Bad credit is the bane of every single car shopper out there who wants to buy something nice. I mean, bad credit doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get what you want, but you’re going to need some special bad credit financing if you want to get your hands on anything halfway decent. Or is that really true? Well, usually, bad credit financing means you’re limited to what you can get your hands on, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on something cool.
So why would bad or no credit limit you in what you buy? Well, often what happens when you have bad credit is that you will have a harder time getting approved for a loan, and even if you are approved, you’ll still find yourself facing higher interest rates, higher monthly payments, and often will need a larger down payment. This usually puts a hamper on what most people consider buying at a dealership. Most assume they have to get stuck with something old and broken with 200,000 miles on it. Most are also even convinced that the only thing worth picking up is an old 1993 Ford Escort with a rusted transmission, a cracked gasket, and two misaligned front wheels, but you would be mistaken in thinking that. There are some cool cars you can grab for cheap that are still worth it even if the only thing you can get is with bad credit financing.
#7: Second-Gen Dodge Avenger SXT
The Dodge Avenger was always an “odd sedan out” because it didn’t really seem to know where it was supposed to be placed in the pecking order of the market segment when it made its initial debut in the mid-1990s. Was it a sports sedan? Was it a commuter vehicle? Was it an economy car? What was it? The first generation Dodge Avenger wasn’t worthwhile and was basically a forgettable two-door coupe.
The four-door sports sedan that made a return as a 2008 midsize vehicle was much more reminiscent of the sixth-generation Dodge Charger and is well worth it for those who want something affordable and visually enticing. Basically, it was the more economic version of the larger, more powerful Charger, and that’s what makes it a great pick for those having to shop for a used vehicle with bad credit. Because the 2nd Gen Dodge Avenger SXT models are plentiful on the used market and available for cheap. The SXT, in particular, can also be found with a decent 2.7-liter V6, which gives you both a bit of power under the hood and a sporty exterior that doesn’t immediately say you grabbed it off a used lot.
#6: B8 Audi A4 Quattro Sedan
The eighth-generation Audi A4 is a nice pick for those who want a sleek executive sedan that has enough room for a small family or if you need the extra cargo space for transporting a sizable portion of goods in the vehicle. The turbocharged four-cylinder will also net you some decent gains on the road if you need a daily driver that gives you some good feedback when you depress the accelerator. But you have to keep in mind that there are various iterations of the Audi A4.
The four-door sedan version of the A4 Quattro is what you’re going to want to go for. You’ll find plenty of these used from a wide number of places for some surprisingly low prices. If you can manage to get your hands on one of these from a used lot, you’ll likely never leave anyone wondering if you bought it with bad credit or had to get special financing to own one. But it’s an excellent sedan to own for anyone looking for a reliable vehicle at a very low cost.
#5: Fourth-Gen Nissan Altima Coupe
Available in abundance and for a very low price, the fourth-generation Nissan Altima Coupe is a great little car that gives you a lot for a little. Yeah, it’s cliché, but it’s also true. It’s a sporty little coupe that you can get with a decently powered 3.5-liter V6 that produces 270 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. There is some room for tuning as well, so if you’re strapped for cash after buying an Altima Coupe, you can still buff up its performance if you know your way around an engine bay.
Given that the Altima Coupe, like some of the other cars on this list, has been discontinued, you can find plenty of them among a heap of other used vehicles on various lots or from private sellers. The fourth-generation Nissan Altima Coupe is available cheap enough from various places that you can most definitely get one for a steal even with bad credit financing. It may not be as menacing as some other sports sedans or as aggressive as Nissan’s own Z series, but it’s a cool little alternative for those of you on a shoestring budget.
#4: Third-Gen Mazda Miata
Sure, the fourth-generation Mazda Miata is really where the bread and butter is when it comes to cool factor, but the third-generation Miata is more than serviceable as a cool little convertible to own if you have someplace to drive it regularly, and you don’t need a big vehicle for your daily driving needs. This is definitely a single-person lifestyle pick that is very situational. However, if you were maybe just moving out on your own, you don’t have any established credit, and you wanted a decent used vehicle, you can’t really go wrong with a Miata.
The third-generation Mazda Miata, in particular, is worth scouting for if you’re in a bit of a credit pickle because it’s available in abundance just about anywhere used cars are sold. Not only that, but you can find them for far cheaper than the fourth-generation models. So you can still get a cool car at a low price, and you don’t have to worry about your budget being blown up because of it. It’s well worth it for those who want a cool car even when they know they can’t afford one.
#3: Fifth-Gen Ford Mustang
The first two generations of the Ford Mustang are still arguably the best (don’t hate, it’s just facts). But, if you wanted to get your hands on a really cool Ford Mustang to drive and you just don’t have the finances to go through the hardships and hassles of restoring a Mustang Boss 302, you will likely have to settle with something a little more…complete. But don’t worry, the fifth-generation Mustang is still one of the coolest series of model year Mustangs produced, thanks to it hearkening back to the classic heyday of the nameplate’s inception, all while still being extremely affordable.
If you can find a used fifth-gen Mustang, you’ll likely find that it’s a lot more affordable than you may have initially thought. Now the reason I suggest the model years between 2005 and 2014 is because you get a sports coupe that looks cool, has many modern design cues that call back to the classic era of the Mustang, and these particular models are available aplenty at many used car dealer lots. What’s more, it’s not hard to get your hands on one of these models for super cheap, even if you’re working within the limitations of bad credit financing.
#2: Seventh-Gen Toyota Celica GT
I used to love the Toyota Celica GT. It’s such a cool little sports coupe, and the design lent itself really well to some awesome custom liveries and unique vinyls. Unfortunately, Toyota pulled the plug on this long-running nameplate back in the mid-aughts, putting an end to a legacy I thought was cut way too short. But you can still find plenty of seventh-gen Toyota Celicas out and about in the wild.
The final generation of the Celica went out with a bang, though. The Celica GT, in particular, is a highly customizable, easily tunable sports coupe. If you want a cool car you can gradually tune and upgrade over time but with an extremely low entry-level price because you’re working with bad credit, then the Celica GT is the way to go. It’s the sort of sports coupe you can get and hang on to as your daily driver, and as you put your finances back together, you can incrementally add some buffs to it to spruce it up, whether it be in looks or getting a bit more power out of that paltry 1.6-liter four-cylinder. In either case, this is a great little cost-effective pet project for those who want a cool used sports car for fairly cheap.
#1: Toyota GR86
This is likely going to be a real scavenger hunt for the most dedicated car shopper, but the Toyota GR86 is definitely the coolest, most modern model you can get your hands on, even with bad credit. You can find used models cheap enough for those of you working on a stringent budget. But, you also have to keep in mind that most people looking for a modern, well-designed, used sports coupe will also be looking to get their hands on one of these bad boys as well.
But it makes sense because the Toyota GR86 is a great little vehicle that doesn’t lock you into the obvious notion that you have to buy on a budget. It’s already a fairly cost-effective coupe brand new, so getting a used one actually works really well to your benefit, all without having to worry about having to parade around what your financial ceiling is to the rest of the world based on what you drive. It’s basically a win-win situation for anyone dealing with having to car-shop with bad credit while also still wanting to drive around in something cool, assuming you can still find one on a dealer’s lot.