- The speed makes up for the looks, I promise.

5 Cars for Dirt Cheap Horsepower

21w ago


Sometimes you're an auto enthusiast with a bicycle enthusiast's budget. And there's nothing wrong with that- so here's some ways to connect several hundred horsepower to your right foot for under $10,000. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some things that come to mind.

Dodge Durango (Second Generation)

I know what you're thinking, but hear me out. They're big and ugly, I'll be the first to tell you that. But, nearly every one of these behemoths houses a V8. Many of them: the 5.7 liter Third Gen HEMI. With 335 horses and 370 ft-lbs of torque, these Dodges will surprise you when pedal meets floor. Make no mistake, it's heavy, but it can haul in a straight line.

If your thing is making 60-100 pulls in the left lane, consider the Durango. Alternatively, transplant the Hemi into something half the weight. To be candid, the rest of the car isn't worth it's weight in scrap steel. It's a fantastic power plant trapped under two and a half tons of winter weight. The 335 horsepower V8 buried deep within is a treasure worth rescue. Some members of my family even simply refer to these barges as "Hemi Donors". But I will say, there's nothing quite like planting your go-fast foot on the interstate, watching the speedo climb hilariously fast, and passing with impunity.

Also, you will find these rolling well under the $5k line, as opposed to many others on this list.

Chevrolet Cobalt SS

Some of them had 4 doors too, for some reason.

The Chevy Cobalt SS is honestly the only car I can think of that is available naturally aspirated, turbocharged, OR supercharged. Obviously the naturally aspirated will be somewhat lackluster, but either forced induction engine nets you at least 205 horsepower. Interestingly, the Cobalt SS had OEM tune "stages" available from dealerships. They had to be installed by the owner, but didn't void the warranty. A "stage 1" Turbo Cobalt SS made an impressive 290 horsepower (the highest stage for the turbo engine), while the Supercharged made 248 hp at "stage 3". Get yourself one today and experience the wonders of wheel hop and torque steer.

Dodge Caliber SRT-4

Someone gave a totaled Volkswagen Beetle a Red Bull and now it won't stop calling me "Bro". They're ugly and the interior is pretty damn bad too. But, you get 285 horsepower rowed exclusively through a 6-speed manual transmission. There's worse options. These can be had clean as a newborn's driving record for $10,000.

Honda Accord Coupe

Around 300 horsepower? check. Manual transmission? Available. Two doors? Sure. It's a simple formula that Honda is familiar with, and had realized fully in the Accord Coupe. Pick one up, slip off that pesky muffler, and become "that guy". The more age and miles you're willing to deal with, the cheaper they get.

Dodge Charger Police Pursuit Package

Possible Included Bonus: Brush Guard!

My personal favorite from this list, and a likely contender for my next car purchase: Charger Police Package. What's not to love? Hemi power abounds. From 2006-2008, the 5.7L monster produces 340hp. From 2009 on, that gets ramped to 370 eye-watering horses. The latter comes courtesy of the Charger R/T Daytona.

Other amenities include upgraded brakes, improved cooling, police-tuned stability control, and tuned steering. Best of all, the standard console-mount automatic gearshift is moved to the right side of the steering column. Go ahead, relive all of your 70's mustache and sideburn car chase fantasies. Nothing says "funky" like one hand sawing the wheel, the other flicking down the column shifter from "R" to "D" to perform a flawless J-turn and catch the jewel theif that murdered your brother.

Bonus benefit you won't get anywhere else but a decommissioned cop car: nobody will ever, ever dare to cut you off. They know the 23 year-old punk driving couldn't possibly be a off-duty cop, but they're still never going to risk it. Not once.