Here are a few things I would ask myself, or you, considering the budget..
1) Is this going to be your daily driver or do you have other transportation?
The reason I ask this, well... think of it like this:
You could go out and buy reliable rig, and eat up most of your cash.. and more than likely it will get you where you want to go, day in and day out.
(that is if you find a good one)
Or, if this is a secondary vehicle, you can skimp a bit on the initial cost.. if you are willing to do some repairs yourself. So.. on that note,
2) How mechanically inclined are you?
If you are handy with tools and not afraid to make your own repairs, this in itself gives you alot of options on what you can find that would work for
you. As some of the previous posters said, 6k might not go along way into getting something..
But heck, I digress, I'm the last guy you want to ask about market values and such. Everything I drive, first off... I own 'em all, and while most
of them are topping the 30 and 40 year mark... and considered "junkers" by the masses on the roadways, I can pretty much fix just about anything on
them with a few common wrenches and a socket or two. It's quite nice to open the hood and see an engine, not a mess of wires and computers...
If you are following me here.. think of this:
Say you run out and pick up some vehicle, (after thorough inspection by you hopefully) and it ends up costing you 5000 USD.. you think you got a good
deal, (still got 1k in the bank) you drive home on a bill of sale or temp tag or whatnot, then you gotta register the sucker, get some plates to be
legal... 75 bucks later... well.. but what is insurance gonna run for this thing... ? Once you get it all running.. eventually ya gotta change the
oil.. maybe it needs new tires, brakes might be nice... someday... really, the list could go on. At the end of it all, once you've got your tools and
stuff loaded up... that 1k is long gone. Say you buy a "beater" for 2500 USD, and after the same routine and alot of blood, sweat and skinned
knuckles you finally have something. Maybe even have a little cash left over to go for a drive and camp out.
Now back to the point,
want to have something that is reliable in the end result, and as far as that goes.. it would depend on the year and make
The older rigs (70's) are a dime a dozen right now, since most of them are pretty bad as far as mileage goes, and parts are more plentiful in the
aftermarket which might be something worth noting. A larger supply in hard parts will mean that the most common items are not going to cost you an arm
and a leg, but more importantly they will be readily stocked items at most auto parts houses. Might be nice if you are driving that classic somewhere
down the beaten path outside some small town, not so much so if the ECM (computer) in the newer pathfinder shat the bed and the next replacement is 2
days out and to the tune of $575. Not to mention the added expenses...
I for one, would take a wrench in my hand over that situation any day.
How do I know this you may ask... well... let's just say I manage a big box auto parts store in a small town, and I'm accustomed to it.
I seem to keep losing my point here, sorry... must have been the after work beers...
Anyway, back to the matter at hand:
Initially, the newer the better and shinier so to speak, and it takes a long time to polish an old turd into a gemstone.. but if you got the time,
here are some you might want to research:
Pretty much all of the older and newer models, any style... Toyota has always been rated high in reliability, it's not uncommon to see them rolling
around with more than 250K miles on them with original powertrain. One thing to note though, even if they don't break much, when they do.. well.. it
will cost ya, and the stuff is not too common, apparently we have to wait for them to build the parts and pay for labor in the process.
I would give them a #1 rating... regardless of that knock. They have been around for awhile, and have been building solid rigs since the mid
'60's... the newer they are the more money they will want though.
The Landcruiser was pretty much the top of the line 4x4 from 86 and prior, worthy of note on many levels. Followed by The SR5 truck and then the
Tacoma/Tundra's of this era, the SUV like 4Runner is pretty much the same, just a different body style.
I hate to sound like a Toyota rep here, and I'm not... I used to think they were junk honestly, but live and learn 'eh.
On to the short list....
They bought out Datsun IIRC, but another good choice. Those old Datsun trucks... ahhh... memories.
Domestics and Others
GM: That 350 CID powerplant has been around literally forever... can you say cheap parts!
Some good, some bad... but mostly good.
That 300 six is a good one BTW, just watch out for those half-breed Mazda 5 Spd tranny's.
They are basically Dodge, Mitsubishi.. etc. Bad mojo there... I cringe when I sell parts for those. Jeep wrangler = Heap Dangler... if you want to go
offroad, get something else like a Subaru Brat, but if you want to look cool running around topless... well... whatever makes you feel good.
I'm sure I missed some in there, but the last one worthy of honorable mention is:
Volkswagen Bus... errm Van... Man!
The older ones are air-cooled, so you don't have to have your buddies urinate in your radiator to get you home after you have sprung a leak, (don't
ask) and the camper vans are a hippies best friend, they come with a 12v fridge so you can save the beer for yourself..
but the downside is they
have the aerodynamics of a brick. Not too bad though, considering the creature comforts... my old 78 Westy has a pop top tent, and can sleep 4 adults
and one child if they are properly bathed of course. Plenty of room for gear, tools and misc stuff... and thoroughly multicolored rusty camo'd for
urban jaunts just as long as you have your fishing hat on. I've messed around with mine and got it up to about 19.74 MPG all day long, fully loaded
and in all conditions.. city or highway, not bad for me, and rightfully fitting for one with the demeanor of "The Dude" like myself.
Ahh well, There I go, rambling again... 152 characters left...
I hope this helps, or at least be as amusing to read as it was to write.. and on that note,
I must abide,