Cheap-ish Collectible Cars For The Recession

Just because there’s a recession on doesn’t mean you can’t have a hobby. Well, ok. It might mean that, but let’s assume for a second that it doesn’t. The NYT asked some collectible car experts to recommend some affordable old cars that, while they may not be considered “an investment,” are still lots of fun.

Here are a few of the recommendations that can be had for less than $25,000, which admittedly isn’t “cheap,” for a hobby but it is a New York Times article after all:

  • Model T: “Plan on spending $9,000 to $12,000 for a well-sorted car that is roadworthy,” Mr. Casey said. “Because there are so many cars available, your toughest decision may be on the body style.”

  • 1958-60 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1959 Chevrolet Impala hardtop
  • 1961-63 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado
  • 1967-70 Cadillac Eldorado.
  • 1969 Camaro
  • 1970 Chevelle
  • first- and second-generation Ford Mustangs
  • 1948-54 Plymouth sedans

The experts recommended not worrying about fussy collector details and avoiding convertibles and high-performance versions that can cost more. Oh yeah, and it’s better to buy a car that’s in good condition — and spend less fixing it up.

Any other suggestions the Times missed?

Sparkling Chrome, Beer Budget [NYT]
(Photo:morsteen)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. intellivised says:

    American Motors vehicles like a Javelin. They are a steal but won’t be for too much longer once supplies of other vehicles run out or get into the absolute stratosphere as they become rarer and rarer/

  2. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    I think the biggest is they only bothered with American Muscle.

    There are numerous Import cult classics that retain their value just as well and are easy to afford, work on and insure. BMW 3 series, Mazda Miata, VW golf/gti, even some older Porsches.

    • Canino says:

      @FooSchnickens: Huh?

      The point is that these are older (no electronics!) cars that are easy to work on and that you can easily get parts for. You have to have an expensive automotive diagnostics computer to properly service a Miata, etc.

      There are plenty of import classics, but you didn’t list any of them. MG, Mini, older Volvos, many others. Always wanted a Sunbeam Tiger myself.

      • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

        @Canino: You also either need a degree in mechanical engineering or a VERY level head to even THINK about working on an MG or any other Leyland-era car. Not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Not to say that people don’t enjoy the tinkering that typically accompany those cars, however. Every marque has its quirks, thought in this case those quirks are the owners!

        And what’s expensive about a $30 OBDII scanner? 99% of the time it will tell you exactly what’s wrong, and can be used on any other OBDII vehicle you may own. Seems like something any shadetree would have in his toolbox, and most do. Most newer cars aren’t any harder to work on than older cars, there are simply different processes that have to be followed (except for newer Mini Coopers, those things are SUCH a PITA).

        You can bitch and moan about “simpler times” and “no electronics” all you want to, but the fact of the matter is that an overwhelming majority of the vehicles on the road today are EFI and the tools and knowledge needed to work on them aren’t made of unobtanium any more. Code scanners aren’t $600, the internet can tell you how to diagnose/fix nearly any symptom and now that all that “newfangled technology” isn’t so newfangled any more it’s approachable by anyone who doesn’t wear their ass on their head.

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @FooSchnickens: For that matter, a lot of auto parts stores will loan you a scanner, on the theory that once you’ve diagnosed the problem they can sell you parts.

          A lot of people are scared of fuel injection, but it’s really not that hard to troubleshoot if you follow the steps in logical order. For most cars replacement parts are not even that expensive. Besides, have you seen what it costs to get a carburetor rebuilt these days?

          Incidentally, one of the fun little “secrets” about fuel-injected European cars of the ’70s and ’80s is there were really only two or three basic fuel injection systems, mostly made by Bosch, that were used with only minor variations by all the different manufacturers. Once you learn one of them you can troubleshoot all the other cars that used the same system. For example, VW, Volvo, BMW, and Porsche all made heavy use of two Bosch systems, K-Jetronic and L-Jetronic.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @FooSchnickens: Depending on what “cult” you’re in the ’83-’87 Corolla GT-S also counts (or maybe the Datsun 260Z).

