12 modern, collectible vehicles under $20,000
Let’s not kid ourselves: Being a car enthusiast can be a pricey endeavor. Like any hobby that involves expensive gear and gadgets (golf, photography, skiing, boating …), keeping a fun weekend car is often dauntingly expensive.
We’ve found 12 vehicles made in 1993 or later, each of which costs less than 20 grand in running and driving condition. Each has plenty of creature comforts, and some have real handling prowess. All are vehicles that you can enjoy owning, tinkering with, and possibly showing off at your local car show or caffeine-adjacent cruise-in.
We know that $20,000 is not cheap, but we’ve selected vehicles that are well-preserved for their age, with values based on the Hagerty Price Guide’s 1-to-4 vehicle-condition rating system. (For the full breakdown of our scale, click here.) Vehicles in #3, or Good, condition are very well maintained and ready to hit the road, though they will have cosmetic flaws visible to the naked eye. #2 condition, or Excellent, vehicles drive and present like new.
Let’s get started.
2006 Dodge Charger SRT8
#3 (Good) value: $16,900
It sure doesn’t feel like Dodge returned to Hemi-powered muscle cars 17 years ago, but here we are. The 6.1-liter Hemi in the early Chargers is down a bit on power compared to the current crop of 6.4-liter beasts, although the 425-hp output and snarling exhaust are enough to make you forget the comparison rather quickly. Also, the tall, aluminum intake manifold on the 6.1-liter easily makes it the best-looking third-gen Hemi to ever go into a Charger, so pop that hood every chance you get.
The earlier Charger models have just the right amount of brawny flair to make them stand out in a sea of FWD sedans. They’ve got to be some of the best buys in muscle sedans today.
1995 Subaru SVX L AWD
#2 (Excellent) value: $16,600
There were many strange and interesting vehicles to come out of Japan in the ’90s, so we’ll forgive you if you’ve forgotten—or never even knew—about the Subaru SVX.
The two-door, four-seat grand tourer was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who also penned the DeLorean DMC-12 and original Golf. The SVX has a striking greenhouse dominated by curving side windows that necessitated a rather unique solution to allow the vertical portions to roll down. We drove one of these quirky coupes and enjoyed the smooth, 240-hp 3.3-liter flat-six and the stares that the rare coupe drew from confused onlookers.
Considering the SVX was a low-volume car and the sole recipient of its flat-six engine, this car might be expensive to maintain long-term. On the other hand, it does turn a lot of heads for 16 grand.
1993 Ford Taurus SHO
#2 (Excellent) value: $10,300
Who doesn’t love a sleeper? Ford pumped out hundreds of thousands of boring, reliable Tauruses every year, making it the most popular car in America from 1992–96. The majority of them were equipped with an automatic transmission and a 140-hp, pushrod, 3.0-liter Vulcan V-6. Optional on sedans and standard on the heavier wagon, the 3.8-liter Essex V-6 brought additional torque (but no additional power) thanks to increased displacement.
The SHO (Super High Output) model, on the other hand, featured a DOHC version of the 3.0-liter with an improved block and an all-new top end developed by Yamaha. Doubling the number of valves meant the V-6 could breathe a whole lot better, allowing it to rev to a peak of 220 hp at 6200 rpm. The additional 80 horsepower completely transformed the SHO and enabled it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under seven seconds when equipped with the manual transmission. In 1993, an automatic was optional for the first time and nearly 3 out of 4 buyers preferred it, with contemporary reviews from Motor Trend praising the automatic version’s smoothness.
Whichever SHO you pick, five-speed or auto, expect it to fly under the radar and bring a smile to your face.
1999 Ford Mustang Cobra SVT
#3 (Good) value: $16,000
The Ford Mustang GT has been a great performance bargain for years. For that reason, it’s easy to forget that, in the early days of the Modular V-8, the standard GT wasn’t terribly exciting. With its “Performance Improved” two-valve cylinder head, the 1999 Mustang boasted 260 hp, an increase from 225 hp the year before.
There was clearly more in Ford’s Modular V-8, and the 1999 SVT Cobra unlocked it thanks to DOHC, four-valve heads. The massive heads and imposing intake, topped with a coiled cobra, looked great under the hood, but owners were disappointed with the model’s performance. Ford recalled the cars and replaced the intake manifold, stating that the initial run of manifolds had been miscast and didn’t flow as intended. The factory made good with a new intake, cat-back exhaust, and a new tune, making the 320-hp 4.6-liter the most powerful naturally aspirated Mod motor to go into a factory Mustang until the fabulous Coyote debuted for 2012.
