Ever since Henry Ford began building the Model T, American cars have been in production and kicking butt. To this day, the F-Series from Ford is the best-selling car in the world, and it has been for 36 years straight. There’s something to be said about American ingenuity.
Ever since the muscle car craze of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Americans have had an obsession of “cool” cars—even if they aren’t of the same quality as Italian or German or Japanese vehicles. Many Americans simply like buying from American companies such as Ford, Dodge, and Chrysler because they think it supports the country’s car industry.
There are plenty of awesome cars that you can find used and cheap, if you know how and where to look. Sports cars and luxury cars from the 2000s and before, the 2010s, and even muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s can all be found for under $10,000.
Here are 25 awesome American cars that you can buy for under $10,000.
25 2004 Pontiac GTO Coupe ($7k-$9k)
The Pontiac GTO has one of the most storied histories of any car in American manufacturing. It began as a muscle car from 1964 to 1974, and was considered by some to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers competing with various models.
The 2004 fifth-generation version of the car is pretty sporty, running on a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine—the same engine found in the concurrent Chevrolet Corvette at the time—and you can find an early fifth-gen version for around $7-$9,000.
24 1973 Chevrolet Nova SS ($7k)
The Chevrolet Nova was a small car built from 1962 to 1979, then again from 1985 to 1988. It was the top model in the Chevy II lineup, and it was a pure muscle car that people loved.
The 1973 third-generation SS version of the car, also called the Super Sport, was the performance package fitted with a big-block 6.5-liter, 350-bhp V8 engine, so it can really get around. One without the big-block engine can probably be found for around $7,000.
23 2014 Ford Fiesta ST ($10k)
The Ford Fiesta might not look like a speed demon, but the ST version of the car is pretty sporty and fast. It’s one of the best-selling Ford vehicles around, behind the Escort and the F-Series, and the 2014 version of the car is part of its sixth generation.
The 2014 Fiesta ST runs on a small 1.0-liter EcoBoost 140 PS engine with 138 bhp, but it won Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2013. You can find one for about $10,000 if you look in the right places.
22 1985-2000 Chevrolet Corvette ($3k-$10k)
Besides maybe the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Corvette is the most recognizable car in America. And while newer models will cost you high five figures, you can get earlier models for much, much cheaper.
There are ‘Vettes all over the internet, ranging from 1985 old school versions to slightly newer 2000 models (fourth and fifth generations). The base models might run you between $3,000 and $10,000.
21 2000-2011 Ford Mustang ($2k-$8k)
Arguably the most notable car in American history, the Ford Mustang has been around since 1962. It started as a muscle car (then it created the “pony car” class) and really set the bar for that craze during the ‘60s and ‘70s, and it’s stayed around since then, constantly morphing and improving.
There are a wide range of Mustangs you can get for under $10,000, all the way from a 2000 late-model Fox-body style to a newer 2011 style. The prices range from around $2,000 for early models, to nearly $8,000 for newer ones.
20 1979 Pontiac Firebird ($6k)
Since Pontiac is defunct now, it might be surprising that you can find so many cars under the marque for reasonable prices. The Firebird is one of the coolest cars around, as you can see, because of its uniqueness.
The late ’70s version, especially, has a front and profile view that make it stand out amongst cars of the era. It might not be the ’77 Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit, but a ’79, refurbished model can probably be had for around $6,000.
19 1990-2005 Jeep Wrangler ($6k-$9k)
What can we say about the Jeep Wrangler? It’s one of the most popular cars for off-roading, and it has the most unique look of any SUV-type vehicle out there. Everyone knows a Wrangler when they see one.
The boxier 1990 to 2005 versions of the car are even more noticeable than the JKs and JLs we see today. And you can find them for cheap, luckily—around $6-$9,000—with a wide range of years available.
18 1978 Chevrolet Camaro SS ($7.5k)
While we’re mentioning cool, unique cars, the Chevy Camaro from the ‘70s was one of the most aggressive and unique cars of the time. There wasn’t another car on the market that looked like it, with its concave front and headlights. It was a natural progression to the cool, curved Camaro of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
You can find a late ‘70s model for around $7,500, but don’t expect it to be in tiptop shape or restored.
17 2011 Chevrolet Camaro ($9k)
Newer Chevrolet Camaros have started to look more and more like Corvettes, but this car has always been reasonably priced for what you get. It’s fast, aggressive, and attracts attention wherever it goes.
After it competed in the late-60s and early-70s with the Mustang, it took on a life of its own and a whole new, unique look. The 2011 version is a little less unique (it doesn’t stick out as far, or have the cool headlight placement), but it can still be yours for under $10,000.
16 2013 Dodge Challenger SXT ($9.5k)
The Dodge Challenger is a sports car that’s had many huge transformations throughout the years. It began as a pony car to compete again with the Mustang from 1970-74, then became a compact car from 1978-83, then was revived as a pony car to rival the evolved Mustang in 2008.
The 2013 SXT trim includes superior accents, black chrome 20-inch wheels, performance suspension and brakes, and can be bought for around $9,500, just under $10k.
15 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe ($9k)
You might think that an older Ford Mustang pony car would cost you an arm and a leg, and you’d be right if you tried to buy something that’s been restored and refinished to look like it rolled right off the 1966 Ford factory line. But you can get a reasonable ’66 Mustang Coupe for around $9,000, and then you can do some work on it yourself and have a truly head-turning piece of Americana at your disposal.
14 2014 Dodge Charger SE ($9k)
You can get an even newer Dodge Charger if you want one of these instead of the Challenger. Like the Challenger, it was a muscle car in the ‘60s, and has been a subcompact hatchback, a full-size sedan, a personal luxury coupe, and the current version: a four-door sedan.