  3. BridgetSacratomato says:

    My dad had a few Triumphs when I was a child (a Spitfire and a TR4, I believe). They weren’t expensive then, and I’m sure they still aren’t that expensive nowadays, but they were a heck of a lot of fun to work on and drive…

  4. lpranal says:

    I can only assume this is due to a coding error, or just plain oversight. I’ll let it slide this time, but I seriously don’t understand how one can leave my college ride – ’91 taurus- off the list.

    bellisimo.

    • razremytuxbuddy says:

      @lpranal: LOL, you made me laugh out loud.

      When I was a young professional just starting my career, these were our company cars. I got a speeding ticket in one while trying to catch a flight. The speedometer didn’t go higher than 85, so I didn’t know how fast I was going, but I had it floored. When I was stopped, the patrol officer said, “I clocked you at 87, and I think that’s the LEAST you were doing.”

      (I don’t do that anymore, BTW. Mostly, I just try not to fly anywhere now, which has made my life better in many ways. I avoid airport hassles that way, and my auto insurance premiums are much cheaper.)

    • Powerlurker says:

      @lpranal:

      Well, if it’s an SHO…

  5. NightSteel says:

    So where can I get an old Mustang on the cheap? That’s like my dream car.

    • privateer says:

      @NightSteel: Craigslist. That’s where I got my 66 Mustang, for a few thousand dollars, from a 16-year-old who had rebuilt the car as a project with his dad and suddenly needed a big truck. Usual Craigslist caveats apply, of course. Look for a smaller straight-six engine, which will get better gas mileage. Many already have had their motors and transmissions rebuilt once, and now people are looking to unload them because of tough times. I also got a 73 Charger this way a few months ago, a slant six with only 21K miles on it that gets decent gas mileage.

    • LastVigilante says:

      @NightSteel: [countryclassiccars.com] is my source… for drooling over old cars. I’ve unfortunately never bought from them but they always have tons of cool old cars and trucks at seemingly pretty good prices. Being as there a simple hop skip and a jump away from me in IL doesn’t hurt either.

    • 67alecto says:

      @NightSteel: Check your local listings – cars.com, craigslist, etc.

      Unless you are good at spotting bondo, painted over rust, and frame irregularities, I’d recommend taking it to a mechanic for an inspection. The early mustangs were notorious about not giving water “a place to go”, so that unibody might crack in two the first time you jack it up.

    • econobiker says:

      @NightSteel: Use one of the craigslist mash ups to target areas not prone to rust through and winters…

    • Sudonum says:

      @NightSteel:
      “www.hemmings.com” They have cars that run the gamut.

  6. David Brodbeck says:

    Air-cooled VWs are all highly collectible. Restored ones sometimes go for silly money but a drivable Beetle or Karmann Ghia is not all that expensive. I don’t particularly recommend a Bus unless you want a vehicle you can sleep in…the prices have gotten pretty steep, particularly for the early split-windshield ones, and they’re really pretty awful to drive.

    Here are some that aren’t considered classics now, but I think they’ll be regarded as such in the future:

    - 1st-generation VW GTI. The original “hot hatchback.” Still loads of fun to drive, too.

    - VW Scirocco. Basically the same thing as the GTI, but with styling like a mini DeLorean (and done by the same design studio.) One of the best looking cars of the 1980s, IMHO.

    - Datsun 240Z. This will always be the classic sports car profile for me — long, low nose, raked-back windshield, fastback rear end. Rust-free ones are getting pretty scarce.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @David Brodbeck: Oh yeah, and the Dodge Omni GLH. Dodge’s Carroll Shelby-tuned answer to the GTI. Probably hard to find a good one now — an awful lot of them got abused, or turned into low-buck rally cars and crashed; they were kind of a disposable performance car, at the time.

      • Hobz says:

        @David Brodbeck: The Datsun cars were a blast, I had a 75′ 280z which was the first year for fuel injection and it was a HOOT to drive. Look out 5 0 Mustangs!!!

        Datsun 240z, 260z, 280z, anyhting prior to to 79′

        Also the Datsun 510 was a great car to drive.

    • rpm773 says:

      @David Brodbeck: Oh yeah. The 240Z was my first favorite car…from the time I was 4yo until the look of them changed around ’83. I always loved that look.

    • CFinWV says:

      @David Brodbeck: Classic Mini Coopers are also fun to work on… though they can be hard to find.

  7. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    oh, man, now I want a Model T!

