In our on-going ‘buying guide’ series of non-national cars that you can get for the price of a MyVi, our next step is to delve into the area where very few remain; the sub-RM10k category. Believe it or not, this is an area that does indeed still exist, there really are cars out there – real ones, not toys – that can be yours for about the price of a new Vespa.
Let’s set the record straight right-off the bat though, these cars are far from ‘new’, they’ve gone past their ‘sell-by’ date by perhaps a decade or more, and they’re not going to be perfect. None will be in ‘immaculate / showroom condition’ despite what the advert might say to the contrary. They’re probably going to have a lot of miles on the odometer, there will be definite signs of ageing and yes, you’re going to probably have to do a bit of work on the car post-purchase.
However, there are some benefits to buying a car ‘cash’. For one thing, your ‘car payments’ are over the moment you drive away, unlike buying a new car where they’re just beginning the moment you leave the showroom. Think of it this way, from that point on with a cash buy, whatever you spend on the car – apart from fuel – is only going to benefit the car, to make it better. It’s also quite liberating to be debt-free insofar as car ownership is concerned, especially if you’re only just starting out in terms of your working life.
So you’ve managed to save up a bit of cash, and perhaps your folks or siblings are helping you out, but you only have up to RM10,000 to ‘play’ with, so what can you do? Hopefully this might help you out just a bit. We’re going to break the categories up into basically what you ‘need’, as opposed to what you ‘want’, because let’s face it, everyone wants a Ferrari, but all you really need is a MyVi. Let’s roll…
COUPES / HATCHBACKS
Hey, you’re young, single (maybe unmarried anyway), and carefree, do you really need a 4-door car and huge boot? If it’s just you and only you in the car most of the time, why not consider a coupe or hatch? While I could exalt all day on the virtues of not having rear doors, do bear in mind that if you are considering carrying passengers, a coupe is a literal pain-in-the-butt when it comes to getting into the back seat. There are however, many 2-door cars that you can get for under RM10k, and here are just a few of them:
1) Honda Civic – a very popular car with the ‘boy-racer’ crowd that appeared in the early 90’s, you can have this for as little as RM7-8k. Being a Honda, reliability and parts supply should not be difficult, a small and frugal – yet fun – little 1500cc 4-pot engine should keep things interesting. See also: Honda Prelude.
2) Ford TX3 – appeared in the early 90’s and was the first to offer a fuel-injected, DOHC, 16-valve 1800cc engine all packed into a neat little coupe configuration. Reliability and parts are not an issue as many still ply our roads. Not-so-great fuel consumption and an inadequate braking system are possible setbacks. Other than that it’s still a great little car two decades on. Prices hover between rm5-8k depending on condition, which makes this a great buy. See also: Ford Laser 1.5.
3) Hyundai Coupe 1.5 – believe it or not, in the mid-90’s Hyundai did produce a coupe. It’s a bit of a wedge in terms of design, but many have survived till this day, thanks to a very basic and fuss-free powertrain. Some can be had for as little as RM5k these days, which means you have some extra money to spend on doing it up a bit. See also: Hyundai S-Coupe.
Right, so you’ve decided that you really do need 4-doors and a boot, in essence you need a bigger car, well not to worry, there’s a lot of metal out there to be had for less than RM10k, and believe it or not, some of them may get you a nod of approval from your dad too, err, maybe that’s not such a good thing.
1) Toyota Camry 2.2 GX – Yes, the very first generation Toyota Camry is still a very good and reliable car to buy, and some are going for as little as RM8k! It may be old, first appearing in the mid-90’s but a properly maintained one still has a lot of miles left in it. Rust would be a non issue, but expect to give it a new coat of paint. Also the fabric interior would not have fared well over the years. See also: Honda Accord CA5, Mazda 626, Ford Telstar.
2) Volvo 240 SE – Do you want to feel like you’re at the wheel of a tank and invincible? Then look no further than the original ‘brick’. The 240-series Volvos are the toughest and hardiest cars ever built, bar none. Some are going for as little as RM5k, but expect to pay more for properly sorted ones. Fair warning, they aren’t the most frugal of cars in terms of fuel-consumption, and parts can be a bit expensive, but one that’s properly sorted will just keep going. Nothing makes you feel safer on the road. See also: Volvo 240 GLT.
3) Mercedes-Benz E200 W123 – Wanna add a touch of class to your daily commute? Believe it or not, the W123 is a very cheap and easy car to maintain and run. It’s fast becoming a daily-classic thanks to its hardiness and (relative) reliability. These cars need to be properly maintained though, since all are more than two decades old. However, I personally know a few owners who use their w123’s daily and have no issues whatsoever. See also W124 E300.
OLD SCHOOL / CLASSIC
This is a growing community of enthusiasts, based on the sheer number of ‘retro-mobiles’ that are currently plying our roads, and there’s good reason for this; they’re cool. However, as a good friend once poignantly told me “not all old cars are old school, some are just old!”. That’s quite true actually, but there are some out there that certainly qualify, and they make great daily cars. Be warned though, most if not all, are ‘fixer-uppers’.
1) VW Beetle – It’s hard to not like the effervescent Beetle. It’s a fun car that projects a carefree attitude, and yes, there are some going for as little as RM5k. Parts should not be difficult to find, seeing as how many are still used on a daily basis. Just make sure the electrical system is well sorted. Due to our climate, many have been fitted with A/C, which is a necessity here, not a luxury. See also: Mini.
2) Toyota Corolla – From the KE70 to the SE and SEG, there are many that are below RM10k now, and you’re not going to find a more reliable and dependable car than the trusty Corolla. Properly maintained, these cars are bullet-proof and second only to the Nissan Sunny in terms of ‘refuse to die’ dependability. Their engines are basic and easy to maintain, so just be on the lookout for any electrical and body issues. See also: Nissan Sentra.
3) BMW 318i E30 – Probably the most popular car amongst ad agency execs in the early 90’s, the E30 is still a very nice car to own and drive. I’ve seen some going for as low as RM4k, but do remember that it’s probably going to cost you more than the purchase price to get the car up to a decent driveable level if it’s that cheap. Nice ones can be had for double that, but still below the RM10k mark. Forget getting one in mint condition for anywhere near RM10k though. See also: Mercedes-Benz 190E.
So there you have it folks, cars for under RM10k, but do remember, this was just a handful of what’s to be had out there in terms of cars that are still able to perform the duties asked of it, that are far from new. Many of them will need a bit of work done to get them up to spec or just decent. The cool thing is as I mentioned earlier, once the car is yours, you’ll have no monthly payments to worry about, and whatever you spend for car ownership will be to make the car only better than what it was when you got it, so take a chance, who knows, you may uncover a gem!
[Photo source: Wikipedia @ NetCarShow.com]