Our Two Cents: What to buy with $50K?

We’ve all dreamed of the freedom to indulge in a vehicle that’s out of reach for one reason or another. Is it illegal to import under the 25-year? Simply too rare to be available? Have they all rusted to nothing, disappeared off the face of the earth? These are all limiting factors, but more often than not, cold cash is what it takes to close the gap.

As is tradition here at Our Two Cents, we polled members of the Hagerty staff for their takes. In this case, “What would you buy with $50,000?” Even if the vehicle is more than 50-large, respondents could always opt to kick in some extra cash for the difference. (Who are we to squash dreams?) So what did we at Hagerty Media choose to do the theoretical $50,000 that fell in our laps?

1968–1972 Corvette Restomod

Hagerty Marketplace

Senior Editor Brandan Gillogly wants a very specific car … one that’s currently listed on the Hagerty Marketplace. This restomodded C3 Corvette pushes all the right buttons, or as he put it:

“It’s a big-block C3, the last with a chrome front bumper, and it has a stick. It’s not numbers matching, but I could not care less. It’s got a five-speed swapped in and a more modern valvetrain in its 454, which are two stealth mods that improve the performance and drivability. Besides that, it has all the options I’d want. Except that it’s not Mulsanne Blue.”

FZJ80 Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 front action
Hagerty Media

Associate Editor Nathan Petroelje took no time to give his response. The 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 is right up his alley for a few good reasons:

“I’ve fallen in love with these older 4x4s, especially the Japanese ones. I own a ’98 Mitsubishi Montero that I love deeply, but the 80-Series Landy is the only thing I’d drop the Montero for in a heartbeat. If I’m lucky, I’ll score a green one with a tan interior. Let’s say it costs me $25K. I’d spend $5000 or so getting it in tip-top traveling shape, then toss on some ARB bumpers, some lighting elements, and a few other knickknacks for overlanding. All in, maybe we’re looking at $40K. I’d then spend the other $10,000 on a trip out west—head for Colorado with my wife and dog, but chase through to Seattle, then up to Vancouver, and we may as well hit Alaska while we’re at it. Using this beautiful beast as intended—to go out and see!”

BMW E46 M3 Competition Package, Interlagos Blue

Blue by you? Mouse Motors

Hagerty Community Coordinator Eugene Leeds has a specific request pertaining to “the one that got away.” It’s is a feeling of which I wholeheartedly approve, and many of us can empathize. His need is for an Interlagos Blue E46 with Competition Package and a stick, something that’s a little harder to find than you’d expect:

“Back in another very different life when I was driving different Challenge Stradales every weekend the only reasonably affordable car that felt nearly as sublime to drive was the E46 M3. From the moment I saw the ZCP, the pinnacle E46 M3 with the competition package, I wanted one. I was about to purchase one in 2005 but my father, who never made a good financial decision in his life, begged me to go half with him on a C6 Z06. So I did that instead. The best of the Z06s, I loved that car, but still have a desire for the one that got away.”

1971 El Camino, probably

Chevrolet

Hagerty Insider Senior Editor Eddy Eckart gives a more nuanced answer, but it’s something that tracks for one who carves corners with such grace and precision:

“I would look at the SCCA rulebook to see what class/car combo would give me the best shot at a Runoffs podium the following year for $45K. I’d spend the remaining $5K on coaching. I’d sell that car after the Runoffs and buy a ’71 El Camino for me and a kei truck for my wife’s flower business. Ask me in five minutes and I’ll tell you something different, like a Nissan Stagea Autech (and a kei truck for my wife).”

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

2007 Aston Martin Vantage V8 front three-quarter
Hagerty Media

Mike Perlman, our Podcast Manager, thanks his Aunt Mabel for the cash and says, “Because I’m simply not capable of a responsible car purchase, I’m now off to go buy a ~$40K Aston Martin V8 Vantage coupe with a stick.” But not just any such example …

“Specifically, I’m after a high mileage example that’s been well looked after but won’t flinch at the idea of going on a 1000 mile roadtrip or being dinged in a Costco parking lot. Shaken, not stirred. Admittedly, the $10K left over goes into the catastrophic repair fund in hopes that I get through at least one year of ownership without any snafus.”

