2010 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2-door Coupe Side Exterior ViewEnlarge Photo
We've already told you how we feel about strippers--those base cars that come with only the essential equipment, and still outperform today's super-sized expectations.
What you need now is a shorthand shopping list of five cars that look, feel and drive just as good without any options, as those cars overstuffed with digital paraphernalia and exotic animal hides and Special Edition Limited stripes and decals.
If your sensibilities have been retuned in this Great Recession, you'll know right off the bat why these five frugally-priced machines are some of our favorite strippers--and why there's no good reason to make it rain all over your local dealer's desk:
2010 MINI Cooper: If you're a cheapskate seeking undiluted driving joy, there's just nothing to compare with the MINI Cooper. Even in base form--and you will have a very difficult time finding a base car on a showroom floor, trust us--the Cooper will pull grins out of you with magic-hat ease. And if you ever decide to let it move on, the resale value will ensure you got your money's worth, even without a Union Jack on the roof.
2010 Ford Flex 4-door SEL FWD Angular Front Exterior ViewEnlarge Photo
2010 Ford Flex: As it's gained a cult following, the hip-to-be-square Ford Flex has seen some price creep. But with a base sticker of $28,950, you get reasonable power, top-drawer safety and interior materials, and a vast interior for six or seven passengers that will have you forsaking minivans for good.