We’ve got good news for fans of convertibles: The droptop Cobra is even more affordable, with a #3 (Good) condition value of $14,900.
2000 Chevrolet Corvette
#3 (Good) value: $17,400
Corvette made several big moves when the fifth generation (C5) launched for the 1997 model year. Not only did chassis and layout improve by leaps and bounds, with the switch to a torque tube and rear-mounted transmission, but the fifth gen ushered in the LS1 V-8. This was the first application of the third-generation small-block, the only engine that had any chance at dethroning the original Chevy small-block as the go-to V-8 for the average Joe’s engine swap.
Low-mileage, well-preserved Z06s of this generation still provide excellent value, but enthusiasts have known about them for quite a while. It’s no secret that this 2023 Bull Market pick is a fantastic track machine. However, the base C5 still offers plenty of road-hugging grip, and it has a hatch that makes it a practical grand touring machine. (The trunk is pretty well known, at this point, for its ability to swallow two golf bags.) Plus, if you are so inclined, the Z06 suspension goodies are a bolt-on affair. Prices have softened a bit on the entry-level C5s, with values down 11 percent since October of 2022.
1991 Honda Civic Si
#2 (Excellent) value: $15,600
With a standard manual transmission and manual steering, the original Civic Si was a pure, mechanical joy. Later models added more finesse, but even with smoothed edges, they are still a visceral experience. We’ve seen prices for Honda hot hatches and coupes skyrocket over the last several years, and the prices for the 1991 model have gone up 25 percent since this time last year. For buyers of a certain age, these are prime collectibles. Get behind the wheel and you’ll understand why.
2004 Porsche Boxster S
#3 (Good) value: $18,000
Let’s not put too fine a point on this: It’s a droptop, mid-engine Porsche that you can drive for less than $20,000.
2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP
#2 (Excellent) value: $18,500
The Pontiac Solstice was made during a time when General Motors was taking risks and putting quite a lot of low-volume vehicles into production. Enthusiasts should take advantage of the spoils.
Yes, there’s a serious lack of luggage space thanks to some interesting packaging decisions that make this car rather impractical for a long trip, much less a daily driver; but the Pontiac Solstice and its Saturn Sky platform-mate are quite fun to drive, often described as smaller Corvettes. The Solstice GXP and its cousin the Sky Redline are powered by 260-hp, turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter inline-fours and their generous wheelwells can fit a decent amount of tire to provide lots of grip.
Values for these attractive convertibles are holding steady and a #3 (Good) condition GXP can be had for just about half ($10,700) of this list’s $20,000 threshold.
2006–2007 Subaru Impreza WRX
#3 (Good) value: $15,300
Subaru finally gave American buyers the chance to own a rally-bred WRX in 2002 and a generation of buyers has reveled in the nimble, AWD performance compact in both sedan and wagon versions.
WRX fans have lots of opinions on whether the Bugeye (2002–3), Blobeye (2004–5), or Hawkeye (2006–7) version looks best, and we can make arguments for all three of them. However, it was only the Hawkeye that got a displacement boost, using the 2.5-liter EJ255 rather than the 2.0-liter powerplant used by its predecessors. There’s a downside to the increase in displacement and torque that came from this new engine, as the mill is notorious for head-gasket issues. Hopefully by now these cars have enough miles for their owners to have sorted those out, and you’ll be able to find a driver-condition (or #3) car and enjoy AWD turbo motoring.
If you prefer a different look, and a bit more luxury, the badge-engineered Saab 9-2X Aero wagon uses the same 230-hp turbo four and has an identical price tag.
2002 BMW Z3 3.0
#3 (Good) value: $15,500
Sometimes Miata is not the answer. The most powerful non-M version of the classic BMW roadster, the 3.0-liter iteration of the Z3 packs an M54 inline-six that delivers a smooth 228 hp suitable for spirited driving or for road-tripping. Where else are you going to get an inline-six roadster at this price and with looks this striking? Prices are up just over five percent compared to a year ago, perhaps pulled in that direction by the less common Z3 coupe, whose values are up by more than 25 percent.
