So, you want to make the impression that you’re very successful, but don’t have the funds to prove it. Don’t you worry! We have the perfect list of used cars that can help you can feign success. Whether it’s to look successful at a school reunion, make a good impression on a date, or just to make your neighbors jealous of your upscale lifestyle, these cars will do more talking than your wallet ever could. And they all fall under the $10,000 price point.
These cars are all about the looks. These vehicles once made a statement about their owners’ opulent lifestyle, but have since arrived at used-car lots across the country. So these once-luxurious vehicles will make you look impressive without having to spend an actually impressive amount of money. Here we provide you with the most recent model years that still fall below the $10,000 threshold, but are most likely to still be recognized as a luxury vehicle. But, of course, the further back you go, the less expensive the cars will be. Just perform your due diligence to ensure the vehicle you choose is in the best shape you can find.
10. The 2001 Land Rover Range Rover is the quintessential Land Rover: stately, classy, powerful, and able to conquer anything off the beaten path. Despite being more than a decade old, the ’01 Range Rover delivers standard dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats with memory, a moonroof, and a premium Harman Kardon audio system. Add that to the prestige that comes along with the little Land Rover badge on the bottom left corner of the grille, and people will start thinking you’re upper class later today. While you’ll certainly look and feel upper class owning a Range Rover, you definitely will need to be upper class to drive one, because Range Rovers can be had on the cheap, but they can’t be kept running on the cheap. Thanks to a laundry list of mechanical issues, they’re famously expensive to maintain. If you do decide to buy one, make sure you either can afford the repairs or never plan to move it from your driveway. After all, nobody looks rich when they’re stranded on the side of the road.
9. The 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been Mercedes’ flagship sedan, and for good reason. The S-Class has offered some of the highest of high-end luxuries and has floated around a $100,000 price tag for years now. Luckily, those who want to get in on this luxury can find an S-Class for under $10k, provided it is 13 years old. But a Benz is a Benz, and even a teenage S-Class is enough to impress. These cars have aged gracefully over the last decade, and they still maintain all of Mercedes’ style and swagger. Despite the year, $10k for a Mercedes is a steal.
8. The 2002 Cadillac Escalade marked the beginning of the second-generation Escalade and finally made Cadillac’s full-size SUV look as good as it should (which means it no longer looked like a GMC Yukon someone did a poor job gluing Cadillac badges onto). What makes the ’02 Escalade so unique is how it looked just as sharp in 2002 as it does today. Sure, the car has evolved into the beautiful masterpiece of chrome and ego that is the 2015 version, but find a well-maintained ’02 and you’ll pay less than one-seventh the cost of a new ’15—and valets will park your car out front just the same.
7. If you’re looking for that classic look of a British import, look no further than the 2004 Jaguar XJ-Series. The XJ is a tremendously attractive car and has maintained that classic look throughout its 47 years of production. It truly is a timeless look. The latest generation has changed the look quite a bit, removing the identifiable quad-headlights and the leaping Jaguar from the hood. Luckily, you can still find the XJ-look of the previous generations within our price range. The ’04 XJ-Series looks like a classic and still has a very accessible price. It’s easy to make a statement with an XJ. All you’ll need is that Jaguar ornament leaping off the hood.
6. Looking for “the best car in the world,” but don’t have much to spend? Take a look at the 2005 BMW 3 Series. The 3 Series is a car many manufacturers try to emulate, but only BMW has been able to improve upon it (leaving competitors constantly trying to catch up). Sure, a new 3 Series will offer you better fuel efficiency and the peace of mind of knowing exactly where your car has been, but used versions can be just as nice, and often offer perks not found on the modern offerings. Let’s compare the ’05 with the 2015 3 Series. While the ’05 comes standard with a straight 6-cylinder, you’ll have to step up to the $43,750 335i to find one in a ’15. Sure, the ’15 335i pumps out way more power than an ’05 330i (300 hp vs. 225), but consider how much cheaper the ’05 330i is than today’s base car, the 320i (which clocks in at $32,950 and offers only 180 hp from its 4-cylinder engine), and the merits of the old Bimmer become clear. Add to that the fact that the 3 Series ages extremely well, and you’ll not only be buying a fun car, but also a car that will impress those who don’t know and will leave those who do longing for the (better looking) 3 Series of a bygone era.
