Cars Under 1000

I usually don’t recommend buying cars for under a 1000 but if you’re really tight on money here are a list of cars you can buy.






Ford Escort

I never thought I’d put an Escort in my “Cars Under 1000” list but I used to own a 1993 Ford Escort 4 door and to my surprise the car was very reliable.

I bought the car from a private seller in 2007 for $500 and put another $500 in new parts. It was my daily driver for three years and not once did it leave me stranded on the road.

Why was my Escort so reliable? In my opinion there was really nothing to break except for the engine and transmission.

The car was a base model with no fancy options. It didn’t have the creature comforts that many cars have today such as power windows and power seats.

ford-escort-interior

The only option it did have was a radio and air conditioning which served me well during the hot summer months.

I have to admit it wasn’t the most fun car to drive and wasn’t very pleasing to the eyes but it got the job done. It consistently delivered over 30 miles per gallon.

Parts were very cheap and labor didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

I eventually donated the car because the motor was beginning to sound like a lawn mower. I ended up buying a 1998 Toyota Camry V6 which currently servers as my daily driver. But I’m sure I could have gotten three more years out of the car without any major problems.

So if you’re in the market for a cheap and reliable car look no further than the Escort.


Geo Metro

What’s there not to love about a 3 cylinder car giving you up to 58 mpg?

The Metro costs a fraction of a modern hybrid and gets similar if not better gas mileage.

I once rented a two door Metro in the early 1990s and can tell you the car was a fuel miser.

Though the engine was underpowered and rather noisy it delivered gas mileage like no other car I had driven before.

If you’re in the market for one of these cars make sure to get it thoroughly inspected by a certified mechanic.

geo-metro-interior

The Metro isn’t going to win any design awards so I wouldn’t be concerned about minor dents or faded paint.

Even if you do end up paying 1000 dollars in repairs you can easily recover that money at the gas pump.

With high gas prices these days you would think more people would be driving these compact cars. Instead I still see a lot of gas guzzling SUVs on the road.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Metro on the road. If you’re in the market for one you probably won’t find many in your area. Looking on eBay would be your best bet for finding one in decent condition.


Toyota Tercel

You can get a high mileage Tercel for roughly a grand these days.

You can’t go wrong with these cars because they’re made by the company who knows reliability.

The fourth generation model, as pictured on the right, has a 1.5 liter engine producing a whopping 82 hp.

It might not have a lot of power but this car only weighs 2000 lbs making it feel nimble especially with a manual transmission. All while getting up to 35 mpg.

toyota-tercel-interior

The Tercel is actually a bit fun to drive in stop and go traffic. While it may be not be rev-happy like the Honda Civic it still feels peppy.

Ride quality on this car isn’t the best but it’s a bit more refined than the Escort.

While the Tercel may not be the best looking car on the road it will certainly offer years of cheap and reliable transportation for you and your family.


Toyota Corolla

Here’s another Toyota that can deliver years of reliable transportation as well as deliver excellent gas mileage.

I still see a lot of 20+ year old Corollas on the road today.

Though a late 80s to early 90s Corolla can be purchased for roughly a grand, don’t expect a cream puff for that price.

If you’re in the market for this car look for one with a manual transmission to spice things up a bit.

toyota-corolla-interior

A Corolla with manual transmission should provide plenty of pep since these cars weigh as much as a Mazda Miata.

The thing I like about a compact car with manual transmission is that the transmission makes the car feel lively.

The whine of the engine and the loud road noise makes it feel you’re going faster than you actually are.

Back in mid 90s my college buddy purchased a used 1988 Corolla sedan.

Though the engine sounded like a lawn mower the car was bulletproof. It endured over five years of abuse and neglect. Now that’s what I call Toyota durability.

Finding one in decent condition shouldn’t be a problem as these cars are still plentiful in the used car market.


Acura Integra

The Acura Integra was a sports car made by Honda from 1985 to 2006. The car was basically a Honda Civic with a slightly different body design.

The highly sought-after VTEC model attracted a cult-like following among performance enthusiasts.

Where other manufacturers used turbochargers to increase their engine’s output, Honda remain committed to using their trademark high-revving naturally aspirated engines.

Though the Acura Integra was never a flop, it never enjoyed the same level of success as the Civic.

acura-integra-interior

As a result, Honda didn’t build many of these cars.

You probably won’t find many for sale in your area so looking on eBay would be your best bet for finding one.

These days a first generation Integra in decent condition should run anywhere from under a grand to 2500 dollars.

Keep in mind that though these cars were made by Honda and are generally reliable, many owners tend to modify and race them.

If you can find an unmodified Integra in decent condition it certainly would be worth checking out for.


Volkswagen Golf

The Mk1 Golf was made from 1974 to 1984 and is still one of the most popular models among VW enthusiasts.

The popularity of the car is due to it’s simple yet high performance nature. It’s also a practical and relatively cheap car to maintain.

The best thing about these cars is that they are fun to drive on twisty roads while getting excellent gas mileage.

vw-golf-interior

I occasionally see these cars on the road and they look good even to this day.

The car has a classic and timeless look to it. Parts are readily available and it doesn’t take much money to repair or upgrade these cars.

Once in a while I’ll see a nicely modified Mk1 on the road and I must say I wouldn’t mind having one.


Ford Taurus

I once owned a 1990 Ford Taurus and the only good thing I can say about the car is that it had a comfortable ride on the highway.

