News Culture

10 Cheap Cars Worthy of Your Holiday Buck

Be that rarest of holiday shoppers: the person who recognizes a screamin’ deal.

You recognize a good deal. You even act on that talent from time to time. Well, no time like the present. Be the envy of your friends and enemies alike by scooping up one of these fine, time-tested treats just before the holidays.


1. 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300D – There is a nip in the air, the fire is roaring and you just rolled up to a holiday dinner in a 300D. Sorry little Jimmy, no one cares about how well you played Pee Wee football this year; there is the matter of a lovely old German diesel in the driveway.

Max Goldberg/

2. 2001 Jeep Cherokee (XJ) – As the snow begins to fall, the need for a solid 4×4 grows. Unfortunately we live in a world of ESC, ABS, traction control, intelligent 4WD and a bunch of other nonsense that prevents us from actually connecting with our cars. Fortunately, the old Cherokee eschewed computers, resorting to good ol’ fashioned 4-Lo. Now get over that snowbank and over to Grandma’s, stat.


3. 1997 Ford F-250 Diesel – With the holiday season comes a lot of chores that require a pickup. Why not go all in and get the pickup that never dies: an old diesel F-250. Then if someone is annoying you, deliver them a flatbed full of coal for Christmas.


4. 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 – It’s time for the whole family, including the dog, to claim the perfect Christmas tree, and this is the perfect tool to take you deep into the spruce grove. With plenty of room and and a six-cylinder engine that refuses to quit, this SUV will handily outlive your four-legged friend.


5. Subaru Impreza WRX – An all-wheel-drive sedan is not easy to come by when you are trying to stay under, say, $12,000. But if you are willing to set the dial back a few years, your inner child will thank you, and so will your wallet. For well under $10K, you can be the proud owner of a Impreza WRX. Just be prepared to remove a blizzard of pointless decals and body-kit bits.


6. Ford Crown Victoria – To be clear, this vehicle is terrible in the snow, but you won’t give a damn after 10 minutes behind the wheel. With RWD architecture and a can’t-kill-it V8, you will gladly do donuts until the tires fall off. And thanks to the extreme reliability of the Crown Vic, you can save your money normally spent on repairs for awesome holiday presents, such as… a bolt-on supercharger.


7. 1998 Chevrolet Suburban – When you are looking to fit your whole apartment into one truck, the biggest of Chevies comes through. With a honking 5.7-liter V8, the late-Nineties ‘burban is everything we could ever want. Thousands of these whales lurk on U.S. streets today, and all of them are willing to keep chugging. Just acknowledge that you will stop for gas at least three times if you plan to traverse New England.


8. 1993 Saab 900 S – The 900 S was chalk-full of technological goodies that you couldn’t find anywhere but in Trollhattan’s nutter vehicles. Although this Swedish workhorse only had 140 horsepower, it moved smartly thanks to a modest curb weight and savvy gearing. And did we mention they’re cheap as chips?


9. Circa-1990s Chevrolet Corvette – Nothing says “I don’t give one whit about what you think” more than returning to your hometown in a Nineties ‘Vette. With terribly out-of-date gauges and an angry 5.7-liter V8, a used Corvette is the perfect way to tell your parents, neighbors and former associates that you have zero intention of growing up.


10. Audi A6 Wagon – Oddly enough, station wagons can be as sporty as they are versatile, and if you catch them in the right light, they might even look good. We are not saying it is time to get practical, we are just saying that any wagon with “Quattro” on the liftgate is good by us, and should be good by you, too.