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Old 11-19-2013, 10:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Top 5 cheap cars to start with?

This might be a candidate for a sticky thread.

I am thinking about purchasing a used car in search of fuel savings. This will be to slightly modify to the point of saving money, not spending more than I save. I also figure it will be cheaper than building a project from scratch.

1) Daily driver for commuting to work so two seaters or econo-boxes ok.

2) Manual trans.

3) Budget. Cheap. $3000 range. No need to get a 5 year car payment if I am looking to save money.

4) Runs on gas. Fuel up anywhere.

5) Cheap and easy to maintain. I can save money by fixing it myself.

What are the top 5 choices for a noobie Eco-Modder?

So far, I have heard Civic VX and HX. I see other trims are more available. What makes these two so different from the LX and CX? Engine size or stuff laymen don't know about?

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Old 11-19-2013, 10:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've seen VX's sell on Ebay for $5,000+ and mine is valued by the insurance company at $5,500, I bought mine 5 years ago for $1,100 when they were at the bottom of their value, my parents just bought one that is rusty with some minor issues for $2,800 tho, so they can be found for your budget, just make sure you have cash on hand so you can act quickly!

I would go for a Toyota Corrola if you want something that is cheap to buy and cheap to maintain.
The last year of the Geo Metro was 2000, so they are all getting old and rusty.

You can get a first gen Toyota Prius for $3,000, but you need to learn how to spot their quirks and issues on a test drive or you will end up buying a money pit.
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Might worth to not disconsider an early Chevy Aveo, if you can find one...
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Ford escort zx2
decently common with a manual
34mpg driving it hard
can be had for under 1500
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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While that budget is decent to work with, you will be hard pressed to find a VX, HF, or HX in that price range. Good on you if you do, but baring that miracle, I'd say (these change in order depending on how rusty cars in your area get, as that will kill most of them before mechanical failure will):

1. '88-91 Civic - dirt cheap, easy to fix, parts are cheap, if they die then you did something wrong (usually). Any model but an Si as they have different gearing in the transaxle that will hurt highway MPGs.

1.5 '92-'95 Civic - see above, but they tend to have even more issues with rust than the earlier ones, so could be harder to find, and more money if you find a nice one.


2. First gen Insight with a dead traction battery. These cars are insanely overbuilt, and because most people don't get that they can function without the traction battery working, they can be in your price range on occasion. All aluminum and fiberglass construction so no need to worry about rust. It'd be like hitting the lottery if you got one at that price, but if you can get a 5 speed one that cheap TAKE IT.

3. '96-'02 Saturn S series. Single cam motor of whatever model you pick. Again, dirt cheap and easy to fix.

4. '91-'00 Tercel. Dirt cheap, easy to fix, and they had an issue with valve seals so if they have never been replaced the car will smoke like a wet campfire when you start it cold, but who cares? It just makes them cheaper to buy as the seller probably thinks it's on it's last legs!

5. '95- '00 Metro or clone with a 1.0L. Xfi model if you can find one, but those are in the VX/HF/HX territory of pricing unless you luck out.


As for what makes a VX or HX different? They utilize lean burn fuel injection systems and are factory lightweight vehicles.

Edit: I wanted to add the ZX2 but I figured I had cheated enough with the 1.5 add on, so they didn't make the cut ha ha
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Last edited by War_Wagon; 11-19-2013 at 09:46 PM..
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So, what about a Ford Aspire as an alternative to the ZX2?
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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So, what about a Ford Aspire as an alternative to the ZX2?
aspire aswell there just not to common around my parts so there forgotten
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yup those work too, but not very common anymore, they were never really great sellers even when they were new. Festiva as well, there are lots of choices to be sure. With my list at least I just tried to stick with the most common, I see a LOT of cars every week, and the more of something I see in the land of wholesale, the cheaper and easier it will be to the end user. Except for really cheap first gen Insights - those are all mine and you can't have one!! ha ha.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Except for really cheap first gen Insights - those are all mine and you can't have one!! ha ha.
Those exist all the cheap 1s i find are autos with 300k miles on em
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Any random Kia might be had for cheap, and they're actually good.

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