KBB: The Coolest Cars Under $18k

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
kbb the coolest cars under 18k

The original idea: interview Jack Nerad about the type of cars parents buy for their teens. When I finally got kbb.com's Executive Editor on the blower, he immediately informed me that A) He had no idea what we were scheduled to talk about and B) The press release about teen whips was released months ago. So the guy works without a net and I'm behind the loop. Shifting gears, I asked for their latest media mitzvah. "Cool Cars under $18k." And then we get going and I discover that Jack's definition of "cool" takes us into some pretty strange areas. Still, it's the journey that counts. [Apologies for the audio levels. We're working on it.]

Join the conversation
  • Jonny Lieberman Jonny Lieberman on Jun 18, 2006

    The Honda Fit is cooler than the Mazda 3 -- however, forget about new cars -- the coolest car for under $18,000 is a BMW 850i.

  • Olde_fortran Olde_fortran on Jun 18, 2006

    wow, the VW point was completely ungrounded. Then again- my weird friends and I considered our modified Garrett thumping torque steerin' mid 80's 900's the epitome of Erik Carlsson wannabe cool. Still a staple in highschool and college parking lots across New England and there's nothing cooler than the safety, fuel economy, and IKEA styling of an upside down bathtub that can take out a moose. Then again, I wholeheartedly agree with Jonny, screw new cars. It only takes a quick trip to Hemmings and Mr. Nerad might see one or two 'cooler' cars than a Mazda3 for under $18k...

  • Dolo54 Dolo54 on Jun 19, 2006

    well i got a 96 teg a couple years ago for $5500 with only 40k miles on it. if i put $12k of mods into it it would be a pretty hot tuner, but as it is i like it. don't see any need to buy a new car when you're 18, you get a lot more for your money to buy a quality "cool" car that's used. dodge caliber? bleah. not really feelin the fit either. cant go wrong with a mazda 3 though. you get a lot for that money.

  • Terry Parkhurst Terry Parkhurst on Jun 20, 2006

    There are tons of cool cars for under $18,000 (pun intended). Just go to a collector car auction - and not one of those sucker circuses such as Barrett-Jackson has. Attend a regional auction in some podunk such as Puyallup WA or even a city the size of Portland, Oregon. That's where you can find 1971 through '73 Buick Riviera "boat-tails" for less than $5,000, ready to turn into a lowrider or custom, or just keep it real (and stock). There's mid-Sixties Ford Mustangs, Ford Falcon, Mecury Comer Caientes and all manner of Detroit iron that easy to fix, won't have to go through emissions and are fun to drive (if you're OK with door handle scrapers). From the other side of the pond, you can find Volkswagen Beetles, Things and buses for much less than the ridiculous money paid for that 1966 VW microbus in Monterey CA last summer. Heck, at an auction Mitch Silver had in Portland, Oregon in March of this year, someone got a good 1967 Citroen DS-21, three-quarters restored, admittedly spotted with primer but no rust, ready to go to the grocery store or the beach. New autos and trucks have their place. If you don't like to work on vehicles, the warranty of them is for you. But as we all know, they're aren't particularly inexpensive these days. Last point, an auction is best live. You can see the machine you're bidding on in the metal, touch it, maybe sit in it and maybe talk to the owner - all in one place. Besides, an eBay auction is as exciting as watching grass grow. A live auction is dynamic, fun and maybe the place you'll find your idea of a "cool car."