When you're considering a second-hand car, you usually have to think about a lot of things. In fact, various websites have step-by-step instructions on how to go through the process. Some things are pretty intuitive. “Define what you want and do your research,” states money.usnews.com as the first step. I’d imagine only a very specific set of the population would not have done that. Step number two is also rather simple: “Set your budget.” While that’s a simple step, I think it really does help when you come face to face with a pushy salesperson. While the next step is about financing options, I think the step after that is rather important, which is to “run a Carfax report.” This is a crucial part of the process. You need to have the entire history of the car in front of you before you make your decision. It will tell you if the car has been in an accident and some other random details that will help you. Another important step would be to have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic.
All that sounds good. But once you come to the Craigslist territory, none of that matters. There, cars will have histories. There, cars will cheat the Carfax report because Carfax can’t find undocumented events. There, each car and each seller will have a personality. The only way to get a perfect deal is to bring a crystal ball.
So let’s look at the most interesting and obscure vehicles for $5K or less found on Craigslist.
Actual pictures from the ads were not used.
19 1971 FORD F100
This model year fell was the fifth generation of the F-Series. A lot of things remained the same from the fourth generation, namely the platform; however, the fifth generation had sharper styling-lines and more engine options.
The naming also changed in the fifth generation; “Base” became “Custom” and “Custom” moved up to “Sport Custom,” coming adjacent to the “Ranger.”
Anyway, the one you see here is an F100. The tires look good, right from the get-go, and the entire exterior body looks solid. It’s a three-speed manual that runs very well. The owner is asking for $4.5K, but no other pertinent information is provided.
18 1969 VW BEETLE PROJECT
This one is a project, meaning the work needs to be put in by you. There’s a stark difference between a car enthusiast who reads and fantasizes about cars and a car enthusiast who actually knows what to do with cars.
Anyway, this guy got started on the project, but then left it because he became uninterested. He had taken the body apart, and was in the middle of replacing something, but decided it wasn’t worth it. The car needs an engine and the body needs to be fixed, but besides that, everything looks decent at this level. The seller has all the required parts and is asking for $1.4K for this project.
17 1976 TRIUMPH SPITFIRE
This one might not be that familiar to you depending on your location, but it’s essentially a British two-seater sports car. The car looks pretty nice from various angles, and the credit for that can perhaps go to Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti, who designed the car.
The owner is quite ecstatic about the car for several reasons. The color is different, the car gets a lot of attention, and the current owner takes this car to various shows. It’s a four-cylinder, front-wheel drive subcompact convertible that is on sale for $3.5K.
16 2004 JAGUAR X-TYPE MANUAL
I was pleasantly surprised with this one after scrutinizing it. It looks like an actual, modern car. The paint is bright; there are no chips on the exterior. Plus, the overall styling of the exterior itself looks good. And judging by the pictures of the interior, everything is as posh as mentioned.
The leather-like seats don’t show any signs of fraying, and the dash looks pretty neat.
It has new tires and new rims. And let’s not forget it’s a relatively modern Jaguar on Craigslist. While the manual transmission might have gotten you excited for an asking price of $2.5K, the 151K-mile will surely calm you down a little.
15 2005 MAZDA RX-8
This car looks dashing from the get-go. The hood looks relatively long and part of that reason is the rear seats. The car posted is listed as “fair condition,” but the car looks much better than that. The blue paint job contrasts nicely with the all-black wheels.
The hood sports a four-cylinder that channels all the power to the rear wheels.
As fun as that might sound, add the fact that it’s a manual, and things sound even better. The car has 90K miles and the owner is asking for $3.3K. I don’t think that’s a bad deal at all.
14 2012 SUZUKI SX4 AWD MANUAL
Motor Trend did a review of this car few years ago and stated the car had a relatively cheap sticker-price at $17K. The one posted on Craigslist is just mind-blowing. It looks boxy, but neat. The windows are tinted to the fullest extent; the wheels and rims are all blacked out. The tires and rims are new. It’s a four-cylinder four-wheel drive with a six-speed manual. There’s a litany of other newly installed items. The seller is asking for a hundred less than $5K. It’s a relatively new car, so I think that’s a good deal.
13 1980 MB 240D
It’s not often that you see the word “Diesel” written on cars anymore, but this bad boy has it. This was MB’s executive car from 1976-1985. The car posted here looks sleek and clean. The interior looks beautiful and well kept, despite being nearly, oh gosh, 40 years old. And if you dive into the cabin, you’ll see wood lining small areas of the dashboard. The car looks to be in great condition, and is listed as such. The odometer reading might be problematic for some; it reads 262K. And the seller is asking for $5K.
12 1966 FORD MUSTANG
The condition of the car is not listed by the owner, but if I were to guess, I’d say it’s “fair.” It’s not “poor,” but neither is it “good.” The exterior has a dull red color, and some minor scratches and cracks can be seen when zoomed in.
The Mustang is from the ‘60s, so you can shut your eyes and still guess the engine correctly to be an eight-cylinder; a guess that the drivetrain is rear wheel wouldn’t be wrong either.
It’s a coupe, whose interior seems to be in an acceptable condition. The asking price of $3K is not a bad deal here, at all.
11 1999 ISUZU VEHICROSS
I bet you weren’t expecting this. This car has what a lot of modern cars lack: character. The lower-half cladding is just dressed in plastic. It looks tough, as if you could roll it over a few times without getting as much as a dent on the sheet metal. The tires are big and bold, the SUV has that high ground-clearance, the interior has back seats, much like is present in other SUVs.
