Decision Guide


Best garage finds everBest garage finds ever

Rare and expensive vehicles and the stories behind their discovery.



May 22, 2012 9:20AM

Interesting article, but good luck finding any of these models in "good condition."  Unfortunately, the affordable purchase prices makes them easy targets for 16 year olds who beat the crap out of them.

Jun 9, 2012 2:40PM
The 1987-1993 Mustang "5.0" is "the red-headed stepchild of the Mustang family?"  I have to wonder where the author got such a notion, 'cause it's not from reality or anything close to it.

The Fox-bodied Mustang (1979-1993) brought the Mustang name back from the brink of irrelevance after production ended on the Pinto-based Mustang II (which is much more deserving of the "red-headed stepchild of the Mustang family" designation). 

Ford was about to attach the Mustang name to the front-drive, Mazda 626 based car that eventually was named the Probe, but input from Mustang enthusiasts led them to keep the rear-drive, optionally V8-powered, long hood with short rear deck ponycar alive, rather than to just slap a revered name on a car that is nothing like the original (a la Chevy Nova in the mid 80s).

The 1987 redesign of the Fox body Mustang improved looks, aerodynamics, handling, and performance, and the cars sold in large numbers.  The 5.0 was a legend in its day, and was one of the quickest affordable cars available at the time (the 225-hp rating of the 1987-1992 models was quite conservative) and is in every way a true Mustang.

The power of the "5.0" name can be seen even today, as Ford has reintroduced the "5.0" designation and badges for the late model Mustang GTs.  Hardly what one would expect from a "red-headed stepchild." 

Jun 4, 2012 5:48AM
What about Porsche's 944?  Great handling and braking right out of the box.  Many good deals out there under $5K!
Jun 17, 2012 5:56PM
I agree with getting a Miata, but look for a mid-91 or later. The earliest Miatas have a poorly designed crankshaft that will start to wobble and fail. It's an expensive fix, and the redesign in "91 eliminated the problem.
Jun 17, 2012 9:15PM

Last November I picked up an early 1985  model Porsche 944 non-turbo in great condition with just 75,000 miles on it.  These cars require more maintenance than most on the list, however, they are generally better built and are fantastic on a winding road.  Got mine for $4,700 and then gave it a complete servicing including timing belts, gaskets, seals, radiator and changed the A/C from R12 to R134a, all for around $2,000 and it runs and drives like new.  These cars are easy to work on, parts are plentiful and not too expensive either.  It's all of 150 hp and although it only has a top speed of 137 mph, but you can use higher speeds in corners because of the car's perfect balance.  The simpler dash design (from the 924) is driver centric and lends a classic sports car appeal to the 944.  It also doesn't cost as much to insure.  I pay about $600  a year for full-coverage with zero deductible.   The 944 was an off-shoot of the 924 racing Carrera. The 944 was Porsche engined and ready to take to the track right from the dealership.  It was as fast as some Ferraris of the day and could eat Corvettes for breakfast.  There were only 85,000 944's of various models sold in the US  during it's 9 year run and many are in sad shape (kids, lack of maintenance) but, if you locate one with maintenance records like I did, it's a keeper!   

Jun 10, 2012 3:44AM
Try to find me a track day-ready E36 M3 for less than $10 that doesn't need $4k in maintenance and repairs. They are likely more in the $10k to $13k range. Kelly Blue Book is delusional with their "excellent" rating on their M3 pricing. Fantastic car, not realistic for this list. Prices are going up on these, and KBB is not accurate.

The 8v GTI is a great pick, but good luck finding one that has not completely clapped out. Fun car and easy to work on, yes, but there are probably a couple of other cars out there that are more deserving of this list. Wouldn't be my choice for a track car if I was given $10k.

Jun 10, 2012 7:22PM
Wow...nice list..I think. This is the "best" for 10k or less?? How bout the mits 3000gt Vr-4? Less than ten grand and for a $30 k&n air filter and a paper clip to remove the wastegate "restrictor", I am sitting on 350hp, everything stock. I picked it up for $4500. A steal of course, but c'mon, even if you mod the cars on this list, Im gonna be laughing at you in my mirror, for much less than 10k. Put some more thought, and effort, into this would ya author?
Jun 10, 2012 1:03AM

personally like how the picture of the nissan 240sx is really a 1989-1994 model while he mentions 1995-1998 specifically.

as a young man I do dream of nearly all of these vehicles and then some.

Jun 17, 2013 2:39AM
Here I thought old technology was coming back, i just went up to my attic to retrieve my 8 tracks...
Jun 10, 2012 7:38PM
240sx nuff said. even with the ka24 engine you could coax over 400hp NA. Look up a guy named Chris Mays if your skeptical... or you could drop in the ka24det, the sr20det or the skyline rb26 and lookout!!  

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