In the world of collectible cars, most automotive collectors seek out the exciting stuff: the fast cars, the rare cars, the cool-looking cars, the low-slung, sleek, exotic sports cars. As a result, these are the cars that are preserved when they’re first sold; people only drive these cars on rare occasions — saving them to someday sell for more money, or collecting them so they aren’t damaged or broken.
Economy cars, meanwhile, are never saved. They’re driven and used for practical purposes, just as they’re intended — and eventually they wind up in a junkyard after hundreds of thousands of miles of hard use, or after a few too many accidents. Nobody really collects economy cars, so nobody really thinks to preserve them. Except these.
These are five economy cars that have been preserved unusually well — and they’re now for sale on Autotrader, in surprisingly nice shape. A lot of people want the nicest examples of used Ferrari or vintage Lamborghini models — but if you’ve ever wanted a really clean used economy car, well, this is the list for you.
I barely remember the Ford Contour even existed — so I’m shocked to see one in such pristine shape, 20 years after it went on sale (and 19 years after it went off sale due to mediocre sales). The Contour was America’s version of the European-market Ford Mondeo, except with a trunk rather than a hatchback, and it straddled the line between compact and midsize cars. This Contour is offered for $4,998 by Wiser Motors in rural Lynden, Washington, near the Canadian border, and it’s covered just 39,877 miles since new. The Carfax report shows no accidents and two owners, both in Washington. Find a Ford Contour for sale
This 1991 Honda Civic Hatchback is especially impressive because, unlike the other models on this list, which hail from the late 1990s or 2000, it’s a 1991 model. And not only is it a 1991 Civic, but it’s a 1991 Civic with just 26,000 miles from new; a true time capsule showing us what economy-car life was like nearly 30 years ago — with the original Civic owner’s manual included. It’s in pristine shape, and it’s offered by a private seller in the Los Angeles area for $7,000 — big money for a ’91 Civic, but affordable for a Civic with 26,000 miles. The Carfax report appears to show one owner who maintained the car regularly at a Honda dealership until at least 2007; it appears the current owner got this Civic in July 2017. Find a used Honda Civic hatchback for sale
Although it’s unusual to find well-preserved economy cars, it’s especially unusual to find well-preserved Hyundai economy cars from this era. The main reason is one of volume: back in 2000, Hyundai didn’t sell anywhere near as many cars as they do now, meaning it’s a lot more likely to find a used Corolla or Civic in nice shape than an older Hyundai. Still, this 2000 Hyundai Elantra is absolutely pristine. Offered for $5,899 by VIP Autos in San Diego, it’s got a perfect interior and it’s covered just 46,000 miles — all courtesy of one owner who bought the car new in June 2000 and owned it right up until a month ago, when it was added to the VIP Autos inventory. Find a used Hyundai Elantra for sale
This is surely the nicest Mitsubishi Mirage in existence. It’s a 2000 model, and it’s offered for $3,699 by Performance Autos in Fort Myers, Florida — the same dealer that’s listed the ultra-low-mileage Sunfire below. This Mirage is especially interesting because it appears to have some sort of sport appearance package, with white-painted hubcaps and the word "RALLIART" written down the side — Mitsubishi’s in-house tuner. But beyond the novelty of the odd appearance package, this Mirage is impressive for its condition: It looks pristine, and it’s covered just 44,000 miles since it was sold new in 2000. Amazingly, the Carfax report shows that 11,000 of those miles were added the first year, as it was a rental car, suggesting future owners preserved it surprisingly well. Find a used Mitsubishi Mirage for sale
This is probably the most impressive car on this list. Offered by Performance Autos in Fort Myers (the same dealer with the Mirage above), this 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe has traveled just 16,737 miles since it was originally sold new. These "J-Body" General Motors cars were virtually never preserved, and this one is in especially nice shape, with a truly impressive time capsule interior with no scuffs, marks or modifications. This Sunfire is offered for $4,977, and the Carfax report shows that it was sold new in Naples, Florida, and driven sparingly by two different owners over the last 19 years. Find a Pontiac Sunfire for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.