If you don’t have a lot of cash to spend but want to get behind the wheel of an interesting car, there are a lot of choices out there. There are plenty of average #3 (Good) condition cars up for grabs with values of less than $10,000. From German sports cars to American pickups, this list has something for just about every interest (and wallet).
The Hagerty Vehicle Rating is based on a 0–100 scale. A 50-point rating indicates that a vehicle is keeping pace with the market overall. Ratings above 50 indicate above-average appreciation, while vehicles below a 50-point rating are lagging behind the market. The rating is data driven and takes into account the number of vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, along with auction activity and private sales results. The HVR is not an indicator of future collectability.
Porsche was in the process of caving in to the pressure and decided that water-cooled cars were the future. The 924 and 928 were set to replace the air-cooled lineup, including the iconic 911, but then CEO Peter Schutz threw out the plan and put the 911 out front indefinitely. After 1977, the 924 featured a fully galvanized body that, when paired with the four-cylinder engine, is a durable and simple car to enjoy.
The seventh-generation F-Series was the first of Ford’s trucks to factor lighter weight and aerodynamics into its production. The slimmer trucks featured a variety of engines, including the underpowered 4.2-liter V-8 which was dropped in 1983. That year also marked the end of the F-100 nameplate, making the F-150 the starting point for the F-Series buyer.
At 225 inches long, the 1993–96 Fleetwood carries the badge of being one of the longest production cars built in the U.S. Powered by the reliable and powerful Corvette-derived LT1 V-8, the Fleetwood left the front-wheel-drive C-body platform behind to utilize the D-body rear-wheel platform.
With Bronco sales on the downturn heading into 1978, Ford matched the F-Series styling for a refresh of the brawny SUV. Virtually identical to the F-100 from the door forward, the rear half departed from its truck sibling by keeping the removable fiberglass rear top. A 400-cubic-inch V-8 was standard and complemented the four-wheel-drive SUV well.
With second-gen (1967–72) GMC C/K series pickups gaining popularity and, in turn, their prices rising out of range for some buyers, it’s worth looking at the previous or following generations. First-gen C/K series were offered in wideside and fenderside, which were GMC’s terms for the more common fleetside and stepside descriptions of the rear fenders and bed. The 327-cubic-inch V-8 rated at 220 hp became available for the C/K series in 1965, which represented the only V-8 option for pickups of this generation.
The third evolution of the intermediate-sized personal luxury car, the Pontiac Grand Prix was only sold as a two-door coupe from 1973–77. The sporty SJ option made the 3800-pound slightly sportier with a rally gauge cluster, radial-tuned suspension, special shock absorbers, and radial tires. Grand Prix prices have remained reasonable, and with peak annual production eclipsing 225,000 units, they can still be found in almost all condition grades.
Following the success of the 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, and the comfort-oriented 280ZX, the 300ZX carried on the sporting tradition for the Nissan brand. Wider and squarer than the previous Nissan Z-cars, the 300ZX had more than a bit of ’80s style with color-matched bumpers, black trim, and covered headlights. The six-cylinder engine displaced 3.0 liters and made 160 horsepower. Only two transmission options were available, a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual.
The 1991–98 generation S-class had a delayed start of 18 months to accommodate the inclusion of the 6.0-liter V-12 engine and a stronger braking system. The wait was worth it, however, with the W140 featuring an array of innovations including power-assisted closing for the doors and trunk, double-pane window glazing, and power windows which reversed direction if an obstruction was sensed. Mercedes originally planned to include air suspension but decided the technology was not ready for introduction shortly prior to the W140 release. The W140 platform was available in sedan and coupe body styles and a wide selection of models; 300SE and 300SEL sedans are the most plentiful.
A more aggressive front fascia, E40D computer-controlled four-speed automatic, and aluminum wheels were the easy callouts for a first-generation SVT Lightning. With a Windsor-based 351-cu-in V-8 under the hood, pumping out 240 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, the full-size pickup was capable in more ways than one. Ford did not want to diminish capacity, so it offered a better-handling, 15-second-quarter-mile pickup that had no reduction in its 8400-pound tow rating.
Best known for use of the Wankel rotary engine technology, the RX-7 is a sports car focused on affordability, quickness, and a fun-to-drive attitude. Early models were powered by the 100-hp 12-A rotary, as it was the only option. The best first-generation cars are late models, as the 13-B engine became available in ’84. The rotary design scares some due the lack of mechanical support and the tendency for the rotor tip (apex) seals to wear out and necessitate engine overhaul.