5. As far as cheap, attractive, and luxurious crossovers go, the 2003 Lexus RX 300 is probably the cheapest. You can find any model of the relatively short-lived Lexus crossover for under $10k.The RX 300 was one of the first true crossovers introduced and looked to add a bit of utility to a car without becoming a full-blown SUV. This fact may not be as impressive now that the crossover market has boomed, but the RX 300 still comes with the prestige of owning a Lexus. It really looks quite impressive and attractive. Although it may not be as stylish as some of the other vehicles on this list, it definitely has a certain domestic, suburban expensiveness in its look.
4. There’s something about the 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider that leaves people impressed. That something is different to different people. For casual observers, the beautiful Italian design draws them in. For owners, the draw is something very different. According to Jeremy Clarkson, “Alfas have flaws, they feel human, as if they have a soul and a temper.” The Spider is no different than any other Alfa Romeo in that regard. Packing a whopping 115-hp 4-cylinder engine, the Spider is far from the fastest car on the road, but one of the most enjoyable to own. Sure, you’re going to spend a lot of frustrating nights fixing things, but like a new child, the Spider will become a member of your family. You’ll be proud of your car, and that pride will show every time you take it down a mountain road or run to the grocery store. Like any proud parent you’ll brag about your car, and when you combine that with its sexy Italian styling, people will think you paid a lot more than you did. Just buy one soon if you’re interested—prices are going up now that Alfa has returned to the U.S. market, and they’re getting harder to find under $10k.
3. The 2005 Chrysler 300 has been a classic since the day it hit showroom floors. While the car has changed and evolved since that time, the basic formula has stayed the same: Offer a huge, good-looking car with loads of luxury amenities to people for a decent price. That formula has worked and made the 300 one of the most popular large sedans on the market. On the outside, the car looks sophisticated yet menacing, largely thanks to that big, scowling grille. On the inside, however, the 300 is plush and refined, offering plenty of legroom to all passengers. People who see you coming down the road will think you’re a powerful bigshot with too much money on your hands, while your friends will plop down in their seats and instantly wonder how you were able to afford such a luxurious car. The best part is you don’t need to explain a thing, especially if you’ve purchased the high-performance 300C. Simply step on the gas and the growling V8 and its 340 hp will roar, drowning out all the questions.
2. The 2003 Audi TT has always had a reputation for being excessively flashy, while not actually offering much performance or substance along with its powerful looks. So it really is the perfect car to make a statement without throwing away too much money. You can find the TT Coupe and Roadster (and even their Quattro AWD versions) in early ’00s form for under our price limit of $10k. The 2003 model hits the price point just right. The curvy body, large wheels, and low height off the ground all give the impression that the TT full of energy. This design hasn’t changed much in its 17 years of production. You might not be able to convince others that the car is brand new, but the ’03 does post comparable power (225 hp) to even the ’16 model (211 hp). Oh wait, did we say comparable? We meant more.
1. The 2006 Lincoln Town Car has always presented itself with a level of classic swagger virtually unmatched by any other car on the U.S. market. It is a true icon of the American automotive industry: It’s large, bold, flashy, and slightly over-the-top. Lincoln stopped producing the Town Car after the 2011 model, but it continues to be the best-looking Lincoln ever produced. It carries the same class the Lincoln line had established with the old ’40s and ’50s Continentals, something Ford has since failed to inject into other Lincoln models. The ’06 measures 215.4 inches in length and carries a 239-hp V8. The Town Car is big, powerful, classy, and will certainly make an impression.
What car would you buy to look rich on a limited budget?
-jharrington and zwaller
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Used Land Rover Range Rover
Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Used Cadillac Escalade
Used Jaguar XJ-Series
Used BMW 3 Series
Used Lexus RX 300
Used Alfa Romeo Spider
Used Chrysler 300
Used Audi TT
Used Lincoln Town Car