These Are the Greatest Cheap Cars of All Time
Affording a new car today is a luxury in and of itself, which is why we decided to turn back the clock earlier this week and put it to you also-nostalgic folk: what was the greatest cheap car ever made? Your answers spanned the automotive landscape, across eras, body styles and purposes. Here were just some that deserved mention.
The answer is the GD3 Honda Jazz / Fit. That’s 2007-2008 MY for us Americans.
This echoes the other folks here suggesting the Fit, except I want to specifically single out the first generation, as it is the cheapest, and also the smallest.
It costs nothing to buy - it’s invisible to whatever the market forces are making prices on cheap old cars skyrocket. Used prices have been unaffected at ALL.
It is lightweight, small engine, relatively high revving, costs nothing to maintain. It’s available as a stick, and by virtue of its minivan-like interior configuration, can be both a cargo van and a cozy camper for two adults in a pinch.
Adding a sway bar and doing a basic tune turns it into a go-kart in the twisties.
Comparatively safe - airbags everywhere, and will support its own weight upside down on the roof.
The Fit is Go.
The NSX Was Only In Development For 4 Years added, with a picture of their own third-gen Fit:
The Honda Fit. Like most modern Hondas, car people didn’t fully appreciate them when they were available, but now that most Golden Era Hondas are gone they’re starting to finally be noticed as the reincarnation of the EF, EG, and EK Civic hatch. Pic above is mine - it was the first new car I ever bought and I plan on keeping it until I’m finally dead.
Suggested by: 0L0iD and others
First-Generation Scion xB
I had two 1st-gen Scion xBs. Not only my favorite cheap car, my favorite car, period. If it weren’t for the stupid meaningless check-engine codes and the hatch handles that tend to break, these cars would be damn near flawless. And I didn’t even get to drive a 5 speed.
Also, I went to college with a guy who spent the summer on a salmon boat, and came back and paid cash for a brand new ‘86 CRX. I think they started under six grand. The whole Civic family, starting with the third generation, has to be in this conversation, but those CRXs were cool as hell.
Suggested by: Andy Frobig and others
The original ford ranger gets my vote. Most folks I knew that needed to downgrade to a more affordable vehicle almost always went with a cheap ranger when they existed. Now Rangers cost close to F150 money sadly.
Suggested by: cargone!cargone!
The original Mini needs to be on the list, cheap, good to drive and unexpectedly hip. The Mini killed off the family sidecar and numerous 50s microcosm as well as being a fashion icon and a race winner in every form from base 850cc to 1275cc Cooper plus vans, pickups and woddy station wagons.
The Citroën 2CV is also a legend, bold thinking, cheap, effective and the polar opposite of the DS19
Suggested by: Slow Joe Crow and others
Too bad you guys in the US couldn’t get a Daihatsu Sirion. 3 cyl, 4 spd. automatic, A/C, power windows, 4 speaker stereo, and drive half way around the world on a gallon of gas for waay less than 10K.
Suggested by: jdjonesdr
Ford Model T
... of ALL time.
This is literally not even a contest.
This is the first mass produced car that really put motoring into the world of the masses.
All other answers are criminally wrong and every single one of you who did not answer this are made of stupid.
Suggested by: Rollo75 and others
I’m going to post the same thing I did on that linked article, the 4th nameplace that they failed to list that begins under $20,000* present day:
2023 Chevy Bolt EV.
* When you subtract the IRA 2023 $7,500 tax credit, starting price including destination fee is $19,995 before options.
It’s the least expensive EV on sale in the US, but act quick because it is being discontinued after this year. The 259 mile range is actually quite respectable, especially considering it’s less than half the price of the average new gas vehicle on sale today (about $48k), and about half the price of the average EV too. It may not have Hyundai charging speeds or Tesla range and performance, but it’s still a good deal.
I know that sedans and hatchbacks are a dying breed in the US market, but I do think it looks pretty cool. The light blue color used in a lot of the press photos looks great in person too.
Suggested by: StalePhish
The VW Beetle sold 21 Million units over 50+ years! Sounds like a pretty successful “Cheap Car”.
Maybe, the only other one I could compare it to would be the Ford Model T, which sold a total of 16.5 million units, and made cars available for far more people, than just the wealthy and affluent.
Suggested by: Knyte and others
Surprised no one has mentioned the Volkswagen Beetle, but my nomination is the Citroen 2CV, which is engineered much better. Cheap, simple, cute, durable, fun, efficient, successful.
Suggested by: Frank Barrett
Toyota MR2 Spyder
The MR2 Spyder was Toyota’s rebuke to Miata always being the answer. Fun, reliable, fuel efficient, and could fool non-enthusiasts into thinking it was from a much more premium brand if they didn’t look too hard. All for Celica GT-S money. It was a sports car I could actually afford and drive daily as a broke college graduate, making it one of the best automotive bargains in my book.
Suggested by: paradsecar
1986 Chevrolet Chevette. One of the last shadetree mechanic fixable cars. They would run forever, and when they stopped working, two guys could lift the engine out and swap in another one in an afternoon. I got 350,000 miles on mine before selling it off. 250K on the original motor. Sure they were underpowered and spartan, but so was the VW Bug and people sing their praises. The Chevette was the working man’s car of the 80's.
Suggested by: paulbasa
Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
In honor of DT, have to throw the XJ into the mix. You could spec it down to a basic 4X4, carry kids, strap things to the roof, tow a trailer, or option it up. All while being able to run trails if you wanted too. There’s a reason they were called Cheap Jeeps.
Suggested by: Drg84
In case you missed it:
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