Sam Smith at Maximum Sam Smith

Sam Smith portrait
Kyle Van Hoften

Editor at Large/Gummybear Grand Pooh-bah Sam Smith cannot be constrained by mere guidelines. His answer runs the gamut of multiple vehicles, martial strife, and pizza:

“If someone gives me 50 grand for a vehicle, no strings attached, I am going to take that money and buy nine five-grand cars and one five-grand motorcycle. Then, when my wife divorces me for this, I will sell one of those vehicles and use that five grand to go run an endurance race somewhere. Since this enduro seat may not cost all of five grand, I will use the leftover cash to buy pizza and beer for anyone in earshot. But only if they promise to listen to me talk about how I now have a field behind my house full of crapcans and have named each one after a character on midcentury television.”

Saab 99 Turbo (with Inca wheels)

It simply must have Inca wheels. Bring a Trailer

Ben Woodworth our Senior Video Lead, won’t need all of the money, as he’s a self-proclaimed “cheap date.” Ben will “a 1978 Saab 99 Turbo with Inca wheels (like this one on Bring a Trailer) and be 100% happy. Heck, $50K is probably more than enough to snag a rally version. Just thinking about it is giving me all the feels. And don’t bother criticizing my choice. I know I have a weird taste in cars and I don’t care what you think.”

The Three Bike Quiver

heartland motofest Kyle Smith post cross country
Casey Maxon

Editor Kyle Smith originally pondered the notion of getting a CTS-V wagon with a stick, but knows “I wouldn’t even be taken seriously putting 50K offers.” So instead he focuses on a collection of Honda motorcycles:

“I’ll pick up a humble but usable Honda collection: NC30 (VFR400), XR600R, and a CB160 race bike. That should leave enough left over to go out and ride those three for the rest of the year on just about any adventure my head or heart is called to take on. It’s also a three-bike quiver that would all fit in (well, one on the hitch carrier) my van making for a fantastic adventure rig that could allow for road racing, woods racing, and tearing up canyon roads. See you in 12 months, or when I need tires, whichever comes first.”

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz

Matt Tuccillo, our Director of Video and Podcast, knows exactly what 50-large will get him on a whim, as he’d find the “nicest, cleanest, lowest miles, fewest owners, Mercedes (W204) C63 AMG that I could find for that money.”

“I’ve always had a soft spot for those, with their fat, absolute brute of a V-8 shoehorned into a little sedan, and remember time spent behind the wheel years ago *very* fondly. And I’ll blow whatever’s leftover on premium unleaded and rear tires.”

Porsche 911 SC

Motorcar Studio

John Mayhead, our Editor of the UK Hagerty Price Guide, has a simple request: “A Black-on-Black Porsche 911 SC with a whale tail. A friend has one, it has lots of track mods under the surface but still has a fixed cellphone inside!”

1963 Ford Galaxie Stock Car

Carandclassic.com

Aaron Robinson, the treasured Editor at Large of Hagerty Driver Club magazine, made this easy for me when he said, “Buy this ‘63 Ford Galaxie in England and prep it for the St Mary’s Cup at Goodwood.”

Volvo 122 S “Amazon”

1968 Volvo Amazon 122S Dark Green side profile
ClassiCar

Eric Weiner, our Executive Editor, would find/build himself a “decent Volvo 122 S Amazon, painted dark green, with a really good aftermarket suspension and a F20C Honda engine + five-speed gearbox,” because he loves “the Swedish style, and that motor would promote the best kind of cognitive dissonance.”

Toyota GR 86

Toyota

Grace Houghton, our esteemed Associate Managing Editor, has a very specific vehicle with specific conditions. If only all of us were this laser-focused, no?

“I’d make things official with a 2022 Toyota GR 86. White, Premium package, manual transmission, and the sturdiest floor mats. That leaves about $20K, which covers taxes and registration and leaves plenty for an extra set of winter wheels and tires. I’d splurge on a roof rack—I’m a millennial, fight me, it’s cute and useful—and a wireless charging situation of some sort. Voila, a modern corner carver to join my 1986 Volvo 240 wagon, and most of the $20K left over. That’s (premium) gas money and an autocross budget for years, plus enough to bribe the landlord of the neighboring property to cut down the tree that litters my only non-street parking spot with discouraging amounts of sticks, leaves, fruit, and bird poop.”

Mack B-Series (B61)

motorsportauctiongroup.com

Stefan Lombard, HDC magazine Managing Editor, picked something absolutely worthy of an unexpected windfall of cold, hard cash:

“If I had a free $50K today, right now, I’d find myself a nicely restored early 1960s Mack Model B61 with a single axle and use it as the most impractical daily driver known to man.”

Restomod BMW Wagon

Bring A Trailer

Matt Tierney, our Senior Art Director, had questions that I couldn’t answer, but I think he landed on a great notion.