The 2014 SE trim is part of the newest, seventh generation, with a 292-hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine, and you can find one for around $9,000 if you look hard enough.
13 2011 Lincoln MKZ ($8k)
The Lincoln MKZ is another car that you might want to check out if you’re trying to impress someone with your wealth, but don’t want to tell them how much money you actually have in the bank. These cars look super spiffy, like the Chrysler 300, but they’re also cheap (like the Chrysler 300).
In 2011 the MKZ came out with a hybrid, but if you want a traditional version, you can find one for around $8,000 on car sites all over.
12 2005-2013 Chrysler 300 ($4k-$9k)
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious looking, rather than sporty, then you might be interested in a Chrysler 300 from 2005 to 2013. These cars have always rivaled Mercedes and BMWs in terms of looks, but they don’t break the bank like its competition.
You can buy a mid-first-generation version for around $4,000, or an early-second-generation model for around $9,000, and either way you’ll look much richer than you maybe are.
11 2003 Ford Thunderbird Deluxe ($8k)
The Ford Thunderbird used to be one of the coolest looking cars around, ever since 1955. With a very long lifespan, it’s no wonder that it’s gone through some major changes. It still looks unique, but not nearly as cool as the T-Bird that everyone knows and loves.
The 2003 T-Bird Deluxe is part of the eleventh generation of the car, which were built between 2002 and 2005, and you can find one for cheap these days: around $8,000.
10 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS ($9.5k)
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is another car that began as something else (much cooler) in 1970, but has slowly morphed into more of a family car. That’s not to say that this car doesn’t look cool anymore, because it clearly does, and the SS version is pretty dang fast. It’s just not the Monte Carlo that old school gearheads know and love.
You can find a 2006 model for about $9,500 if you know where to look.
9 2007 Pontiac Solstice ($7k-$9k)
The Pontiac Solstice had a short life, from 2006 to 2010, but it was a pretty sweet ride for the time. It’s powered by a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter V4 engine, which is part of the reason why it didn’t sell well—it wasn’t as zippy as it looked. If it was trying to compete with the Mazda Miata, it failed in all but the looks department.
Following the 2008 economic crash, it was discontinued, but you can now find them on places like AutoTrader and CarGurus for between $7,000 and $9,000.
8 1960 Mercury Comet ($9k)
We’d be remiss if we were talking about cheap American cars and didn’t mention some American muscle from the ‘60s and ’70s. There are so many classic cars out there that won’t break the bank, that you’d be surprised.
The Mercury Comet, for instance, was built from 1960-69 and again from 1971-77, and you can get one of the earliest versions available for around $9,000 if it’s not been restored to immaculate condition and rejuvenated completely.
7 1974 Dodge Dart ($9k)
The Dodge Dart is one of those compact muscle cars that couldn’t stand the test of time like the Mustang and Camaro. It was only built from 1958 to 1976 in North America, though its production was extended in other markets.
The Dart is a sweet, compact car originally designed by Italian coachmaker Carrozzeria Ghia. You can find a mid-70s variant for around $9,000, and it might even be in pretty good condition.
6 1970 Ford Torino ($6.5k)
The Ford Torino began as a competitor in the intermediate market segment, but it didn’t last very long. It was only manufactured from 1968 to 1976, so that means the car is reasonably rare. But people love this car and love working on it, and if you want to buy yourself one to work on, you can probably find a reasonable model for about $6,500.
5 2004 Chrysler Crossfire ($4k-$6k)
The Chrysler Crossfire is another car that never really got to see its just desserts. It was built by Karmann of Germany for the 2004 to 2008 model years, and it looks like an upper-end luxury vehicle that can also haul some serious butt.
Based on the Mercedes-Benz R170 Platinum, with 80% of its components shared with the first-gen SLK, it runs on a 215-hp SOHC V6 engine made by Mercedes, and lucky for you, it can be found for around $4-$6,000 on sites like CarGurus and AutoTrader.
4 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix ($10k)
The Pontiac Grand Prix had a long, illustrious life, though its latter days (in the 2000s) wasn’t as illustrious or cool looking as when it was a full-size sedan that had impeccable style and grit.
The personal luxury vehicle, as it was called, was a bit of a land boat in size (sort of like a Buick), but that doesn’t stop it from being awesome. If you want one of these long riders, you can probably get one for about $10,000 even, though it might not be restored.
3 1966 Buick Riviera ($9k)
Speaking of Buicks, the Riviera was once one of the most highly praised sedans by automotive journalists. Critics loved it for its high-profile debut and original form, and over 1,100,000 units of the car were produced from 1963 to 1999. Some of the earliest models (and coolest looking) can be found on AutoTrader Classics and other sites for around $9,000.
2 1965 Plymouth Fury ($9k)
The Plymouth Fury might have been made infamous by Stephen King’s novel-turned-horror film, Christine, but it’s still cool without that namesake.
In the film, it’s a ’58 Fury painted red, and you can probably find a ’65 Fury painted red for a reasonable price—around $9,000. This full-size car had a reasonably long life, from 1955 to 1978.
1 1966 Oldsmobile Cutlass ($6k)
Once upon a time, before Oldsmobile was a company for, well, old people, they had some pretty awesome cars. This ’66 Cutlass looks almost just like a Mustang or Camaro or GTO of the era, which is pretty awesome.
The car was built from 1961 to 1999, but we’re focusing on the older, muscle car versions. You can find them for around $6,000 if you’re not looking for something perfect and refinished.
References: autowise.com, cargurus.com, motorauthority.com, autotrader.com