It isn’t an insignificant amount of cash, but in terms of buying a car, it’s on the low end of the spectrum. Ideally the following list demonstrates that you can get some serious power and style for $5,000.
Now for the disclaimers: (1) this is a list, not THE list, (2) specifications are not indicative of the car’s current capabilities and (3) reliability and cost of ownership did not factor into the list. Click the link above each image for details on a used model that’s for sale.
2003 Lincoln LS
With 280 hp and a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds, the Lincoln LS delivers the power. Like a charcoal suit, the LS has simple and serious styling. The LS is also safe, earning near-perfect scores from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
1998 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Styling that doesn’t scream, “Ice Ice Baby” makes the ’98 attractive, plus you get all the classic Mustang traits that would make Lee Iacocca proud, including the classic growl of a V-8 that cranks out 225 hp, rear-wheel drive and a 5-speed manual.
2000 BMW 750iL
New, the 750 would set you back $90K. It’s the definition of Bavarian-engineered luxury and power. Power indeed, with the V-12 under the hood making 326 hp and 361 ft-lb torque @ 3,900 rpm, you’re ready to take over any road. If you plan to take over a country or drug cartel, look for models with the “Protection” package, which includes run-flat tires and armor plating designed to withstand .357 mag., 9-mm and .44 magnum handgun and light sub-machine gun fire.
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS
While not a big V-8, the Eclipse provides a lot of fun with a 3.0L gas V-6 that cranks out 210 hp @ 5,750 rpm and 205 ft-lb torque @ 3,750 rpm. Combined with the self-shift automatic transmission, the Eclipse moves 0-60 in 8.1 seconds. The styling of the Eclipse has worn well over time and still looks aggressive. The car shown has an automatic. For a more pure driving experience, look for the 5-speed manual.
1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Sadly the Pontiac brand was one of the casualties of the 2008 recession, and owning one now means owning a part of history. The Firebird delivers the classic components of a big V-8, including 305 hp, 335 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm and a manual transmission. This all translates to a 0-to-60 time of only 5.5 seconds. The shark-like body style and rear spoiler give it a bit of a mean look. However, the honeycomb taillights may take a while to come back into fashion.