No matter how you look at it, the collector car hobby is not a cheap one. On top of the purchase price of the car itself, you have registration, insurance, maintenance, fuel, and storage to consider. Fortunately, owning a classic is not just a hobby for the rich. There are plenty of great vintage cars and trucks available for those of us on a budget.
This batch is the latest group of hot and affordable vehicles, as determined by the Hagerty Vehicle Rating (a 0-100 measurement of a vehicle’s performance relative to the market)—meaning that while they can be had for temptingly low prices today, that may not be the case for all that much longer.
Volkswagen only sold about 17,000 Corrados in the United States and they were quite a bit pricier than the Golf GTI. Compared to the GTI, however, the Corrado was more attractive and quicker, plus it had high-tech goodies like a power rear spoiler and electronic traction control.
The supercharged G60 models have their problems, but they were good for 0-62 mph in 8.3 seconds and a 140-mph top speed according to VW, while the later 2.8-liter VR6 did 0-60 in 7.1seconds in a Car and Driver test, which was pretty impressive in the early ’90s.
For a time it seemed like dedicated VW enthusiasts were the only ones who paid attention to Corrados, but in recent months buyer interest has been on the rise, and Hagerty Price Guide values have increased slightly. They still remain temptingly affordable, and a good example will stand out in the hot hatch crowd like few other cars will.
It may look like a souped-up doorstop, but the first-generation “Mister Two” is an endlessly fun-to-drive mid-engine two-seater sports car that has always come at an affordable price, plus there was a supercharged model available from 1986 that Car and Driver called “deceptively quick.”
Because they’ve always been pretty cheap, it can be hard to find a good first-gen MR2, but if you do find a clean low-mileage car it can still be had for under five figures, at least for now. Supercharged models are naturally more expensive, but a good driver is still affordable.
MG Midgets and Austin-Healey Sprites (collectively known as “Spridgets”) have been one of the cheapest ways to get into classic car ownership for many years, and they still are. The final Mk IV models are distinguished by their 1,500cc engine borrowed from the Triumph Spitfire, raised ride height, and big rubber bumpers. While they won’t get much past highway speeds, these little roadsters embody the old adage that slow cars driven fast are more fun than fast cars driven slow. Parts are accessible and there are usually plenty of Midgets choose from on the market at any given time. Plus, the rubber bumpers can be switched out for older chrome ones, and the suspension can be lowered pretty easily to give you the appearance of the more attractive earlier cars.
Introduced in 1935, Suburban is one of the most enduring nameplates among American automobiles. The year 1967 marked a major update, which included a third door, curbside, for rear passengers. The Suburban also became available in a three-quarter ton configuration for towing and could be had with either rear- or four-wheel drive, while engines ranged from a 250-cubic-inch six to a 402-cid big-block V-8. Pristine examples are a bit pricy in today’s market, but a solid used Suburban with a few miles that you wouldn’t be afraid to get a bit dirty is still on the affordable side for now.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Chevrolet was decidedly outmaneuvered by Ford in the compact segment, with the Falcon vastly outselling Chevy’s quirky Corvair. The much more conventional Nova was GM’s response. Some sportiness was added to the mix by 1964 with the availability of a 283-cid small-block V-8 and an SS option, and a convertible was available from 1963. While not the most elegant or attention-grabbing thing on the road, the first-generation Nova offers appealing ’60s styling and V-8 muscle to satisfy for the GM fan who can’t quite afford that Camaro or Chevelle.
A lot of people now look at the styling of the Fox-body Mustang and find it charmingly bland rather than just plain boring, and the combination of large V-8 and rear-wheel drive in a fun-to-drive package has similarly led to a growth in interest as the third-generation Mustang goes from used car to collector car. Unless you’re looking for a rare model like the turbocharged SVO or ’93 SVT Cobra though, Fox-bodies of just about any model or body style remain relatively approachable.
The sixth-generation Olds 88 initially came with a 425-cid Super Rocket V-8 good for 300 hp, which eventually grew to 455 cid and 310 hp. Three-on-the-tree transmission was standard, but a floor-shift three- or four-speed was optional, as was a Turbo-Hydramatic. With Coke-bottle styling typical of the era and a big V-8, these cars walk the walk as well as talk the talk, but they’re still quite a bit less pricey than many of their ‘60s muscle car peers.
With interest in vintage trucks on the rise in general, it makes sense that the venerable Dodge D/W pickups would be particularly sought after. They’re capable, solidly built, and came in a range of attractive colors and trim packages. One of those options was “The Dude” package of 1970, which was about as awesome as it sounds with either a black or white C-stripe on the side of the body and a decal on the tailgate. It was usually combined with a loud paint color to leave the truck looking like one of Chrysler’s muscle cars. The D/W pickups were available with a wide range of engines, and a few were even specially ordered with the 426 Hemi V-8, but don’t expect to find one of those for cheap.
It may be the entry-level car, but the first-generation Boxster still cost over 40 grand when it was new and was a highly engineered, well-balanced driver’s car that offered competitive performance as well as a high degree of comfort and luxury—exactly what you would expect from Porsche. Because the Boxster is mid-engined and has its radiators outboard behind the front bumper, it’s also surprisingly practical in that it essentially has two trunks (one behind the engine and one in front of the driver). Like the larger 996-generation 911 that it shares many components with, the early Boxster has a bit of a tarnished reputation thanks to the infamous IMS bearing issue, but by now many have either had that issue addressed or have high enough mileage that the problem is unlikely to surface. Babied low-mileage examples will command prices that are a bit over our $10,000 threshold, but good drivers can still be had for under five figures.
With the Ford Motor Company reeling from the Edsel debacle of the late 1950s, the 1961 Mercury Monterey was introduced with a shorter body based on a lower-priced Ford model, but it did have an attractive Thunderbird-style roofline and subtle tailfins out back, while 1963 models had the neat “Breezeway” reverse slanted power rear window. The fifth-generation Monterey could be had with either the 292-cid Y-block V-8 or several versions of the larger FE-block engine, all the way up to 406 cid and 385 hp.