2006 Pontiac GTO
#3 (Good) value: $19,800
Imported from Australia, the 2004 GTO brought a capable chassis with independent rear suspension, a powerful V-8, and a comfortable interior—available in quite the color palette—to fill in while the Camaro was on hiatus. The GTO’s detractors bashed it for being a hot-rodded two-door version of a family sedan with some hood scoops thrown on, completely forgetting that the original 1964 GTO was a hot-rodded two-door version of a family sedan with some hood scoops thrown on.
Contemporary reviews from buff books were positive and the rather sedate design has aged nicely. While the car was launched in 2004 with a 350-hp, 5.7-liter LS1, 2005 and 2006 models received a 400-hp, 6.0-liter LS2, making them the most desirable models in the short production run. This one barely squeaks onto the list: Enthusiasts know a good thing when they see it, and prices have remained steady.
2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
#3 (Good) value: $19,300
Not everyone’s idea of a weekend drive includes a road, so we couldn’t finish this list without a 4×4. The inaugural Jeep Wrangler Rubicon seemed like the perfect vehicle to wrap things up.
The 2003 model year saw not only the introduction of the Rubicon package, with its beefier Dana 44 axles, dual lockers, and 4:1 low-range, but also a mid-cycle update across the TJ Wrangler lineup that included an automatic overdrive transmission replacing the prior three-speed auto. Of course, a five-speed manual was also optional and the Rubicon’s deep low-range would make three-pedal crawling a much simpler affair. It’s been 20 years since Jeep launched the Rubicon trim, and the prices on the TJ (1997–2006) Rubicons continue to scramble up, so it might not be long before spending $20,000 on a TJ Rubicon means a trail-battered example that requires serious repair.
For those of you who want to spend less than $20,000, there are still plenty of viable project vehicles, especially if you don’t mind sacrificing some late-model conveniences. If you prefer to do some wrenching and restoring of your own, your options are even more vast. Scored a good deal on a modern collectible such as these? Let us know in the comments below.
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Cool list. I would take the Corvette all day long. So much car for the money.
I would agree the Chevrolet Corvette is a lot of fun and performance for the money. Plus there always seem to be a buy for a c Corvette it’s one of our best sellers.
Need long term advice. Owner of a 1988 Corvette Coupe with 3340 miles stored in garage.
Finally on the road and having a fabulous experience.
Yep. I did very well in the car business and can own any exotic cars you can name, but would rather have a bunch of cheaper and cool fun cars instead. Have 12 C5s in the garage,and looking at another one next week!
Are you married?
Very happy and proud to say no. My life is my own to live doing whatever/wherever/whenever I want- and not to try to do the impossible job of keeping a female happy.
Newly Divorced, Have a 23 Year old daughter I own an 84 -928 235 hp Black on Black & Two Oldsmobile 442s …65 Convert, and a 4 speed all stock with the W-30 Hood, Red wheel wells and F Heads on the 455..Its a 4 speed. My Life is my own! and I love it. Your words of wisdom are true. It’s impossible to keep a Female Happy, and I tried… Take Care, David
Congrats on getting out somewhat intact, too many guys I know were left penniless after decades of servitude.
Nice cars, I also have a 928 S4, Black on Black plus a too many other cars to list here.
Best wishes for the future.
Excellent reply Dave! Welcome to the brotherhood of the unchained.
Need a butler? ;<)
Not impossible at all, my friend, if you choose wisely; 41 years of marriage to one woman has proven that to me. It is a give-and-take, yes, but a lot better than living alone.
And yes, my wife likes cars shows, driving stick-shift, and – as she calls it – “zooming”!
I have a pristine 2004 coupe with 36K miles i can no longer keep, if you are interested
Great list of everyday driver classics.
My 1997 Saab 9000 should be considered soon…
Can’t believe the Crossfire didn’t make your list.
Yes, as a former SRT6 Roadster owner, the best bang for the buck thus far for me.
I totally agree. The SRT6s have around 350 hp(5 sec. 0-60), good looks, handling and limited production. They only made 1200 roadsters and 2400 coupes. They sell quite well on BaT but for some reason Hagerty prefers to ignore them in preference to lesser cars. I have an pristine Honda S2000 but most time I prefer my SRT6.
Thought the exact same! It’s the whole package plus some! Love mine
Agreed these should have been included
Frank if I recall you had to get a the SRT for any real performance. We have had a lot of them and there for some reason they’re not an easy car to sell and they will not give in the snow or rain and can be little light in the ass.
Shhhh we who own them are having the time of our life. We have three, 2; 2005 SRT6’s and a 2005 Base Convertible stick shift. We do not need the big boys to overspend for these joys.
