13 September 2013

The Best Classic Cars For Ten Grand Or Less

Most of the focus on the collector car world comes from televised auctions where six-figure cars are the norm, so it’s easy to conclude that the average person is priced out of the collector car world. But the fact of the matter is there are still plenty of interesting collectible cars out there for under 10 grand. Granted, they tend to be from the 1970s and 1980s rather than the 1950s or 1960s, but they’re all fun to drive and relatively easy to live with. Here are five of our favorites:

1985-93 Ford Mustang: The third generation or “Fox” platform Mustang brought affordable V-8 muscle back to the masses. Although it was introduced in 1979, better breathing cylinder heads and a re-designed four-barrel carburetor in 1985 pushed horsepower above 200 for the first time since the early 1970s. The relatively light and simple design of the car made the best use of the newfound ponies. While the oldest are just under 30 years old, the collector world is starting to wake up. Still, nice 5.0-liter V-8 examples of all three body styles (coupe, hatchback and convertible) are still available in LX and GT trim for 10 grand or less.

1966-77 Ford Bronco:- The Bronco pushes the 10 grand budget the most and you’ll have to look hard to find an unrusted or unmodified original Bronco in this price range, but they do occasionally lurk on Craigslist. Competition for the likes of the International Harvester Scout, early Broncos look right in the way that early Land Rovers do and collectors have taken a big shine to them lately. Buy now.

1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa coupe: The poor Corvair. Shunned by Chevy fans and import fans alike, it really is a poor-man’s Porsche, with styling on the second generation cars as nice as anything to come out of Germany, Italy or the U.S. at that time. Corvairs pioneered the use of turbocharging, and later cars could be made to handle quite well with some relatively inexpensive modifications, in spite of what Ralph Nader said. Incidentally, the 50th anniversary of the book “Unsafe at Any Speed” is coming up the year after next. Good reason to buy a Corvair, we think. Jay Leno loves his red Corsa Coupe.

1983-91 Porsche 944 coupe: The vintage Porsche market is on fire right now, with some cars appreciating 300 percent or more over the last five years. All have one thing in common — they’re air cooled and the engine is in the back. Water-cooled front-engine Porsches have yet to see the love from collectors, and we think that the 944 is one of the best of the bunch.  A derivative of the nicely balanced but underpowered 924, the fender bulges and smoother and more powerful balance shaft-equipped twin-cam four was just was Dr. Porsche ordered to make the 944 a credible performance car. Maintenance doesn’t come cheaply (break a timing belt and you’ll wish you hadn’t been born), but the 944 is a bargain-priced precision instrument for dissecting curvy back roads.

1976 Chevrolet Corvette: Malaise-era Corvettes get a bum rap from most Corvette fans but in reality, they’re quite nice and anything but pathetically slow. The move from gross to net horsepower makes it seem as though power was down more than it really was, and mid-1970s Corvettes came in some great colors with nice options like competition-inspired gymkhana suspension and aluminum wheels. Looks weren’t really compromised by bumper standards with Chevy’s solution of hiding the bumpers under body-colored urethane panels among the best of any manufacturer.

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Clutch Cargo USA September 16, 2013 at 10:14
    RE: Corvair Corsa Please be advised (and you should've included this) that the NHTSA investigated the spurious claims made by Nader and in its 134 page report published in 1971 exonerated the Corvair. This study included a series of actual driving and handling tests designed to evaluate the handling and stability under extreme maneuvering conditions; and to push the test vehicles to their limits. The test vehicles included: The Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant, Volkswagen Beetle, Renault Dauphine, the 1963 Corvair, and a 1967 Corvair (for reference). The complete report document, including independent review can be found in the following documents PB 211-015 and PB 211-014.
  • 2
    Ken Tennis Florida December 25, 2013 at 16:45
    You have overlooked a real special automobile. The 1984-1986 ASCMcLaren's from ASC and built on a Capri Chassis. Better than the Mustang GT's in almost every category. Since they come in the drop-top version with quite a few upgrades, they are a bargain in today's world. I love mine but may sell it since I want a motorhome!
  • 3
    Jordan Reno Nv February 24, 2016 at 00:58
    The covettes arent slow, even the worst years (74ish) can be made fast. They just werent allowed to breathe, just get some better headers some carbs and you can make some decent power. Sure not as good as a 427, but good eough to scare grandma

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