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How You Could Drive a Luxury Car for $10,000

Mercedes. BMW. Lexus. They’re sleek, fast, beautiful, comfortable…and expensive. Who has $40k-$111k to spend on a car? Much love and respect (and a little envy) to those that do. For the rest of us, gotta buy used. Here’s how you buy a car you can’t afford, for $10,000.

Mercedes Benz

If you get an old raggedy luxury car, you’re going to have to do the work to get and keep it running. If it’s your only car, consider that you need to drive it. Can you trust it to run? When you’re looking to buy a car for $10k, you can have luxury car, but it’s a tradeoff. Do you want a lux car you work on? Ultimately, it’s your choice. Do you wanna work hard? We have an engine replacement course. Let’s look at how you could make a Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus work for you with a $10,000 budget.


What do I mean by luxury vehicle?

A luxury car looks good on the outside, and is more comfortable than the average car. Here are some of their characteristics:

  • high-end features that go above and beyond average necessities*
  • better performance
  • lavish interiors
  • latest safety and tech

*Features that go above and beyond include:

  • silver plated champaign flutes and massage programs
  • granite trim
  • fragrance/scent system
  • bounce mode—to help get the car unstuck in sticky situations
  • fancy clocks
  • refrigerators
  • soft close doors
  • hand stitched leather seats



There are many cars that would be considered luxury. We chose three different cars for this article. You can choose what you like. We are looking at a Mercedes Benz, a BMW 5 series, and a Lexus ES.

These are all foreign cars, so there are some things to consider when buying them. They need special tools, parts, and manuals. You can order all these online, but they are expensive, and take a while to ship. Be especially careful in ordering parts, because the wrong part will have to be shipped back, and then you’re waiting even longer to fix your car.

How to find your $10,000 luxury car

You can shop for cars on various websites: Craigslist, (which is local), Carfax, Autotempest, and eBay Motors. We looked for Mercs, BMWs, and Lexus on the various sites.


Mercedes Benz’s found on various websites

Check to see that the reserve is met to determine prices on eBay motors.


BMW’s found on various websites

Note that eBay lists starting and current bids, so you can’t be sure how much the car will ultimately cost, unless they also list the reserve price. Keep an eye out for this.


Lexus’s found on various websites

Pick 2

So now comes the choice. You have 3 criteria:

  1. mileage
  2. luxury features
  3. does it run?

Pick 2.

Mercedes Benz S class

Let’s look at 4 Mercedes-Benzes from our 4 car stores:

1. We found a 2000 S-Class on Craigslist. Its mileage was 85,820 miles. Its condition is described as excellent, “Like new”. It had 3 drivers during its lifetime. Its price: $8995,820 miles is a lot, but you must take other things into consideration. 1. The car is 22 years old. That averages to 3900 miles a year. That’s a low mileage. So, if we are to believe its report, this car has good mileage, and is in good condition. But, being 22 years old, its luxury features are old at best. So which two would sell this car? (note: you’d definitely need to drive and check this one out for yourself. Ppl do sneaky things to reset odometers, for example, and make sure that their standard of like new matches yours. (check to see what standards go into an excellent/like new rating)

2. Carfax is selling a 2005 Mercedes C-class for $6000. It has 110,460 miles* on the odometer. It is considered in good condition, which means it runs. It also has luxury features such as heated leather front seats and mirrors. *Here’s the thing: Carfax prepares free reports for the cars it lists, and on the report, it said that the car had been driven over 120,000 miles, but the odometer reads $110,460 miles? So that’s definitely something to ask about if you’re interested in this car. Carfax also prepares reports for cars sold on a different site, but these reports start at $39.99 fora basic one. This car runs, and it has luxury features. It also has high mileage. So your pick 2 would be: it runs; it has features.

3. Autotempest turned up a 2013 Mercedes C-class car for $8490

This car has 142,000 miles on it. It lists sporty chairs, a moon roof, heated leather seats (check and read its features) among its luxury features. So here’s another car with many miles, luxury features, that is running. Easy choice on the pick 2.

