best car for under $20k?

Asked by Jun 23, 2009 at 11:24 PM

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

Looking to get a newer car and was wondering what would be the fastest car i could get with at least decent handling for under 15 to 20 grand? it can be stock or something cheaper with mods. what're peoples thoughts on this one?

57 Answers

so far i'm thinkin an sti, 300zx, or 3000gt. but i want other ideas as well.

try an 07 ford mustang

gt i'm assuming? because the v6 really isn't all that powerful.

yep gt.

225

I've said it once, I've said it twice and I'll say it again. K20 EG Civic turbo and you can destroy a lot of cars out there. Hell swap any more powerful engine into an EG and it flies. The B18a and b work well but K20 is now the defacto power engine in EGs

7,545

Try and get a hold of Cobalt SS. Take a lot at it's specs and track times, actions speak louder than words after all

125

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, or Subaru STi, AWD and plenty of power to knock down just about any car you come across, mustangs pre 200 corvettes, camaros, all manor of civics, you name it an evo or STi can handle it. (with in reason of course) no chance in a evo getting a 100K+ car. but for 20k a used evo will be more than most people can handle.

35

3000gt badass expensive to maintain but they rip and handle like a dream i have not driven better but dats just my opinion

6,675

if youre looking at the 300zx why arent you also looking at a 350Z? you could easily get a newer slightly used one for under $20k. sounds like youre not an american muscle car type of guy so i wont recommend any of those. and since thats the case i suggest 350Z or STi. i would NOT go with a mitsu. they seem to have a lot of problems in comparison to nissan, honda, etc... and i suggest against a honda. everybody has one. you want to blend it or stand out? if you want to blend in get the honda but if not dont.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

thanks for the opinions. problem i have with the civics and cobalts though is the fwd. torque steering is a bitch on a hard launch, especially when you're trying to shift. (my current car is also fwd. D: )

285

RWD's have their own problems in launching too. Nothing like AWD for drag. However, a FWD tends to perform better than a RWD round the track. While a FWD is susceptible to torque steering, an RWD can over or understeer unexpectedly too even if you're a very experienced driver. With 20k you can afford a lot of great 2nd hand cars easily, its just a matter of what kind of driving experience you're interested in and to get a car that matches your taste.

6,675

rwd is better on the track than fwd. all race cars are rwd for a reason. for an average driver i suppose that a fwd might be better. for a good driver rwd is much better around the track. rwd is also the best for drag if you can get traction. but for his purposes (which im assuming you were going with) then yes a street machine awd would be best for a launch.

165

Here's where it lies what are your intentions and aspirations. Track or street, how experienced are you at driving different platforms FWD, RWD and AWD handle very differently and each one can reward or punish a driver for their decisions. If you are very inexperienced FWD and AWD will save you from being stupid to an extent, if you out drive your talent you out drive your talent no matter what you are in. If you intend to Auto X or road course race and you buy RWD learn throttle control will be a must. Drag racing on the surface AWD seems like the ticket, but take it from me I have an 04 STI, you absolutely need to know how to launch the car to prevent bog. Reving to extremes and dumping the clutch only serves to damage the hell out of the drivetrain. Just know if you are leaning towards an Evo, STI, or WRX most likely it has been modified despite what the seller says it is very wasy to put them back to stock appearance. Honestly, I would avoid the 3000gt on the surface it looks like it has all the right ingrediants, but plain and simple it is one heavy ass car and put up against more mondern offerings it will get its ass handed to it. Not to mention that it will have for sure seen it's better days. I would opt 350z over 300zx for much the same reason what you will find will have been rode hard and put away wet. If you go with one that is turbo they max out in a hurry because they are small requiring an upgrade of them early on. Mustangs aren't bad and can handle decently, but out of the box the 5th generation needs help, alot of this was changed on the '10 Mustang with revised spring and damper rates which makes it superb but out of your price range. You surely can go older e36 and even older e30 BMWs are great cars, you also have 240s, the GC body imprezas, Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes. But these older ones are going to take cash to get up to par with what you most likely are going to want to do with it, so you may want to factor that into your budget. Decide what you want to do with the car you purchase and research it from there to see what fits the bill. Best of luck, Paul

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

my intentions are a streetable car for either auto x or drag. so far awd seems to be the most versatile, with great launches and handling. as for experience i have a lot of fwd experience, some rwd, but no awd. but for any drivetrain, its all practice and getting used to the vehicle. in addition to your recommendations, old porches, like the 944 S, are worth looking in to from what i've seen, but as with all old cars there is the maintenance problems and regular upkeep expenses. but the research i have done has basically told me the same thing you have, so thank you.

