With tax refund season upon us and summer just around the bend, we polled our editors about the coolest way to drop a few thousand on a car.

For many of us, what we drive is an outward extension of who we think we are. That can be problematic, as the cost of new vehicles continues to rise, even without selecting for something that will make you feel cool while behind the wheel.

The good news, as you’ll find if you ask anyone that lives, breathes, and dreams about cars, is that it actually doesn’t have to take your life savings, or even twenty grand, to find a cool car. In fact, especially if you already own or lease something practical (re: boring) to drive daily, a budget of $5,000 opens up a world of cool motoring potential.

To prove the point, we polled some of the Motor1.com editors, asking about the coolest car they could find on sale locally for five grand or less. Roughly two working days later – this sort of question is the ultimate rabbit hole for a car nerd – we have some answers. From expected, to random; from quasi-exotic, to, well, a Buick; the answers here in are inherently personal, but all cool. Consider this your first step on your own journey to a cheap, rad ride.

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