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I’ve known people who owned them. They seem like a lot of fun. Extremely simple, and designed so that anyone could repair them in the field, maybe with the help of the local blacksmith. There were no service stations in rural America in 1908.

    • econobiker says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!):

      Don’t bother with the child seat though as the rest of the lack of safety items will kill an entire carload of people first…

      Gas tank under the front seat…

      Non collapsible stearing column…

      Seat belts??? About 1/2 a century in the future…

      Not alot of muddy roads to fall out onto in anymore…

      Otherwise have fun!!!

      (There were child seats back then but they were metal and wood like a high chair without the legs…)

  8. nataku8_e30 says:

    BMW 2002, E30, E24, hell even a nice condition E31 or E30 M3, M635, are all under 25k. You can buy a LOT of collector car for under 25k, and as big of a fan as I am of current Ford / GM products, I really just don’t care much for vintage American.

    • rpm773 says:

      @nataku83: The E28 M5. One day I will possess one. It may have 250K miles on it, but I’ll still have one.

      • nataku8_e30 says:

        @rpm773: That’s a good one that slipped my mind. I love the look of the e24s so much that I was blinded. There was actually an ’87 (I think) M6 on autotrader around here for about 13k w/ ~120k on it, but still too rich for my blood.

        • rpm773 says:

          @nataku83: Yeah, those old E24 M6s are a close 2nd to the E28 M5s for me. Both exhibited that classic BMW look when i think it was at its height.

          There’s a guy around here who runs a Euro-spec M5 that I’ve seen from time to time. This might be heresy among the enthusiasts, but I actually like the look of the big-bumpered American specimens better.

  9. Snarkysnake says:

    Careful on those muscle cars there, ‘ol buddy. If the car was owned by a boy racer in its early life , and was abused/neglected , you would do much better to get a well cared for example that has been babied. No , it won’t be cheap. But if you intend to drive it instead of work on it , a good investment. Repairs on a basket case could easily exceed the cars worth.

    For you folks that noticed that the list only has U.S. cars, here’s my two cents :

    Bmw 2002- 1972-1976 – The two double o two was a small rocket . With a high revving 2 litre 4 cylinder engine and better handling than any american car of that era,this thing is a steal.

    Mercedes 300CD – 1977-1980 – Rare 2 door Mercedes looks good and runs forever. Lots of old folks owned them new ,so getting one in good condition should be easy. Watch out for rust, though. (A widespread problem with german cars those years)

    VW Beetle convertible Mid 1970’s – Fun in the sun for less than $10,000? Yep. Beetles are a breeze to fix and parts are still being made. Noisy and slow , but lots of fun.

    Honda 600 Coupe – 1970- 1972. First Honda car to hit these shores and very interesting to boot. 600 cc motorcycle engine made the thing go . Watch out for rusty examples – they are best used as parts cars.Make no mistake- they are tiny.

    Subaru BRAT. 1977-1982 . Really hard to find one of these in prime condition because Subies run so trouble free and rack up incredible mileages before being junked. The BRAT was an early crossover vehicle that never really caught on. But, find a good one and everyone will notice you at car shows.

    Renault LeCar. 1976- 1981 – French quirkyness and cute styling in one cheap package. These are usually found on somebody’s “worst” list , but the numbers tell a different story. On the rare occaision that a clean,well kept one is for sale (especially with the large fabric sunroof) ,they don’t last long.No better (and certainly no worse) than small U.S. cars of those days, you won’t see yourself at every car show.

    • PrincessSparkle says:

      @Snarkysnake: I couldn’t agree with your list more. My husband & I snagged a 77 VW Beetle Convertible – it’s even a limited “champagne” edition – for a steal last summer. One of our neighbors had bought it off the showroom floor in 77 and it only had (i still cant’ believe this) 30k on it. It had been sitting in her garage for years. My husband is a VW fanatic and when she moved she wanted it to go to a good home, so we totally lucked out. I have to say it’s been a great hobby investment and normally I would have wanted an american classic if i’d had a choice, but this was an opportunity i couldn’t pass up. I’d say we’ve put maybe $200 into getting it back up to speed and we take it for drives with the top down every weekend.

