6 winter workhorses under $6000
The Hagerty Marketplace is filled with lots of powerful muscle cars, sleek sports cars, and vintage SUVs that are sure to become the jewel of some devoted owner’s collection. However, our daily drivers are often utilitarian, and sometimes there are jobs that our prized cars just aren’t cut out for. Here are a handful of affordable vehicles that we on the media staff would consider adding to our own fleets to fit various winter roles.
1972 Datsun 510
We’re not going to pretend that a 50-year-old Datsun makes sense as a winter driver. But, after visiting some vintage races at Laguna Seca, we’ve been bitten by the 510 bug. $4000 is about right for a car in #4 (Fair) condition, and this one has more than its shares of bumps and bruises. Those imperfections make that price seem a tad high, but on the other hand it does have a 2.0-liter engine swap from a Datsun 610, making this a bit of a muscle car. Maybe. If we squint just right we can see it in vintage rally livery that makes those dents look like battle scars. Ice racing, anyone?
1991 Mercedes 300D
This beige beauty, powered by a five-cylinder diesel, has racked up nearly half a million miles, although it seems to have survived them quite handily. The owner notes it does look like the 300D needs a paint job, as the clearcoat is failing on many of the car’s horizontal surfaces. If its past is any indication, this Benz could be one in which to rack up the winter miles without worry. After all, it’s not like another 100,000 miles is going to hurt its resale value.
1992 Volvo 240
Volvo’s long-lived 200 Series was built for nearly 20 years before it was discontinued in the United States in 1993, making this ’92 model one of the last of the breed. These Swedish standbys were built in huge numbers and have a reputation for reliability and simplicity. Their staid design has become both endearing and iconic, and this one looks pretty darn good in seldom-seen red paint. It has survived 30 years of service relatively unscathed, and with only 150,000 miles, this brick has plenty of life left in it. And if the 2.3-liter four-cylinder does start acting up, there’s plenty of room in the engine bay to upgrade.
1984 S-10 Blazer
Chevrolet’s entry into compact SUVs in the 1980s, the Chevy S-10 Blazer, came out to battle Ford’s Bronco II, and we’ve got to say that its styling has aged a bit better than its Blue Oval rival. OK, truth be told, your author is biased because a 1986 4×4 model was his first car, which served valiantly through high school and into college.
Chevrolet’s 2.8-liter V-6 was never a powerhouse and is only adequate in these compact SUVs, but the overall package was pretty well thought-out and nimble. This one has plenty of blemishes, but they just make the rough-and-tumble little 4×4 ready for splashing around in inclement weather. You’d be hard-pressed to find a 4×4 that’s more affordable.
1985 Ford E-150
If you’ve got a winter project in your garage, you may need to haul some bulky parts. How about this simple, utilitarian, 302-powered Ford Econoline that keeps all of your gear both secure and out of the elements? We don’t have enough time to extoll all the virtues of vans, although we will point out that this one doesn’t cost a whole lot more than a camper shell for a pickup.
We’ll always find a way to rationalize a vehicle purchase, especially when it has a V-8.
1979 GMC K2500
We’re not sure what the current owner calls this 3/4-ton 4×4, but we think the blue beast of burden would make an excellent “Babe.” Aspiring Paul Bunyans, take notice: Even its wooden stake sides are painted to match.
The drivetrain consists of a crate replacement Goodwrench 350 V-8 and a four-speed manual with a “granny” low gear. Although not mentioned, its transfer case could be the famously burly NP205, which would make GMC a seriously stout work truck for just about any job you could throw at it.
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This is just proof that the used car market is still insane. None of these are worth even half of their asking price, yet…here we are…
So make your reasonable offer and see what happens!
1/2? Most of these would have been $500 when they were ten years old (except for the Mercedes
Does Hagarty care to list parts and labor costs for this vintage crap,when they need major repairs. And, they will, more sooner than later.
you’re reading my mind…
All these together would make a great pile for the crusher. And I’ve owned at least one of each example.
The problem with the S10 Blazers is that by the time they stuffed the 4WD running gear into that tiny package there is not much room for hands and tools in the engine compartment. They are miserable to work on
They’re also unreliable junk LOL.
I would not give $400 for any of them but the Blazer.
I like the van, wish it had a manual transmission. It’d go well with my 80s Ford trucks.
They may not all be worth asking price, but they’re worth more than half asking price, because $2500 doesn’t buy much these days. I’m constantly having to remind myself that what a $2500 vehicle was in the year 2000 isn’t a $2500 vehicle today. $2500 in the year 2000 adjusts to about $4110 today for inflation, and I don’t know if inflation calculators take into account the wackiness of the last year or so.
They’re worth what people will pay, and I’d be surprised if the 3/4 ton GMC lasts long at that price.
The square body. It looks solid in the picture, and they aren’t getting any cheaper. Plus, it would be easy to work on. You could walk into any big box part store and most parts will be on the shelf.
That Datsun 510 is worth every penny because it has a Cadillac hood ornament.
Not just any Cadillac, a Fleetwood!
The great thing about the Volvo 240 is it’s very tight turning circle. The Swedes knew how hard it is to turn around on a two lane road lined with plowed snow. We owned 3 of them.
The rwd handles that great. Just swedish j turn it like I did for winters during 410k miles.
It’s pretty obvious that you don’t live in snow country.
Most of these would be rusted up to the beltline.
And a van? In snow country? Get used to being stuck!
I would pay $5500.00 for that truck any day of the week
Agreed – Why is everyone so damn negative?
Only one that is really viable is the 3/4 ton truck, at least it’s a truck. Maybe the Van but they are no fun to drive. The 510 would be good for parts on a 2 dr! The Benz and Volvo are such potential money pits, unless you are a Euro mechanic not even a second look. The Blazer is almost at classic status, but the 2.8 is worse than anemic, and with the short wheelbase on the 2 dr it’s like a Jeep Wrangler, you can spin one in a second.
As if we needed needed further proof the market is truly unhinged
Give me the Ford van. Bulletproof 302 should last a good while and be fairly economical.
I’d stick with old US based brands as the repairs on the Mercedes could easily outweigh any other advantages…
If you know how to work on them the old diesel Mercedes are not that expensive as far as parts go. They are pratically bullet proof anyway. 300,000 is nothing to one of them if you keep up with the maintenance. I have had a few of them and love them. Have a 240D with manual tranny which are pretty rare. Of course the price of Diesel has went up so much it takes away one of the main reasons to own one. I use to make Bio Diesel but with the acid and methanol you use to make it I got concerned about fires and and the fumes I was breathing etc and quit.
The voo voo all day long except you have to remove the entire dash to replace the heater blower
fan But it’s a nonreference engine so when the timing belt snaps you coast the side of the road
for retirement and repair
I had a Volvo years ago. It was a tank. I got it from a co-worker who had it in to the dealers constantly for carb issues and he had enough. I had many English cars with the twin SU carbs and could adjust them without a vacuum gauge. Loved the car but did have the blower motor go. I spent hours taking it apart and repaired the motor only to have it fail again. This time I put in anew one. Lesson learned.
You can change the blower motor without removing the dash. It’s a stand on your head job and requires modification to the heater box. Did my wife’s 240 a few years ago.
I’ll take the whole lot for $5,000