ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Top 5: Cheap RWD Cars

Updated on September 24, 2012
Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive
Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive | Source

Why Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD)?

Cars these days are classified as FWD (Front Wheel Drive), RWD (Rear Wheel Drive), or AWD (All Wheel Drive). As you probably know, these refer to which wheels are the "drive wheels" - the ones receiving power from the engine.

In any case, you'll find that the vast majority of cars on today's market are FWD - in fact, an article tagged this figure at 70%, and things have been this way since the early 90's. There are a variety of reasons for this: weight-savings, space-savings, and mpg-savings, as well as better traction in adverse conditions (due to the weight being over the drive wheels) and manufacturing advantages.

However, most people interested in performance will lament this trend. That's because RWD has a variety of performance advantages. First off, rear-wheel drive vehicles typically have better weight distribution, and their weight-transfer characteristics are superior. After all, the weight of the vehicle shifts toward the drive wheels under hard acceleration, improving traction. Torque-steer is not an issue, and in the hands of an expert a RWD car generally handles better. For those with a lead-foot, RWD is the way to go for burn-outs, drifting, power-slides, and other activities that make for great Youtube videos :)

It's no wonder that traditional sports cars like the Corvette and 911 are RWD, as are muscle cars from the '60 to today (Camaros, Mustangs, Chargers, Challengers, and others of the 8-cylinder ilk).

Best RWD Cars That Won't Break The Bank

Since we're talking about cheap rear wheel drive cars, we're talking about used ones. Now, cheap is a relative term. But for the purposes of this article, I'm talking less than $3000 or so. I think that fits most people's definition of cheap. Also, I'm mainly interest is (relatively) fast RWD cars. Sure, a Buick Roadmaster are Astro van are both rear wheel drive, but if you're reading this, I'm guessing you want something a little more...sporting. So that's what I'm giving you!


Nissan 240SX

The Nissan 240SX is one of the few RWD Japanese imports of recent decades (that won't cost you an arm and a leg, like a used Toyota Supra). Although the original truck-based engine has sufficient torque, many enthusiasts choose to do engine swaps, swapping in venerable turbo-charged "JDM" motors like the SR20DET. In any case, there's a good chance you can find a 240SX in your area for cheap, cheap, cheap - though the second-gen versions are much better-looking (according to many), and will cost you a bit more.


Fox Body Ford Mustang

Mustangs always have been - and always will be - RWD. If you want a cheap Mustang, I suggest the Fox Body, 3rd-gen versions (1979-1993). Of course, if you're performance-minded, and you probably are if you're intent on rear wheel drive, then the "5.0" version is the way to go. The 302 ci V8 might not make a great deal of power stock, but the 3rd-generation Mustang enjoys one of the most plentiful, affordable aftermarkets there is. Translation: you can make one of these fast...for cheap.

My personal E30, an '86 325e.
My personal E30, an '86 325e. | Source


The E30 range of BMW's includes the 325e, 325i(s), and 318i(s). There were coupe and sedan versions. Either way you go, these are classy, good-looking cars whose 4 or 6-cylinder engines send the power through the rear wheels (excluding the rare AWD 325ix). These cars have a fantastic online community of enthusiasts, and you can often find one for $1000-$3000. Unfortunately, these cars can be difficult to find in any condition but BAD. Odometers have a tendency to break at 180K miles, and it's not uncommon for see E30's for sale with 200,000+ miles.


Mazda Miata

Outside of the enthusiast community, Mazda Miatas get a bad rap as a "chick car." However, anyone interested in road-racing or autocross knows that the Miata enjoys nearly perfect weight-distribution and handling - and you can buy a first-generation model for next-to-nothing these days. Sure, they may not have the horsepower of a 6 or 8-cylinder car, but they're lightweight and their Fun Factor is off the charts. Spec-Miata is one of the most affordable ways to get into road-racing. Go to any SCCA AutoX event in your area, and I guarantee there will be Miatas screeching between the cones. These are a fun, quick (if not fast), and definitively cheap RWD car - plus they're plentiful, something that can't be said of Honorable Mentions like the Toyota MR2.

Drive-Wheels Poll

What Type of Car Do You Currently Drive?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • BHPH profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from NC, USA

      Thanks for the kind words, Pkittock! Yeah, I definitely agree that the Fox-body is no looker (and that's an understatement), and I'm not a huge fan of any Mustangs built after 1973. That said, I had to add it to the list just on account of its uber-cheapness and horsepower potential.

      Yeah, that's one bad Miata in the pic!

    • Pkittock profile image


      6 years ago from Minnesota

      great list! Agree with everything (although I'm not a huge mustang fan, and find the fox-body particularly ugly). I love the photo you found for the miata too!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)