125

on the 944 note, i've driven one and though it has the Porsche name, it drives like an old VW beetle. not that great compared to more modern cars. if your looking for something out of the ordinary try and find an older Lotus Elise, light weight and RWD but on a track they are a blast. you wont be the fastest or most powerful, but you will turn heads faster than most anyone else. all that being said look to Paul's post for advice, there is nothing to be added to that

was it a 944 turbo though? aka a 951? because supposedly the turbo ones made it to 60 in about 6 from what i've heard.

7,545

The NA's are under powered, but in it's worst case scenario it does 0-60 in 8.3s with the turbos doing it in 5.5s. Not to mention exceptionally light weight and well balanced. And unlike a Porsche with a 901, 915, or 930 gearbox, the thing actually shifts! And the Porsche emblem is more than a name, it means ability to join PCA, which is a national auto club second to none. Easily the best $42 a year you can spend. Cheap D.E., well classes competition, and people willing to help who actually know their shit. It's not my favorite car, but it's no push over by any stretch of the imagination, and is nothing like an old beetle... Seriously a type 2?

115

Ive seen many many Miata do some serious damage in AutoX, that car has all the basic ingredients its small rwd lots of upgrades and corners like a dream. Not top on alot of peoples list but still it falls into the criteria he put forth.

i know my uncle (whos like 4 years older) has one thats race built. he has enough problems with it though to advise against it. maybe he just got unlucky, but either way.

285

http://forums.importtuner.com/70/7453898/general-discussion/awd-vs-fwd-vs-rwd/index.html

well based on that, i do more dragging and power sliding (currently fwd) than auto x, so i'm going to have to say rwd. very good link, thanks.

285

Or you could get an AWD that you can adjust power bias. Its more versatile that way.

sti does this doesnt it? and also the volvo s60r is awd with like 90% of the power to the front normally, but up to 50% rear when accelerating. doesn't go more than that to the rear, though.

165

Yes the STI does have this capability. 04-07 it is capable of 35/65. 08 is slightly higher, but I don't remember off the top of my head. There are companies out there that make stub shafts to put in your front hubs so you can remove your front axle shafts to be RWD.

as awesome as that is, i looked up some insurance rates recently. because of my age, even with no tickets or accidents, my insurance is about 3k to 4k a year for the sti or 350z, etc. i think i decided on the porche 944 turbo as a result. 5.5 to 60 stock and like literally 1/4 the insurance cost because its older. i would much rather go for an sti, believe me, but the insurance cost is what would kill me. :(

6,675

What insurance company did you go through??? I was a high risk driver when I was 21 and full coverage on my navigator was under $2k a year. I go through allstate now and am no longer high risk but for maximum full coverage I pay $1100 a year now on an 05 300C. Call come more companies. I found allstate to be the cheapest for younger drivers by a large amount.

125

actually this is a misconception. the DCCD does not allow you to move power to the rear, or front of the car. rather it allows you ro adjust how tightly the center diff will be. at 50/50 lock all front and rear are locked so that they will spin at the exact same rate(think of a jeep 4x4 with hubs locked). while out is very different. it is based on traction 35/65. so if your front tires are on ice you will not slip as the back with then take up the slack in the line 65% and a minimal amount will go to the front keeping more control. the opposite is also possible, rears on ice and fronts on pavement. there is no way for a stock STI to move its power specifically to the rear/front. this has been looked at many times(not here yet) and yes you could always change the drive train to rear only if you want, but then why buy a Subaru in the first place? if you need more proof of this (or a better explanation) i can get you the link.

i got quotes from a few companies. the "recommended" insurance was that high, as was max coverage. and with a loan you need max coverage. the bare minimal was about 1800 a year though, and for the porsche about 800 with recommended 950 and max like 1050, probably because of its age.

