmissions, failing alternators, faulty ECUs, finicky clutches, dodgy steering locks, leaky fuel system, shoddy air-conditioning and flimsy interior trim are all part of its hellish package.

 

Replacing faulty parts is a whole other nuisance as most of its parts cost a fortune when compared to what the car is worth. The Astra also exhibits a brazen disregard for safety. The older Equipe variant, for instance, doesn’t even have antilock brakes, something that should be mandatory for all new drivers. There’s a reason why car dealers refuse to take them as trade-ins. These are not cars anyone should invest in.

 

We’ve reviewed the Holden Cruze here.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

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