These cars were praised for their stability and presence of impressive handling, which a lot of SUVs of the early 2000s seemed to miss. The 124K-mile car’s asking price is $3.5K.
10 2000 BMW Z3
Ah, the nice little Z3. Styling-wise, the car looks chic. Even years after the production run, it looks like it has got its game on. The one listed here looks even sharper with the all-black wheels and dark blue paint. The interior is listed as being in “excellent” condition, which I don’t dispute. The car has 123K miles on it, but it still runs smoothly. In fact, the owner is adamant about the $4.3K that he’s asking. No negotiations will be accepted, as he states the car is ready for driving today. It doesn’t seem like it’s a bad deal at all.
9 2003 TOYOTA CELICA GT
This one is a beautiful car. The long headlamps look good on that hood, the blue color is shiny, and the coupe has a beautiful design. The 2003 model year received refreshed styling; the bumpers, the front fascia and air intakes were designed a bit differently. It also received changes to the interior, including a center dash-cluster that was more legible. The car listed here has a manual transmission, which makes it a little more enticing. It has 130K miles; the asking price is $3.1K. In light of this, it becomes apparent how overpriced the MB 240D was above.
8 2005 FORD FOCUS WAGON
If you want your ride to be a thrill, consider this Focus wagon. The one posted here is for those wanting an adventure, because it doesn’t exactly have a rear side glass. Right now, it’s summer, so it should be okay; however, when the weather decides to act up, you’d have to act accordingly, or as I call it, go on an adventure trip to find the solution.
Besides that, it looks fine; the interior seems to be okay too. It has 130K miles on it, and everything works reasonably well. The asking price is $1,450—reasonable.
7 1999 TOYOTA SOLARA
If you were itching for a Toyota, here’s another good find. It’s a 1999 Toyota Solara. The coupe looks pretty decent and the condition is being described as “good.”
The V6 is mated to an automatic transmission, with all the power going to the front wheels. These vehicles were produced from 1998-2008 as a replacement for the Camry coupe.
The asking price is $900. As cheap as that may sound, it should be noted that there’s no mileage information. Considering there aren’t any major issues, it’s a solid deal if it has less than 200K miles; otherwise, it’s a no-go.
6 2004 SATURN VUE
This was the best-selling model for Saturn. It was also the first vehicle to use the Theta platform of GM in 2001. The exterior styling wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t exactly mind boggling either. The one posted was actually a Vue Red Line, which is just a high-performance version of the Vue. This variant carries the same engine as the base model—250-HP V6—but has sportier suspension, better wheels and ground-effect front and rear bumpers. The one for sale looks pretty good, and the condition is described as “excellent” by the poster. A reasonable amount of $3.4K is being asked for a 132K-mile vehicle.
5 1980 FIREBIRD TRANS AM
This was an excellent car back then, and is a good car now. As opposed to the base Firebird, the Trans Am had some major changes. It had upgraded handling, suspension and horses in the background, and an exclusive hood, spoiler, fog light and wheels on the outside. The car advertised on Craigslist seems to have a good exterior; unlike the one in the picture, it's white.
The interior seems a little frayed, but overall, it could be categorized as being in “fair” condition.
The asking price is $4.9K, but the information on mileage is not given. Pro-tip: Make sure to have the mileage information on a car ad.
4 1986 PORSCHE 944
Ah, a Porsche. I went straight to the price. $1,500. "What!? Really?" Then I went to the mileage. 220K. "Ooh, that’s why." And then I read the whole block of text, which by the way, included everything from run-on “sentences” to explicit expletives. The swear words were not at potential buyers, but in context of his own experience with the car. The bummer is that the car stopped working two weeks ago, and he’s not sure why. The seller does point out this was a show car when it came out. It toured all of Tennessee to show what the 944 looked like upon release.
3 U-HAUL TRUCK
This is a great deal. You should consider this if you need some mobile storage and transportation or need staging space for real estate business. Or maybe you’re looking into starting a moving business. Or maybe you just have an itch to buy a truck, and here it is on Craigslist for $2.5K. The power steering makes some noise, but that’s nothing new, says the owner. The owner is proud to state the AC and heater work great. It was purchased directly from U-Haul several years ago. It doesn’t have anything on the exterior, but I’m sure you can use your imaginative brain to find a good wrap.
2 1996 HONDA CIVIC DEL SOL
Here’s another good car. It’s a two-seater front-engined, front-wheel drive Targa top manufactured by Honda from 1992-1998. The name “del Sol” means “of the sun,” which is in references to the car’s opening roof. The one listed has a relatively big rear wing. The actual car in the ad has a bright paint-job of yellow on the top half and black on the bottom half. The hood of these things looks adorable; it has an I4. The interior seems to be in excellent condition, much like the exterior. The asking price for this bad boy is $4.4K, which is a bargain for an 84K-mile Honda.
1 1975 DEUCE AND A HALF
If you aren’t satisfied with your choice of vehicle, you might consider this cargo truck. These trucks were initially sold by the Army, and the nickname “Deuce and a Half” came from an older 2½-ton truck. The official name of this big guy is “M35,” although it’s also known as "M35 2½-ton" and "6x6."
The seller is willing to sell it for $4.8K, and is also open to trading. It’s described as being in a “fair” condition.
This might be your next vehicle if you want to outdo the pickup and SUV bros. What’s more macho than a military cargo truck itself?
Sources: craigslist.com; reddit.com