If you have $50,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you could do a lot worse than buying a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
It’s spacious, comfortable, and efficient, and offers the low running costs for which Toyota is renowned. There are two problems, as far as we see it.
The first is the wait. You’ll be waiting for at least a year for a RAV4 Hybrid to arrive based on current information.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s a bit boring.
That’s not an allegation you could level at this next crop of cars. Not only are they currently for sale, they’re a motley crew with character to burn. Reliability? That remains to be seen.
Here’s what the CarExpert team would buy from the classifieds with $50,000 burning a hole in their pocket. Viewer discretion is advised.
Turns out $50,000 buys you a lot on the used car market.
From a few BMW M6 convertibles (yes to the V10, no to the soft top) to the immensely tempting previous-generation Honda Civic Type R, it’s amazing what you can buy for the price of a new RAV4… if you’re willing to take a risk, and waive your new-car warranty of course.
For me though, the standout was the Maserati Quattroporte. Our budget just buys you (me) a facelifted base model, complete with power from one of the sweetest-sounding naturally-aspirated V8 engines ever made.
Is it going to be reliable? Don’t know, and ignorance is bliss in this case. Is it going to be economical? Not a chance, but I don’t really care about the claimed 14.7 litres per 100km.
It’s not even that fast, with a 100km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds. You’re at risk of being torched by Hyundai i30 N owners, although they don’t look nearly as cool as you.
This car cost someone $282,000 before on-road costs and options in 2011, which means they’ve burned $21,000 per year (at least!) in depreciation alone. Their loss is my gain.
Looking just below the $50,000 cutoff, there’s a cornucopia of desirable cars.
Personally, I’d be happy with a Kia Stinger GT, the car that was just outside of my budget when I bought my Hyundai Genesis. But that’s an awfully sensible answer, isn’t it? More exotic material abounds.
There’s a 2007 Toyota Century, the epitome of understated Japanese class, so you can look like a dignitary from Tokyo.
A 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am caught my eye, in the iconic black/gold colour scheme – with matching gold wheels – made famous by Smokey and the Bandit.
A first-generation 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado can be found for just under $50,000. Yes, this roughly 5.3m-long coupe, complete with a 7.0-litre or 7.5-litre V8, was front-wheel drive. But while the original 1966 was absolute design perfection, it was too radical for American buyers and Oldsmobile uglied it up for 1968. So, thanks but no thanks.
That leaves one other choice: a 2010 Jaguar XF-R. There was a time when you could buy a Jaguar sedan with a supercharged V8.
Like the Toronado, this isn’t the ideal spec. While that model was uglied with a facelift, the XF was fixed with one – why did Jaguar launch the XF without the concept’s sleek headlights, anyway?
A black-on-black colour scheme is also a bit drab, but this particular example has 105,427km on the odometer. It also has that delicious 375kW/625Nm supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine.
After amassing a considerable list of vehicles, I managed to whittle it down to a 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG listed for exactly $50,000 excluding government charges. It’s done 86,000km.
This particular example is claimed by Bobby as the best 2006 CLS63 AMG in the country, with the lowest kilometres. They even go as far as calling the car a “sound investment which will certainly increase in value”.
The CLS has always left me enamoured because of its imposing, boat-like silhouette and overall grandeur.
It’s the kind of car I want when I grow up. The CLS 63 is powered by a ridiculous 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine producing 378kW of power and 630Nm of torque. All of this is sent to the rear wheels only.
On the outside, this particular CLS 63 is painted silver which adds a sleeper element to this V8-powered beast. It does have pronounced quad exhaust pipes though…
All in all, I don’t know if this car really makes sense in 2022 given the current pricing of fuel, but if you want to throw back to pre-global financial crisis times look no further than this 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS63.
So you’re after a RAV4 hybrid. It stands to reason you want something with room for all the family and assorted stuff, offering solid quality and reliability.
I present to you the Infiniti QX70 S Premium (initially badged as the FX50), which was on sale for a few years before the Nissan-owned luxury marque shut up shop after years of piffling sales.
Think about it: Pioneering and edgy crossover design a decade ahead of its time, Japanese quality, and a 287kW naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 purring under the bonnet.
Plus, I’ll bet you a million bucks you’d be the only person in your postcode or LGA with one.
Ladies and gentlemen, take a seat.
I present you one of the most enjoyable cars I drove as a 19 year-old motoring journalist. It’s the V10-powered Audi S8.
It was ahead of its time because it used a Lamborghini-sourced V10 engine, it had a fingerprint scanner to recall settings and start the car, and had an optional $18,000 Bang and Olufsen sound system with omnidirectional speakers that rose out of the dashboard for near uniform sound.
The one that caught my eye is allegedly in peak mechanical condition (they tend to hit their peak at just over 200,000km) and looks pretty immaculate.
A special challenge requires a special car…
The LV-generation Ford Focus RS was a trailblazer, a limited-run rally-based special that despite being manual and FWD-only was lauded for its segment-busting performance both on and off the track. Also, they had a five-cylinder engine so they absolutely SANG when pushed.
It still looks absolutely bonkers despite being over a decade old, and I’ve lusted over the Ultimate Green hero paint finish ever since I saw someone’s dad drive one through the school drop-off lane.
Brand new, these things were $59,990 plus on-roads (I’m not good at maths but that’s probably Audi RS3 money with today’s rates), and 12 years on they’re still listed for $40,000-$50,000.
So. Much. Want.
I would have my cake and eat it too. I’d buy a Suzuki Cappuccino for about $20,000 so I have the most ridiculous small convertible money can buy, then I would spend the other $30,000 on a 2000 Mercedes-Benz S600 V12 and live happily ever after.
The way, I have one car that will never break down but would probably be less safe than riding a bicycle, and another which would probably never get more than 100km before costing $10,000 in repairs.
In retrospect, this is exactly why we always say it’s better to buy a new car than a “cool” old one that will give you endless headaches.
Sean is a member of our video team, and has excellent taste in cars – as his answer will prove.
Probably not the most sensible choice with current fuel prices, but if you wanted the sensible option you would have just bought the RAV4 Hybrid.
If you want something powerful enough to fit the whole family, the HSV Grange is the ultimate choice. In 2011, this was the pinnacle of luxury Aussie-built cars and took it to the Germans for a fraction of the price.
Even today, the 325kW LS3 V8 is a revered donk, worthy of respect the world over. Add to that the fact this particular West Australian has a full head-to-toe exhaust system (as it should), a custom tune and, for the folks consigned to the second row, Magnetic Ride Control.
From the factory it put out 550Nm of torque, although with its tune that may be improved now.
With the signature Grange wide body styling, it’s a commanding presence on the road. Inside, the seats are draped with leather and suede, and the second row features DVD players and wireless headphones – but I think you’d be better to just roll down the windows and enjoy the symphony.
At $48,997 excluding government charges, and only 119,000km (let’s face it, probably highway kilometres) it’s a car that would even make this avid Ford fan go to the dark side. It’s possibly even an investment, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.