Starting your own classic car collection may leave you clueless at first. But with a little bit of homework, and outside-of-the-box thinking, it will not take too long before you can find yourself surrounded with a solid investment that will not leave you at your wits end. You don’t need to compete with those in the ‘big leagues’ with their climate controlled hangars and garage, nor against high end collectors in search of the perfect Mopar muscle. Fact: there are still plenty of highly desirable and affordable collector cars that are out there either because their prices remained relatively stable or are still waiting to be discovered and featured in Jay Leno’s garage. Seriously, any budding classic car enthusiast doesn’t need to pull hairs in trying to acquire the first of his future fleet of cars. There are options and the cool thing about them is none of them are lackluster. Read on and take a look on our take of the ten affordable classic collector cars that any promising collector may begin with. With proper care and maintenance, these cars may help you get on board on the classic car bandwagon and set you off in a path that may someday end in the Amelia Concurs. This article is an offshoot of what we have shared to you last week on affordable classic car alternatives that won’t break your bank.
1964 – 1973 Ford Mustang
Racing specials and big-block editions are but a few of the classic performance cars that Ford has to offer within its pony car segment. Through the years, the Ford Mustang has diversified into so many generations and models that it is not difficult to miss out on that particular high-performing model that you’ve been eyeing on for a very long time.
You may wish to focus on long-hood coupes of the early 70’s if you wish to get a great deal as this is relatively more valued than the convertibles. There are also other intriguing options, especially if you will opt to focus on an earlier 1964 ½ model. It is helpful to note that a six-cylinder version of this car goes for under $10,000, and with clean V8 drivers in place, you can never go wrong with a price range of between $10,000 to $20,000
1979-1981 Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet was quick to notice the rise of the Ford Mustang. Entering the picture of the performance car race a little bit sooner, the Camaro was Chevrolet’s definitive answer to the unforeseen hype of Ford’s pony car. However, the Camaro has proven itself more resilient throughout the Dark Years of the Muscle Car industry from mid-to-late 70s, surviving this period and transitioning to the longer and leaner look that debuted in 1974. Factory specifications may not be that impressive considering the standard emission regulations enforced during this period. However, Chevrolet allowed the Camaro and its big-sized block V8 engines to be easily modified through an aftermarket project that frees up extra horses. You can still find excellently maintained coupes for a handsome price of $15,000 or less.
1972-1978 Datsun Z
Rising above the challenges of a regulated performance car industry, is Japan’s venerable Datsun Z. This car is an excellent starter piece in any collection considering its easy handling, six-cylinder engines, and good ‘ol Japanese reliability. You may just pass on the 1970 and 1971 models since their prices have steadily risen due to their scarcity over time. But take a look at the ’72 and ’79 models and then you have one piece of equipment that just keeps on improving every year. This was an extraordinary feat for the Japanese automaker since very few cars during the 70s were able to actually level up its horsepower while skirting the annoying emission controls and regulations of that period.
Though the rest of vehicle, as some may claim, is bullet-proof, those who wish to tame this Asian powerhouse must be extra diligent against rust on the car’s frame rails, doors and floors since these parts of the car is very vulnerable to corrosion and weathering. But this is a small price to pay, and ranging from $6,500 for a complete driver to $15,000 divinely kept build, you have one classic sports car that will surely be valuable in the market later on.
1989-1991 Porsche 944
Haters will hate, but the Porsche 944 will just brush them off aside with its front engine layout and water-cooled four-cylinder power. It may not be attractive or appealing for some as compared to the Camaro’s charisma, but it’s perfectly-balanced 50/50 weight distribution, expertly-tuned suspension system, and relatively trouble-free mechanicals makes it an excellent bargain in the collector car market even if Jerry Seinfeld’s collection met with a fair degree of success during the Gooding & Company’s auction at Amelia Island.
There’s plenty of $5,000 daily drivers from the pre-’86 models that are excellent choices themselves, but the real catch however, is the S2 edition built between 1989 to 1991 that has an impressive top speed of 150mph brought by its 3.0-liter four-cylinder that kicks out a maximum of 208 horsepower. As a last note, you might remember to steer away from the 944 Turbo and its problematic forced-induction drivertrain. An S2 proves to be the better option and may well be within your reach at a price tag of $10,000 to $15,000.