I agree. I have 2 Crossfire SRT6, a Coupe and a Roadster. Prior to that I had a 2007 Limited Roadster. They can be bought for under $20,000, with low milage. They are fun cars to drive, bring a lot of attention at car shows, and parts are readily available, since it is based on a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL AMG32. There is a great international community of owners that are willing to help fellow owners in maintaining and upgrading their car. Maybe one day Haggerty will wake up to the fact these cars are worth including in their valuation tool and future writeups on cars worth looking at.
My thoughts exactly. Far better quality proposition that the Pontiac Solstice or its better-looking twin, the Saturn Sky, which was also overlooked. Perhaps there was a limit to the number of cars that could be included, but the Crossfire deserved to be near the top of this list. I think it has aged far better than the more generic looking MB SLK 320 that it was based on. Of course, I am a bit prejudiced since I have a perfect Blaze Red 2005 Limited roadster with only 17K on the clock. Love every ride in it and have won trophies at local shows with it.
Still think the XK8 is a great car and a great value.
Priced well under 20K .
Surprised Mercedes 2003 to 2006 S-55 is not on the list !
I owned that SHO new–Twice–’93 and ’95. I’d write a check for $11K for a #2 manual in red right now. I’ve been pining for my old SHO’s. Anyone know of one for sale. By the way, the automatic killed that car.
Don’t buy a 2004 Porsche Boxster unless the seller has proof that the IMS bearing has been replaced. My son made this mistake.
IMS stands for intermediate shaft. It’s not the shaft that fails, rather the bearing on the shaft. Porsche 911’s (996 or 997), and all Boxsters (986/987) from 1997 through 2008, are at risk of suffering IMS bearing failure at any time, irrespective of mileage. If this bearing fails, it generally leads to catastrophic engine failure. There are aftermarket bearing upgrade kits but they are expensive to have installed. I had a 2003 Boxster and worried about the bearing failing every time I drove the car. I now drive a post 2008 Boxster…
Thanks for the info.!
That’s a fairly rare occurance. Sorry your son had that problem pop up! I owned three Boxsters and they were quite reliable
Yes it is quite rare, and mostly from low miles and poor maintenance- like most high end cars they need to be driven and used. Friend of mine was a Porsche mechanic at a large dealer and he said he’d only seen it a couple times,and the Mezger engines IMS never fail
Mezger engines don’t have an IMS bearing so there is nothing to fail.
IMS bearings are maintenance items. Treat them like you do any maintenance item. Replace it when the clutch gets done, or the RMS leaks and needs replacement.
Very, very good point. Putting a sealed bearing in an engine was possibly not the best decision.
Have to keep the customer coming back for service…….
While probably not on many others’ list, I’ll nominate the early 90s Lexus SC 300 & 400. An incredibly polished, smooth, luxurious coupe that can honestly take 4 adults and, even at 30 years old with 100-200K on the odometer, can probably serve as a reliable daily driver. I was a valet at a swanky country club when the LS400 and then the SC came out, and even today I find myself wanting one (or both!)
Agree 100%. The design of the SC400 made me fall in love, similar to the XKE. When powered by one of the sweetest V-8’s ever made it should be a classic.
I had a ’92 SC400, and it was my dream car — until some intractable and untraceable problems rendered the car inoperative.
Most likely, it was an ECU or Sensor issue, but after months of research, testing, replacing modules, and a diagnostic attempt by a pro; nada.
I donated it to a non-profit.
These are gaining in popularity and collectibility.
Lookin’ for one of these now!
there is one in east moine il.
Corvairs and Crossfires should be on the list.
Ah yes, who could forget the exceedingly rare 1993+ Chevrolet Corvair…
Why the 2004 Porsche and not the other vintages around that time?
I will take 1998-2000 AMG C43 ,real sleeper
When will I see the Lexus SC430 on one of your lists?
I’d like to see the SC430 receive more attention as well. Special Editions such as the Pebble Beach in #2 or #3 probably wouldn’t have made this under $20k list. And, the Neiman Marcus, limited to only 100 made and available only by ordering from the NM 2001 Christmas Catalog, has a console plate which indicates which number it is, surely would not qualify for this list. I own #17 and have to rely on my own research of the rare occasion when one comes up at auction. I do think the non special edition models of these awesome hard top convertibles could have made this list as tremendous bang for the buck future collectibles.
