10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

If snow and ice has started to hit, then lock up your pride and joy and buy something reliable for under $1000. These are your best budget options
10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

If you live somewhere that experiences particularly rough winters, you aren’t going to want a nice car when the going gets chilly. You’ll need tough and dependable hack which will gladly take the abuse, leaving your main ride safe and dry at home.

The following 10 cars aren’t pretty, they aren’t glamorous, and for the most part, they aren’t fun at all to drive. Some of you might prefer to walk through blizzards than drive these cars, but with a decent set of tyres (preferably dedicated snow tyres) they can pretty much get you through winter’s worst conditions without getting frostbite. More importantly, you can find them on short notice just about anywhere in the U.S. for $1000 or less.

1. 1992-2004 Ford Taurus

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

The Ford Taurus is without a doubt the most common sub-$1000 car you can find on Craigslist, even before you factor in its Mercury Sable twin. They’re boring but comfortable, they offer decent ground clearance, and they’re stupid cheap to maintain.

2. 1990-1999 Subaru Legacy

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

Newer Subarus hold their value insanely well, but the old Legacy is a common sub-$1000 find. Such cars are likely rusty with a bazillion miles and possibly in need of a head gasket, but they offer all-wheel drive with a manual transmission option. If you absolutely must have some fun driving in the snow, this is your car.

3. 1992-2001 Pontiac Grand Am

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

Thank the scores of high school and college kids who lusted after Grand Ams then either wrecked them or riced them to the point of absurdity. As a result, Grand Ams are second only to the Taurus as the cheap beater king of Craigslist. If you find one that has an engine knock, don’t worry because they all do. Just keep it filled with thick oil and bump it through the winter. Some kid will buy it in the spring.

4. 1991-2000 Dodge Caravan

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

Before you go berserk over considering a minivan, think about front-wheel drive donuts with six people along for the fun. Beyond that, if you’re just looking for a winter ride, you might as well pick something with a bit more utility. Rip the rear seats out and fill it with speakers, or turn it into a camper van. They’re cheap and available everywhere, and they actually handle snow really well.

5. 1992-1997 Volkswagen Golf

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

While it’s odd to call the Golf rare, in the context of this list it’s probably the hardest car to find. If you do see one close by, don’t expect it to be a gem for $1000 but the odds of it surviving the winter are certainly in your favour. They might run badly, but they never quit, and they’re arguably the best little car for executing pinpoint handbrake turns.

6. 1992-1997 Ford Crown Victoria

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

Here’s one for the rear-wheel drive faithful who prefer to use their right foot to steer just as much as the steering wheel. With two tonnes of body-on-frame mass and V8 power, ‘Vics are exceptionally adept at ploughing through snow with just all-season tyres. You’ll struggle to find newer Crown Vics under $1000, but the older ex-cop cars and grandma’s rusted daily driver are still plentiful at this price.

7. 1988-1998 Chevy S-10 Blazer

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

These S-10 Blazers go cheap because the bodies tend to accumulate more rust than the Titanic, but the frames usually hold together. That combined with GM’s bullet-proof 4.3-litre V6 and available four-wheel drive make it the cheap small SUV of choice compared to the Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee, neither of which are as good or as easy to find under $1000.

8. 1986-1992 Ford F-150

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

The only practical hope for truck shoppers going sub $1000 on a running/driving truck is the F-150, and only because Ford built a bazillon of them. Even then, most of the F-150s at this price point are going to be two-wheel drive and quite rusty, but nabbing a 4WD for $1000 isn’t out of the question. They handle the snow well, and replacement parts are as plentiful as they are cheap.

9. 1991-1996 Buick Park Avenue

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

If the Taurus is just too boring, look for one of the supercharged Park Avenues. They’re big and they look pretty terrible, but the supercharged V6 delivers a surprising amount of thrust. Not that you can do much with that in the snow, but when the road is dry it’s nice to have some horsepower to play with. Even the non-supercharged Park Avenues have some gutsy low-end pull, and they’re all well-optioned cruisers with long-haul comfort.

10. 1992-1997 Volvo 850

10 Amazing Winter Beaters For Less Than $1000

The front-wheel drive 850 is up there with the Golf in terms of rarity, and dipping to $1000 will admittedly be tough. Thing is, they’re cheap not because of condition, but mileage. Most American buyers get spooked when a car goes past 200,000 miles, but Volvos have a rep for turning that much with ease. If you can be a bit patient (and especially if you can stretch the budget up a few hundred bucks), the 850 could be the nicest winter hack on this list - possibly nice enough to keep even after the snow disappears.

What else would you recommend for CTzens on a winter beater budget?



Picked my Vic LtD up for 1200$. Mission accomplished 😂

01/04/2016 - 20:23 |
0 | 0

A slow ass 1.6 welded diff e36. No doubt, the best winter beater under 1000.

01/04/2016 - 20:26 |
0 | 0

Am I the only one reading this list and thinking that the author of this post has no idea of a great winter car? Dreary and boring 90’s US cars? Ehh… no thanks.
What about older RWD Volvos, Quattro Audis, BMW E36/E34 or even old Japanese 4wd hatchbacks?

01/04/2016 - 20:34 |
8 | 4

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

yeeaahh.. but not under 1000$

01/04/2016 - 20:50 |
8 | 2
Christopher Smith

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Being CT’s resident American, these are American market cars that you can get just about anywhere. Mentioned that early on but should have been clearer, my bad. I suppose it’s possible to get just about anything for less than $1000 if you look long enough, but you probably don’t want anything to do with an old Audi or Bimmer selling for less than a grand in the States. These cars, while not ideal, will at least get you through the snow.

01/04/2016 - 20:52 |
12 | 0

really liked how u described every car, such reality, much snow, wow

01/04/2016 - 20:49 |
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Ben Conover

That moment when your car is #1 on a list

01/04/2016 - 20:56 |
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Ariel G

How about an old Civic or a Rolla?

01/04/2016 - 20:59 |
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What?? 850?? As a 850 GLE owner i can say; good car yes, but not a winter beater! Try 240/740/940! RWD, chassis and engines durable as bricks.

01/04/2016 - 21:24 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

GLE owners unite (Y)

01/06/2016 - 15:08 |
0 | 0

I happen to own a mint 1985 S10 Blazer with a 4-speed manual but it has a 2.8 6 cylinder and that 4wd is mint

01/04/2016 - 21:34 |
0 | 0

That WRC sticker on that Legacy is just gold

01/04/2016 - 22:39 |
2 | 0
Deus Robert Paulsen

For european people:
Honda Concerto
Nissan sunny
Opel omega
Audi 80
Mazda 323
Mazda 626
Toyota corolla
Subaru Impreza
BMW 316i 318i

All pretty reliable a few fun choices like the bmw the subaru and the concerto is just an incredible car for Winter.

01/04/2016 - 22:49 |
2 | 0


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