Fantasy Garage: $10,000 Budget, What Used Fun To Drive Car Would You Get?

Ten thousand dollars might not sound like a lot, but it could actually buy more than you think. However, finding a car that’s fun to drive might prove to be quite the challenge.


That being said, it largely depends on your definition of “fun to drive”. Some people want a car with high power and high speed, some one that has great driving dynamics, and others something that sits somewhere in the middle. Because of the limited budget, we’re factoring out reliability, mileage/age, and maintenance costs. So, given all that, feel free to get as creative as you want. The only rules are that the budget is $10,000 and you can only pick one car. Let’s take a look at some candidates.

Mk 6 Volkswagen Golf GTI

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While it might be based on a compact hatch, the Golf GTI has always been a staple of a cheap, fun-to-drive all-rounder. It falls into the first category mentioned above, showing that good dynamics and driver engagement can make up for a lack of power. Plus, you can get it in manual, and if you look around, you can find these for around $10,000 flat.

1st-gen Lexus IS300

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If you’re looking for a practical car that’s not devoid of driving fun, then the first-generation Lexus IS300 is a very good choice. The first-gen IS had a level of character that just wasn’t quite matched in generations to follow. It has a manual option, a detuned turbo-less Supra engine, and it’s rear-wheel drive. Also, while we know we said reliability wouldn’t be a factor, given the IS is a Toyota, it likely shouldn’t be an issue. These can be found all day for under $10,000, and even less for higher mileage examples.

C5 Corvette

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The Corvette has always been the everyman’s sports car. Aspirational, yet attainable, it is offering great bang for your buck and falls under the high power, high speed category. Older models like the C4 and C5 can be had for very cheap now, and while you might be able to find C4 Corvettes for much less than the C5, the C5 is the one you want. It’s arguably a better buy in every way, having more power, more amenities, and just being more modern overall. They’re not easy to find, but if you look hard enough, you can come across some C5s for under $10,000.

What car would you choose? Would it be any of these, or something else? Leave you thoughts in the comments below.

Updated: January 31, 2021 — 6:46 pm

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