4. eBay Motors lists a 2008 Mercedes C-class car. It is in an auction that ends on 2/13, and the current bid is $4,550. It has 114, 648 miles. Then, when it comes to its description, there’s a problem. The title is clean. (find out the condition rankings on titles). It says that it drives and shifts fine, and the heat and A/C work. And: the glove box door is broken, and there are black streaks on the front bumper, and a rip in driver’s seat. 1. miles are slightly high 2. it runs 3. it needs cosmetic work, especially inside. Which two would you pick on this one?


Craigslist, being a local source will make it easier for you to see the car in person fast. Of course, you can shop online for any city’s eBay. I searched in a large city, because there was nothing available in my area, for example.

Since Carfax will prepare a report on any car, but only gives you the information for free on their site, you might be able to find the most information on this site.

eBay might provide the most discount, but it is a gamble, since you’re bidding against others. Also note that eBay tells you that there is a $98 dealer fee +a $25 title fee in addition to the winning bid.

Autotempest lists cars from multiple sellers, so it will give you a good overview of what is available.

Now, there are repairs, and there are REPAIRS

Say you picked a car based on it being a running car, and find you must repair it anyway. You need to assess your car for necessary repairs.

Minor repairs are inexpensive and easy things, like replacing the battery, new light bulbs, needing an oil change, and fixing the brakes.

Modest repairs: These include replacing the power steering, alternator and radiator, new tie rods, brake lines, and calipers.

Major repairs: These would be more expensive and difficult repairs. They include: a new transmission, a new engine, and major electrical fixes, which require complex diagnostics to track them down. An engine replacement also requires a new engine, which is costly for a luxury vehicle. A new engine runs around $12,000, and rebuilding your old one would cost $8,000, (not including installation or removal). These are things to consider, especially if one of your non-negotiables is a $10,000 budget.

What kind of car should you buy?

Get something popular among the rebuild, car mod enthusiasts. Say you tried to go with a rare, exotic car to save money, or so you’re not competing with everyone else for a popular car. Then you can’t find any repair parts, so you’d have to take your car to the dealership. And say they don’t feel like working on that kind of car, and charge you a premium to fix your car? You’d have been better off buying a more popular car among the rebuilding crowd. Then there would be plenty of parts, tools, and common expertise around to help you with your car.

Is it possible to keep a car you can’t afford?

It seems like luxury cars are expensive whether you buy them new or used. If you can’t afford to maintain them, then you can’t afford them, even at a bargain. You can save money on these cars, but you have to be very careful what you buy. You must search and search and search. In your research, learn what those cars’ common problems are. If the seller doesn’t mention that they’ve replaced or repaired the common problems, they know what it’s worth.

If you inspect a car that hasn’t had the common problem fixed, you’ve found a gem! Buy it, take it home, fix those common problems, and you’ve got a good car.

A Ford Explorer Rolled Over His Future: The Brian Cole Story

In 2001, Brian Cole was 22 years old and having the best day of his life when he and his Ford Explorer ran into the unexpected.

A superstar switch hitter, who never missed a ball, he was recruited by the NY Mets, who would build a whole new team around him.

Brian Cole

Brian had just picked up his cousin to go celebrate with his family when, according to his cousin, another driver cut him off on the highway. Brian adroitly maneuvered the Explorer into the median to avoid an accident.

But something went wrong. According to Brian’s cousin, the steering wheel began to shake violently and the car jolted one direction and lifted off the ground. When the Explorer began to flip over and over, Brian’s cousin heard a loud snap and Brian disappeared from the car. Brian died from his injuries.

Ford Explorer

In court, Ford claimed that Brian was guilty of reckless driving, even though his cousin testified that they were driving about 45 MPH. Ford would later blame accidents like these involving the Explorer on Firestone tires, sending Firestone stock into a tailspin.

But Tab Turner, the lawyer for the family, proved that the Explorer had a history of rollovers and that the Explorer seatbelts tended to fail in rollover accidents.