BMW 3 Series
Though the E30 generation BMW 3 series may sound modern even at an earshot, one has to bear in mind that the marque has considerably aged and is now 25 years old. The series itself is diverse enough to be offered in sedan, coupe, and convertible body styles. Perhaps apart from the highly expensive M3 series, the most wanted models to hunt for are the 325is with its 168 horsepower brought by a 2.5-liter straight-six engine, and the lighter 318is and its rev-happy 1.8-liter four-cylinder that maxes out a good 134 horses. Valued at less than $10,000, these cars may easily be gone since they’re prized for their above-average handling compared to their more modestly-motored siblings.
1967-1979 Chevrolet C10 Pickup
It doesn’t even require basic rocket science to determine which is the better choice between a muscle car and pickup. For some time, pickups were not even considered to appear in anyone’s bucket list of classic collectibles and for those who wanted to keep it a secret as if owning one is a stigmatizing disease that should be avoided. Ok, I know it might sound extreme but with hot rodders giving more and more attention to this ignored minority of motoring world, we have seen a steady rise of interest among these vehicles beginning with those from the 1950s. A good example of this is the Chevrolet C10 and its user-friendly mechanical details and classic straight-edge styling. Due to the nature of how these vehicles are used, rust and corrosion are factors that should be given consideration as these rough riders have seen better days facing off with some of the worst elements that nature can throw at them. Clean examples featuring eight six-cylinder or small V8 power can be had for under $10k (1973 and up) or $10k to $15k (1967-1972). Although so many of them were built that six-figure auction results seem unlikely, pickups like the C10 are slowly becoming the refuge of buyers priced out of the muscle car market.
1962-1980 MG MGB
The MG MGB was quite ubiquitous during its time, with more than half a million builds that roamed the streets for almost two decades from 1962 to 1980, it was an impressive feat for any daily driver. Not all models may look or be valued the same by collectors though, with chrome-bumpered cars built from 1963 to 1974 typically prized by enthusiasts. The 1975 model, with its large rubber bumpers may not be that appealing among MGB fans, but it can come as great deal for conscious buyers seeking to land a bargain. Common to all of these roadsters is a standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine producing 95 horsepower, and an uncanny ability to drive on twisty two-lane roads due to its lightweight design. Valued at less than $10,000, this grandfather to the Mazda Miata certainly comes with character and unique appeal that any collector cannot dismiss.
1988-1989 Toyota MR2 Supercharged
Perhaps other than the pricier Toyota 2000 GT that debuted in 1967, perhaps the MR2 comes next when we think about the most interesting cars that rolled out from its production line. This is one car that is truly reliable and engaging to drive being a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive roadster. The 1984 and 1989 first generation Toyota MR2 models are still drop-dead gorgeous and can still make bystanders look twice with its semi-exotic looks. But if the you want the cream of the crop, then the Supercharged 1988 model is your car of choice. With 150 horses provided by its blown four-cylinder mill coupled with a five-speed, driver friendly manual gearbox, the MR2 is daily driver with very minimal maintenance issues. You may wish to set aside $5,000 to $10,000 if you wish the MR2 parked nicely inside your garage.
1966-67 Dodge Charger
Perhaps not everyone is aware that before the famous Dodge Charger, “General Lee” sprung into action (or rather flew, I think) in the Dukes of Hazzard during the 70s, there is a slightly smaller but still just as stylish coupe that was sold wearing the same name. Perhaps the most affordable and elegantly stylish among the classic Dodge Charger line, is the 1966-67 Dodge Charger with its 383 cui engine that dishes out a more than average 335 horsepower.
True, it may not be as flashy or daring as the General Lee – I still pity those countless Chargers that were sent to junkyard hell for the sake of tube entertainment – these classy Chargers maybe well within your reach starting at $20,000.
1970-1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo / 1969-1973 Ford LTD
Being last on this list doesn’t make this car less desirable than the others – though it may prove to be interesting. As the 70s closed in with its stringent EPA regulations purposely intended to put a lid on performance cars, Ford and GM opted to experiment with stuffing big block engines to their respective full-size coupes. What came as a result was a pair of intriguing (read: weird) automobile options that blurs the line between a land vehicle and yacht-sized amphibian. Ok, I know I might sound a little bit cruel and extreme but truth be told, the Ford LTD and Chevrolet Monte Carlo coupes may easily pass for a low driving amphibian vehicle if ever there is such a thing. Nevertheless, the undeniable driving comfort is a huge attraction that is hard to resist. Mash it up with an 8-cylinder that makes all the right sounds once you push the go-pedal all the way to the floor, then you have one inexpensive buy that is very easy to maintain. Many have ignored these sleepers but at less than $15,000 you have one collectible that will never hurt or fail you.