One of the most unlikely driver’s cars you can get at a bargain price is the 1998 to 2005 BMW E46 3-Series Touring. If you’re unfamiliar with BMW model designations, this is the station wagon version of the old 3-Series from the late ’90s and early 2000s. The trick with this car is that the E46 chassis is one of the best in its class with 50:50 weight distribution and perfect handling.
Add to it a rev-happy six-cylinder engine with 230 HP and six-speed manual transmission and you get an immensely capable enthusiast wagon. It comes with decent space and great performance for just around $3,000. Importantly, the maintenance should also be much less expensive compared to those more modern BMWs.
The common opinion about the early ’90s Lexus is that they built those cars with special care. So they’re much more durable than their competitors as well as other Toyota products. For just $3,000, you have the chance to buy a nice example of the SC 300 Coupe.
Toyota equipped it with a plush interior and a 3.0-liter straight-six engine with 225 HP the ’90s. In fact, the Lexus SC 300 was a capable competitor to the Mercedes SL and Cadillac Eldorado. Even today, this Gran Turismo didn’t lose much of its appeal. Luckily, it is still a great cruiser for a small price.
Ford introduced the Mustang’s long-awaited fourth generation in late 1993 as a 1994 model. The new car was sleeker and more modern. Also, it was better built and more powerful thanks to the new 4.6-liter modular V8 that pumped 260 HP. Although that’s not a big number for today, it was more than enough by mid-1990s standards.
Since the Mustang GT was a popular, common car, you can find them today at low prices. Also, for $3,000 you will have plenty to choose from, too. Although the 260 HP engine provides decent performance, you will not beat any new 911s at those stoplight drag races. However, if you want a wallet-friendly muscle car, you can’t go wrong with the mid-’90s Mustang GT with a V8 engine.
They are forgotten now, but those early 2000s Buicks were very good machines. The V6 engine had decent power, interiors were filled with creature comforts, the quality was acceptable and maintenance was cheap.
Of course, the design wasn’t interesting and the performance wasn’t impressive unless you opt for the supercharged model. However, for $1000 (or a little more) bucks today, this is still a decent cruiser.
The early 1990s LS400 was the first Lexus model and car which made the company. Although it looked like a Mercedes S-Class, it had distinctive features, a V8 engine, good equipment, and was made to last.
For $1000 this could be a perfect daily cruiser with a leather interior and automatic gearbox.
Although it is not a capable 4×4 version but a regular 4×2 model, the Cherokee Laredo is still a very usable and capable family SUV. The maintenance shouldn’t be a problem since this was a very popular car.
If you are looking for a safe transportation device for your family on a budget, this is it.
Back in the early 2000s, the Jetta with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder was a good proposition as a compact family sedan. Today, 15 years later it is still dependable transport with all the important features. Sure, you will not get satellite navigation or autonomous driving system but you will get decent power, comfort, and good safety. All for $1000 to $3000.
These are the top 30 fun yet cheap cars for around $3,000. So if you don’t have a lot of money in your car budget, don’t worry. Buying one of these affordable, yet fun cars is the way to go. But to avoid headaches, be sure to check the maintenance and accident history first. That shouldn’t be difficult to do, so now it’s time to go car shopping before its prices are sky-high.