10 Affordable Cars That Turn More Heads Than a Lamborghini And the Price is Extremely Cheap

There is literally no way someone driving a Daihatsu Midget II doesn’t get asked about what they are driving at every single stop light. The unusual micro-van/mini-truck is a sure conversation starter, especially in the United States, where almost no one has ever seen one before. Starting out as a three-wheeled golf-cart kind of thing in 1957, by 1996 it was an ultra-compact four-wheeled ride.

Midget IIs are popular with bar owners in Japan, because they are the perfect size for hauling kegs around. As hard as it may be to believe, the Midget II makes an appearance in several Gran Turismo video games as a playable vehicle. It’s such an attention-getter that Car and Driver recently highlighted a 1996 Midget II that sold for $8,500 as its Bring a Trailer Auction Pick of the Day.

Blue 1991 Buick Reatta
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Introduced in 1988, the Buick Reatta was ahead of its time in a market that didn’t exist. Not many people were looking for a two-seat grand tourer in the late 80s and the technology probably seemed a little weird. These cars initially came with computer touch-screen controls for the stereo, climate functions, and vehicle diagnostics, which is something expected of cars today, but was foreign 35 years ago.

Performance and Price

Engine 3.8-liter V-6
Engine Output 170 horsepower 220 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Four-speed automatic
Price $9,770 Average

The car was a spectacular flop, with less than 20,000 units sold in four years of production. What was lame a generation ago however seems pretty cool nowadays. It’s got a sleek sporty look, especially the convertible model, and it checks off the box that most people have never seen before. There are plenty of low-mileage Reatta’s for sale, starting at $5,800 for a 1990 and averaging at $9,770.

8 1980 Triumph TR8 – $11,500

Blue 1980 Triumph TR8 convertible
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In 1975, Triumph brought their sporty two-door, the TR7, to the United States. It was not only quick, but also pretty cool looking, and initially demand was high. Unfortunately, it was a massive hunk of crap and one of the poorest-quality vehicles ever manufactured. In 1977, they dropped a V-8 in it, calling it the TR8, and it was faster, just as cool looking, but unfortunately equally as unreliable.

Performance and Price

Engine 3.5-liter Rover V-8
Engine Output 133 horsepower 165 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Five-speed manual
Price $11,500

With an average price of under $20,000, a great blue convertible 1980 TR8 sold recently on Bring A Trailer for only $11,500. The car had a few minor flaws, but was otherwise in really great condition. A set of wheels like this is going to turn heads for a couple of reasons: first, it’s a snappy little sports car that people don’t see every day and also, people will be in awe that it’s actually on the road, running and driving.

7 1982 Subaru BRAT – $17,562

Rear shot of 1982 Subaru BRAT
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The Subaru BRAT (Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter) was an export-only model from the Japanese automaker, because there was zero demand for a car-like mini-truck on their home turf. While it’s debatable about how much demand there was for this all-wheel-drive Frankencar in the States, one thing is for sure, it was eye-catching.

Performance and Price

Engine 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Engine Output 67 horsepower 81 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Four-speed manual
Price $17,562 Average

The most notable feature of this import was the two plastic jump seats in the truck bed. It turns out, Subaru threw those in to get the BRAT classified as a passenger vehicle, which allowed them to avoid the hefty 25 percent import tariff on light trucks at the time. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan owned a 1978 BRAT, which makes it cool, and the Classic.com average price of $17,562 makes it attainable.

6 1975 AMC Gremlin – $18,589

Brown 1975 AMC Gremlin
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The AMC Gremlin is either one of the coolest things to roll out of Detroit (technically Kenosha, Wisconsin) or the biggest eyesore ever produced. The distinctive American sub-compact looked positively bizarre next to the killer muscle cars of 1970, when it was introduced, but has since gained a cult following in no small part due to its starring role as “The Mirthmobile” in Wayne’s World.

Performance and Price

Engine 232ci inline-six cylinder
Engine Output 67 horsepower 81 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Three-speed automatic
Price $18,589 Average

While achieving celebrity status for a vehicle usually sends prices through the roof, the average price across its 8-year production run is under $20,000. A 1976 AMC Gremlin X, the same year as Wayne’s, sold on Bring a Trailer last year for $13,500. This is a budget ride that will stand out on any paved surface and is guaranteed to bring plenty of “Party on, Wayne” comments from admirers.

