Sports cars are an indulgence. Comfort, space and even reliability are all sacrificed on the altar of Handling and Speed. And if that altar is busy, then all that can be offered up to the God of Beauty and Allure instead. In most ways, sports cars are just like other cars. But it’s the ways in which they’re no like other cars that matter most.

Sure, there are a few of us who hit it big when they’re young and can afford to buy a brand-new Ferrari. After all, when your initial NHL contract includes an $4 million signing bonus, the $350,050 price of 488 Pista seems almost inconsequential. And all the guys who graduated from high school with you last year, will be envious when you drive it through downtown Saskatoon.

But a first sports car for most of us will be a used sports car. And two sports cars stand out as the greatest used sports cars of all time. One of those is better than the other, but the other one is radically more affordable.

So it’s a tie.

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Trucks aren’t about beauty. But there are beautiful trucks. Trucks aren’t about comfort. But a comfortable truck is a better truck. Trucks are about work. And a truck that can’t work isn’t much of a truck.

Evaluating the greatest used pickup of all time requires a clear-eyed evaluation of how well a truck can be used to get things done. All the other things that matter a little, only matter a little. Working matters a lot.

Finding the greatest half-ton pickup means ignoring big one-ton duallies, and even heavy duty ¾-tonners. The half-ton pickups are trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. Full-size trucks that are also used as everyday drivers and family haulers. They are the heart of the North American market.

The greatest used half-ton pickup truck of all time is beautiful, is comfortable, but most importantly, it works great. First, though, let’s understand why pickups rule North America.

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You can’t help it. You’re captivated by the sleek styling, the open top, the storied heritage, the rumbling V8 that shoves you back in the seat. Let’s face it. You’ve got Corvette Fever.

You’ve also got a budget ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 — a relatively modest outlay that nevertheless gains you access to three different generations of Chevrolet’s iconic sports car, spanning 30+ years and a wide variety of styling, engineering, and performance options.

Here we give you the lowdown on these: the C4 (Corvette, 4th generation), C5, and C6. With values that rise in lockstep with their successive iterations, each generation has its own unique set of pros and cons. Picking the right one can be a difficult choice.

But not to worry. No matter how badly you’ve got the fever, we’re here to help you find the cure.

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Many shoppers who’re thinking about buying a used car fret about vehicle reliability, and these qualms aren’t without merit. Relative to a new car, a used vehicle is more likely to need work under the hood earlier in the ownership experience. And the older the used car, the greater the likelihood of a significant repair bill. 

So it’s no surprise that reliability is often the number one consideration for shoppers in the used car market.

An excellent resource in this area is J.D. Power. Every year, this company surveys more than 80,000 verified owners of three-year-old vehicles. The survey focuses on the type and number of problems these car owners have experienced with their daily drivers within the previous 12 months. The models with the lowest number of reported problems get the highest scores. 

If you’re looking for a used vehicle that’s both affordable and reliable, Klipnik is here to help. We’ve sorted through the data to uncover seven excellent used vehicles that lead the pack in dependability, all while costing less than $10,000. 

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While there are some excellent battery-powered vehicles like the new Chevrolet Bolt trickling into our garages, the good, old fashioned, oil pumping, octane swilling, internal combustion engine is still at the heart of the automotive experience. It has been ever since, some 130 years ago, Karl Benz bolted a one banger of his own design onto the back of a three-wheeled cart.

And it’s been a glorious run. Sure, there were low points, like the anemic power plants that wheezed through the 1970s while automakers struggled to cope with strict new emissions and fuel economy regulations. Anyone remember the 1975 Ford Granada? Its 4.1 liter inline six had a California variant that puttered out just 71 horsepower. Folks, that’s less than 20 horsepower per liter.

These days, though, your average minivan throws down 250 ponies and still gets nearly 30 highway MPG. Meanwhile, muscle cars like the Camaro ZL1 routinely deliver 600+ horses, and supercars are converging on the magic 1000 figure. These numbers would have boggled the mind not long ago — and likely would have caused poor Mr. Benz, whose motor wobbled out just two-thirds of a horse, to burst a mental gasket.

It’s clear that we’re in a golden age of engines. And that’s great news. Because who doesn’t want more power? Or more efficiency? Or both? The more great mills that are produced, the greater the chances that one will find its way into a budget-minded enthusiast’s heart… and driveway.

Which got us to thinking, what are the very best engines to be had in cars that most anyone can afford? The Klipnik brain trust gathered recently to hash it out. We gave ourselves just two simple rules: 1) keep the picks from within the last 25 years and 2) make them choices that can easily be attained for less than $25,000 — preferably much less.

Here are the ten exceptional motors that made our list (in alphabetical order by automaker).

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