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.