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What was your least expensive used car purchase?

To go along with the “worst vehicle” thread, what was your least expensive used car purchase?

Not purchased from a relative or friend who gave you a bargain price
In running/driving condition when purchased

When I was growing up, our automotive low point was a $100 VW bug my parents bought some time in the late 70’s. The thing was faded green and had spray-paint green splotches of a slightly different shade covering rust spots, so it looked like a frog with smallpox. The rear seat upholstery was torn so they threw an old blanket over it and called it good.

But it did run and I had the great privilege of driving it to high school. So it wasn’t our worst vehicle, only our cheapest. (The worst was a Vega).

I guess it was a used car because it had 450 miles on it. I bought a 2009 Cobalt LT with auto transmission for $8500 from a dealer. That was about 47% of MSRP on a new identical car. Best deal ever. 5 years later, it is worth about $600 less than we paid for it.

I had several of them.

1960 Morris Minor that I paid $125 for in about 1967. It ran kinda but needed a lot of work-engine, brakes, transmission. Sold it again but wish I had it.

Next cheap one was my 59 Pontiac that I paid $150 for in 1968. That was a good car. Needed a windshield and some body work on the door but used it up until I got married and sold it for $125 but wish I had it.

I bought a 61 Corvair for $150 in 1973 that actually made me money when it got hit. Sold it to my builder for $100 and wish I had it.

My other cheap one was a 67 Buick wagon that I bought for $250 in 1976 but put $350 into the engine plus $100 for tires.

I bought a '78 Phoenix for $135 around 1995. It seemingly had severe valve trouble, but it could reach 35mph if the gas pedal were nursed just right. I bought a '66 Valiant for $250 around 1978. It had the 225 slant six engine. I got rid of it because one day it wouldn’t start, but now I kinda wish that I still had it because of it’s relative simplicity.

Bought a Desoto for $150 but the best bang for the buck was a 62 Rambler Classic in 1967 for $450. Guess they didn’t hold their value well but it was functional, burned a little oil but was an OK car otherwise. Compared to other cars on e road, you could do a lot worse. The 200 cubic inch six was actually small and under powered in that day where one that size now, would fly.

The worse purchases were my first two new cars, a SAAB 96 two stroke and a SAAB 99 with a real crappy British Leyland motor that died at about 65k miles. Overpaid for both. Generally, I got soaked on both ! Neither car made it to70k miles.

Nex best deal was a 2002 Chevy Prism in 2004 with 27k miles for $7500. Best, most simple car I have ever owned. Forced to sell it way too early as it was not 4 wd and it just sat in the garage giving mice a home during the winter. Most regretted sale I ever made.

I have had 3 ridiculously cheap ones. (all over 20 years ago when I was poor and struggling)

-1979 Chrysler Newport with a crunched front fender–$100

-1981 Buick Skylark with some rust and needed a little rewiring – $75

-1980 Chrysler New Yorker -bought it off the grandfather of a coworker for $275. Had been sitting for a year. Started right up with a jump. I drove that car another 100K miles–was really a great car and had very little trouble with it. It didn’t like to go into reverse when cold when I first got it, but after about 6 months this problem went away as the seals apparently expanded as they got some needed lubrication.

1992 Olds Cutlass Ciera, bought for $750 circa 2012. Great engine, no rust, iffy electricals and transmission.

Bought it in Tampa cheap off a used car lot about that had just closed down. The engine was a 3.3 L de-stroked and -bored brother of the GM 3800.

The lowest priced one was a 1955 Pontiac Chieftain that I bought for $50 and I mowed the lady’s yard. I drove the car for over a year to work and back nearly every day. It’s the vehicle that I went on my first date with the girlfriend that later became my wife. I traded it and a chunk of cash to my future brother-in-law for his '62 Chevy Impala SS convertible. He was still driving the Chieftain when I junked the SS a couple of years later.

Back in the late 80’s I needed a car, just something that would run and drive. I read the paper and found a 1965 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight for $175. It looked horrible, had been sitting in a garage for a year and hadn’t been washed since probably 1975. It had been rear ended and the bumper was bent in and the trunk wouldn’t open. But with a new battery it started. I offered the old man $150. He agreed, and as a bonus he said anything I found in the trunk I could keep. I cleaned the car up, finally got the trunk open, and found a toolbox with some woodworking tools, a credit card that was 5 years expired, and $80 cash. I sold the tools for $20. So far the car cost me $50.

