These Are The Cars From The Early 2000s You'd Keep As Classics

Photo: Honda
Photo: Honda

The early 2000s may be the last decade where things made sense. The internet was still spelled with a capital I, Donald Trump was just a game show host, smartphones were a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye, and Marvel was nothing more than a comic book publisher. Truly halcyon days.

The cars were pretty great too. We have a great list here of future — almost current — classics. Of course you guys have fantastic taste; you’re here on Jalopnik, after all.

Lexus SC430

Image: Lexus
Image: Lexus

Just like the Thunderbird, going with what might be unpopular: Lexus SC430.

I have always liked it, but totally understand why other people didn’t. BUT… in a world moving to BEVs and CUVs, what we have here is a RWD V8 hard top convertible from an automaker who knows how to make long lasting and dependable cars. There isn’t a lot of them out there, but as other options age out and disappear, the number of viable 25 year old RWD V8 hard top convertibles that are actually worth your money a few years from now will dwindle to single digits. Maybe it’s already there.

And this is a car that is an exhaust and suspension update away from being really good. Damn. Now I want to buy one.


From dolsh

Infiniti M45

Image: Lexus
Image: Lexus

2003 Infiniti M45. 340hp V8 rear wheel sedan. Clean, simple tasteful lines. Still looks good today.

From 900turbo and many others

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Image: Toyota
Image: Toyota

FJ Cruiser. Of the 40+ cars I’ve owned, it was one of the very most fun, trouble free vehicles. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I miss mine, having moved on to a Silverado 2500 because I needed a working truck. I wish I could have afforded to keep it squirreled away in my shop.

From glasairIII

Plymouth Prowler

Image: <a class="link " href="'01-'02_Chrysler_Prowler_(Orange_Julep).JPG" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bull-Doser/Wikicommons;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas">Bull-Doser/Wikicommons</a>

The Plymouth (and Chrysler) Prowler:

“Classic” meaning “it’s withstood the test of time and is considered way cool” certainly is a match for the Prowler. Given the sea of generic blob cars at the turn of the century, the Prowler is a complete knockout—the production hot rod with the head-turning looks when Plymouth went out with a bang. (So the Prowler continued for a couple of years as a Chrysler product.)

Like I wrote before, if I had a three-car garage, the Prowler would be the third set of wheels.

From the1969DodgeChargerFan

The Kappa Twins — Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky

Image: Saturn
Image: Saturn

A lot of good cars already mentioned, so I’m going to offer a pair that I didn’t see mentioned yet:

The Kappa twins.

The ergonomics weren’t great, but let’s look at the upsides:


- available manual transmission

- drives and handles well

- available with a turbocharged engine that made more power than the contemporary Porsche Boxster; and can be easily tuned to make more power

- GM mechanicals, so parts and maintenance not a challenge (body parts are a different story)

- haven’t hit collector status yet, where the prices put them out of reach (except for maybe the ultra-rare GXP Coupes)

This platform was actually pretty advanced for the time; using hydroformed frame rails like the more expensive Corvette. This platform also won SCCA, proving that America could build a small roadster that could perform and handle well. I think these deserve to be preserved and enjoyed well into the future; I doubt GM will ever do anything like this ever again.

From featherlite

Honda Insight

Image: Honda
Image: Honda

I like weird, quirky cars, and none fits the bill more than the first-gen Honda Insight. It looks like a car you would see in a movie that takes place “in the future”, all while returning an EPA-estimated 60+ MPG. Plus, it’s one of the few hybrids that could be had in a manual (the only other I can think of is the CR-Z). With its half-covered rear wheel and slippery drag coefficient, it almost fits the “Probe” name better than the actual Probe. Now that I don’t need anything more than a small car to do life things, I would nab one of these in a heartbeat and live the “hypermiler” dream.

From paradsecar

Tesla Roadster

Image: Tesla
Image: Tesla

Aside from a lot of good vehicles mentioned (and a few bad ones... cough *M45* cough), I’m gonna suggest two vehicles... first... the Tesla Roadster... particularly the early ones that had the shifter:

Original Roadsters are already being preserved... and doing that isn’t cheap... especially when the battery pack is due for rebuilding.

