It’s time to stop calling affordable classics entry-level

There are numerous terms to describe classic and collector vehicles. Classic and collector are two words worth of debate, even. And aspiration to great things is human nature. But let’s stop calling lower-priced collector cars “entry level.”

Cars with smaller price tags present the opportunity for those with thinner wallets to enjoy the open road behind the wheel of a fun-to-drive or unique car. The price of a vehicle has no correlation to how awesome the ownership experience is. Affordable cars present a fantastic fun-per-dollar ratio that is hard to beat when you start comparing them to top-tier and blue-chip collectables. (Of course the reverse can also be true – some cars are affordable due to lack of demand induced by expensive upkeep.)

There are plenty of headline-grabbing price tags out there, and I would be remiss to say we don’t glamourize those cars as much as the next media outlet. The problem is many potential enthusiasts see six-figure-this and seven-figure-that, just to arrive at the conclusion that the cool cars are beyond their means. They can’t enjoy a classic car without emptying the kid’s college fund or never retiring—or both.

To counter this, like a newsboy hawking papers, we (and the rest of the car world) come in shouting some verison of “entry-level classics here, get your budget and starter classics over here.” It’s time to re-position that statement.

1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa white red 3/4 rear farm kansas
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Kyle Smith

Sure, a first-time classic purchase typically trades hands for less than the price of beachfront property in Malibu. I see where the term comes from, because once many owners dip their toe in the classic car ownership waters they find themselves wanting better and more exclusive cars. But There are also plenty of enthusiasts and collectors who never possess a vehicle worth more than $25,000—let alone multiple. For them, affordable cars aren’t entry-level, it’s just the price bracket where they operate.

If anything, these piggy-bank-friendly cars are gateway cars. They serve to hook those with limited means into the hobby, which helps everyone. Purchasing an affordable car means there are more classics registered for the street, giving leverage if legislation should ever threaten to remove them from our roadways. It also means greater attendance at hobby events and shows, which is only a good thing.

So, let’s all collectively agree to stop calling affordable cars “entry level.” It isn’t exactly difficult, but it might take some adjustment. Affordable is just fine, budget-conscious is even OK with me. But calling them entry level gives some fantastic cars a stigma that they are beginner or somehow less than more expensive cars. That perception is wholly undeserved and assumes the owner will not be fulfilled until they move on to bigger and more expensive cars.

So go out and buy the car you like and enjoy it. No need to lust after expensive rides. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going for a drive in my fun $10,000 Chevy.

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