3 July 2014

Four Great American Classics For Under $25,000

The big stories out the of classic car world today are the multi-million dollar rarities that will be offered for sale at the big auctions in Monterey, Calif., next month. With those cars making headlines, it's easy to forget that there isn’t a millionaires-only policy when it comes to classic cars. Here are four of our favorite all-American classics that can still be had for less than the price of a loaded new Ford Focus:

  1. 1948-49 Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe: The ’48 Cadillacs were the first all-new Caddies after the end of WWII (the 1946-47 cars were similar to the 1942 model), and they were drop-dead gorgeous with the first of the fighter plane-inspired tail fins that would grow to near mutant proportions by 1959. As elegant as any Bentley of the era, the ’49 model was the first with Cadillac’s modern overhead valve V-8.
  2. 1961-63 Ford Thunderbird: The third generation T-Bird is arguably the prettiest. The epitome of jet-age, mid-century modern style, it was dubbed “the bullet bird” for its streamlined shape. Nice coupes are particularly reasonable, and with a little searching, decent convertibles can be found for $25,000 or less.
  3. 1964-66 Ford Mustang: The first generation Mustang  which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has clearly aged beautifully, looking just as fresh today as it did in April of 1964 at its New York World’s Fair introduction. Prices seem to be firming up, but six-cylinder coupes and convertibles are still available at a reasonable price.
  4. 1927-31 Ford Model A: Like movie sequels, few automakers have had the ability to follow up one blockbuster with another of equal magnitude. The Model A was "The Godfather II" to the Model T’s "The Godfather." If you look at American period photos from the 1930s-40s, it sometimes seems like there was nothing else on the road. They can still provide reliable transportation even in the 21st century. Amazingly, this piece of automotive history is still affordable. Tudor sedans range from $15,000 to $20,000 and roadsters $20,000 to $25,000.

15 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Euphonium 98632 July 9, 2014 at 16:22
    Even though I've owned a 66 Mustang GT Coupe since 1967, I would choose the '49 Cad to have were I to start over. Only thing the Cad needs is power steering.
  • 2
    Raymond Moore Albany NY July 9, 2014 at 16:49
    How about the 1949 Oldsmobile . Overhead valve 303 cu. in.V8135 hp, they didn`t call it the Rocket 88 for nothing.1950 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 - Winner of the 1950 Mexican Road Race. The Carrera-Pan American-Mexico road race was a driving marathon through Mexico from the Texas border to Guatemala. The event was sponsored by the Mexican government in celebration of the completion of the PanAmerican Highway. All entries in the 2,178-mile race were required to be unmodified 5-passenger sedans. Of 132 entries, only 52 cars completed the race. McGriff's speed over the often treacherous terrain average 78.421 miles an hour. The generous purse he and assistant driver Ray Elliott took home to Portland ('the City of Roses') totaled more than $17,000.
  • 3
    Eric Marr United States July 9, 2014 at 17:32
    I knew a guy a few year ago who daily drove a Model A. He was also restoring a Willys Army Jeep to use as his summer car. We have become so anesthetized by modern cars and their technology and creature comforts that we forget that some of the cars from 80 years ago can still provide reliable and fun daily transportation, if we're willing to go a little slower and learn how to take care of them.
  • 4
    Scott Columbus, Ohio July 9, 2014 at 18:17
    As a current owner of a 1961 Thunderbird Hardtop I can also add that it can be very comforting to own a vehicle that is so well supported parts-wise. Mechanicals, trim, even complete interior kits in the correct metallic shades of vinyl are easily obtainable.
  • 5
    Scott F. Dool Thousand Oaks, California July 9, 2014 at 19:54
    I purchased my 1929 Model A Roadster with rumble seat in 1954 (before I had a driver's license). It has served me well for the last 60 years. It also has won many trophies during these years including peoples choice at the California Channel Islands MBZ Section Car Show where my MBZ competition included several fancy MBZ's costing over $100,000 - My Model A cost me $120. I am 77 and look forward to many more years using my first car, as it is only 85 years old.
  • 6
    Michael Adirondack Mtns in Upstate New York July 9, 2014 at 20:01
    Any of the Ford Model A vehicles from 1928 through 1931 are great fun to own and drive . Restoration is also within the reasonable reach of accomplishment for the amateur. Parts are easily accessible. The most useful tools for a successful restoration are a check book and a credit card. And it all comes into focus when you drive along country roads being awarded with thumbs up and car shows with accolades of achievement and trophies. All in all..... much better then wasting your time and money chasing a small white ball across acres of manicured grass and through carefully raked sand pits.
  • 7
    George Young New Hampshire July 9, 2014 at 22:16
    I'm with Eric on the blandness of some of today's cars. Cars of yesterday have so much character sadly lacking today.
  • 8
    John Bruce Portland, OR July 9, 2014 at 22:50
    Hate to say it, but that's a Model 62 Cadillac: Chrome splash-guards give it away.
  • 9
    Bob Berkowicz '' Berko'' Chicago , Illinois July 10, 2014 at 01:37
    The new cars are nice But the OLD CARS GOT " C L A S S " I have a 1923 T-Bucket and a 1929 Mercedes. At shows people always say " W O W " Look at that and that is a Great feeling I get from young and old .
  • 10
    John Washington DC July 10, 2014 at 02:28
    I own a 1949 Cadillac, and I'll attest that they are just wonderful cars. With that said, getting a Sedanette (aka Club Coupe) for under $25k isn't all that easy. For the Hagerty price guide on the car, see here: http://www.hagerty.com/valuationtools/HVT/VehicleSearch/Report?vc=1377014
  • 11
    Bill K Long Island NY July 10, 2014 at 06:44
    Three weeks ago, I found and purchased a '62 "Bullet Bird Coupe for $10K... well worht the investment. Great deals are out there you just have to find them...
  • 12
    Jim S. San Diego July 10, 2014 at 20:39
    I have a 56 Chevy that is so much fun mostly because it so easy to get any part needed and I have made so many friends who have also have the 55,56,57 Chevy type cars. And making it safer to drive with after market power brakes and power steering is not hard to do at all. Don't need a newer car. Power windows and power door locks will be next. Last will be AC.
  • 13
    Melva Donohoe Waldport, OR July 10, 2014 at 10:11
    My youngest son gave me a 1957 T-Bird, with the porthole hard top and 312 engine about 12 yrs. ago. She is a beautiful bird and I have lots of fun driving and putting her in car shows. Don't rule out ole ladies having fun with ole cars!
  • 14
    John Washington DC July 10, 2014 at 23:05
    John Bruce, no, it's a Series 61 in the photo. The Series 62 have splash guards both front and rear The Series 61 have them only on the rear, as does the one in the photo.
  • 15
    Tim R. Layton, UT July 10, 2014 at 12:08
    I own a 1950 Willys Overland Jeepster, all original with the 4 cyl engine and 3-speed manual trans with overdrive. I picked it up as is for under 10K. I'd like to see an article or two about the Jeepster, they were only built from 1948 to 1950.

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