There are sub-$10,000 new cars out there, but you can’t have them


The backup camera is now a federal mandate here in the U.S.

You didn’t say whether or not it was a stick or automatic.

Other “features” are added for the financials of the dealership, or the manufacturer.

Satellite radio-remember is a subscription based model.

And remember, the more options on a car, the more that can break and the more that the dealership can try and get at you for repairs…

Sometimes, newer isn’t necessarily better.



Plus 1 on the Chevy Spark. I purchased a new one in 2017 and honestly have embarrassed a few German sports cars with it. just recently I have had a Mk 7 GTI swinging wide in the corners to try to keep up with me. Def get the base 5 speed manual as it’s a lot quicker than the CVT version used in all the tests on this car. The current Spark is actually an Opel design. In the 2017 Consumer Reports new car guide, it was like the 7th fastest of all the 250 or so cars tested in their slalom test, keeping right up there with the Corvette. I also can get 50 plus mpg at 55-60 mph if I baby it a bit with no hills. Get one while you can! BTW, appreciate Jack Baruth’s honesty and “pull no punches” writing style. Thanks-


Have four vehicles, the youngest is thirty, wish it were forty. Not interested in late model anything


We bought our Jetta TSi brand new a couple of years ago for $11,500 out the door. It’s a 5 speed, they had three on the lot and I suspect the manual trans had a lot to do with the low price.It’s quick, comfortable, handles well, great mileage, has the usual power windows,power steering, cruise, bluetooth,etc. like all Jettas. True, it has a cloth interior (easier upkeep) and no seat heaters (who needs them in the Bay Area?) but I thought it was a great bargain


The Chevy Spark is NOT an OPEL design. The Opel Karl was a derivative of the Chevy Spark as is the new VINFAST A Segment entry in Vietnam. I don’t know about the latest pricing in the U.S. but did see them in Canada for less than $10K U.S. It can do well in the 2nd Gen with an M/T & 1.4L. There was an EV version of the 1st Gen that was a rocket from 0 to 75 MPH before petering out. Biggest issue is that the UAW & GM don’t really want to sell many - just look at the lack of promotion.
Signed, Jack, (Global Vehicle Line Executive of both 1st & 2nd Gen Sparks) BTW - I am 6’4” & Sparks are more comfy than my Z3 and some other cars)


Additional FYI. Both Generation Sparks were styled and engineered in Korea. The 1st Gen IC was never intended for the U.S. but was re-engineered for import. Greatly exceeded sales targets (and sales of FCA Fiat 500 & Scion IQ competitors). EV (1st GM EV to be sold) was another re-engineering project. The 2nd Gen was more of clean sheet & included U.S. plans from beginning - hence the bigger engine. It was deemed best Mini in Europe upon introduction.


Traverse doesn’t even offer a stick


You do realize that the Chevy Spark is imported from Korea, right? Nothing wrong with that. just saying…
It’s a former Daewoo model, built in the former Daewoo plants. Look it up on Wikipedia… built in several countries and sold world wide. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Spark


A former AMC marketing exec once told me that about 30% of the price of a car was for marketing. That included ALL marketing – TV, magazine ads, sales fliers – all promotional materials. So the manufacturers spend $10K just to convince you to buy a $32-35K car. That’s LOT of change! That particular exec was lamenting that AMC never had that kind of money to spend on marketing, only 20-25%. Still sounds like a lot, but when everyone else is spending 5-10% more than you, it’s harder to get market share in a highly competitive market, especially when you aren’t selling the volume of the competition… 25% of 150,000-200,000 is no where near 30% of 500,000+!!

EVERYTHING sold today is on perceived value rather than manufacturing costs. When front load washers first started coming out for consumers they were all high end models and costly compared to top load. After a few years more reasonably priced models started appearing, and I bought one. A lightning strike at my house caught it when it was 5-6 years old. I took the back off to take a look and was a bit surprised – no transmission or anything costly to manufacture, just a small motor with a belt around the drum, a three water solenoid valves (hot, cold, drain), another small motor with a pump (for draining), a circuit board, and some wiring. All the control buttons were on the circuit board. The only thing that might have been a bit costly to manufacture was the drum seal around the door. Should cost a LOT less than a conventional top load that has a cast aluminum cased steel geared transmission for the back and forth action of the impeller. But the price is a lot more even on the cheapest, compared to the cheapest top loader…

This is the world we live in now! Everything that promises to lower your operating cost has a higher perceived value than older technology, so you pay at least half of what you should save in energy/consumables for the item in the first place.

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Hey Farna; yes indeed, the spark is manufactured in Korea. I did allot of research and test drove other cars in this market segment before buying. I was impressed buy the global effort that went into the design and testing of this car, as well what appeared to me to be really carefully considered specific engineering parameters, especially the drive to keep down the weight. I think they got it right on the base model with the manual transmission in this generation of the design. The body is stronger and lighter than the last version, and the engine is lighter and has more horse power.
So I say to myself; "Let’s see; take a small lightweight car, put a twincam 16 valve engine made from aluminum using steel cylinder liners and sandwich the main bearings between the block and a ladder frame for stiffness, set the compression ratio up around 10.6:1 to raise the efficiency and let it rev to get the power out of it and I see the lineage back to Tony Rudd’s design for Lotus, or Dealer Team Vauxhaul and Bill Blydenstein in the 70’s, and Dez O’Dell with the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus in the 80’s.
That’s what sold me; I got British rally car tech in my city runabout with a warranty and ten airbags at a reasonable price, and every trip around town I’m thinking I’m Pentti Airikkola driving the Vauxhall Chevette on the RAC rally circuit. How cool is that? All I need now is tartan seat fabric!


