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Hagerty Employee

5 hot hatches you can find for under $10,000

For the enthusiast on a budget, a hot hatch checks a lot of important boxes. It’s fun, but it’s also practical. Distinctive if you're in the know, and often affordable. It likes to be driven hard but doesn't gulp gas. Fortunately, these qualities are reflected in classic hot hatches just as they are in new ones.


Here in America we’ve often missed out on some of the best hot hatches from Europe and Japan, but if you’re looking for a vintage ride that you could take to an autocross then pack full of luggage for a weekend getaway, there are plenty of viable choices. We narrowed it down to three (well, technically five) hot hatches that can still be found in Good (#3) condition for four-figure prices.


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Hagerty Employee
Hagerty Employee

Seems like it wasn't that long ago that all of these cars could be had for 1/2 (or less) than their current going prices. (sigh)


You guys missed an obvious additional “hot hatch“ - the Volvo C30  !  From 2008 - 2013.

Carol Jensen Garcia


I would have thought that the Toyota Celica could make this list, quite baffling actually. 

Pit Crew

My 1st new car was a 1987 Honda CRX Si. That car was such a blast. I would love to have another CRX Si today (of any year model). It would make for a wonderful addition to the 2005 S2000 that I enjoy today. (Always a Honda fan!) 

Intermediate Driver

I guess I'm just getting or I am "Too Old" for some of these articles.  These "Picks" look like cars that I'd buy for my grandkids as a daily driver, newer style vehicle; they don't have any "Classic" appeal to me....but again, this coming from an "Old Classic (emphasis on Classic) Car Guy"

Pit Crew



I was disappointed, no Ford EXP (or Mercury LN7) and no Shelby Charger/Omni!

Pit Crew

I usually don't think of hot hatches as "classics", but they sure are fun!

Here's one that most people will groan at: Chrysler PT Cruiser. 51/49 weight distribution, watts linkage rear suspension, 600 hp on stock internals. We've had two, with one setup for road course racing and the other a loaded platinum edition with every option. So comfortable we take it on long trips, but does 13.5 @ 104mph on street tires.

Pit Crew

First car was a Volkswagen Rabbit back in 1984, I am yet to own a less dependable vehicle. 


I'd add my 2003 Ford SVT Focus to this list as well.  It did autocross, daily commuting, moved my oldest daughter to college, numerous road trips and was a blast to drive while still being good on gas.  Better than both my current 2010 F-150 or my NA Miata.  If I had the room I'd seriously consider getting another one.


where is the shelby charger 83-87 and the glhs shelby. probably better than all these


Wake up fellas. The 2002-2006 Mini Cooper S is one of the most fun and well built cars in the under $10k bracket.  The engine is so overbuilt it can handle 300hp without any modification to the block.  There are many of us running north of 300 hp for daily drivers.  The fun factor and comfort of these cars is off the charts. 

New Driver

Is a Porsche 944 considered a hatchback? 

Intermediate Driver

Is a Ferrari FF considered a station wagon?

Otherwise as another person here has said. A used Mini Cooper Countryman S is the answer. Same price. more car.

New Driver

Dodge Omni GLH or GLHS. American, fast, fun and somewhat rare.

Pit Crew

Had an 85 GLHT converted to a Tll car and an 86 GLHS that my son and I drove from Texas to Connecticut. Big fun in small cars and as I always said the best looking ugly car ever built
New Driver

Dodge Omni GLH or GLHS. Fast,fun, American and useable.


It would have to be the VW Gti

Pit Crew

Yeah, well, I have been driving a cool little '89 Ford Probe hatchback, and find it comfortable, zippy, reliable and a real attention getter.

"What is that?"   A Probe, I reply.  "What's a Probe?"

It's actually a Mazda MX6 with a Ford-built body and interior.  Lots of cool features.  Not exactly a chick magnet, but then neither am I.

Advanced Driver

BMW E36 318ti cars are well into this price range, and while not endowed with the six cylinder engines that were available in Europe (323ti), more than one enthusiast has dropped an E36 M3 motor into a ti.  It's a bolt-in, as the body was engineered to take the six cylinder engine.  The M3 nearly doubles the hatch's horsepower and at least triples the fun factor!  Even a "normal" E36 six cylinder engine is a nice hp improvement over the four. 


