10 used cars for less than £5k we’ve found this week | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
Shell V-Power: Fuelling your passions
Friday 2nd June
Top Gear Advice

10 used cars for less than £5k we’ve found this week

What if we found ourselves in North America with five grand to spend? Well, we’d be tipping more than 20 per cent, for a kick-off

Cadillac CTS
  1. Ford Mustang

    Ford Mustang

    The grass is always greener, of course. Yanks bemoan our easy access to Euro goodness, we dream about American muscle cars on endless highways, and Australians take one look at what Poms and Seppos can get for the money and cry into their Bundaberg. But this week, we thought we’d explore a few ideas about what we could get for 5,000 Pounds Sterling over in the land of... um, pounds as a measurement. Yep, not our finest. 

    And we start obviously enough, with cheap Mustangs – to get this shape of Mustang (the fifth-gen or S197) over here will run to least twice as much as it will over in the land of the fries and home of the Atlanta Braves. 

    OK, fine – you’re only getting the V6 version for this sort of money. But it’s America, after all, and you can bet your concealed carry permit that there’s a 5.0-litre Coyote, Tremec TR-6060 and co just waiting in the wings for this thing. Oh, and an off-the-shelf mounting kit for all of it, of course.

    Is there anything that isn’t better with a V8 and a TR-6060?

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  2. Honda Element

    Honda Element

    So, Americans get one of the cleverest, most practical cars ever made to fit the SUV shape... and export markets get the Dodge Nitro. Thanks, guys. We hope the fact that only steroidal and seriously indebted gym managers bought them was an appropriate response to the Ed Hardy deep v-neck of cars.

    And if we’re in the middle of torturing a clothing metaphor, we may as well give the rack another twist. 

    If we had to look through a sartorial lens at the Honda Element (we’ll take sentences that’ve never been said for 200, Alex), it’d be a lot of layers up top, those zip-to-make-them-shorts trousers on the bottom, lace-up boots and a poncho in case it rains. None more practical, of course, but a look that only the most utilitarian among us would ever lust after. 

    But then sometimes cars aren’t about being lusted after; sometimes, they just need to be... well, cars – as useful as possible in as many situations as possible. And the Honda? Well, you could say that this was its... element?

    Yeah, we’ll see ourselves out

  3. Scion tC

    Scion tC

    What is a Scion? What is a tC? What is a Toyota Corolla without enough doors or space doing in this list of cars? 

    Well, in this context at least, it’s easiest to take the entire Scion brand as Toyota’s version of ‘How do you do, fellow kids?’ over in America. It’s all done and dusted now, but it did offer up a lovely little liftback before it left.

    That liftback is called the tC, because both capitalisation and making sense are apparently not down with the youth. On the plus side, however, is the 2.4-litre or 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines from much larger cars being wedged – in the great hot-rodding tradition – into a much smaller one. Seriously, this engine was lugging around Camrys and RAV4s; little wonder that the little tC could keep Golf GTIs honest in a drag race. 

    And that’s before you fit the TRD supercharger...

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  4. Jeep Wrangler

    Jeep Wrangler

    Ah, we’ve thought America, so we’ve thought Jeep. And we’ve thought Jeep, so we’ve thought Wrangler. 

    OK, so it turns out that even thinking about old Wranglers is a dangerous game, let alone driving them. So the best bet would be to get something properly cheap, and fit the kind of cage that’d keep an aggrieved great white shark at bay. All the worn out and tired bits? Just head out to the ’glades and biff them against a rock for proper off-roading cred.

    Maybe don't think about it too much

  5. Chevy S-10

    Chevy S-10

    Being non-Americans, our first introduction to the Chevrolet S-10 was in Terminator 2, when Edward Furlong shrieked about being able to get out and walk faster. Not exactly the most auspicious of introductions for America’s little work truck, you’ll agree. 

    But then in quite a few years on this planet (oh wow, is it that many? We may actually have to start doing grown-up things), we’ve never had to outrun any mimetic poly-alloy killing machines. Not a single one. 

    And while this bodes well for our future in a way that NFTs, Big Data and whatever the fresh hell the metaverse is absolutely does not, it also means we’re free to choose our motorbike hauler / rubbish tip ferry / farm basher with less of an eye for its pursuit capabilities.

    Can we pause for a minute to appreciate that amazing chase scene?

  6. Land Rover LR4

    Land Rover LR4

    You know what’s pretty great? Medjool dates. Get some walnuts or pecans to go with them, a nice cup of coffee... lovely. 

