Let’s look at some realities for a second: if you’re looking in the five grand range for a car, and it’s going to be your one and only for a while, you aren’t hunting down a Camaro that needs an engine or a truck that has been rebuilt twenty times over and doesn’t have one stock part on it aside from the frame. You need dependability and daily-driver qualities that will get you there and back home again. Normally, this means letting out a huge sigh before dropping coin on some soul-less little crackerbox, right? Not always. There are plenty of options for a decent ride that has some sport and can still pull mileage that doesn’t look like an outright dork-mobile.
Take this 1995 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe. Ignore Lohnes’ ranting on why this thing is a travesty and look at it for what it is: a supercharged V6 coupe with a five speed that has rear-drive, looks well-kept, and has been treated to a random upgrade or two here and there just to make things interesting, yet to most looks dead-stock and respectable. 230 horsepower and 330 ft/lbs of torque are at your beck and call, and yes, five-speed manual transmission because the automatic would just suck. It’s not going to be the NASCAR Thunderbird that bellows and screams, but instead it’s going to be the jack-of-all-trades. You might have to wait for the smaller pulley, chip and cat-back after spending $4,500 on this Bird, but in the meantime you can enjoy the car now in any situation.