BMW blew it with their US marketing strategy on this model--it was billed as an "entry level" BMW; they built a Rabbit but never offered the GTI in the States.  


No one is going to stick up for the Fiesta - unbelievable gas mileage, load it up like a small pick-up, earlier great front wheel drive snow handler - 

New Driver

I also think the 2002–2006 Mini Cooper S should be on this list. I still have the one I bought it brand new in 2002. Super charger, six speed manual transmission, fantastic handling. I added the John Cooper Works exhaust and smaller supercharger pulley. The car is probably worth 200 hp now-up from the stock 163hp for the S. When we first bought ours, we drove it round-trip from Florida to California and through the Rockies for 8000 miles round-trip. Lots of people have not seen the mini yet because not many dealers were established. To this day people ask me how old the car is because it still looks like a brand new model. That’s the beauty of a design that was not changed until they came up with all the other (often cringeworthy) variations. This past week I changed my brakes for the first time. 18 years on the same brake pads/discs if you can believe it.

New Driver

You missed the Mitsubishi Mirage GT from 1989.  Great car and as I recall, one of Car and Driver's top 10 picks for '89.  I owned one for 3 years and drove it as my business car.  My customers thought I was smart, getting a nice small economy car, but it was a fast little hatch.  Sure do not see many of those any more.


one minor correction - the very first Civic S was released in '83.  i had one in college and i'm constantly on the lookout for a clean one to add to my collection!  i replaced that car with a '90 Civic Si, which was phenomenal!  of your list, i'd pick the Civic SI or CRX Si.  thanks for the great content!

Intermediate Driver

Not sure which of these hot hatches I'd have, except the fastest and easiest to make faster (in true hot hatch fashion) is definitely the AWD Talon or Eclipse. Also, the best Talon to have is 91-93, as these are the lighter first gen and no longer have the flip up headlights, also, the first Gen has a much stronger bottom end, so the more modern 2nd Gen cars often ended up getting 1st Gen motors swapped in!


i’ll take my m52 swapped compact !


What about the six speed Pontiac Vibe GT that was made in the early 2000's?  They had high compression 1.8 liter motors and were kind of fun.

Pit Crew

You have to remember, most any of these cars were built to a price and all were designed to be used up and thrown away. A turbocharger may be great but are costly to replace and their lifelines are dependent on how well an owner maintained the vehicle which had turbochargers . Warranties protected the original owner, but how well did the original owners maintain their cars after warranty. Turbochargers were meant to be used, but many owners didn't follow recommended procedures for shutdown nor the types of oils to use. A turbocharger has moving parts and because of that, they WILL wear out, no matter what. An engine must be idled for awhile, if it has a turbocharger, before it is shut down. If an engine is shut down before temperatures have stabilized, the oil remaining in the turbocharger and it's oil supply and return lines will coke up and eventually cut off lubrication of the turbocharger. Premium motor oils were always the best to use, like Mobil 1 which was recommended, and today we have many great synthetic motor oils to choose from. 


Hot hatches and pickup trucks?  Are you guys running out of subject matter?


1986 - 87 Toyota  FX -16 GTS twin cam MR2 and the famed AE 86 Corolla GTS engine what's not to like plus it under your cost margin . 


A Renault/AMC Encore!

New Driver

Hot hatches?  How about hot wagons?  Our 1974 VW Dasher diesel wagon would blow the doors off ... almost any parked car.  With 40 smoking hot horsepower and a 4-spd manual tranny, it was a blast to take into the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains.  Going up hill, it wasn't too good, but coming back down it built up some fine momentum.  We drove it from the San Francisco Bay Area to Vancouver, Canada one summer, packed with two adults, two kids and a load of camping gear.  On the top, we tied our large canoe.  On the straight, flat parts of Interstate 5, we could almost keep up with traffic.  Loved that car.  Should have turbo'd it.  It could have used another 20 hp.

New Driver

My favourite cheap hatch is the CITROEN GSA.  This was an award-winning design, that still looks futuristic today, and should not be forgotten.

Intermediate Driver

I think this article is playing fast and loose with the definition of a hatchback. It takes more than having a rear hatch to make a car a hatchback. Is an V8 Vantage coupe a hatchback?


I don't think the CRX or the Eclipse/Talon/Laser should be on this list. And there are obvious omissions (particularly the Omni GLH).



