Five Under $5K: The Best Cheap Cars We Found for Sale (Las Vegas Edition)

Roll the dice on these five cheap, used Craigslist finds.

byPeter Nelson|
For Sale photo

Las Vegas, Nevada can be a treasure trove of cheap cars. Its metropolitan area is quite expansive and attracts folks from all over the USA to work in its industries, from casinos and entertainment to defense and governmental work. It's also not too far from Southern California's more populous areas, so if there's a screaming deal to be had in Sin City, it's easy for Californians to hop on a cheap flight to go check it out.

While much of the metropolitan area is a flat valley in the middle of the desert, twisty mountain roads are right nearby, as is Las Vegas Motor Speedway and some excellent off-road trails, so all forms of auto enthusiasm have a chance to flourish. Though, even for those who aren't as enthusiastic about their automobile choices, the dry, arid desert does wonders for keeping pesky rust at bay (though is unkind to rubber components, clear coat, and more), so cars have a chance at surviving a bit longer than in places like the Midwest.

Here are five Craigslist finds in the Las Vegas metropolitan area that could fit the bill for just about anyone.

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. Be advised: 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!

Deeply Discounted Luxury: 1997 Mercedes Benz E320

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 148,500
  • Price: $2,500
  • Link

This 1997 Mercedes Benz E320 would be an excellent choice for the old school German luxury connoisser. I could see this looking rather outstanding with a little elbow grease, possibly just after a deep detailing session and having its wheels refinished. It'd probably help to be DIY-minded for maintenance and any potential issues, and this thing won't win any drag races, but man what a great cruiser and cars n' coffee attendee. Shoot, I'm kind of inclined to inquire about this one myself.

The Economical Family Hauler: 2010 Mazda 5

  • Miles: 150,000
  • Price: $4,200
  • Link

The Mazda 5 is possibly the most underrated mini-mini van (do as the Britons do and call it an MPV), ever. I had one as a rental years ago, and found it to be an excellent cargo hauler, people hauler, and it even did a decent job hauling itself, too, thanks to its sprightly naturally aspirated 2.3-liter Mazda MZR four-cylinder engine. This one's done 150,000 miles, and while Mazdas' interiors often fall apart with age (I'm a proud two-time former owner), this example doesn't look too bad inside, as well as on the outside.

The owner reports that it's in good shape and the price is a great place to start a lil' negotiation.

The Economical Daily: 2013 Honda Insight

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 198,298
  • Price: $4,500
  • Link

This 2013 example of the Honda Insight looks to be in overall good condition and features some crucial recent work, such as two new catalytic converters. When new, these got 41 mpg city and 44 mpg highway, and I can note from personal experience that they're a comfortable, reasonably quiet place to be for an economical Japanese compact. These have had a few recalls pop up, so like any used car, it's a good idea to check for them before paying it a visit.

I like the cut of this seller's jib, too. They took great photos, the description has good detail, and they don't want any BS—show up and drive the car if you've got any questions or are considering a little negotiation.

Project Potential: 1979 Datsun 210 Wagon

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 73,000
  • Price: $1,800
  • Link

Now this, my friends, is a project car daydream. Imagine grinding off the rust, fixing the bodywork, painting it, adding some Watanabes, and cleaning it up, then doing some suspension, drivetrain, and chassis mods, and throwing a Nissan SR20 under the hood. The end result would be a hell of a fun track, drift, or car show steed ... or all of the above!

This seems like a deal, too. Sure, the engine has a stuck valve and it needs some body work. Presumably, it needs a lengthy going-over in terms of brakes, tires, alignment, and so on. But $1,800 is an excellent starting point. Especially if you can imagine drifting it around the track to your little heart's content like I can.

The Sturdy Bird: 2001 Ford Ranger

  • Miles: 152,345
  • Price: $3,500
  • Link

This generation Ford Ranger definitely belongs on the Dearborn brand's Best Of list. It seems like they're generally indestrustructable, faithful little pickups, and this one is even equipped with a manual transmission. Even though the shifter throw is probably as wide as the Sedan Crater, I'm glad it's there.

This example seems well taken care of and appears to be generally clean. Even the air conditioning works. This could be a great work truck, or page through the catalog and make it into a 2WD off-road trail king.

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.