Think Small: 5 little vintage vehicles under $20,000


Why is it that so often, little cars equal fun? Here are five classics that fit in that category, all of them under $20,000. Prices are from the Hagerty Price Guide, based on the average value of a vehicle in #3, or Good, condition across the given range of model years. (Want to read more about how we rate a car’s condition? Click here.)

If you want to find the value of a vehicle from a specific model year, look it up using Hagerty’s Valuation Tool. You can even specify trim level and engine choice (if applicable).


1965–74 Saab Sonett ($9918)

Sweden’s idea of a front-wheel-drive sports car was slow—its Ford V-4 engine had 65 horsepower—but not unpleasant to drive. Production of the three models—the Sonett II, Sonett V4, and Sonett III—totaled barely 10,000 vehicles, so they are rare but not unobtainable. 

Saab Sonnett III 1974

1968–73 Opel GT ($12,300)

Yes, it looks like a baby 1968 Chevrolet Corvette, but the Opel GT is a pretty solid little car on its own. Sold by generally clueless Buick dealers, most Opel GTs had a 102-horsepower four-cylinder and a smooth-shifting four-speed manual transmission.

Opel GT

1974 Datsun 260Z ($17,150)

The 1971–73 240Z is a genuine collector’s item, but the 260Z is sort of overlooked. Virtually the same car as the 240Z but with a bigger engine, the 1974 model was introduced by Datzun as the 260Z, one year before the company introduced the 280Z.

The biggest problem with the 260Z was vapor locking in warm weather, but there’s a fix, and any 260Z that has survived this long probably has been equipped with one of the known solutions. No longer must you drive around with the (rear-opening) hood partly open to cool the 2.6-liter inline six-cylinder.

Datsun 260Z

1986–1995 Suzuki Samurai ($9950)

The Samurai was a 2022 Hagerty Bull Market pick, and the itty bitty 4×4 is definitely loads of fun off-road. On the road, not so much. It is the only press vehicle I parked and refused to drive on my 100-mile hilly daily commute: The 1.3-liter, 63-horsepower four-cylinder couldn’t keep up with traffic.

Suzuki Samurai

1984–86 Dodge Omni GLH-T ($9033)

If you don’t mind a steering wheel that makes you feel like a bus driver, you might like the turbocharged Omni. Its drivetrain is a respectable 142-horsepower four-cylinder paired with a slightly balky manual transmission and front-wheel drive. Wider than most small cars, the Omni is a legitimate four-passenger sedan.

Dodge Omni turbo





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    LOL – Some interesting choices OMNI?? – brother had a 240z – fun , had a samurai (careful on the corners), but no one has mentioned our current fun car – BMW e30’s Blast to drive, easy to repair, our 5 speed vert is so much fun to drive and the 6 cylinder engine seems to be bullet proof (yes values have gone up)

    The two small ones that that I had the most fun with were a 1973 Capri 2600. Very quick and handled great. Brought home lots of autocross trophies. Replaced it with a 1980 VW Sportruck. The one with the Sirrocco interior and the mechanical furl injected engine. That was a sweet ride even if it could have used a fifth gear.

    The 1973 Datsun also vapor locked even with an electric fuel pump when it got really hot in Texas. That’s one reason why I got rid of it after a couple of years, got tried of being stranded in a hot parking lot. Really embarrassing when you were on a date.

    2 that are great fun but impossible to find nowadays- 91 Swift GT and late 80s Colt Turbo. Should never have let mine get away from me. Also Miatas- great ones well under 20k but going up…..I’ve got mine.

    In my ninety yrs. on this spinning ball of dirt and water. I have owned and driven many vehicles. Back in the days of the great gas lines I saw an ad for one of the first Honda Civics, with low miles. 1600 bucks. I figured if it was a bust it’d be easy to dispose of. It was basic, 4 on the floor and under the hood. The car ran like a champ and was fun to drive. Did break a timing belt after a while. Didn’t do any damage.

    Only other bother was switching to Mobil 1. It started using oil until I changed to another brand. Mobil didn’t bother with seal additives at first and the seals dried out. 35 miles per gallon and it ran with no other problems. The original owner changed to a Mercedes diesel.

    I still drive Honda’s to this day. I’m probably the oldest owner of an S2000. My first one was lost to a garage fire. I found an 2000 with 28,000 miles. Called the owner and paid his asking price. Next day
    I flew up, bought and drove it 400 back home. It was, and still is, a garage queen. And, Mobil1 is still
    my go to. The seal problem was fixed.

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