    • minsky says:

      @Snarkysnake:

      I had a LeCar and it was a lot of fun! Of course, I have a thing for quirky cars, but I liked it and it was a decent car with an exceptional ride, which French cars are known for.

      • Snarkysnake says:

        @minsky:

        “I have a thing for quirky cars”

        Then you , my friend , need to check out an Austin America. (1968- 1972) Basically an Austin 1300 (with US spec left hand steering) The America had tons of quirky features.Like a 5 speed automatic gearbox (rare in those days) with a “wet” clutch and an unusual steering wheel set at an angle to the front wheels. While your friends are trying to restore an original Mini, you can smugly tool around in your Austin America, secure in the knowledge that some critical part is about to fall off in the street…

        • minsky says:

          @Snarkysnake:
          My friend had an Austin America, liquid suspension and all. It was a rust bucket, but funky and way ahead of its time. I think the only thing that fell off was the lawn mower muffler he hammered into the exhaust pipe as a temporary fix!

    • 67alecto says:

      @Snarkysnake: Abuse of a car is not restricted to american muscle. Neutral slams, power braking, and jumping train tracks work on imports, too.

      It’s true of any car – if you can’t go over it yourself with a high degree of confidence, take it to a mechanic before you buy it.

      If you’re buying an older american sports car, you can easily determine parts availability by seeing if there’s a model-specific catalog for it from places like Paddock, Year One, etc. Want parts for your Chrysler A, B, or E-body? No problem. C-body? Good luck.

      Any Mustang outside of 1974-1978? You’ve got parts. Want a pocket racer 1976 Mustang II? Ouch.

  10. Pixel says:

    That list was clearly not put together by anyone with a real “beer budget”.

    The ’69 Camaro and the 1st & 2nd Mustangs are the highest demand ones eras of both of those cars.

    My personal suggestions:

    60-65 Ford Falcon/Mercury Comet. You can get a 2 or 4 door nice driver for under $5,000. A nice 63-65 convertible will run you under $15,000. They share a chassis with the first generation Mustangs so upgrading suspension or drivetrains is pretty easy. These came in sedans, wagons, ranchero pickups, convertibles and vans.

    1952-1964 Fords except Mustang/Thunderbird. These simply never had the popularity of their Chevy competitors and can be gotten for noticeably less than an equivalent Chevrolet.

    1956 Chevrolet. If you have to have a “tri-5″ Chevy, this model has always been less popular than the 55 or 57 and subsequently been cheaper. Shares enough with the other two to make parts sourcing easy.

    1960-1964 Cadillac. If you want a land-yacht Cadillac for (not quite) dinghy money, these are for you. The ’59 model gets all the press, but a ’60 has about 90% of the excess for as much as half the cost. And the price slips further as they get newer.

  11. umbriago says:

    I love my ’66 AMC Rambler. It’s boxy and it’s ugly, but it attracts people who remember them (above 50 or so) and people who have to stop and ask “what the heck is that?” (everybody under 50).

  12. temporaryerror says:

    My father has a 72 Lincoln Mark IV. Almost showroom condition, California yellow with white leather interior. Rides nice and smooth but only gets around 8 mile/gallon. He never drives it unfortunately and is looking to sell it. Neat car though.
    One thing to look for is poorly done body work that consists of bondo and a maaco paint job. Seen a few of those.

  13. jumpo64 says:

    Apparently the “experts” don’t understand the reasoning behind fixing up a classic car as opposed to buying it in perfect condition. It would seem the experts don’t read Jalopnik.

    • Pixel says:

      @jumpo64: Even if you’re going to fix it up, it still makes sense to buy the best of whatever you are looking for, even if that means the best project car.

      I speak from experience having spent only $425 on my ’62 Comet, but then spent *far* more fixing past mistakes than I would have to buy a less hacked up project car.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @Pixel: Yup. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for a show car and just want something to drive around in, buying a $400 beater, fixing it up mechanically, and leaving the body in a state of “original sin” can also be a lot of fun. There’s a certain freedom in having a car where you can shrug off stone chips and parking lot dings.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @jumpo64: It really depends on what you want the car for. If it’s for your own enjoyment, fix it up. If it’s as an “investment,” it’s a usually bad idea to buy a fixer-upper unless you really know what you’re doing and plan on doing the work yourself. Most people who do restorations never get back out of the car what they put into it, mostly because of the huge labor costs involved in body work.

