Last week, The Garage launched a new series called 5 Under 5 which highlights five cars listed under $5,000. The first batch was in Los Angeles, while the second batch came from the middle of the country to Des Moines. As the used car market continues its outlandish prices, these articles will demonstrate that $5,000 cars do exist, but perhaps not in the way car buyers of the past are used to.
As a bonus, 5 Under 5 will also show how different auto markets vary across the country. Some might be flush with great cars at this price, while others might be more sparse. Regardless of stock, these articles aim to provide examples of several types of cars, from what look like good everyday drivers to projects that might be worth investing in.
Here are five cars I found after some research. I centered my research on downtown Atlanta, and included Sandy Springs to the north and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to the south within its radius. Some of the following sites aren’t too far away, like Morrow and Stone Mountain, which are no more than 25 miles away – that’s a big metropolitan area. Be advised: we don’t know these sellers and haven’t seen any of these cars in person. We’re just sharing them based on what’s apparent in the ad, so take out your wallet at your own risk.
The family hauler: 2007 Honda Odyssey
- Price: $4,338
- Miles: 209 665
Who doesn’t appreciate a Honda Odyssey of yesteryear? Especially in this neat dark purple color, which is fitting for reliable minivan royalty. This one has done just over 200,000, and after what looks like a recent general detail, the interior looks pretty darn clean, which is frankly a miracle. God knows the insides of these things are child-beaten. From sticky candy wrappers to stuffed ice cream cones and nightmares of motion sickness, it’s hard to find a van interior in such good shape.
As far as mileage and mechanical condition go, these things don’t usually have major issues, but as always, any indication of regular maintenance should be asked. It’s also fine of the owner to take a picture of when the timing belt was replaced, but if it was in their hands when it happened, it’s a little concerning that they have exceeded 100,000 miles to do so. After some quick research, it looks like the Honda J35 should have its timing belt replaced every 105,000 miles or seven years, whichever comes first.
Collector’s Choice: 1989 Chrysler New Yorker
- Price: $2,900
- Miles: 57,234
- Link (editor’s note 8/20/22: this appears to have expired/changed on the day of publication)
For those looking for some solid Radwood potential that could serve as a comfortable runabout, feast your eyes on this glorious Chrysler C body: a late ’80s New Yorker.
That interior, those seats! Chances are that this immaculate creation with a Landau roof belongs to an elderly member of society, hence the very low mileage on its clock. This could be an 80’s C body part that talk to so are its occupants – if so, what a time machine.
Under its hood is a 3.0-liter or 3.4-liter V6, and 1989 marked the New Yorker’s 50th anniversary. It doesn’t appear that this generation has many major issues, although it may be difficult to find some replacement parts due to its age.
The Business Daily: 2007 Toyota Corolla
- Price: $4,500
- Mileage: 141,000
I love this generation of Toyota Corolla. I 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 use, consume a lot of gas and are extremely reliable. They don’t really demand much in terms of maintenance intervals either, just change the oil, keep an eye on things and follow their very basic, no-frills intervals.
Their issues are minor, such as light oil leaks that are hard to reach under the hood and shoddy paint jobs. I imagine rust could also be a problem in any area of the country that sees it.
This 2007 model year only did 141,000 miles, which is still very young for these hearty engines. Some areas of the body don’t look amazing, but at least he seems to have most of his coat transparent. The interior also looks clean overall, and if the air conditioning is indeed working, the future owner will be good to go.
Work Truck Potential: 2002 Ford Explorer
- Price: $4,800
- Mileage: 124,000
I was originally looking for a heavy-duty do-it-all pickup to fit into this category, but at the time of my research, I couldn’t find much that was worth it.
With that, it could be a decent alternative, especially if one had to drop or remove the rear seats. This Ford Explorer dates just after the Blue Oval Ford Country days, and I don’t think Georgia native Alan Jackson would be ashamed to drive in that rig.
Or turn this four-door into a big, safe family hauler. It’s the V6 equipped trim, so it’s not a hotrod or towing monster, but at least the description says it was taken care of. Still, it’s worth asking for the service documentation and giving it a good inspection and test drive, because these things are not exactly built Ford hard. The body has some issues, but the price still seems like a good place to start.
The project of the enthusiast: Audi A4 Wagon 2002
- Price: $3,000
- Mileage: 125,000
I decided to save this Audi B6 station wagon, uh, excuse me Before for the end, because it is by far the best. Or, rather, the one I would totally explore today if I were local. These aren’t very common, and it has the best engine/transmission combination of its non-S generation: the 1.8T 20v turbocharged engine with three pedals and Quattro all-wheel drive. real quattroalso, not a Haldex-type system.
This one is a project for sure, as it needs some work regarding the condition of its catalytic converter and bodywork. If the cat is dead, it could indicate problems upstream. It is important that these are taken care of, including a timing belt job well before 100,000 miles, otherwise major problems could arise. At first glance it sits on Mk5 GTI wheels and maybe lowered it looks like it was owned by enthusiasts, which is a good sign.
But above all, this first example of Vorsprung durch Technik could be turned into a great track sled. Not much better than seeing someone run 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 visit Atlanta Motorsports Park. Driving it on the track would be one of those rare times when I’d pray for rain – this thing could produce some epic all-wheel-drive slides that would bring smiles by Walter Roerhl Face.