This is my list of 5 cars for under $5000 US dollars. I know that they are easily found in California for under that price and quite affordable.
In the 90's and 80's these were plenty and cheap. No one wants one now because they're guzzle gas and they handle pretty bad, they fall into the dreaded category of "pointless cars". But they do look good and it's better than driving around a 4 door front wheel drive import right? If you're lucky you can find a V6 version but then it's not a MUSCLE CAR! Even so, ther'es something special about driving these cars, they just feel good, even though you're not going fast all the time, pulling out burnouts, they look good and feel right. Find one that hasn't had the interiors ripped out or upgrade the upholstery yourself since you will find these very cheap. I've rarely had engine trouble with these type of cars, it's always everything else. I didn't add the mustangs on here cause I don't like them. :P Maybe it's juts the people who drive mustangs I don't like. Go figure
Classic Datsun 280ZX
It doesn't have to be a 280 ZX but a sporty Datsun is a common find in California where these tiny rockets are just sitting there waiting for someone to love. 2 seats or 4 seats if you're lucky, you can easily find one in great condition sometimes for even cheaper than it's American counterparts. The problem is finding one that isn't SMOG exempt but if you are willing to work with what it's got then it should be fine.
These cars are a good deal anywhere in the world. 2 seats, mid engine goodness. Just think about it, your own personal poor-man's Ferrari! So why are they so cheap? A freaking Corolla with the same engine and Rear Wheel drive layout costs twice as much! Why?!!!! Well I've never driven an MR2 but when I saw one of my friends cruising around it and looking closer I saw he had no cargo space, no people space it made me realize that this is the car for people who are dedicated to speed and coolness. Whereas an AE86 is dedicated to practicality, speed, and more; therefore an AE86 costs more. Logic.
The more expensive on our list is the BMW's, but if you stoop this low for a car like this, chances are you've had to make some compromises. Save your pennies and save your dimes because this driver's car may need quite a lot of maintenance since we drive like knuckle heads over here and I can't guarantee the last owner was calm and collected like granny num nums. Chances are when they're selling this car it's because the maintenance was too much. Be prepared for the little. "Here's everything we've worked on with this car." In the end if you're willing to skimp on amenities you may actually like this car. But in the end if you want to enjoy driving and plan to shell out the dough to keep this car going, go for it and you won't regret it.
Like the MR2 the Miata serves little purpose but to be driven and tracked. It's a great little car, the only problem is not the car, but the people that rag on it for no good reason. They're cheap, quick and fun. They're also very cheap here in California. We seem to like convertibles a lot here. But I've never actually been around them so why is it on my list? Just because.
In the end you'll noticed I've chosen rear wheel drive cars for my list and it's because they rule! I don't like how most Honda and Nissan tuner cars are FWD, they under-steer and the anemic 4 cyclinder engines are kind of pain me to drive. They also have a bad rap for getting umm... ruined, so in the end this is the list of cool cars I would actually want to drive.... for under 5K. The end.