Power from the 6 cylinder engine was adequate and it got me from point A to point B somewhat reliably.

Fuel economy wasn’t the best for a 3.0L engine but parts and maintenance was on the affordable side.

ford-taurus-interior

My Taurus eventually lost a cylinder which made the car very sluggish. It gave me a few of years of cheap transportation before the transmission finally gave up.

I can’t say it was the best car I’ve ever owned but it certainly wasn’t the worst either.

In the late 90s my father bought a 1991 Ford Taurus and the transmission busted only after a couple of years of ownership.

These cars are dirt cheap if you can still find one in running condition. The transmission on these cars seems to be the weakest link so make sure you get it checked out before buying one.


Dodge Neon

The Dodge Neon won’t win any awards for styling or performance but it will give you many years of cheap transportation.

Power comes in at 134hp which isn’t bad for a base compact car like this.

You’ll also appreciate the decent fuel economy coming from its 2.0L 4-cylinder power plant.

dodge-neon-interior

This is a basic car for people with basic needs, which is getting from point A to B.

In the mid 1990s I rented a Dodge Neon and took it on a long distance drive. The rental car had decent passing power on the highway and a relatively quiet cabin.

One thing I couldn’t get over though was how cheap the car felt and drove. It did have comfortable seats for such a small compact car.

If you’re in the market for a Dodge Neon I would opt for the manual transmission which makes the car a bit more fun to drive.

Just don’t confuse this car with the Neon SRT model. The two may look somewhat similar but are two completely different cars.

As for reliability this car isn’t going to outlast your typical Honda Civic. But a well maintained Neon can definitely pass the 100K mile mark without any major problems.


Mercedes Benz Diesel

My favorite car in this list. What’s not to love about these old diesel cars?

They look great and sound great.

You may not be able to find a cream puff for under a thousand dollars but you may be able to find one in running condition.

The clean body lines along with the unmistakable Mercedes Benz grill makes this car a collector’s item for any car enthusiast.

The Mercedes Benz W123, as pictured above, is already beginning to be a classic.

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Owners are noticing the demand. I’ve seen many clean and low mileage cream puffs go for more than 12 grand on eBay.

But before you go out and start searching for your dream Mercedes be aware that a diesel engine needs proper maintenance just like a regular engine.

True, these cars are virtually indestructible and can last a very long time but only if you maintain them properly.

Chances are there aren’t many of these diesel classics in your neck of the woods so browsing on eBay would be your best bet for finding one.


Honda Accord

This list wouldn’t be complete without the ubiquitous Honda Accord.

Everybody knows that the Honda Accord can easily pass the 200K mile mark without breaking a sweat. There are still see many 20+ year old Accords on the road today.

But don’t expect an Accord with over 200K miles selling for under a grand to be a cream puff. In fact the paint will probably be faded (as old Hondas are known to be prone) and the interior all worn out. But that doesn’t matter because this car can reliably get you from point A to point B.

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I remember driving a friend’s Accord back in 1991. It was a newly designed car at the time and it felt solid.

Though it was a 4-cylinder with automatic transmission it felt quick and had a very sporty ride.

I prefer the fourth generation (1990-1993) Accords compared to the later generations because of its simple and clean styling.

As with any Honda I would recommend getting a manual transmission. I’ve always felt that Hondas were made to be driven with a stick shift.


Toyota Camry

Just like the Accord the Toyota Camry can easily pass the 200K mile mark without any major problems.

Camrys are usually driven by older folks for a reason; they are comfortable cars.

I myself currently drive a 1998 Camry V6 and have to say it has a more comfortable ride than my previous 1998 Nissan Maxima SE.

The car isn’t as fun to drive as the Maxima but it’s great for long distance driving.

Toyota makes one of the smoothest 4-cylinder engines around. You would never guess there’s a small 2.2 liter engine under the hood. In fact, the four cylinder engines seem to be as smooth as the six cylinder engines.

toyota-camry-interior

The bad news is that the Toyota Camry is a pretty boring car to drive. The exterior design is just as dull.

The good news is that there are many used Camrys for sale. Go to any used car dealer and you’ll see at least a few of these cars for sale.

You should be able to grab an early 90s Camry for a grand but don’t expect a cream puff.

Like the Honda Accord, these cars were built like tanks and with proper maintenance you should be able to enjoy years of cheap transportation.


1990-honda-civic-sedan

Honda Civic

You can buy a fourth generation (1988-1991) Honda Civic for under a grand these days, though it may not be as clean as the one pictured here.

Powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine the fourth generation Civic produces a whopping 92 hp and 83 ft-lbs of torque. Gas mileage isn’t too shabby at 28/33 mpg.

Though the performance numbers aren’t quite impressive the car is actually very nimble especially with a manual transmission. This is due to its low curb weight of 2200 lbs which is about as light as a Mazda Miata.

Many Honda fans actually prefer the fourth generation’s clean body line over the fifth generation’s bubble shape design. It has a more handsome and sophisticated look to it.

honda-civic-interior-manual

The interior of Hondas have always appealed to me with its large windshield and large speedometer and tachometer.

I especially like the design of the 5-speed shift knob which I think Honda should have kept in their present day cars.

While it’s not unusual to see these cars surpass the 300K mark on the original engine and transmission, you still have to maintain these cars properly just like any other car.


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