But it’s a landmark vehicle that got Tesla off the ground.

My second suggestion... the Mazda RX-8. I’ve driven them and they are very sweet rides:

Of course if you buy one, you have to educate yourself on all the extra maintenance and preventative things you need to do to keep these reliable and running well.

So they’re not that cheap to own, they’re not the fastest, but they are a sweet , good looking and technically interesting ride.

From Manwich - now Keto-Friendly

Ford Thunderbird

Image: Ford
Image: Ford

11th Gen Ford Thunderbird. Might be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve started to find intense 50's boomer nostalgia pieces from this era weirdly charming.

From Mosko

Dodge Neon SRT

Image: Dodge
Image: Dodge

I know it’s only been a few days since my last QOTD post like this, but again I have answer “mine”: a 2004 Dodge Neon SRT-4 I bought new and am still daily driving at 246K+ miles. I try to take care of it. I was a quite bit older than the average SRT-4 driver when I got it, and I’m getting close to 60 now.

From CSX321

Honda NSX

Image: Honda
Image: Honda

I have a deep love for the Gen 1 NSX. Post facelift gets it into our category here. This is to me, one of the last “pure” sports cars. Two seats, a naturally aspirated V6, manual transmission, no driver aids, T-tops... It wasn’t rip-your-face-off quick. But it was oh so wonderfully light and balanced. I got to drive one, once. It was sublime. I’ve driven faster cars. I’ve never driven anything (before or since) that made me want to buy it from the owner, on the sport.

From JohnnyWasASchoolBoy

Honda Element

Image: Honda Element
Image: Honda Element

Mine. Check what low mileage, rust free Elements are going for - I sometimes see them at prices close to sticker - 10-15 years old.

And if it’s AWD and a 5-speed? Glad I’m not looking to buy one.

From sybann

Volvo C30

Image: Volvo
Image: Volvo

Even if I didn’t own one, I would still say the Volvo C30. Especially the Rebel Blue Polestars that we only got 250 of in the United States. The GTI and Mini were already too well-established to give the C30 much of a chance, resulting in a short model run with only about 20,000 sold in the US. Weird, quirky, underappreciated and undersold - typical traits shared by most future classics.

From Hankel_Wankel

Nissan Skyline R34

Screenshot: <a class="link " href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Doug DeMuro;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas">Doug DeMuro</a>
Screenshot: Doug DeMuro

very easy predictable answer

Nissan Skyline R34 coupe, not only GT-R trim but even lesser GT-T trim is also worth of keeping

as for sedan ER34 and wagon WC34 ?? well it won’t reach the same status as coupe but still good alternative since coupe R34 are become out of reach each days passed

From hayase

Jaguar Super V8 Portfolio

Image: Jaguar
Image: Jaguar

2006 Jaguar Super V8 Portfolio.

Aluminum body, 400hp 4.2l V8

The last of the beautiful Jags.

From 900turbo

All The Porsches

Image: Porsche
Image: Porsche


986 Boxster S. The first time ever that the Boxster posed a threat to the 911 is with the S version. More power, optional sport suspension, lighter than a 911, mid-engined. Rare because it was so expensive at the time. Get the IMS bearing mod done.

987.2 Cayman/Boxster Base or S, but especially the Cayman R. 987.2 refresh launched in 2008. You know, the recession. Not a lot of people bought these cars or many cars during that era. For obvious reasons. So they are incredibly rare, regardless of trim choice. Even better that it doesn’t have the IMS anymore. But it costs twice as much as a comparable 987.1.

996 911, but especially the Turbo variants. The Turbo doesn’t have the IMS issues. If you get a Base, S, 4S, get the IMS mod done. Excluding convertibles because 4 seat convertibles are yuck and the used market agrees. GT3 is a given, but they’re so rare and expensive that even those well off have a hard time trying to justify their prices.

997.1 911s. All variants as well. Base, S, 4, GT3, GT2. Excludes convertibles. IMS mod on the standard trims for peace of mind.

Basically, nearly all the Porsche sportscars that were produced in that time period, I would consider a classic worthy of keeping.

From snisps

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