5 Under $5K: The Best Cheap Cars We Found For Sale (Asheville, NC Edition)

The pickings might be slim, but the variety of offerings among Asheville, NC’s cheap Craigslist car pages are decent.

byPeter Nelson| PUBLISHED Oct 28, 2022 2:50 PM
5 Under $5K: The Best Cheap Cars We Found For Sale (Asheville, NC Edition)
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Last week's visit to the cozy northern Nevada city of Reno revealed some neat cheap cars for sale, some of which were solid enthusiasts' choices. This week, let's sail across much of the country to Asheville, North Carolina and have a look at what this Southeastern version of a nestled-in-the-mountains metropolitan area has to offer.

Like Reno, Asheville's got outdoor splendor to the max. It's situated along the Appalachian Trail, features great hiking, hunting, fishing, and cycling, and even sports a very pleasant downtown area. Plus, a big variety of solid microbreweries and some of the best BBQ I've ever had in my entire life. It's not too much of a drive to get to other cool cities, too, like Knoxville, Atlanta, Athens, Greenville, Charlotte, and more.

While the area's car classifieds weren't exactly numerous, what it did have was some neat potential. Here are five options for short money that seem like they'd be worth investigating.

And as always, a heads up: The Garage’s “five under five” highlights five cars listed under $5,000 within a specific geographic region. The idea is to keep a finger on the low-end car market’s pulse and provide some context on the current state of what’s on Craigslist. We don’t know these sellers and haven’t seen any of these cars in person. We’re just sharing them based on what’s apparent in the ad, so break out your wallet at your own risk!

The Connoisseur's Choice: 2001 Lexus GS300

Craigslist
  • Miles: 159,000
  • Price: $4,650
  • Link

What a survivor! It's rare to find a 2JZ-powered, rear-wheel drive Lexus in any metropolitan area, as many of them have been converted into infernal takeover sleds, sadly. This one appears to be well taken care of with a clean-looking coat of paint, clean wheels, and clean trim. Hopefully, the interior's in similar condition.

From what I understand these cars are tanks and ride quite sweet. It'd probably be a great luxury cruiser with very little maintenance, a suspension refresh, and any other normal needs for a car of this vintage.

The Low-Priced Euro: 2006 BMW 325i

Craigslist
  • Miles: 149,211
  • Price: $3,300
  • Link

This E90 BMW 325i is the first year of what would become one of the best 3 Series generations, ever. As long as their maintenance is attended to, and you keep an eye out for fluid leaks, they're generally sturdy cars that have a rewarding driving experience at any trim level. Plus, the aftermarket is quite huge (it shares a lot with the E82 1 Series), and any performance modifications are wise investments, as its naturally aspirated N52 inline-six is a very enthusiastic engine. Especially if you throw a junkyard-sourced three-stage intake manifold and 330i tune on it.

This one seems to be a good candidate, as it appears to be generally clean and even has a six-speed manual transmission, which is a little rare. Though, there's a lot to look out for, so do your due diligence. Especially considering its price and mileage—it might need some work.

The Thrifty Commuter: 2001 Mazda Protege

Craigslist
  • Miles: 239,175
  • Price: $4,000
  • Link

The last-generation Protege is a special one—they're genuinely fun cars. This one's manual, too, and features a sprightly enough, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder. While they're the epitome of econoboxes, they do feature independent rear suspension, above-average sporty looks (especially for the era) and they're quite simple to work on. I know this from personal experience, I had a 2003 ES trim.

This example looks to have been lovingly owned and has had a lot of maintenance done in the past year. Mileage is high, but regular maintenance always supersedes mileage. Plus, if its engine ever gives up the ghost, replacements are plentiful on eBay.

The Sturdy Ol' Bird: 2000 Ford Ranger

Craigslist
  • Miles: 234,000
  • Price: $3,500
  • Link

I've mentioned old Rangers in these posts before and shall continue to as they're the epitome of basic, easy-to-wrench-on, and reliable work trucks.

This one's had some recent work and is a prime candidate to either keep it in its current shape and just ensure it's mechanically sound, or do a light restoration. Mother nature's already taken a fair amount of the clearcoat off, might as well finish the job and give its body a new lease on life!

The Bargain Family Hauler/Off-Roader: 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Craigslist
  • Miles: 235,000
  • Price: $5,000
  • Link

You can't beat a Grand Cherokee of this era. Especially one that's been allegedly well-maintained and features the ol' faithful 4.0-liter inline-six.

This example's got some mileage and a little bit of a drive from Asheville. But like some of the above-posted diamonds-in-the-rough, solid maintenance is always solid peace of mind. Plus, this is one of those cars and generations that will be forever easy to find cheap replacement parts for. It'd do well as a daily, family hauler, off-roader, or all of the above.

Previous Regions Featured on ‘5 Under 5’

You're probably not going to be able to buy the exact cars in these previous window shopping rundowns, but they should still give you a sense of what kind of hardware's available in different corners of the United States.