      • nataku8_e30 says:

        @David Brodbeck: If you’re not going to work on the car yourself, I don’t think it makes sense to buy a vintage vehicle, unless you’re fairly loaded. Sure, they’re fun, but they generally require you to actually have some idea of what’s going on under the hood. Especially with older Euro cars, your garden variety mechanic may not be able to make normal repairs, either (at least not without butchering the car).

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @nataku83: I definitely agree. A vintage car will bleed you dry if you have to go to a mechanic for every little thing.

          • nataku8_e30 says:

            @David Brodbeck: You also have to know how to drive it properly. For example, a vintage Jag with a carbon block throwout bearing and non-constant mesh transmission with poor quality synchros means that if you ride the clutch pedal rather than putting it in neutral, you will destroy your throwout bearing, and if you don’t double clutch and time your shifts properly, you will destroy your gearbox.

        • jumpo64 says:

          @nataku83: I guess in a way I can’t be objective here. I’m a car guy, a car fanatic is probably more accurate. I can’t imagine buying a car and not working on it, just like I can’t imagine paying someone to change my oil. I often forget there are those who don’t like to do any of that stuff, yet still enjoy a classic car they grew up with, remember, or whatever. So I guess in a way this all does make sense. However, I do encourage knowing how your classic car works, bumper to bumper. Mainly because classic cars do now always have the reliability of the Hondas/Toyotas, hell even the Chevys of today. If you drive a classic car, you’re inevitably going to break it somewhere along the line, so knowing what’s wrong and how to fix it is going to be a huge $$ saver. As someone has already mentioned, paying someone to work on a classic, or finding parts for a classic, can be a headache and cost top dollar.

  14. uncle moe says:

    this list seems to highlight the cars that tend to be at the top of most lists for true american classics, minus the 55-57 chevy, 59 caddie and 40 ford. they also fetch far more than a lot of lesser known/less desireable cars of their eras…one could get something just as fun as any one of these for $5-10k less with a quick automotive history lesson…

    the ’69 camaro is the camaro, pick any other year and you’ll probably save some money. or a firebird.

    the chevelle is a sweet choice, but go with a pontiac tempest or a chevy nova and you’ve basically got the same damn car.

    same goes for just about everything else on the list, there are cheaper alternatives that may not command the same attention as a ’66 mustang gt500, but they’re still fun as hell to drive and won’t cause a panic if some stickyfingered kid gets too close to breathing on the paint.

    station wagons and 4-doors are a great way to step into the classic car world without breaking the bank as well

  15. I Love New Jersey says:

    The M35. Not just a collector’s item, but practical as it can run on all sorts of fuels so is the perfect vehicle for the upcoming apocalypse:

  16. extremenachos says:

    For my money I’d say the 1970-71 Chevy Nova. Someone else commented that it was very similar to the Chevelle, just smaller engine and smaller size overall. Here in the Midwest you can get one in great condition for around 5-7000 grand, assuming you don’t want a SS or any crate motors dropped in.

    Stay away from the mid-70s models, those models had terrible engines, and they re-did the body and it looked terrible. that and be sure to stay away from the 4-door model and that terrible Chevy-Toyota Nova that came out for one year in the 80s.

    • Uncle Billy Time! says:

      @extremenachos:

      “…similar to the Chevelle”

      Woops, thought you wrote “Chevette,” which is the car I was going to add to this list – the early, early Chevette, which, like the early, early Ford Fiesta (another gem for, like, under a grand), is both hideous and profoundly desirable, with a startlingly cool design sense.

  17. militarydave says:

    call me old school (or retro) but i suggest a Delorean. a Dodge Daytona, Gran Torino, Trans AM, Mercury Cougar Eliminator, etc.

    either way, just remember it is WAY cheaper to keep an “older” car, than let’s say a Hybrid.

    -dave

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @militarydave: I’m not completely sure that’s true for vintage cars, unless you fix it yourself. Older cars needed a lot more maintenance even when they were new than cars do now, and with shop labor rates running $70 or more per hour that adds up fast.

