I can think of 600 good reasons to prefer the Saturn. The adolescent driver of the Neon would also be a source of concern in terms of beating up the tranny and suspension beyond just needing a clutch. Would the cat probably eat up most of the Saturn's cost advantage even factoring in the tires and the clutch? I would lean toward the Saturn if it is cheaper after factoring in the cost of repairs, because it is likely to be more reliable since it has fewer miles and may be less mechanically abused. The Saturn also is fairly easy to work on--just remember to check the oil. Neither car sounds like a good "investment" car, so I wouldn't fret much about resale. Here is a 98 GTI for $1K with 122,000 miles on the internet near me whose only real problems appear to be cosmetic sheet metal damage from being backed into and a bad parking brake. Unfortunately my wife says I already have too many toys .