New Driver

Had a 1985 Dodge Colt GTS Turbo - 5 speed in high school.  You actually could get it as an auto, but why?


They were 104hp of pure fun from a 1.6L. I think they were 1994lbs.   Torque steer enhanced the experience when the turbo kicked in. 


Obviously they were imported from Mitsubishi...even had a sticker saying as such on the hatch. 

Wish they were still around, now pretty much unobtainable, but would love to get my hands on one from 1985-1988.  I had a red one, but would prefer black now. 


The new for 1989 Colt with the DOHC Turbo/intercooled 1.6L is also a gem, but I like the drawn by a ruler look of the 1985-1988 years best. 


I loved my '84 GTI! Bought it new and I put 90,000 miles on it before trading it in. I once outran a 911 in street racing.  Damn close to doing it against a 240Z, but his top-end was higher. I had to watch him pull away when we hit 105. I collected tickets like trading cards! lol


You left out the Geo metro. A car worth remembering in my view


I'd look for the GTI any time, if I had the room, and I'm always up for Mitsubishi 2 litre 

engines in anything; I have two of them, and they are absolutely trouble free.

Intermediate Driver

Dodge Daytona Turbo Z,    1987 Shelby Daytona even better.


I've had a few in my lifetime, right now driving a 1st gen Mini Cooper and loving it! Out of this group I'd go with the GTI, but the real barn burner that's out of this price range...Renault R5 turbo:)

Intermediate Driver

02 Subaru WRX wagon! How could you forget one of the hottest of the world’s great hot hatches? 

Pit Crew

Front wheel drive = no thank you at any price in my book.


1994 -1999 Toyota Celica GTS and gt4 were awesome! The gt4 was the world rally champion in 1994-1995 till Toyota was caught cheering with their turbo setup. 


I'd include the Chrysler Laser and Dodge Daytona IROC.  I had a top-of-the-line turbo charged 1986 Laser that was an absolute hoot and reasonably practical.  I'd also vote for the first gen Diamond Star Eclipse/Talon/Laser.  I owned a 1992 Eagle Talon TSi AWD Turbo for 200K miles and 23 years.  It was always fun and proved very reliable.  True story: A guy followed me home one day this spring and made an offer I could not refuse.  It was stock in #3 condition.  I miss it, but it went to a good home.

Intermediate Driver

So the GTI is a great car...cousin to my Scirocoo albeit not as nice lines...but reliable if not a wee bit expensive for parts in some cases and parts of the country. The Civic's well not a hatch but the DelSol would be my choice...with same underpinnings...but the CRX over the standard fare for sure! As for the Mitsubishi/Eagle...yeah...stay far away...too many issues with those and uber hard to find parts for...and basic stuff too not just the unique to this model items that will be rather difficult to source for restoration. The Dodge Omni 024 and the GLH pocket rocket mentioned by another poster is a good option too. Hatchbacks are timeless as they keep brining them back each millenium when they fade away meaning there is a need and want for these little runabouts..currently (not a hot hatch but along the utilitarian lines) I have a Spark...yeah..but it does the trick on commuting and gets fantastic gas mileage and with a 5 spd is fun to drive...and gets in and out of traffic and the mall parking lot (where no classic should ever tread) with ease. Little runabouts are fun...and most of these along with the current crop have more HP and higher speed then the classics did like my 69MGBGT for can have a lot of fun driving these little grocery getters!!!


IF it has wheels I'm into it!!
New Driver

when Honda stopped making hot hatches in 91 (we'd owned Hondas from 78-94), we went searching and ended up with a new 96 BMW 318TI (for the same price as a Toyota Corrolla wagon).  when my wife got a 328 wagon in 2002 i used the TI as my work car for another 6 years (had 150,000 on it when i sold it to an autocrosser) we've had 3 BMW wagons now and I had an 09 Mini Clubman till i retired in 14 and didnt need a car anymore


Im selling a well taken care of 88 CRX DX.  Heres a link.

Will do 6k for all.  Thanks.


Still have my '90 Eagle Talon TSi with AWD. The electronics are aging, but I intend to do a full re-build on the engine and tranny (which are hitting 185k). Still haven't found a car as fun and comfortable as this has been for the last 30 years.

Intermediate Driver

No Justy?