The last car we added to the fleet was used. We have a Bugatti on order. Your mileage may vary.


My wife and I joke a lot about having owned 136 cars and trucks in our 35 year marriage (many for less than a week as I was taking them to PA and OH for friends of mine looking for clean-er muscle car bodies and parts cars back in the 80’s and 90’s) and the ONLY brand new vehicle in the entire 135 car/truck/SUV collection was a 2004 Toyota Tundra pickup. We LOVED that truck except for the (apparently “factory installed”) *damage magnets" that it had. No unusual mechanical issues from that truck (my first non-Dodge truck ever) but in ten years of ownership we had everything from 1) baseball sized gravel from a dump truck machine gunning the grille, hood, windshield, ROOF when it was 4 months old. 2) A little old lady turned into the passenger’s side door while my wife was stopped dead at a T-intersection. “I realized that I needed to turn left here” said the 85 year old lady. 3) small energetic/suicidal deer on RT 60 west of Richmond VA 4) Rain slicked off ramp on interstate 64 and was stopped gently by the small trees at the edge of the grass 5) drove it into the passenger’s side door of my buddy’s SUV when we crossed a busy 4 lane and he did the “I’m pulling out NOW… Oh, wait, no I’m not.” and I thought that he had already gone when I tried to pull into the next small break in traffic 6) chain reaction accident on Hwy 61 in Louisiana a mere 6 months after we moved here finally finished her off (since the air bags deployed). BUT - I did see the truck on the road recently with an aftermarket hood and a different color grill surround! How did I know that it was our old truck? We had put MOON eyes stickers on the quarter windows and they were still there!
No more brand new cars / trucks for us!!! We will heed the warnings!!!


To: Jack Keaton :Thanks for your insight Jack! It’s an honor to have you on board as you are probably the definitive Spark expert! Most folks don’t have a clue about this wonderful little car. I have seen an engineering blog where the claim was made that the Spark is the best car that GM produces. Any insider secrets that we can use to up its performance even further?


I am not an American but visit frequently.
I am so impressed by American patriotism, particularly evident by the number of “Stars and Stripes” on flagpoles outside nearly every home.
I think that’s great.
Then I look on the roads and aside from the pick-up trucks, there are so few American cars on the roads! All Korean, Japanese, German and some French and Italian.
How can that be?
Its is not as if Americans don’t make some pretty decent cars.
What’s going on? Where has that fierce patriotism gone?
Just asking…


Gosh you got me reminiscing!
I am giving away my age but I still remember the VW Beetle which only had a sun visor for the driver, rubber floor mats and just a speedo - not even a fuel gauge! When you ran out of gas you swung a lever and you had about a gallon reserve!
Also, I think in the early 70’s the Ford Escort 1100cc had cardboard door panels!
Forget aircon, you didn’t even get a heater as standard!
How things have changed! Now even the most Mickey Mouse car has aircon and a heater.
Also think how many cars had only 850/1000 cc motors! (probably not so much in the USA) In fact, even smaller - 500 cc Fiat etc not to mention Isetta, Goggomobile, Lyodd, NSU and several more.
And now we wonder why entry level cars are so expensive…


Americans do make some pretty good cars.

(some would say Hondas, but not me)

The biggest Buick SUV made nowadays, I believe is actually made in China.

Some blame it on unions.

Some blame it on the “malaise” period.

I would put to you, most frequenters of this forum may appreciate older, more vintage American steel compared to the modern descendents.


Point taken but a Toyota “assembled” in the USA does quite fit the “Stars n Stripes” like a Ford or one of the Generals products!
I love the Dodge Charger SRT, various Mustangs, Comaro’s not to mention that Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - Wow!!. You do make some very serious kit!


I have only heard good things said about the Duster.
In South Africa it is sold as the Renault Duster which saves the Dacia stigma.
Some years back the Dacia product sold here was really nasty.
Give a dog a bad name and hang him!


I often get given a Chevy Spark as a rental.
Yeah, it’s OK, fine, does the job and really nothing much to bitch about.
I’m also quite big and I find them perfectly comfy. Not much luggage space though…
However, I also often get given a Hyundia i10 or an i20 and I definitely prefer those.
They are mighty economical too!
(you can see how stingy I am, hiring entry level cars!)


Getting back to basics was the impetus for the Chevy W/T, which stood for work truck. Contractors were complaining that the price of pick-ups had skyrocketed, and said that they didn’t need a truck that came standard with luxury carpets and upholstery, AM/FM/CD player, etc. . So Chevy made one with rubber flooring, vinyl seats and white plain jane paint.