5 1974 VW Thing – $21,624

Orange
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The Volkswagen Type 181, more commonly known as the VW Thing, was developed for the West German army in the 1960s. Recognizing the potential for a military-style convertible in the civilian market, VW sold these cars all over the world. Everyone else got cool names like the Trekker in the UK, and the Safari in Mexico, but when it came to the U.S. they had run out of ideas and just called it The Thing.

Performance and Price

Engine 1,584cc flat-four
Engine Output 46 horsepower 51 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Four-speed manual
Price $21,624 Average

MotorTrend calls it a “Goofy and unusual” ride, but admittedly loves it as an affordable classic collectible car. Affordable is a good way to describe The Thing because the average price over the past five years is $21,624, with the low end starting at just $4,950. Also, only around 25,000 were ever sold in the U.S. so its rarity ups the wow factor exponentially.

4 1989 Renault Alpine GTA Turbo – $22,000

Red 1989 Renault Alpine GTA Turbo
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Anyone cruising down the street in a Renault Alpine GTA is bound to get asked if it is some kind of wild custom job. With an elongated, flat hood and bulbous, swept back end it kind of looks like a Porsche 944’s mutated cousin. It does however have just the right amount of wrong to make it a great attention-getting ride. Plus, it’s actually faster than a Porsche.

Performance and Price

Engine 2.5-liter turbocharged V-6
Engine Output 200 horsepower 210 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Five-speed manual
Price $22,000

In terms of attainability, the Alpine GTA is priced right, going for between $19-25k, but they might not be the easiest things to find. They were sold mostly in Europe and only 9 ever made it to the U.S. under Renault’s deal with AMC. They are out there for anyone willing to put in a little work. This 1989 Alpine GTA Turbo sold on Bring a Trailer in 2020 for $22,000, but the site hasn’t had one since.

3 2004 Chevrolet SSR – $27,818

red 2003 Chevrolet SSR pickup with the roof down
Chevrolet

Chevrolet vastly overestimated the convertible pick-up truck market in 2003 when it introduced the doomed SSR. Lasting just four years, only an estimated 24,150 were ever manufactured, and the fact that nobody knows the actual number is a testament to how much Chevy is trying to wipe the failure from their memory.

Performance and Price

Engine 5.3-liter V-8
Engine Output 300 horsepower 331 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Four-speed automatic
Price $27,818 Average

20 years have passed and in retrospect, this weird retro-styled vehicle, while not terribly practical, is actually pretty cool looking. It’s also fast as hell, coming equipped with a V-8 that can get it moving from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds. The SRR’s lack of success turns into a big win for those looking for some attention with their ride, because a 2004 model can be had for under $30k.

2 1973 Citroën DS20 Pallas – $35,158

1973 Citroën DS20 Pallas suspension
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​​​​​​​The Citroën DS is probably one of the most unusual cars that was ever manufactured and definitely, the strangest that had more than a single production year. With curious styling that can best be described as sophisticated dorkiness, the DS will for sure draw in the lookiloos. When the car shuts off, the hydropneumatic suspension slowly drops the car, which is a conversation starter all on its own.

Performance and Price

Engine 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder
Engine Output 99 horsepower 112 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Four-Speed Semi-Automatic Transaxle
Price $35,158

A Citroën DS can fetch six-figures in an auction and the average price is $73,503, which is above the agreed-upon “attainable” price, but there are many affordable ones out there. Bring a Trailer has sold 11 Citroën DS cars in the past year for under $40k, including this immaculate 1973 Citroën DS20 Pallas for $35,158. That’s a great price for something that will have folks wondering if it’s a spaceship or a lowrider.

1 1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee 383 – $34,383

Hemi orange 1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee 383
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An oddball ride is guaranteed to bring attention, but a better way is to be behind the wheel of something that is inarguably cool. Believe it or not, this restored 1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee 383 sold for $34,383 three years ago. It has probably appreciated in value since but there are literal tons of fifth-gen Coronets available and even more that have sold recently for under $48,000.

Performance and Price

Engine 383ci Magnum V-8
Engine Output 335 horsepower 425 pound-feet of torque
Transmission Three-speed automatic
Price $34,383

The beefy aggressive stance and raw power of the Coronet made it one of the most ferocious muscle cars from the classic era, plus it’s a fact that any vehicle wearing a Super Bee badge is instantly cooler. This ’69 parked in a driveway is going to get daily inquiries from people who want to buy it. Driving down the road, it will force people to look up from their phones just long enough to say, “Wow!” For anyone looking for an attainable ride that will get more attention than a Lamborghini, this is it.

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