Popular perception has long been that collector cars are an expensive luxury and only for…
13 cool classics at Monterey for $35K or less
Hot cars, odd cars, classic cars, rare cars, powerful cars, big cars, small cars, luxury cars, and—most definitely—expensive cars. That just about sums up Monterey Car Week. Except you can find some not-so-expensive cars there, too (and even some pickups) if you have patience, desire, and just the right budget.
Here are 13 cool classics at Monterey with pre-auction estimates of $35K or less.
Russo and Steele, Lot TH239
This little Japanese ride had an equally small price tag when new—about $1415, which is $8650 today. And its 32-horsepower two-cylinder engine offered great gas mileage: 42–50 mpg for European versions like this one and 37–40 mpg for U.S models. On the other hand, you won’t ever see one at the drag strip. The Z600 accelerates from 0–60 mph in… wait for it… 22.3 seconds. With an average value of $14,800 in #2 (excellent) condition, it may sell faster than 22.3 seconds.
Mecum, Lot F57
With its dark blue paint, red interior, gold wheels, and custom Abarth badges, this 1972 Fiat 500L is ready to hit the track in style. The car’s 1100-cc engine, which features a Weber carburetor and Abarth heads and valve covers, is mated to a four-speed manual transmission. And check out those custom wipers.
1991 Nissan President Sovereign
Bonhams, Lot 55
Never sold new outside of Japan, the Nissan President Sovereign is as rare in the U.S. as horse feathers. Introduced in 1965 as a full-sized luxury sedan, it sold virtually unchanged in the Land of the Rising Sun for 24 years until the new G50 platform arrived in 1989. This stunning, V-8-powered President Sovereign may be painted Dark Bluish Black Pearl, but it is definitely a diamond.
1959 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller
Bonhams, Lot 87
This British gem was beloved (and later carefully stored) by a Canadian woman who bought it new and owned it for 43 years before agreeing to sell it in 2002 when she was 92. The Traveller—a name indicative of its wooden exterior trim—has been gently reconditioned, but it remains in largely original condition, right down to its 38-hp, 948-cc inline-four engine. The Minor’s second owner added window advertising for his tea parlor, “The Blethering Place.” Drink up!
1979 Mazda RX-7
Bonhams, Lot 20
We dig RX-7s as much as the next guy, but we’ve talked about their ascent so much lately that they’ve started to blend together—until we saw this one. Painted Solar Yellow over black, this RX is believed to have been a dealer showroom car since all display models were the same specification. Presented in unrestored condition, it retains its assembly crayon markings from the factory, which are visible under the hood. Powered by a 1146-cubic-centimeter Wankel rotary engine, this eye-popping RX-7 can scoot, and it has fewer than 35,000 miles on the clock.
1974 Fiat X1/9 by Carrozzeria Bertone
Bonhams, Lot 184
This is no ordinary X1/9. In fact, it’s valued 4–5 times that of a standard 1974 model, and for good reason. Highly sought after and rarely seen, this Carrozzeria Bertone-bodied example was featured at the 2018 Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance. A member of the first wave of X1/9s to be imported to the U.S., it carries its original Sand paint and has received a complete mechanical overhaul by marque experts. With only 14,000 miles on the odometer, you likely won’t find a better one.
RM Sotheby’s, Lot 302
Jimmy Buffet would love this car, since the beach-themed Crosley wagon is perfect for nibblin’ on sponge cake and watching the sun bake. Paul Crosley Jr. set out to build a car for the masses when he created his first economy car in 1939, and about 75,000 Crosleys were built before production ended in 1952. As one of the final Crosley cars produced, this 1951 Super Station Wagon will turn heads and elicit smiles wherever it goes—beach or no beach.
1979 Mercury Bobcat
Mecum, Lot F38
No, it isn’t a Pinto. Originally released as the Pinto’s Canadian-market twin in 1974, the Mercury Bobcat was added to Ford’s U.S. product line the following year. This ’79 model wears Tangerine paint with white accents and has Alpine plaid cloth seats. Well-optioned and with a rebuilt 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and rally wheels, this Bobcat is ready to play.
Mecum, Lot S184
Here’s something a little more comfortable for drivers taller than 5-foot-10. One of 3500 built, the Hurst/Olds is equipped with a 307-cubic-inch Rocket V-8 that produces 180 hp, and it is well-appointed, right down to the rare moonroof option. And you can stretch your legs.
1980 Toyota SR5 Pickup
Mecum, Lot T149
Just when you thought we’d forgotten pickup trucks, we found this clean Sport Rally 5 on offer from Mecum. Although its cream/yellow paint and tan/brown interior aren’t exactly flashy and its 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine isn’t exactly powerful, the SR5 is reliable and fun, and looks great. You won’t find much more bang for your buck, not at Monterey, anyway.
Mecum, Lot T21
This is one bellissima Italian. Painted silver with red/silver interior and seats to die for, this Alfa has been pampered for a long time—it comes with $21,000 in receipts since 2000. Powered by a 115-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Quadrifoglio is a brisk performer and rewarding to drive, and one in #2 (Excellent) condition is valued at an affordable $15,700.
1968 Fiat 850 coupe
Mecum, Lot T211
This Italian isn’t as handsome as the Quadrifoglio, but it’s certainly cool. While the best-known Fiat 850 in the U.S. is the Spider, the two-door fastback coupe found 342,873 buyers from 1967–73. With engine displacements ranging from 817 to 843 cc and horsepower from 34–52, gas mileage was about 35 mpg. And given the limited information provided by Mecum, it could be a steal for one lucky bidder.
Mecum, Lot T44
Previously owned by comedian Jeff Dunham, this Gremlin X is no joke—even though it’s easy to make fun of. Featured on Jay Leno’s Garage in 2016, Leno says the Gremlin “is basically a Hornet with the rear chopped off.” And Dunham points out that the car was first introduced on April Fool’s Day in 1970. On the serious side, the Gremlin X has a surprisingly appealing color combo and is powered by a 150-hp 304-cubic-inch V-8. As Dunham says, “It was a pal to its owner and an ogre to its enemies.” Whatever that means.