What Car Would You Buy For a Thousand Dollars?

December 13, 2011


If you only had a thousand dollars to spend on a car what would you buy?

I guess the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry would come to mind for most people.

But the problem with these cars is they have high resale values. You’ll be lucky to find an Accord or Camry in fair condition for one thousand dollars.

You can bet an Accord selling for one grand will need a lot of repairs. The engine and transmission may be in good condition but there are other components to consider such as the alternator, timing belt, brakes, exhaust system, etc.

You’ll probably need an extra thousand or two in repairs which defeats the purpose of finding a car for a grand.

Instead, how about an early 90s Ford Escort?

I actually bought one of these cars for 500 hundred dollars a few years back. I spent an additional 500 dollars in repairs which made the car rock solid. Rock solid in the sense that it didn’t break down on me. There was plenty of rattling and road noise though.

The point is that for a thousand dollars you are better off buying a car with a low resale value. Which car might you ask?

Let’s see, there is the Ford Escort, Geo Metro (if you can still find them), Geo Prizm (same car as the Toyota Corolla), Nissan Sentra and the Nissan Maxima (another car that I once owned and loved).

These cars are cheap to buy and relatively inexpensive to maintain.

My 1993 Ford Escort served me well for a few years until I decided to donate it and buy another car. I bought a 1998 Camry with 125K miles for $3700 from a private seller. The car now has 170K and is still purring like a kitten.

If you’re looking to buy a car for a grand, look for cars that are mechanically sound but with slight body damage, missing hubcaps, scratched paint, etc. But make sure the damage is limited to the body and not the frame. Owners usually give steep discounts for cars that are aesthetically unpleasant to look at. But who cares? You just want a car to take you from Point A to B.

Are there any cars you can recommend for a thousand dollars?

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