285

Erm, obviously it runs on ratios since you dont have two engines.

6,675

By max coverage I was talking amount of coverage dollar wise. Not type of coverage. Call allstate if you haven't yet. They were the last place I called but the cheapest by a large amount.

i was also talking about dollar wise. and its a lot cheaper with allstate at about 2700 to 3300, but still 1/3 the cost for the porsche, give or take.

125

when did engines enter the picture Jin?

675

Insurance for STI's and Evos is absolutely insane if you are under 25 even with a clean record. It is because they are seen as boy racer cars, and parents buy them for 16 yo who then proceed to go and wrap it around a tree within 20 minutes. The "ricey" look makes people underestimate what they are capable of, but when you consider that these are rally derived race cars for teh street, and bone stock can hit 60 in 4.x and pull lateral 0.99G for like $30k nothing comes close in the price range. And once you start with the mods? They take to mods so well, you can have a more stock looking evo pull up next to you at a light and it could easily be anywhere between 300hp and 1100hp. Kids who are too new don't know what they have, are unable to handle them and end up wrecking them more frequently that nearly any other cars. Hence the high insurance costs. The 944 is not a bad car at all, but just keep in mind sometimes parts and servicing for Porsche's gets a bit costly and reliability can come into play if you are unlucky...

125

all that is 100% true but my insurance for an 04 STi, and 22 years old clean driving record is actually really good, its only 1600 a YEAR, that's 800 ever 6 months. now i know i could go get a yaris, and watch that drop to 200 every 6 months, but still for full coverage i'll take 1600. also Chamal, i've said it before but i love your evo (that's a lot coming from a Subi guy :P )

welll obviously thats why the insurance is high. those are scary fast cars, especially for a younger driver. on paper 4.x to 60 is like wow thats pretty fast, but in the car and actually doing it? woah. bring extra underwear. this combined with the fact many young drivers like to try and test the cars limits with no regard to their own makes for high insurance rates. because they are complete idiots. (which is why i hate stereotypes.)

6,675

hey i just had another thought for you. if you like luxury cars you could get one of those and then spend like $5k on a sportbike. you could get something thats comfortable to get around in and save a ton on insurance and motorcycle insurance is cheap if you keep the engine size smaller. plus you could smoke any car on the road when you want to have fun and get great mileage but at the same time have a different ride for you and your friends to get around in comfortably.

i've already thought about this option. my parents refuse to let me have a bike of any type, even just a 250. and if i get one they can just have my license pulled until i'm 18. but thanks for trying to find other options.

6,675

ah that whole thing. i went that route after a while. just thought id see if you thought about it. well when youre eighteen maybe check that option out instead

ya i thought about it already. i would have gotten a 600 most likely. enough power, but not too much. maybe in a few more years though.

6,675

yeah first time riders should always start with a 600 at most.

675

Thanks yo! :D Also, accept my friend request i just sent you. I was at the racetrack with the Evo and after the drivers meeting Speed TV asked me for interview, and wanted to put cameras in my car to film me on the track hehehe. I was hauling ass and taking names ;) Also I got picked up by a professional race team and my car is undergoing a full teardown and rebuild with sponsorship parts and wotnot as we speak. You can see more details on my profile page :) Also, 800 for 6 months is sweet for 22yo. I wish i got that good of deal :P

2,985

its really heavy though for its class

2,985

you would not go with an evolution?? Its all about how well you take care of your car the 4g63t motor is an awesome motor there are some minor things but if you iron them out it should last for a really long time like a honda or toyota.