    You know what’s less great? When a bona fide Good Car™ gets sent off to go be a Good Car™ in another country... and then gets a 5.0-litre V8 we never did and progresses right up the line to Great Car™. 

    And so it went with the fourth-gen Land Rover Discovery – on its way over to the Pilgrims, it became the LR4 and the proud recipient of a 5.0-litre V8. We rode in the back of one from Woodstock in New York to Raleigh, North Carolina – a 600-mile trip – and apart from a small case of terminal boredom on the I-95 south of DC, it was one of the comfiest, most luxurious and just happiest passenger rides we’ve ever done. And to think that same car could (and indeed has) gone overlanding in the Appalachians without a single change from the car that racked up those highway miles... missing out on that is perhaps not so great. 

    Of course it’ll need a tow truck at some point. Come on, it’s still a Land Rover

  7. Cadillac CTS

    Cadillac CTS

    Not sure if it feels the same way to Americans as it does to us, but we get the impression that Cadillac’s fall from Rolls rival to rolling punchline (obvious setups include Huggy Bear and nursing hom... er, retirement communities) came as a result of a series of own goals. 

    Own goals, it must be said, that the coach (or perhaps the GM, har dee har) asked them to kick. So Caddy pumped out a bunch of badge engineering like the Cimarron and Catera, that say ‘luxury’ about as much as the line for a RyanAir flight does. 

    Not saying the CTS was an instant return to the lap of luxury or anything, but at least it was a rear-drive saloon of Caddy’s own making. The fact you could get a six-speed manual and 250bhp V6 can only help matters. 

    And yes, we know there’s a V8 version. We only have five grand to spend...

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  8. Toyota 4Runner

    Toyota 4Runner

    In our (admittedly limited) experience with the good people of the United States, we’ve found a few things, one of which is a deep love for the 4Runner. 

    And why wouldn’t there be? They’re the exact kind of Toyota that makes people get Toyotas and why people buy them. They live forever (rust, crashes and grenading 3.4 V6s notwithstanding), go just about anywhere and fly under the radar until you throw the contents of a parts catalogue at them. 

    Our pick of them all is the fourth-gen; it’s pretty much the same car and parts that went into the Land Cruiser Prado and FJ Cruiser, fitted with a 4.0-litre V6 (the 1GR-FE) that might be the most slept-on engine we can think of. These things are basically a simplified but bigger version of the 2GR-FE that powered the Lotus Exige V6. If that doesn’t do it for you, you could always track down one powered by the 4.7-litre 2UZ-FE – a version of the broadly unkillable 1UZ that powered the Lexus LS400, with an iron block for even more toughness.

    And yes, those Eaton V6 supercharger kits will fit, if you’re interested. And you should be

  9. Mitsubishi Eclipse

    Mitsubishi Eclipse

    For reasons that involve corporate tie-ins with Chrysler and something called ‘Diamond Star Motors’ (ah, see what they did there), there’s a Japanese V6 coupe that looks like it should grace a ‘Forgotten Nineties JDM cars’ list, but was designed and built in America. Totally normal, right?

    In fact, it was built in the city of Normal, Illinois, which does make us wonder if naming cities is really something that just anyone should have been able to do. And yes, we say that as a country where towns are called Diss, Dorking and Shittlehope. 

    But what of the Eclipse? Well, it’s based on the same basic floorpan and set-up as the Dodge Stratus, which... is basically the cure for narcolepsy, to be honest. At least the Eclipse looks interesting, in that early 2000s, Need for Speed: Underground kind of way. Also, there’s Mitsubishi’s 6G72 3.0-litre V6, with dual overhead cams, 24 valves and more than 200bhp. Oh, and an unexpectedly massive aftermarket scene – forged pistons, turbocharging, supercharging... it’s all on the table.

    Because 400 front-drive horsepower in a 20-year-old car is a smashing idea

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  10. Ford F-150

    Ford F-150

    And here we are, starting as obviously as we began. But when the alternative is dross like the Chevy HHR, Pontiac G6 or Chrysler PT Cruiser, we’ll take obviousness, thanks. 

    As for which F-150 to get... well, it’s a bit like the Transit over here – the sheer specificity for which you could spec an F-150 boggles the mind and pretty much precludes us picking one above any other. 

    In general, though, we’d take a late-Nineties two-wheel-drive single cab with a manual gearbox. That means the biggest load space in the back – what one ostensibly buys an F-150 for – and in proper base spec, with sweet eff all in the way of luxury or trinketry. In fact, that’d be what we’d christen the happy load hauler. 

    Come on, tell us you wouldn’t get a grin driving around in a Ford F-All

More from Top Gear

See more on Top Gear Advice

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5