Agreed, SC430 Lexus as an uncommon jewel, in a sea of iron and fiberglass. It stumbled, according to the lexicon of writers, because it did not offer 6-gear manual, therefore non competitive vis-a-vis, miata, cayman/boxer. “Luxo-Barge” had missed the target audience. Never mind that SC430 ticked every other box of cheerios. The interior leather could match the saddle on your favorite steed. It was the Rawling basketball, softened, polished, and ready for tipoff at every grade school gymnasium. Like wisdom, always improving with age.
I was expecting to see my wife’s 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse on the list; it is a V-6 convertible and so much fun to drive.
WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TALK ABOUT THE 85-86 YEAR FOXBODY’S that were in my opinion a very sexy look and scary looking front when the lights and fog lights were on but it seems and maybe I’m wrong that those cars are going up in value and I know a buddy of mine that has one 85 convertible all options that came with car besides leather seats and everytime I’m with him cruising everyone and I’m mean everyone can’t believe that it looks that good and the low miles he has on it what would something like that be worth today and the car really has low miles under 17000 for a car that was built 38 years ago and really you will from time to time see them on the road but not this one just saying any positive feedback would be cool
I was in high school when the 84-86 Fox-body mustangs were around, Christian. I remember that the Mustang GT convertible, expecially, looked awfully good to me!
Obviously Blair, you don’t interact with people much. Uncalled for.
Love the 86 Capri Fox body.
strange that the ’99 Cobra was listed…power problems and parts bin independent rear suspension nightmare
put Cobras on the shelf for a couple of years, like a self imposed recall…
Maybe not on others list, but I would’ve like to have seen the 89 Thunderbird Super Coupe-Motor Trends car of the year or the 89-90 Cougar XR-7. Both very technicaly advanged for the time & aimed at taking on the BMW coupes.
They are cool cars, but maybe read the second paragraph again.
I agree, I still own my 89 XR7 5 speed I bought new. Fun car! Supercharged V6 was only available 2 years in the Cougar.
I have a 2007 Solstice GXP. Luggage can be tough, just be creative. My wife and I took it from CT to Miami and back. Great on both highways and backroads. Great to drive, love this car. Also, the suspension is amazing.
I agree. I just pack everything in without the usual baggage and I’ve got plenty of room. Super fun road trip car.
Pack with no luggage – and keep finding your socks and underwear for a year after the trip!!
Unfortunately, you have to go back to the 50s to find a worse executed convertible top.
Agreed. We took a trip to Cody and Beartooth Pass with our friends, they in their Solstice, we in our Boxster. They were exasperated by the (lack of) luggage capacity in the EXP, and looked jealously at the two trunks in the Boxster. When we returned, he started looking for a Boxster.
I’ve always loved the BMW Z3, and found a pristine Z3M on a local used car lot. My dreams were dashed when I tried to gracefully enter and exit the thing with my bad back !
I settled for another dream, a rust free ’99 Jeep TJ Sahara.
I had a 1991 SHO manual and it was an awesome daily driver. I see the reference to the Fox bodies above and possibly my favorite daily driver for years was a 1986 Mustang GT manual
I’d put the Honda S2000on your list. Honda put a lot of its racing technology and know-how into this car. It has great performance from a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder engine in a 51/49 configuration.
Great car, BUT: a #3 base 2000 model-year example is $34,400, according to Hagerty’s guide. Article is about cool(ish) cars under $20K…
(The One That Got Away: I wish I had bought that low-km S2000 for $22K way back when.)
What? No Mazda Miata on that list? For shame! One of the cutest, easily (and cheaply) maintained cars available today. Your article might need an edit. 🙂
While 8 of these car’s on your list, I certainly wouldn’t kick out of my driveway, but calling any of them “collectible” is a bit of a stretch IMO. Of course with that said, the winner ( as usual ) is the Corvette. Any Corvette after 1984 is just so much bang for the buck!
My thoughts exactly! I had to wait more than 30 years, but am now the proud owner of a 1990. Still looks and handles like it just rolled off the showroom floor!
Ha…hope that you are right. My GPW/tan ‘03 S2000 is not a garage queen and has 106k miles; I bought in ‘05 for 25k and a the second owner; drives like new. Once prices come down on the S, I will be happy to sell for 19,900 in a few years.
Unfortunately well out of the price bracket at the moment. Here’s hoping they cool, but my ’05 I sold is looking like a huge mistake.