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1998 Volkswagen Golf K2 4dr Hatchback K2 4dr Hatchback
Bought a pristine K2 with heated seats for $4k-ish. Great daily driver. Good on gas, just enough pep, simple to work on yourself. Airbags, so relatively safe. No better $4k beater out there. 5 way heated seats a bonus in winter. Nice cold A/C.
Reliability. I've owned this car from 90k miles to 140k without a hiccup. Replaced an ignition coil for $70, that is it. Every bit as reliable as any Asian import I've owned over that span of miles, and a lot more personality. Love the versatility of a hatch.
Bring the A3 Golf back out.