2,985

ok well for a fwd car id like at maybe Acura integra type r they are light awesome track cars. stay away from the srt-4 its a nightmare of a car all the ones ive seen come through the dealership are horrible and always need a lot of work. But there really isnt any decent fwd cars that have a lot of power you have to get a good base car to modify. and cobaly ss are really weak in the body styling and they are cheaply made id wouldnt even both no matter what people say about them. For RWD id go with either a Honda s2000 put a supercharger or turbo and it will be a track beast. A Toyota supra would be ideal the motor can handle up to around 650-700 hp on stock internals, They have a huge fan base and aftermarket parts sources. And not to mention that the motors are nearly bulletproof thats also if you get the MKIV body 1993-1998. or you could go with a 350z they are really nice to mode and in my opinion and many others they have one of the best if not the best newer car motor to modify put the throttle body spacer and a turbo kit on that it you will see great numbers and the handle very good. You could also look at BMW M3, Mazda RX-7, Nissan 240sx with sr20det swap or rb26dett, even though the first two are costly to repair they are fun cars though. As for AWD id go with either a 2004-2007 Subaru Impreza Sti or a 2004-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. I dont care what people say about the evo compared to the sti or just the the evo in general they are great cars and they are just as reliable as the STI. Its all about how you take care of them. They good thing about these two is they are both awesome on track/road race course, fun to drag/highway haul, they are a sedan so if you wanted you could have more then one person piss there pants as you boost really fast in it. You can also rally in them with the right mods. I believe these two cars a probably they best cars out of all cars manufactured very versatile and have a lot more paths to take in moding them.

well i have a few dirkbikes at my housel, so i probably could handle more power if i wanted to, but there really isn't that much open road around here on the back roads, so that much power would have no use unless on the highway. and i don't get to do much highway driving. :(

285

Hey Kyle. I meant that the power bias had to be working on differentials, because the only way to 'adjust power' would be if a car had two engines in it connected to the front and rear wheels and you had a control for air/fuel mixture to both :) I was just messing with you. Sorry.

6,675

fred...we have gone over this time and time again. mitsu are notorious for having problems. the heads to be specific. mitsu, wake up and fix it

6,675

well just keep this in mind. a new 600 does the 1/4 mile in under 10 seconds now. same as what a 1000 did about 15 years ago. trust me on this one. a new rider could NOT handle a 2000 model or newer 750 or 1000 safely. my gixxer 1000 makes 146 hp and weighs 410 lbs with fuel. just think about much power that is. i always recommend a 600 at most to start out. if you learn how to run a 600 to full potential you will learn how to ride a larger bike a lot quicker and a lot safer.

125

haha its np, just threw me a curve ball with the whole engine thing lol

but i was looking at mid/late 90's to early 2000 600's and not brand new ones, which are a little slower, depending on the model. and a kid at my school has a 950 that was bored out and has all the other bells and whistles. makes almost 200hp. i'm amazed he hasn't died yet honestly. so i know what you mean. but either way, not getting one for a while. :(

6,675

yeah it sucks. once you ride you never stop. when you can ride check out suzuki. they own the track

i'll look into them, but again not enough room for anything too powerful around here. but by the time my i can ride, maybe i'll take my dads bike (what a hipocrate, haha) because he'll be too old to ride. its a ducati st2. :) and once again too powerful. :(

6,675

haha yeah i had to go through a pretty big battle to get mine when i was seventeen. i used the high gas prices and the fact that my dad had one as my leverage. worked well for me haha

i tried that last year, using the fact that gas hit $4 a gallon last summer and my dad has 1 bike now, but used to have (not kidding) about 7 or 8. didn't work, because he (and my mom's brother who also rides) got into a few big accidents. so of course that means i'll crash as well. guaranteed. -_- and of course he later tells me all these racing stories on his bike. go figure right?

6,675

Haha yeah. My dad never wrecked but his brother did frequently. I got hit by a jeep on my bike. Most accidents are the fault of the other cars on the road. People in cars typically can't drive for shit.

same with my dad. one accident he was hit by a student driver on their first time in a car. they hit him hard, too. and my uncle got into one really bad accident, and the day he got out of the hospital he got into another really bad accident. but it is uncareful drivers, i know.

5

me i would tell you go with a 350z or a s2000 or evo or a sti

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