“I’m totally a guy who who would cobble together a fleet of $10K cars. But if that’s not allowed, and I need to walk away with just one vehicle, I’d like some some sort of dream BMW wagon—like this one via Bring a Trailer—from the peak years that we never got to buy here in the USA. Basically I’d take an E46 or E39 Touring and retrofit it with an M3 or M5 powertrain.”

Porsche 911 (997.1)

Porsche

Tony Angelo, Video Producer and Host, will most definitely go for a 911 Carrera S of the 997.1 variety. Or as he put it:

“A round headlight 911 for 50K? Sign me up! I’d have picked a 996 911 GT3 but they are pushing 100k plus these days and I guess my Aunt Mabel didn’t love me THAT much.”

Ford Mustang Boss 302 Leguna Seca

Ford

Joe DeMatio, Senior Manager of Content, wants a modern-day Boss 302 Mustang, but “preferably with Laguna Seca package, because (resident Mustang guru) Colin Comer said to get that.”

“I have a memory from a decade ago, a hot Michigan summer evening at GingerMan Raceway in western Michigan, a Boss 302 being part of a group of cars we had taken for a test-and-tune night. It’s not the track time that I remember, actually; it was the drive home to Ann Arbor and, in particular, the merge from US-131 southbound to I-94 eastbound, a big sweeper, that sold me on this car and made it the very first new Mustang I really wanted.”

Bentley Turbo R

Bentley-TurboR
Bentley

James Mills, our UK Editor, immediately knew what he wanted. And why he felt this way:

“After spending time driving one, I think I would be insane to pass up the chance to bag myself a concours Bentley Turbo R. In the UK at least, this car is a true sleeper, hugely (£) undervalued yet – unlike some sports cars one could mention – appreciated by anyone that gets near it. Plus, I’d like to imagine the fun to be had wafting around with passengers, who’ve kicked off their shoes to sink their toes into the lambswool floor mats and are quaffing champagne in the back seats – as you smoke it out of turns like Barrie Whizzo Williams.”

Cameron Neveu at Maximum Cameron Neveu

Sliding around this small dirt track is my latest driving obsession.
Sliding around this small dirt track is my latest driving obsession. Cameron Neveu

Editor and Photographer Cameron Neveu did a Sam Smith, so he gets the same mild ribbing from yours truly before going into his thoughts:

“Buying a race car is like buying a boat, you have to take the car’s price and double it to calculate your budget. I would spend way too much money on an overbuilt street stock like this $25K weekend warrior, in hopes that the car’s strength would make up for its driver’s incompetence. With a $25K slush fund left over to buy parts and swap engines, I would win. A lot. Maybe too much? Anyway, people would take notice. There would be contracts. I would probably have to leave Hagerty to pursue a career in professional motorsports.” 

Acura NSX

Sajeev Mehta

Matthew Fink, our beloved Branded Content Writer, started with a quote from his father: “You’ll know we won the lottery if I come home in an Acura NSX.”

“Well, one day that actually happened. No, we didn’t win the lottery, but the president of Honda would lend out his personal NSX to a Honda employee when he was out of town and my dad got it one weekend. Is it wrong to say that was the greatest weekend of my life? So yes, I’d take the $50,000 and get a (high mileage!) NSX and go pick up my dad.”

1987 Mercury Sable LS “White Knight”

The sheer volume of disappointment I feel in some of my co-workers right now cannot be overstated. More on that later, as I provided a light from the light bar of a Mercury Sable LS monochrome edition from 1987. It’s also called the “White Knight” (White Night?) and came with a song that clearly aided in its fatal attrition rate. 

I first saw the Mercury Sable LS monochrome edition when my father was in the market for the 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7 that I now own and restomod. I didn’t understand the penalty of front-wheel drive and V6 engines over the Cougar’s superior (i.e. Fox Body) design for enthusiasts at the time, and now I would absolutely go back for this one and get a perfect pairing.

Sure, it’s just a Sable with white paint slathered on its bumpers, side trim, and basketweave alloy wheels, but it was my dream to have both the monochrome-toned Mercury vehicles in my childhood mind of a garage. So I will take a White Knight in any condition, as I have $50,000 to spend on a nut and bolt restoration, possibly with a Taurus SHO donor car for both sheetmetal and a powertrain?

So here’s why I am disappointed: The fifty grand wasn’t supposed to be the lure, we were supposed to get excited about getting darn near any car … even the ones that are physically impossible to track down. I’d like to think we all have a “White Knight” of sorts that we’d love to own, if someone magically gave them the car and the cash to make it happen. Oh well, better luck next time!

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