If you’re in the classic car hobby for quite some time already, then you are very much aware or have even witnessed how these classics can drift from one outrageous bid to another during emotionally charged auctions such as the Barrett-Jacksons. Case in point: a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake that went under the hammer last 2015 for an astounding $5.11 million. The numbers just bewilders us. Perhaps other than the playful amusement on how these cars are sold, it is the nagging unacknowledged envy that most of us painfully feels. Reality check: not all of us may have a pay check that measures up to 6-digit figures capable enough to watch the cars we love roll towards our financial grasp.
Hope is not lost though. Sometimes one just has to look for alternatives that will widen our options. True, there might not be any point comparing an Italian thorough bred with an American wild horse, but knowing that you simply cannot have it all and settling for better alternatives may save you from a lifetime of pouting and grumbling. Here’s our quick round up of suggested alternatives for those shiny classics that you’ve been dreaming of, but otherwise have eluded your grasp.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra: $950,000 – $1,200,000.
More affordable alternative: 1965 Sunbeam Tiger at $65,000
There’s a way to get into a Ford V8-powered 1960s British roadster for less – much less. For just around $65,000 (or about 6 per cent of the Shelby’s estimated auction price), you can buy a Sunbeam Tiger and maybe save yourself a cool million dollars.
1967 Toyota 2000GT: $800,000 – $950,000.
More affordable alternative: 1972 Datsun 240Z at $17,000
Finding a 2000GT for less than $800,000 can be a challenge, but the Datsun 240Z provides a lot of the same charms for around $17,000, or 2 per cent of the cost. Both have long hoods and a cockpit nestled against the rear wheels, both have rev-happy straight-sixes making around 150 horsepower and both come from a time when Japan was making its first bold steps into the global car market.
1968 Ferrari 330 GTS: $2,300,000 – $2,600,000.
More affordable alternative: 1969 Fiat 124 Spider at $6,000
Like the 330 GTS, the 124 was designed to be a comfortable sports car for two people to use on sunny days. The DOHC inline-four in the 124 was designed by Aurelio Lampredi, who designed many racing engines for Ferrari. Nobody is going to confuse the two, but for 0.2 per cent the cost of the real deal – or approximately $6,000 – the 124 offers plenty of Italian open-topped fun.
1985 Ford RS200 Evolution: $475,000 – $675,000.
More affordable alternative: 1986 Toyota MR2 at $4,800
The Toyota MR2 might be a weakling as compared to the absurd 600 horsepower of the Ford RS200 Evolution, but for 1 per cent the cost of an RS200 you get angular ’80s styling, a mid-engine layout, compact dimensions and a car that loves to be thrown around gravel roads.
More affordable alternative: 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL @ $100,000.
While the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is hardly a budget classic at around $100,000–$140,000, it’s only 10 per cent of the price for its big brother, the 300 SL. The 190 sports just four cylinders compared to the 300’s six, but features an interior with many similarities and exterior styling cues linking it to the famous 300.
1969 Maserati Ghibli: $325,000 – $375,000.
More affordable alternative: 1970 Maserati Indy at $60,000.
Penned by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Maserati Ghibli is one of the prettiest coupes ever made. But the Ghibli had a less famous, more affordable stablemate, the Maserati Indy – a four-seat GT car that shared an engine and plenty of mechanical parts with the two-seat Ghibli. It may have a less fortunate roofline to accommodate rear-seat passengers, but the main attraction remains the wonderful DOHC Maserati V8 up front.