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If you are an avid car enthusiast but operate on a strict budget, you should consider some of these best cheap cars for gearheads as your next purchase.

When you have a tighter budget, you have to make sacrifices with your purchase. This can be difficult when looking for a car, especially as a gearhead who values so many things about a vehicle.

We have found some amazing cheap cars for gearheads. We would rank the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and Subaru WRX as the three best overall choices. They are all extremely high-performance vehicles with excellent customization features available at affordable prices.

Gearheads are often looking for the best cheap cars that will give them the performance they need. But, there is a lot more to finding the right car than just price. You also have to consider comfort, reliability, and fuel efficiency and this guide includes the top choices based on these factors.

These cars have a lot of potential for gearheads to be modified with aftermarket parts and can be used for racing or just cruising around town. We have tested each of the vehicles below to determine whether they would fit the proper criteria.

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8 Best Cheap Cars For Gearheads

Gearheads are usually people who are interested in automotive engineering. They may be an automobile mechanic, a car collector, or any other person who is particularly interested in the technical aspects of automobiles.

Cheap cars for gearheads are a great way to get into the car hobby without breaking the bank. These cars are also perfect for people who need a car for daily use. Sometimes, it's not about how much you have to spend on a car but how much you have to invest in it.

The best cheap cars for gearheads are ones that have durable transmissions and a powerful engine. They also have to be easy to maintain and be able to last long enough for the owner to get their money's worth.

They can be found by looking at the used car market or by visiting your local dealership to find potential buys. You should try and set a budget right away to make shopping much easier without breaking the bank.

Below we mention eight of the best cheap cars for gearheads, so you can continue your passion while maintaining a strict budget.

1. Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta ST is a sporty-looking car with a powerful engine, small hatchback, and great handling. It's not the best for cargo space and fuel economy but the focus on performance and its affordability is amazing.

It comes with a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 120 horsepower and torque of 112lb-ft. The Fiesta ST also has stiff suspension and short gearing, which gives it great handling on the road.

This car is a small, lightweight, and agile hatchback that is perfect for driving enthusiasts. Everything about the design of the Fiesta ST is to be compact and easily maneuverable to handle with precision for gearheads.

It comes with a six-speed manual transmission. There are also options for an automatic transmission and 0-60 in under 10 seconds, so if you need something quick with power this is a great choice that will never let you down.

This is the best cheap car for gearheads too. The Fiesta ST has a wide range of features like a comfortable interior and a sport-tuned suspension that make it worth every penny.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

The 2015 Ford Fiesta is a great car to have if you are looking for something affordable, cheap, and fun to drive. It provides a lot of horsepower and is one of the most memorable cars for gearheads who are shopping for the right vehicle on a budget.

2. Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the best cars for gearheads to drive. It has a lot of features that make it an ideal car for those who enjoy customizing their vehicles at affordable price points.

The performance and handling are on point and the turbocharged engine gives you great power in all conditions. It has many features that are just right for the gearhead.

This is a top cheap car for gearheads to drive. It has a lot of features that are useful for gearheads, like the great handling and powerful engine. This high power output makes it easy to have fun on twisty roads without having to worry about getting stuck in traffic or being too slow.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is extremely impressive for the price too. It also includes an impressive power output of 220 horsepower, which is above average for a vehicle this size.

There are many reasons why this car is such an enthusiast favorite - from its speed to its looks to its interior design - but it's the horsepower that really makes this car stand out from the crowd.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the best choice for us, but with so many options you can adjust your budget as needed to find an option that works for you. As you move farther in the past, you will get less and less horsepower and engine capability.

3. Subaru WRX STI

The Subaru WRX STI is a sports car that is designed for the gearheads. It has some excellent features like a turbocharged engine that provides some amazing handling and high levels of horsepower.

It also has an aggressive exterior design and a high-performance engine. This is very affordable for gearheads who are on a budget. The performance of the car makes it perfect for driving around in cities or on highways.

The 2.5-liter engine comes with 280 to 320 horsepower, making it extremely impressive for the price. The WRX STI has a lot of power and speed which makes it perfect for those who love driving fast.

It has the power and speed to make it perfect for those who love driving fast. This car is also great for those who are looking to improve their skills in drifting and want to learn how to do so without spending too much money.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

We recommend opting for the 2005 S203 Subaru WRX STI because you can get it extremely cheap now without worrying about getting a capable engine with plenty of horsepower included.

However, with only 555 releases it may not be the easiest car to find available today. This could potentially drive the price up depending on availability and your location too.

4. Mazda Miata

The Mazda Miata is a cheap car that is loved by many gearheads because of its excellent performance features. It has a manual transmission, and the power and handling are impressive for a car of its price.

The car has a lot of personality and is very fun to drive. It also has a lot of practicality and versatility, making it an ideal car for those who love driving. There are many models available through the years too.