    • Tankueray says:

      @militarydave: Sir, I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      I’ve owned three and driven four of those five. I still have my Trans Am GTA and would love to pair it with a Delorean. There’s a place in Houston that’s selling all the new-old stock parts and refurbishing them. I believe they are more than $25,000 though.

      And just in case you were thinking more old school than that…I’ve had all generations of F-bodys and a ’76 Plymouth Duster Bicentennial edition.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @militarydave: @David Brodbeck: It’s not true at all for vintage cars. I owned a DeLorean and drove it daily for several years. Even doing my own work, it was infinitely more expensive to run and maintain than the newer vehicles I’ve owned (including a Hummer and a Hybrid – my Honda Insight cost me less than $200 in maintenance during 2 years of ownership, including oil changes).

      • militarydave says:

        @jimconsumer: True. While i did research this years ago, there is an Official Delorean Motor Company (DMC) in Humble, TX. i have a “STAFF” shirt from them. i’m more vintage, and would love to get my hands on a Duster, Dart, or even a rusted up barracuda, satellite or Superbird.

        i’d take those over any hybrid, any day. of course i’d pedal a bike to work due to rising gas, but that is besides the point.

        and Tankueray… you are SO LUCKY MAN! I’ve only driven 1 out of those 5.

        -dave

  18. valthun says:

    MGs are good collectors too, fairly cheap, pretty easy to work on. Lots of parts available. lots of cars available.

    • Tankueray says:

      @valthun: I had two Midgets with lots of gremlins. Before the internet, two carbs and three windshield wipers were not easy to find. And don’t get me started about the wiring harness.

  19. Anonymous says:

    My Dad restores classic cars. We’ve had a few over the years, the youngest was a ’69 Mustang (my favorite of the Mustang body styles).

    You can’t expect them to drive like cars today. Expect no air conditioning, no power steering, and disc brakes. Nothing wrong with these things, but they take some getting used to. Driving the Mustang through a parking garage in the summer is a workout.

    Also be aware of the car’s history. Simple location can be the difference between a sound body and one that’s falling apart. A car exposed to road salts every winter will have much more rust than one from a warmer climate. In the South, its easy to find an old Mustang in pretty good condition, we rarely get snow at all. They don’t last that long in areas that see more snow.

    I love the old ones, but some people buy without realizing what they’re in for. For example, I’d never pick one for a teenager just learning to drive.

  20. Megan Squier says:

    What about collecting vintage Japanese motorcycles if you’re into vehicle collecting? Those are much cheaper (and take up less space) than cars do. My husband and I just picked up a 1974 Honda CL125 Scrambler (a very early dirt bike attempt) in pretty good shape for $800. My husband needs to do a little mechanical work on it but its not going to cost us a fortune. It sure is a ton of fun to ride around on!

    We’d like to collect cars but our limited budget and the fact that we only have a 1 car garage that’s already home to a 2008 Suzuki Boulevard that my husband uses as his PRIMARY vehicle, really limits what we can do.

    Its also easier to sell classic Jap bikes than it is to sell classic cars in this economy. There’s a lot more people with $1500 to spend on a toy than there are people with $10,000+ to spend.

    • econobiker says:

      @Megan Squier: I am on you with that (given my screen name). Problem with the vintage Japanese cycles is often the lack of parts support 30 years later. But as you know you can do it in less space. Years ago my father and I had 5 mc’s in a one car size back yard shed, about 12 in the basement via well door, and only 44″ on both sides of the house between house and fences next door. These definitely fit the bill for lack of storage space.

      For most who have the space and lack the MC endorsement on their driver license, an older Mustang or such is more fun plus “family” oriented.

    • Snarkysnake says:

      @Megan Squier:

      Bingo! You nailed it.

      Proud Honda C70 Passport owner here. EVERYBODY wants to know what it is and where they can get one. Its a Honda , so it was built to last. They go begging on Craiglist because there are so damn many out there , and there is a very active aftermarket for parts. Old Honda CB model bikes can be had in super condition , low miles for less than $2K. Or for what you would pay for a new Vespa scooter ,you can buy a half dozen project Yamaha’s and Hondas and work to your hearts content.