I drove it for a year, gave it to my girlfriend’s cousin who used it to drive to her job 30 miles away for another year until she bought a new car. Then she sold the Olds–still running and driving–for $200. That means a net gain of $150.

I bought a 1947 Pontiac for $75 from our local Buick dealer in 1961. The body, after I cleaned it up was in perfect shape inside and out and had absolutely no rust. I did find coolant in the oil after I had the car. I removed the cylinder head and found the block was cracked around a valve seat. I fixed it with K & W seal. The cluster gear was worn and it howled when starting off in first gear, so I shifted to second gear as quickly as possible. Even the radio worked after I replaced the radio antenna. It used a quart of oil every 300 miles or so, but it got me to my first round of graduate school 350 miles away.

In the early 80’s I bought a 1964 Buick Wildcat from the salvation army for $10. Needed plugs and a battery, had no chance in hell of ever passing an inspection. but I drove it home tinkered with it for a while and then sold the the thing for $100.

1960 Borgward Isabella. Paid $50, did an oil change, drove it 5000 miles and gave it away. Found out a few months later that it was actually a collectors car worth several thousand dollars.

I acquired an 82 Nissan 200sx for 45$ in the late 90s it was badly in need of a new fuel filter due to the use of a wet rag gas cap. After changing the required parts and reciving the Alaskan universal key ( flat head screw driver), next pluging in the ignition swich in the center console wich was given to me at the time of purchas in lieu of title, an awesome security measure by the way very few car thives despret enough to steal this pos. have the required ignition. After this I was able to jump start the car, and oh boy was she a runner!!! A fuel injected nap z Nissan engine in a 2 door, 5 speed, rear weel drive, a great Alaska car if I may say so, and the best 45 bucks I’ve spent.

$50…1966 Fleetwood…

Drove it for a year in college and then sold it for $100

1957 Chevrolet 150 2 door sedan. $100 in December 1968. It was in surprisingly good condition. Very good interior, decent tires, and straight body in an attractive dark blue metallic. Unfortunately the paint appeared to have been applied by pouring it over the car! The chrome trim pieces for the hood that were fortunately in the trunk could not be installed because the paint was so thick. Other than the paint there were absolutely no problems. The 235 cu in straight six, Three speed column shift, electronics, and suspension were perfect. One of my best buddies fell in love with the car and wanted to buy it. I held him off for about a year then finally accepted his $200. Paid $100 sold $200. I guess it was free!

I bought the '01 Neon that’s currently in my driveway for $450 - but I doubt that it counts. It was “running and driving” - but not braking (leaky wheel cylinder & line full of air). It also had a cracked radiator. But it did run and drive when I bought it. (Of course, now it runs, drive AND brakes).

One other bargain gem that I purchased was a 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck for $120 back in 1972. We had finished our graduate coursework and purchased 5 acres in the country. I needed a truck to haul rolled wire fence and posts, hay, and all other sorts of things. The truck was a 1 ton 3800 series. I bought it from the brother-in-law of my department secretary. He bought it at a farm auction. It had some tool boxes on the side and a hitch on the back. I tilted the seat cushion up once and found the blueprints of the water pipes for the south part of my town. I think the truck started its life with the water works and the hitch was to pull the compressor for a jackhammer. The truck was badly rusted, but it ran well. I even used it to stretch fence. I sold it three years later for $110.

Great stories, guys. Keep 'em coming. Amazing what 100 bucks can buy!

Yes, a person can purchase a heck of a lot of advanced technology for a few hundred bucks when purchasing a used car these days. A kid inclined towards science and engineering could gain a lot of knowledge by purchasing a used car for a few hundred bucks, just to take it apart and see how it works. Then see if it could be put back together again.

The cheapest car in the family that wasn’t bought from a relative was the 1960’s Dodge truck that my Dad bought for $300 back in the mid 70’s, used it to build the house they still live in and as a moving truck then it was sold around 1980 for the same $300. The holes in the floor were included free.