The anticipated debut of the Tata Nano, the controversial $2,500 wonder car from India, has generated a lot of interest. With the average price of a new car in the United States now $30,000 and the price of gas approaching $4 per gallon, the arrival of a $2,500 vehicle in another, poor part of the world should certainly stimulate the Indian economy.
But since the Tata Nano won’t be available in the U.S., what will $2,500 get a car buyer in this country?
The New York Times included an interesting comparison in one of its several detailed pieces on Tata Motors, the Nano’s manufacturer.
In describing the cost of the Nano, The Times’ reporter said its $2,500 price is about the same cost as an optional DVD player in a 2008 Lexus LX470.
I’ve also done a little comparison shopping. Although the price of the Nano may go down (depending in the manufacturer’s reaction to a new, lower government excise tax), and it can go up with delivery charges and options, here’s what I found on a five-minute search Craig’sList, San Francisco.
It’s a list of the first 10 used cars I found for sale for less than $3,000:
1979, MG MGB, $2,000
1982, Dodge Ram Charger, $1,500
1992, Oldsmobile Achieva, $1,500
1994, Mazda 626, $2,200
1994, Acura Integra, $2,200
1995, Toyota Corolla, $2,000
1997, Saab Turbo, $2,950
1998, Chevrolet Malibu, $2,000
2000, Ford Escort, $2,850
2001, Volkswagen Jetta, $2,950
If available in the U.S., I’d take a Nano. But given the choice on the above list, I’d opt for my first three choices, in order, the 1979 MG (MGB), 1998 Chevrolet Malibu and 2001 Volkswagen Jetta.