Lawyer Tab Turner

Turner, later known as “Ford’s Nemesis”, won Brian’s family $131 million. Afterward, Ford would redesign the Explorer to fix the rollover issue. “Ford’s Nemesis” would help vindicate Firestone by proving that Ford was at fault in the rollovers, and not Firestone.

Though the settlement was a vindication, Brian’s parents would’ve had a better day if they still had their son.

The Explorer’s Background

The safety of the Ford SUVs became a nationwide concern in 2000. More than 200 deaths and 700 injuries in the United States were blamed on Ford Explorers rolling over after the tread separated on Firestone tires with which the Explorers had been equipped.

So, was it the tires, or the car—or both that caused the rollovers?

Firestone tires

Before there was an Explorer, OJ’s car was infamous by itself

Anyone alive in 1994 has heard of the Ford Bronco. It was riveting watching the OJ Simpson, formally famous for running through airports in commercials, leading the police on a chase through the LA freeway system.

Little did we know that the Bronco was infamous of its own accord. By 1990, that SUV had been labeled the most deadly SUV on the road by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Why was the Explorer Unsafe?

The Explorer was created in 1992 in hopes of avoiding the Bronco’s rollover issues. But both cars suffered from stability problems. When Explorer test drivers saw the tires tip up on the sides, Ford knew it should improve its stability issues. They discovered they should widen the vehicle two inches.

But Ford didn’t do that. Instead they made minor changes in suspension and tire pressure. They crossed their fingers and released the car. The Explorer started rolling over immediately.


What About Firestone Tires?

Since all the rolled over Explorers had Firestone tires, Ford found a convenient scapegoat. They pointed the finger at their long-time tire partner. When a tire exploded on an Explorer, the car was unable to pull over to the side of the road. They rolled over instead.

But Firestone ran their own tests, and found that the Explorer rolled over no matter what brand tire they sported.

So that settles the car v tire issue, but that’s not what killed Brian Cole…

Brian Cole was not known for driving without a seatbelt, yet that’s exactly what Ford alleged in court. The surviving passenger, Brian’s cousin, testified that he was wearing his seatbelt.

seatbelt problems

The evidence corroborated this. Brian’s brother Greg noticed something odd when inspecting the car. “One thing we noticed when we opened the truck was that the seatbelt was still latched,” said Greg. “That kind of raised suspicions in our mind.”

Was the seatbelt defective? The belt was designed to lock into a firm grip when there’s sudden movement, like during a collision. But the same belt could fail and go slack during the unpredictable forces of a rollover.

What Happened in Court?

Though the Coles couldn’t get their son back, they sued Ford. The case took place 2010—9 years after the accident. Engineers used illustrations to show that Brian’s belt came loose on the first roll; he was thrown 78 feet, and never had a chance.

Five years before the accident, Ford’s own seat belt manufacturer TRW told Ford they already offered a better design: a belt that “remains locked with belt tension regardless of motion.” Yet it took Ford five years to begin using the improved belts in some SUVs. Brian was already dead.

In court, Ford insisted that Cole wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The jurors decided otherwise after seeing a coroner’s photo. It appeared to show the severe bruising where Brian’s shoulder belt grabbed him — before going slack and letting him go. The jury returned an unprecedented $131 million verdict against Ford.

Ford Explorers in the Wild

2001 Ford Explorer

According to federal data, 22,000 people who were wearing their seat belts died in rollover crashes between 1992 and 2002. Joan Claybrook used to head the federal highway safety agency NHTSA. She says rollover-safe belts are inexpensive and that federal officials should have forced automakers to use them years ago. As it is, she says there are no federal rules mandating seat belts that hold in a rollover crash.

A Tragic Conclusion

In 2002, (the year after Brian Cole died), Ford finally made the changes they refused to make when they first released the Ford Explorer. Unfortunately, the Ford Explorer early models are still on the road, and many of their occupants are suffering from the effects of severe rollover accidents. Lawsuits continue to be filed, and in 2009, Ford lost four major rollover cases, each worth $10 million or more.

