The Used Cars We’d Buy Right Now For $10K

We combed the internet again to find our dream cars of the month: what we’d pick up if we had a budget cap of 10 large and were able to follow our dreams.

The-Used-Cars-Wed-Buy-For-10K-gear-patrol-lead-full-2

It’s not an insignificant amount of cash, 10 grand. In the world of used cars, though, it can be a fortune if you find a hidden gem — a feat easier said than done. It helps if you have a team of car-crazed writers doing the searching (and if they’re not actually spending any money). We combed the internet again to find our dream cars of the month: what we’d pick up if we had a budget cap of 10 large and were able to follow our dreams. If you do pick up one of the cars below, drop us a line so we can arrange a ride?

2005 Land Rover LR3 SE

The best thing about used Land Rovers is how cheap they are. The Land Rover LR3 (called Discovery everywhere besides North America) is one of the finest off-road vehicles in existence, and still has the old design language from when Land Rovers were boxy and utilitarian. Most can be had for less than $10,000 — why are they so cheap you ask? Well, although they’re extremely capable at overlanding, they’re still British, and therefore quirky and unreliable. My father had one of these back when they were new and I remember how notoriously scary the air suspension could be. Generally, riding in the LR3 felt smooth, like gliding on a cloud of comfort, but at any given moment the air suspension had the potential to fail and the car would be clapped out and dragging ass. Ideally, if I were to own one of these, the first thing I would do is replace the air suspension with conventional shocks and springs. — Hunter Kelley, Associate Designer

Mileage: 74,749 miles
Original MSRP: $46,750

$9,490

1981 Datsun 280ZX 2+2

A hatchback Japanese sports car with four seats for under $10k? Plus fuzzy seat covers? Count me in. The 280ZX is just quirky enough to be endearing while still bringing plenty of performance to the table —- all with room for the dog. A 2.8-liter inline six is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and was good for 138 horsepower when it rolled off the showroom floor. Sure, the navy blue interior is less than desirable, but just look at that gauge cluster! — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

Mileage: 112,183 miles
Original MSRP: $11,299

$9,995

2007 Dodge Magnum R/T

I actually said “oh, baby” out loud when I found this ad. When this sucker debuted in 2005, I was in heaven too: the allure of a HEMI-powered wagon was hilarious and awesome to me. And when my five-foot-nothing sister-in-law drove one as a service loaner, I couldn’t believe her luck; in fact, I was super jealous. The V8 underhood is rated at 340 horses and scooted the big guy to 60 in under six seconds — no slouch for an all-wheel-drive station wagon. (The high-performance SRT-8 topped out at 425 horses, however.) This one would be great if you want huge amounts of space and a lot of grunt but don’t care much about good looks. — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

Mileage: 77,827 miles
Original MSRP: ~$31,000

$9,995

1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60

I’m not usually a FWD advocate but I’ll make an exception for the Corrado. It’s not far-fetched to think it’ll be a collector car sometime soon seeing as how it only existed for a few years between the second and third generation Sciroccos, and it was an affordable performance car to boot. Especially a rare, Nugget Yellow supercharged G60 model like this one. It was pretty much a hot-rod Golf GTI and, dare I say, a better car than the smaller hot Golf. – Bryan Campbell, Staff Writer

Mileage: 79,600 miles
Original MSRP: $17,900

$7,000

2012 Volvo C30 T5

When I graduated college, I drive my two-door Focus (no ABS, five-speed, SVT suspension) out to LA, where I lived in squalor for nigh on half a year. I wanted a lot of things then, chief among them the then-new C30. I’d see them zipping around the city, and allowed myself the humble daydream of a hatchback upgrade. More recently, I had the pleasure of driving a P1800E owned by Volvo themselves, to which the C30 is a spiritual successor. The brand has always done safety right, and its styling philosophy has been sufficiently quirky as well. In back are two seats that fit adults and lay down for copious storage. This T5 version features a turbo five-cylinder example with around 220 horsepower, hustling the coupe to 60 in the mid-six-second range, which is enough to make it somewhat of a sleeper too. — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

Mileage: 103,237 miles
Original MSRP: $25,000

$9,990

2002 Mercedes-Benz CL600

Yes, a nearly $110,000 discount. That’s depreciation of over 90 percent. The 5.8-liter V-12 is good for 362 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque, which shoved this 4275-pound cruiser to 60 in under six seconds. A computerized, hydraulic suspension system stains to keep it level in the turns. There’s enough expensive stuff under the hood that something is guaranteed to go wrong, and when it does it’ll be outrageously costly. (Probably why the original asking price was “14,500 or best offer.”) But the allure alone of a V12 luxury coupe is so, so tempting… — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

Mileage: 135,799 miles
Original MSRP: $120,000

$9,500

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Buying Guides