Originally Posted by murraypaultec
My desire is not to spend a bunch of money and be ready to go out racing, I just want a car that feels solid on the road. Is it possible to improve the ride and handling without turning it into a race-car-wanna-be and spend less than $500 on the parts?
Age and miles will have a big impact on the car rides, and 10 yrs old and 145K miles is starting to get up there.
The two biggest bang for the buck items will be new dampers and a new set of tires. A new set of SVT dampers with the stock springs you already have could be an affordable option. Blown/worn dampers will lead to a car that feels like it can't hold the road.
Mismatched tires can lead for funky handling. Also, at that age, wheelbearings, ball joints, and tierod ends can start to go, adding to the handling issues. These items should be inspected.