Last week The Garage launched a new series called 5 Under 5 that highlights five cars listed for under $5,000. The first group settled in Los Angeles, while the second group came from across the country in Des Moines. As the used car market continues its strange high-priced ways, these posts will demonstrate that $5,000 cars do exist, just maybe not in the same way that car buyers of the past are used to.
As a bonus, 5 under 5 will also show how different car markets differ across the country. Some may be filled with great cars at this price point, while others may be rarer. Regardless of stock, these posts aim to provide examples of many types of cars, from those that look like good daily drivers to projects that may merit investment.
Here are five cars I found after doing some research. 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 are not too far outside, like Morrow and Stone Mountain, which are no more than 25 miles away – it’s a large metro area. Please note: We do not know these sellers and have not seen any of these cars in person. We’re just dividing them based on what appears in the ad, so spread your wallet at your own risk.
Family hauler: 2007 Honda Odyssey
- PRICE: 4338 dollars
- mile: 209,665
Who doesn’t appreciate a vintage Honda Odyssey? Especially in this pure dark purple color, which is fitting for a member of reliable minivan royalty. It’s done just over 200,000, and after what looks like a recent general detail, the interior looks pretty clean, which is frankly a miracle. Lord knows the insides of these things are beaten by the hands of children. From sticky candy wrappers to topping ice cream cones and bouts of car sickness, it’s hard to find a van interior quite like this.
In terms of mileage and mechanical condition, these things generally don’t have any major issues, but as always, any indication of regular service should be looked for. It’s also fine for the owner to take a picture of when the timing belt was changed, but if it was in their hands when that happened, it’s a little concerning that they went 100,000 miles to do it. After some quick research, it looks like 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: 2900 dollars
- mile: 57,234
For those looking for a solid Radwood potential that can double as a comfortable getaway, feast your eyes on this glorious Chrysler C-body: a late-’80s New Yorker.
That interior, those seats! It is very likely 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 piece of 80C bodies talking to its occupants too – if it is, what a time machine.
Under its hood is a 3.0- or 3.4-liter V6, and 1989 marked the 50th anniversary of the New Yorker. It doesn’t appear that this generation had too many major problems, although it may be difficult to find some replacement parts due to its age.
Economy Daily: 2007 Toyota Corolla
- PRICE: 4500 dollars
- mileage: 141,000
I love this generation Toyota Corolla. I’ve had the pleasure of driving my girlfriend’s 2004 model, and it’s a great driver for what it is. They are very simple, easy to work on, get great gas mileage and are extremely reliable. They also don’t ask for much in the way of service intervals, just change the oil, keep an eye on things and follow their very simple no-fluctuation intervals.
Their problems are minor, such as light oil leaks that are difficult to reach under the hood and poor quality paint. I think rust can be a problem in any region of the country that sees it as well.
This 2007 model has only done 141,000 miles, which is still very new for these hearty engines. Some areas of the body don’t look amazing, but at least it seems to have most of its clear coating. The interior also looks generally clean, and if the air conditioning really works, the next owner will be ready to go.
Work Truck Potential: 2002 Ford Explorer
- PRICE: 4800 dollars
- mileage: 124,000
Originally, I was looking for a solid do-it-all truck to fit into this category, but at the time of my search I couldn’t find much that was worth it.
With that said, this can be a good alternative, especially if one is going to fold down or remove the rear seats. This Ford Explorer dates back to the Blue Oval’s Ford Country days, and I don’t think Georgia’s Alan Jackson would be shy about driving around on this platform.
Or, rock this four-door as a big, safe family hauler. It’s the V6-equipped model, so it’s not a hot or attractive monster, but at least the description shows that it’s been taken care of. Still, it’s worth looking for the service documentation and giving it a good inspection and test, as these things aren’t exactly built strong by Ford. The body has some issues, but the price still seems like a fair starting point.
Enthusiast Project: 2002 Audi A4 Wagon
- PRICE: 3000 dollars
- mileage: 125,000
I decided to keep this B6 Audi wagon, er, sorry Avant finally, because it is the best. Or, rather, one that I would totally solve today if I were local. These aren’t very common and it has the best engine/train combination of its non-S generation: the turbocharged 1.8T 20v engine with three pedals and Quattro all-wheel drive. Real Quattro, also, not a Haldex-type system.
This is a project for sure, as it needs work on the status of its catalytic converter and body work. If the cat is dead, this may indicate some problem upstream. It is important that these are taken into account, including timing belt work well before 100,000 miles, otherwise some major issues can arise. From the looks of the Mk5 GTI sitting on wheels and possibly sitting, it looks like it has been owned by enthusiasts, which is a good sign.
But most of all, this early example of Vorsprung durch Technik can be transformed into an excellent track sled. Not much of a beat to witness someone driving a border wagon in a controlled environment. Clean it up, freshen up the suspension, give it a good boost in power via ECU tuning and intake/exhaust mods, throw on some good tires and brakes, and go pay Atlanta Motorsports Park a visit. Driving on track would be one of those rare occasions where I’d be praying for rain – this thing could produce some epic all-wheel skids that would put a smile on Walter Rörhl’s face.