Can Tesla Redeem the Failing History of Electric Cars?

Teslas may seem like space age tech, but electric cars existed at the genesis of the auto industry. Automobiles were adopted in this order: steam engine—electric cars—internal combustion engines. Whereas the gas powered engines came in the early 1900s, electric engines were around in the 1800s. They didn’t last long until the advent of rechargeable batteries in 1859.

Fresh out of Scotland

Scottish engineers were early electric car innovators. William Morrison was one such engineer who made a splash in America in 1887 with his 4WD electric carriage. With a top speed of 20 mph, this car was a sensation at the Chicago World Fair of 1893.

William Morrison’s Electric Car

Electric Cars Take NYC

By the early 1900s, New York City had 600 electric cabs, and other large cities followed suit. The taxi venture eventually failed in 1907 because of business issues like investor conflicts, and an unsustainable expansion. Ransom Eli Olds, founder of Oldsmobile cars created a line of electric cars before he rolled out his gas powered line.

The Tech Race

As internal combustion engines began to win the technology race, electric cars stayed in business because they were silent and easy to use. Often, women drove them because they didn’t want to crank the newer gas powered engines to start them. City shopping districts had charging stations to attract wealthy electric car driving customers.

model t
The Model T

Price Wars

Gas car manufacturers removed the crank barrier to their adoption by using electric parts, specifically a starter. But they didn’t just win the tech battle. Ford’s Model T was much more affordable and kept getting cheaper. The first Model T was $850 in 1908, when most electric cars were at least twice that price. By 1923, Model Ts cost $300, while electric cars were 10 times that price.

Introducing Tesla

Teslas are similarly too expensive for most. Founded in 2003, Tesla wanted to prove that electric cars could be better, quicker, and more fun to drive than gas cars. Their goal is no less than eliminating fossil fuels ASAP. Their mission: “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” How do they plan to accomplish this? Their strategy is to start at the high end of the market, then drive down the market as fast as possible to producing more cars at lower prices with each model. That would look like this:

Current CarPrice
Model 3$94,900
Next generation$47,450
Generation after next$23,725
Tesla’s Market Strategy

The Tesla strategy depends on finding enough elite customers to buy the expensive cars, and that would pay for the development of the next generation cars, and so on.

How Many People Buy Teslas?

According to this source, Tesla sold 936,000 cars in the U.S. in 2021. Their market share is 2.02%. The cheapest Teslas are the Model 3 Standard Rage Plus, which have a base price of $44,990.

How Many People Buy Fords?

Ford is the automaker that defeated the early electric car, despite the fact that Henry Ford’s wife, Clara, exclusively drove electric cars from 1908-1914. So how does Ford stack up against the biggest electric carmaker today? Ford sold 1,905,955 cars in 2021. Their market share is 12.6%. Though they are falling behind Toyota and GM, they remain competitive with their F150s, and even plan to dominate with an electric version in the future.

Who Will Win the Electric Car Race?

Teslas are intriguing. They are fast and cool, and Musk is playing to win. Does this mean he will beat other automakers in their rush to produce electric cars to compete head to head? What about trucks? Trucks are the hottest gas cars. What happens if they switch to electric? Ford’s F-150 Lightning Electric truck promises to cost between $39,974 and $95,000. They plan to be just behind Tesla in electric car production by 2023. So if it’s Tesla against the world—they’d probably have to compete head to head with the whole industry. It’s unlikely they’d remain the only electric car company.

Tesla Model 3

Can Tesla Eliminate Fossil Fuels?

That’s easier said than done. If it is possible to do this on swagger, sure. Tesla is leading the way. They’ve grown a lot in the past few years. Whereas Henry Ford dominated the early auto market because of manufacturing innovation and lower prices, Tesla may do it by its cool factor and influence. They will also have help this time around by the other automakers, including Ford. It remains to be seen whether the industry will stop producing gas cars.

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