So you're in the market for a car. But not your daily driver; you want something fun. Fun and inexpensive. There are lots of obvious choices out there: Mustangs, Miatas, Corvettes, M3's, etc., etc., etc. But what about the cars that may not be on your radar? Today, we are going to try to expand our horizons as we review a few of the cars less purchased.
1997-1998 Volvo S70 T5
I've already touched on this car in a previous post. I still stand by my convictions regarding this car. It's got lots of power, a good reputation for reliability and it looks like the Volvo you picture whenever you hear the word Volvo. There are always a few of these for sale within a few hours drive of my location, and usually for well under $5K. Now bear in mind that these are typically high mileage examples, but Volvo's have a long standing tradition of giving the Energizer Bunny a good run for his money on the "keeps going" front. People on the boards say the 1997 and 1998 models are the years to get. After that there are more electrical system gremlins, most of which are blamed on Ford ownership.
Anyone who watched Sesame Street as a kid knows that Big Bird is the best. How appropriate then that I would direct your attention to these awesome, barge-like, big-block powered super cruisers. If gas prices don't bother you, (they get about 9-12 mpg) I would suggest taking a look at one of these Thunderbirds. I'm spanning two model styles in my year range, but I like how both of them look. If pressed, I do lean towards the fastback roof on the 1970-71 models, but who can argue with instant cool factor brought on by the suicide doors available on all of these years? Also, you can't argue with the big block power underneath the hood. Engines for the 1967 year were the 315hp 390 V8 and a 335hp 428 V8. From 1968-71 all models got a 360 hp 429 ThunderJet motor. You'll need that power to move the darn things though, since they weigh about 2 tons.
1984-1988 Pontiac Fiero
Want a two-seater, mid-engined sports car but can't afford an Italian Exotic? Look no further than the mighty Fiero. Initially only offered with a 2.5L four banger (aka the Iron Duke) which really didn't deliver on the performance side of things, eventually it was offered with a 2.8L V6 that provided a little more motivation. For those of you who just need more power, there is a huge online community to support you in just about any engine swap you can think of. At one point there were concerns about the engine bays catching on fire due to faulty electrical systems, but by now all of the ones that were going to burn have probably already done so. Think of it like natural selection. Another problem with these is that the values have risen over the years and some people are asking way too much money. There are still bargains out there though, so stay vigilant.
1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIII
Do you desire the greatest that personal luxury can offer? Why not consider a Lincoln Mark VIII? Sure the styling hasn't really aged that well, but the interior is pretty good and that's where you'll be spending your time. Also, the 280hp 4.6L V8 under the hood is nothing to sneeze at. I prefer the facelift on the 1997-98 models, they look a little less 1990s than the earlier Mark VIII's. What really sets this car apart from the competition (really just the Cadillac Eldorado) is the fact that the Lincoln is rear wheel drive. This is a legitimate old school American luxury bruiser!
1995-1996 BMW 540i
This is a bit of a cop-out, but let me explain. Sure it's a BMW, but it's still a cheap fun car that most people don't think about. Right off the bat, let's get that Nikasil elephant out of the room. Apparently, the lining of the engine blocks is poison that will eventually kill the motor... or something along those lines. BMW issued a huge recall on these so make sure when you're looking at one it's already had the block replaced. Now let's talk big horsepower, classic German styling and good handling. This car has those things, all of which will put a smile on your face. Also, there's no cup holders, so you can focus on driving. Unless the 540i in question has a car phone. That's right, these things could be optioned with car phones. Fantastic.
Well that's just a few examples of the unusual and fun cars that can be had out there for a decent buck. Even if one of these aren't the car for you, I hope you take the time to maybe think outside the box when it comes to your next vehicle purchase. There have been a huge number of cars manufactured over the last few decades and not all of the good ones have had their fair share of recognition. Take advantage of this and save your self a few bucks without cutting back on fun.