Classic car collecting is an expensive hobby. The income people often dispose of can run into unbelievable amounts. However, not all vintage cars come with impossible price tags. And you don't have to be a millionaire to be a collector. The best classic cars on the market are fascinating and preserve the past.
Reviews from 1970 called the Datsun 240Z talk about how it's a 'personal' sports car and one that brings a real driving experience as opposed to the whimsical cars that were making their way onto the road in those days. All style and no substance, they said, while the 240Z gave drivers a real ride for a much lower price. As the decades have rolled on, the Datsun will never rise to the level of other classic sports cars, but a car that performed several mph faster than a Porsche 911 in road tests is worth considering for quirky collectors.
The MG is famous, or rather infamous, for being as unreliable as they were nice looking. But the beauty is in the simplicity with this one: the simple mechanics of the B coupled with the thriving collectors market for MGs mean that for less than other models you too could be part of this not so secret society. If you're looking to get knowing winks from other drivers as you take your car for a spin, an MG is the only way to go.
Not quite a classic car yet, as they are still miraculously in production, the boxy Ford Flex is about as far from a nondescript vehicle that you can get. Designed to look like a juiced up station wagon, the Flex has been consistently outsold by 9-1 and is always in danger of extinction. For considerably less than any other crossover or SUV on the market, you'll get a cool nerdy vehicle with great specs and tons of room. And if it's not a collector's item now, it will be.
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Sure, the Beetle is an iconic car, and the Kombi is right next to it among the canon of classic Volkswagens. But if you were paying attention during the 50s, 60s, and 70s you might have been privy to one of the most unlikely collaborations in car history when Luigi Segre of the Italian carmaker Ghia got together with German bus builder Karmann. The result is a one of a kind blend of Italian style and German brawn and can be found on the market today for less than what a beat-up Beetle would run you.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Not every Italian classic car is out of reach, and some of the very good ones are indeed well within the price range of even a novice collector. The Alfa Romeo Giulia was one of the first lightweight vehicles to feature a heavy-duty engine, and the first edition offered exclusively left-hand drive steering. Models can be found for surprisingly less than you'd think, and the details that Alfa Romeo put into each car will leave you humming as you speed through town.
When the muscle car made its first big debut on the automotive scene, car makers were in a fury to come up with their answer to the Mustang or the Thunderbird. The Cougar was Mercury's 'pony car' and offered a performance package with a 6.4-liter V-8 engine, as well as some body touches that were meant to make it feel more 'European.' These days, the Cougar has been reborn as the kind of car you'd see detectives driving on a prime-time drama, but back then, it was a real specimen. Plus, classic Cougars run about half the price of those other muscle cars, making you the perfect mix of brains and brawn on the road.
Everyone, including classic car aficionados, knows about the El Camino and its value in the market. What they may not know is that Ford experimented with the same kind of 'utility coupe' that Chevy made famously, and that it's got just as much of the same retro character. The Ranchero started as a modified Fairlane, and the next generation was based on the compact Falcon. Even though there were a large number of models in production (spanning seven generations), the Ranchero is still a great buy for a collector and relatively easy to find. Plus, they're considerably less than an El Camino.
The Fiat 500 has maintained its title as the cutest car on the block, and it remains in production today as a revamped model that still wins over buyers looking for style on a budget. The 600 was a bigger version of the same at a time when no one was really looking for a slightly bigger version of a car that was all about its size, so it never sold as well. However, if you know where to look you can find great deals on a classic 600, and even the Multipla model that looks like a mashup of a 500 and a Volkswagen Kombi. Of course, you'll be able to find a 600 for about half the price of a Volkswagen, which means you'll have that much more money to make it your own.
Another Volkswagen that never really got its due, the Sriocco was a hot hatch even before it was cool. The mod lines and choice of colors like mustard or pumpkin make it unmistakable on the road, and it packs the same punch that made Volkswagen a go-to brand for price-conscious buyers looking for the maximum value. The first generations began in 1974 and went until 1992, to be picked up again in 2008 for contemporary car buyers. But classic models can be found for great prices, and what's better, parts are still easy to come by.
Studebaker was never really a common car even when it was being produced, and the Lark's short run from 1959-1964 makes it rare even among those slim pickings. But there's something about that stubby front and overzealous grille that are worth checking out, and surprisingly it's held up well over the years. A Lark can be found for under $10,000, and while it might need some work, it will go further towards cementing your hipster cred than all of the skinny jeans and thick glasses in the world.
Another for the muscle car set, the AMC AMX was a two-seat GT that had a three year run from 1968-1970 and offered performance style power and speed for a fraction of the price. Despite the reviews and accolades, AMX sales never really took off, and production was discontinued. It may not have been a loss on AMC's part, as the AMX was an attempt to get younger drivers to choose their cars, and that strategy eventually worked. For collectors, this once throwaway muscle car is sought after, though still an affordable alternative to similar models.