Ford Escort ZX2 S/R
The Escort’s run in America had its share of ups and downs, but in 1999, Ford took an Escort ZX2, which was a good little car, and souped it up. The end result was the limited-edition S/R, which featured not only more horsepower, but upgraded brakes and a much stiffer suspension. Barely 2,000 ever saw production, so it’s pretty rare. But most owners don’t know what they have, so you can pick one up for well below $5,000… if you can find one.
Dodge Stealth R/T
OK, OK, technically the Dodge Stealth is a rebadged Mitsubishi 3000GT that was built in Japan, and it was a confusing player in the import vs. domestic drag-racing scene 20 years ago.
That said, it was sold in America under the Dodge brand, so I’m counting it. Why? Because it was a fairly advanced and decently quick car even in the slower of the two offerings, which is what you’ll find under $5,000. Plus, it’s hard to find a car that screams early ’90s as perfectly as the Stealth/3000GT.