The Miata may not be the fastest car on the market, but it is still capable of going from 0 to 60 in under 8.1 seconds. This includes 155 horsepower, with the focus of this vehicle more on speed than power.

This is the perfect sports car that is known for its great handling, performance, and the fun factor. It has a lot of features that gearheads will love.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

The 2001 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the best year to buy for a few reasons. This is considered one of the most affordable models and these second-generation models are known to be the first to use turbocharging and provide performance at a bargain.

5. Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic cars in the world and has been around for decades. Gearheads who are looking to buy their first car should consider this vehicle as it offers excellent performance features at a low price point.

This is a sports car that has been around for decades. It’s a cheap car that’s designed for gearheads and it has some excellent performance features.

To get the price low enough, you need to go back in time a bit. However, the older versions of this classic sports car carry plenty of punch and power. It also comes with an automatic and manual option, but most of the classics only have a manual transmission.

You get a powerful 5-Liter V8 engine that includes 240 horsepower. For this reason, it ranks as one of the most iconic cars in the world and continues to be a favorite among gearheads.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

The best year to buy on a budget is the 1994 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra edition. This vehicle can go from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds and ranks as one of the top budget gearhead vehicles of all time.

6. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is an affordable car that offers some excellent performance features. It has an automatic transmission, a standard engine, and power steering. This makes the Civic easy to drive and good for beginners.

It comes with a standard engine, power steering, and automatic transmission but these features vary depending on the generation. They make driving easy and also allow you to control your speed with ease.

This is a compact, five-door, four-passenger automobile with a front-engine, front-wheel-drive configuration. It's available in sedan and coupe body styles and many different trim levels too.

The Honda Civic is one of the best cars to own for gearheads because it's reliable and has a lot of features that make driving more fun. It also has a sleek and sporty design, which makes it an attractive option for drivers who enjoy driving.

What’s The Best Year To Buy?

The best thing about the Honda Civic is how easily customizable it is compared to other gearhead vehicles. All models are extremely affordable too, making it nearly impossible to pick one year as a recommendation.

You can opt for nearly every generation as a reliable choice as a gearhead without breaking the bank.

What Makes A Car Good For Gearheads?

The car is one of the most expensive purchases a person can make, and it's not always easy to know what to look for when buying one. Cars are all about the little details that make them good or bad.

Gearheads need a vehicle that is comfortable, reliable and has plenty of features. It should also be able to keep up with the speed of your needs and be able to handle different types of terrain.

You should consider the following features when determining whether or not a vehicle would be classified as a good car for a gearhead.

Highly Customizable

Gearheads are enthusiasts who love cars. They like to know how the car works, what makes it go, and what makes it tick. This is why you should look for a vehicle that is highly customizable under the hood.

They want cars that allow them to customize them according to their needs and wants. This allows for a personal touch as well as a sense of satisfaction for the automobile owner.

And because many gearheads operate on a budget, they need to make customizations with the parts they have at their disposal.


The affordability of a car is one of the most important factors when looking for a new one as a gearhead on a budget. It is important to know what you want and what your budget is before you buy a car.

In the current market, there are a lot of options for car buyers. The affordable pricing of a car as a gearhead looking for a cheap option is an obvious important factor to consider when buying a car.

Accident History

The history of the car you buy is important for two reasons. It will give you a better idea about how reliable the car will be, and it will let you know of any serious accidents the vehicle may have been involved in before.

Previous accidents can be potential indicators of vehicle problems in the future. Gearheads should try to avoid cars with accident history because customizing the vehicle becomes a bit more difficult.

Excellent Driving Performance

Cars should be able to handle speed and offer up some room for modifications to make them good options for gearheads. Gearheads need cars with lots of power and torque because they want their cars to go fast and handle well on the road.

A car that provides excellent driving performance with sporty handling capabilities is the type of car that many gearheads are looking for. However, not all cars provide such features, which means that there is a need for these cars to be engineered more efficiently.

Verdict: What Is The Best Cheap Car For Gearheads?

The Ford Fiesta ST is a great car for a beginner or someone who just wants to have fun on the weekends. It's also a good choice if you're looking for an affordable daily driver as well without spending too much.

If you're looking for something cheap, reliable, and fast then the Fiesta ST should be your first choice. It also comes with an optional six-speed manual transmission which can be upgraded to an automatic transmission later on if you want.

This is a car that offers speed and horsepower in a package that is not too expensive. It can be used as a daily driver and is perfect for people who love to drive fast.

If you still aren't sure, there is also the Volkswagen Golf GTI. This vehicle focuses more on horsepower than speed and agility. The decision ultimately comes down to what you value most in your vehicle.

Best Cheap Cars For Gearheads

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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