If you read a lot of car news, you’re well aware that everything seems just a bit too expensive these days. Some new cars are so pricey you might as well take out a mortgage on them. Even used cars still seem just a bit inflated. However, if you dig deep enough, there are still some cheap gems to be found. Bottom-dollar cars are out there and they can be a ton of fun. What under-$3,000 car have you been drooling over? And why do you want it so much?
As many of you know, I am on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist every day looking for the next deal. Having drinks before Thanksgiving dinner? I’m taking a quick scroll through Facebook. Is it ten minutes before bed? I’m cuddling my wife … while looking through Facebook. It’s ok because she’s also looking for her favorite cars at the same time. I’m half sure (semi-sure) I look at Facebook listings in my dreams. I’d probably look for cars while having an intensive surgery, too.
Anyway, my unrelenting persistence to find cheap cars has scored me some good deals in the past, such as my free 2005 Smart Fortwo, another $1,400 Smart Fortwo, my $2,900 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI, my $5,000 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI, and $8,500 Saturn Sky Red Line. Often, I’m one of the first people to message a seller, and I hit them with just one question: Will it make it home?
If the seller is confident enough the answer is yes, I race over there as fast as I can. That’s what happened with the above Touareg V10 TDI. I purchased a plane ticket and flew 2,000 miles to Seattle based only on the promise that the brute could make it back home.
I’ve been on the prowl for a few cars lately. I’d love to bring home a Volkswagen Eos VR6, a Toyota Century, a BMW Z3, a Smart Fortwo Cabriolet, a BMW 750iL, or some Kei car. These cars do exist, but I’m a cheapskate and want to pay well under $5,000. A week ago, I thought I found just the car, a $3,000 BMW 750iL that is said to run and drive. After my wife does her usual negotiations, who knows how much cheaper it could get.
Why this car? The 750iL was BMW’s flagship product, pairing the best technology BMW could muster with a beautiful 5.4-liter V12 making 322 HP and 361 lb-ft of torque. It’s one of those legendary cars I could never afford new, but can now enjoy several years later. The power doesn’t really matter. I love cars with relatively uncommon engines, lots of weirdness, or a good story to tell. It’s part of why I cherish my V10 TDI. A buttery-smooth V12 would be dreamy. As the world electrifies, cars like these will eventually become relics of a different time.
I may be crazed, but I’m not crazy. I’ve been burned by two-decade-old luxury cars before. My Volkswagen Phaeton was a total cluster. So, when I look at this ad, I see terrible pictures and clear faults the seller didn’t mention in the description. I’ve been hesitant. I don’t want to drive to Michigan to repeat The Phaeton Disaster. Yet, I was preparing to do just that this weekend. Someone else had the gumption to give it a go as well because the listing just sold. Whew. Now, it’s time to look for another 750iL.
So, what sub-$3,000 cars have you been looking at? How long have you been studying them? Why do you want it?