Last week, The Garage launched a new series called 5 Under 5 that highlights five cars listed for under $5,000. The first batch settled in Los Angeles, while the second came from the center of the country in Des Moines. As the used car market continues its strange high-priced ways, these posts will prove that $5,000 cars do exist, just maybe not in the way car buyers of the past are used to.
As a bonus, 5 Under 5 will also show how different car markets across the country vary. Some may have great cars at that price, while others may be more scarce. Regardless of stock, these posts aim to provide examples of various types of cars, from what look like good daily drivers to projects that could be worth an investment.
Here are five cars I found after doing some reading. I centered my search on downtown Atlanta and included Sandy Springs to the north and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to the south in its radius. Some of the following aren’t too far away, like Morrow and Stone Mountain, which aren’t more than 25 miles apart — it’s a large metropolitan area. Please note: We do not know these sellers and have not seen any of these cars in person. We only share them based on what’s in the ad, so take out your wallet at your own risk.
Family transportation: 2007 Honda Odyssey
- price: $4,338
- miles: 209,665
Who doesn’t appreciate a vintage Honda Odyssey? Especially in this neat dark purple color, which is fitting for a member of reliable minivan royalty. This one has done just over 200,000, and after what appears to be a recent general detail, the interior looks pretty clean, which is quite frankly a miracle. Lord knows the insides of these things get torn apart in the hands of children. From gooey candy wrappers to covered ice cream cones and car sickness nightmares, it’s hard to find a van interior that’s in this shape.
In terms of mileage and mechanical condition, these things generally don’t have major issues, but as always, any indication of regular maintenance should be asked for. It’s also nice of the owner to take a picture of when the timing belt was replaced, but if it was in his hands when this happened, it’s a little concerning that it took over 100,000 miles to do it. After some quick research, it appears that the Honda J35 should have its timing belt serviced every 105,000 miles or seven years, whichever comes first.
Collector’s Choice: 1989 Chrysler New Yorker
- price: $2,900
- miles: 57,234
For those looking for a solid Radwood potential that can be a comfortable runabout, feast your eyes on this glorious Chrysler C-body: a late 80’s New Yorker.
That interior, those seats! There is a good chance that this pristine creation with a Landau roof was owned by an elderly member of society, hence the very low mileage on its clock. It could be a part of the C-bodies of the 1980s that also talk to their occupants; if it is, what a time machine.
Under the hood is a 3.0-liter or 3.4-liter V6, and 1989 marked the 50th anniversary of the New Yorker. This generation doesn’t seem to have much of a problem for major issues, although certain replacement parts might be difficult to find due to their age.
The Economic Daily: 2007 Toyota Corolla
- price: $4,500
- Mileage: 141,000
I love this generation of Toyota Corolla. I’ve had the pleasure of driving my girlfriend’s 2004 model year example, and it’s a great driver for what it is. They are very simple, easy to work with, have great gas mileage and are very reliable. They don’t really require much in the way of service intervals either, just change the oil, keep an eye on things and stick to their very basic, no-frills intervals.
Its problems are minor, such as minor oil leaks that are difficult to reach under the hood and shoddy paint jobs. I imagine rust could also be a problem in any region of the country that sees it.
This 2007 model year has only done 141,000 miles, which is still very young for these hearty engines. Some areas of the body don’t look amazing, but at least they seem to have most of their transparent layer. The interior also looks generally clean, and if the air conditioning actually works, the future owner will be ready to go.
Work Truck Potential: 2002 Ford Explorer
- price: $4,800
- Mileage: 124,000
Originally, I was looking for a rugged, do-it-all pickup truck to fit into this category, but at the time of my research, I didn’t find much that was worthwhile.
With that, this could be a decent alternative, especially if the rear seats were dropped or removed. This Ford Explorer harks back to right after the Ford Country days of the Blue Oval, and I don’t think Georgia native Alan Jackson is ashamed to drive on this platform.
Or, move this four-door as a big, safe family hauler. It’s the V6-equipped trim, so it’s no towing monster or hotrod, but at least the description says it’s been taken care of. Still, it’s worth asking for service papers and giving it a good inspection and test drive, as these things aren’t exactly Ford rugged. The body has some issues, but the price still seems like a fair starting point.
The Enthusiast’s Project: Audi A4 Wagon 2002
- price: $3,000
- Mileage: 125,000
I decided to save this Audi B6 wagon, uh, excuse me Ahead lastly, because it is by far the best. Or, rather, the one that would be totally within reach today if it were local. These aren’t very common, and it has the best engine and powertrain combination of its non-S generation: the 1.8T 20v turbocharged engine with three pedals and Quattro all-wheel drive. Real Quattro, too, is not a Haldex-type system.
This is a safe project as it needs some work on the condition of its catalytic converter and bodywork. If the cat is dead, this could indicate some problems upstream. It’s important that these are considered, including a timing belt job well before 100,000 miles, otherwise some major problems could arise. Apparently sitting on Mk5 GTI wheels and perhaps lowered, it looks like it has been owned by an enthusiast, which is a good sign.
But above all, this early example of Vorsprung durch Technik could be transformed into a great track sled. It doesn’t get much better than witnessing someone push a wagon to the limit in a controlled environment. Clean it up, freshen up the suspension, give it a decent power boost via ECU tuning and intake/exhaust mods, put on some decent tires and brakes, and go pay Atlanta Motorsports Park a visit. Driving it on track would be one of those rare instances where I would pray for rain; this could produce some epic all-wheel drive slides that would put a smile on Walter Rörhl’s face.