      ( Note – stay away from Ebay for old ,desirable bikes.There are way too many scammers ,shill bidders and outright fraudulent clowns lurking there)

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @Megan Squier: Yup, that’s a great way to go to, although there certainly is a different appeal. I have an ’81 CM200t and an ’84 VF700s, both great machines, a lot of fun, and about a grand each. I didn’t really buy them as collector vehicles, though, just something easy to work on, efficient and fun to ride and I don’t like the design of modern bikes as much. The CBs and CMs are great, simple bikes for just having some fun.

    • fatcop says:

      @Megan Squier: I miss my 73 Honda 550/4. First bike I had at the age of 16. I had no problem getting parts for it when I owned it in the early/mid 90’s.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have a 1967 Checker Marathon I’m absolutely in love with. Think old school New York City taxi cab. There were Millions of them made and a good number still around. Check Ebay or Craigslist. a Really Nice one can be had for aroudn 20k, drivable for much less.

  22. Tom_Servo says:

    I’ve seen several old Alfa-Romeos, Jaguars and even Ferraris for rock bottom prices in the Chicagoland area.

    I even saw a $3,000.00 Maserati Bi-Turbo. If it wasn’t so damned ugly, I might have bought it.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Tom_Servo: Didn’t Jeremy Clarkson once buy one of those just so he could smash it on television?

      • Tom_Servo says:

        @David Brodbeck: I think so. Wasn’t that the episode when he drove that million dollar F1 Maserati that he nearly crashed?

        He was right, it’s a boxy abomination of a Maserati.

  23. EllaMcWho says:

    1967 Cougar with the swingaway steering wheel for the win! $12 to 18K for a straight-bodied beauty that’s eminently fixable. Even those dang sequencing taillights. Parts very easy to find at swaps or online…

  24. sam1am says:

    $25000 seems like a lot for most of these. You can usually find classic muscle cars in reasonably good shape for under $10000 around here. I’ve even seen some really nice looking classic Chevelle’s for around $5000.

    $25000 maybe for a high end well restored but not super decked out classic car.

    • econobiker says:

      @sam1am: Alot of the big muscle cars and their smaller engined breatheren have gone to the stratsophere due to collectors and clone building.

      Stick with the weirder stuff like wagons and the price comes down though parts can be more difficult. I think that some of the early Fox based Mustangs could be good deals now along with the pre-75 Camaros. Down side on the late 70/early 80s ‘stangs is the emissions…

  25. Mark Swieca says:

    I’d love a ’66 Toronado (one of the cars on my Very Short List), but I have to stick with my future-classic, one-model-year-only Saturn Astra for now…

  26. parrotuya says:

    This is ridiculous! These cars are too old for anyone other than car hobbyists to drive. They will need constant upkeep and repair. Parts may be hard to find as well. I sure miss my old ’72 Dodge Challenger, though…

    DOWn, baby, DOWn!

  27. Dansc29625 says:

    Model T the original smart car.

  28. FrankReality says:

    Oddly enough I rode in a 1969 Mustang convertible today.

    For sheer fun on a budget, an early Mazda Miata, while probably not a collectible, is a good nominee.

    If you want something a bit unusual as modest cost, shoot for a 1959 – 1953 Chevy or GMC pickup.

    Back in the late 60’s, I had a 1951 Dodge Coronet – that was an amazing car, I wish I still had it.

    The problem with owning something that is really a true “collectible” is that you really don’t want to drive it very often and you have other costs like storage and insurance.

    And if you’re really on a tight budget, it means any “collectible” you would buy, you’d probably want to drive on a regular basis. You really can’t afford a “trailer queen” if you are on a tight budget.

    So, I’d say this – get something you like, don’t worry about getting something in anywhere near great shape, and have some fun driving it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the most affordable car, and a head turner, is “unsafe at any speed”. Yep a Chevy Corvair. Made between 59 and 69. Rear engine/front trunk, air cooled engine.

    You can buy these from Corvair enthusiasts from anywhere between $4000 and $10000.

    There are 2 national dealers for old stock and newly made parts. Easy to work on yourself and Corvair clubs around the country.

    When I bought mine I had never heard or seen of one before. I paid $2500 after being shown the catalog of parts, the list of local Corvair clubs in the states and the repair manual.

    Had it for 4 years and sold it back to another club member.

    Good times.

  30. fatcop says:

    Nice to see my first car was on the list. 54 Plymouth Belvedere. I bought it at the age of 16 in 1993.