The classic car market is as popular as ever, especially with mainstream TV shows like Top Gear and others bringing them into the public spotlight. When most people picture classic car owners, they think of the stereotypical retired woman or man with tons of cash to throw around at rare and unique classic cars for their collection. However, at MobileWash, this is not always the case; many people don’t realize that owning and collecting classic cars can be an affordable venture if done right. The key is to find the hidden gems that are affordable. With that in mind, below is a list of the top 10 affordable classic cars that won’t break the bank.
- Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Growing up in Southern California in the 80’s it was fun to visit Hollywood Blvd on a Saturday night where you would see anything from new to vintage vehicles. Among the stereos blasting and the neon-colored outfits, were Karmann Ghia’s, but it was a rare sighting. When you did happen to stumble upon one, whether it was stock or made to “Cali-Style” you practically had to lift your chin off the ground with a crane. The easiest way to see the hottest VWs was to open your monthly magazine subscription of Hot VWs. Nowadays, there are options to finding that unicorn of a VW which can be found on The Samba, a website for Volkswagen enthusiasts. In the end, this gorgeous car is all about style. While not particularly fast, it makes up for its lack of notable performance in its great looks. The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a great way to start the top 10 affordable classic cars.
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Sedan
The second car on our top 10 affordable classic cars is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sedan. This car is sometimes classified as one of the first real sports sedans ever produced. While some higher-performance versions of this car can be expensive, a standard stock version can be an affordable option to add to your collection. Some of the original specs for a standard model: 4-door sedan body type, RWD (rear-wheel drive), manual 4-speed gearbox, gasoline (petrol) engine with displacement: 1290 cm3 / 78.5 cui, advertised power: 57.5 65.5 kW / 77 88 hp / 78 89 PS ( DIN SAE ), torque: 103 118 Nm / 76 87 lb-ft, top speed: 158 km/h (98 mph). For its time (1970), the top speed of 98 mph was something to brag about. Look at that beauty!
- Mercury Cougar
A Mustang look-alike, the Mercury Cougar is a great alternative for those who don’t want to pay simply for the Mustang badge. This classic and thoroughly American car can be a great addition to your garage. There were many comfort and performance options available for the Mercury Cougar, including the steering wheel and a power driver’s seat that could be swiveled for easy accessibility. Funny how times changed and these are pretty much standard for all vehicles these days. Some interesting specs are the 210 hp 302-in3, two-barrel V8 which was the base engine on early standard Cougars. Three new engines were added to the options list for the 1970 model: the 230 hp 302-in3, four-barrel V8; the 335 hp 428-in3, four-barrel V8; and the 390 hp 427-in3, four-barrel V8. In addition, the 289-in3 engine was made standard on base cars without the interior decor group midway through the 1970 model year. You can easily find a gem of a Mercury Cougar on a web search and this is the reason why we added this car to our top 10 affordable classic cars list.
- BMW E3
If you’re a fan of European luxury, look no further than this straight-six powered car. This sedan combines classic style with an impressive amount of power and handling ability. The BMW E3 is such a fun vehicle that I’m smiling while I’m writing this. If you have ever owned one, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have not experienced the ownership of the infamous BMW E3, trust me, you’re in the market for a fun ride and a great time. I highly recommend adding this vehicle to your collection, you will not be let down.
- Datsun 240Z
The Datsun 240Z is a fun little car that is more reliable than some of the other models the brand offers. This car is a great option if you are on a restoration budget as these are easily restored, and parts are fairly simple to come by. The 240Z is a great conversation piece among car enthusiasts and you can find many car clubs and websites where you can share and find great ideas. Nonetheless, you will not regret adding this car to your collection, as it was a no brainer to add it to our top 10 affordable classic cars.
- Fiat 600
The Fiat 600 has a unique air of sophistication about it. This is the main reason this car is so desirable; it won’t give you insane performance, but it wins big on style. If you’re looking to have a small car for weekend car shows or for a simple drive through the country road then this is an option. You will not be racing down the boulevard or getting any speeding tickets, but you will enjoy the affordability and the simplicity of the Fiat 600.
- Volkswagen Scirocco
This unique little hatchback hybrid is a great alternative to the Golf or classic VW cars. This car is quiet and unpretentious, but still has some great design elements to it. The Scirocco can be acquired for a minimum cost, as of this post I found a 1984 model in great looking condition for $300 in Tampa Florida. Motor options ranged from 1.3 liters up to 1.8 liters. with an FWD (front-wheel drive), manual 5-speed gearbox. The top speed 104 mph with an impressive acceleration of 0- 60 mph 11.5 seconds. Fuel consumption and mileage: 33.9 mpg (U.S.).
- Studebaker Lark
This car’s relatively obscure reputation allows it to be a great price. You can buy a Studebaker Lark with a supercharged V8 engine, which equals a ton of fun to be had in a unique package. With great looking style lines and such a desirable vehicle this a fun “cruiser” vehicle that should be in any Studebaker collectors automotive collection.
- Sunbeam Tiger
This car looks as cool as its name sounds. This British roadster boasts a Ford-produced V8 engine. These cars are a bit more expensive than some on the list but are still a great buy.
A brief, yet interesting history. The Sunbeam Tiger was introduced by the British manufacturer Rootes in 1959. When Rootes realized that the Alpine needed more power if it was to compete successfully in world markets he approached Ferrari to redesign the standard inline-four engine. Recognizing the opportunity that “powered by Ferrari” would likely bring he pushed forward with his approach. Negotiations initially went well, but for unknown reasons, the negotiations unfortunately failed.
In 1962 Jack Brabham proposed to Rootes competition manager Norman Garrad the idea of fitting the Alpine with a Ford V8 engine. Garrad relayed to his son Ian, then the West Coast Sales Manager of Rootes American Motors Inc. Ian Garrad lived near Carroll Shelby’s Shelby American operation, which had done a similar V8 conversion for the British AC Cobra. And there you have the Ford V8 powered Sunbeam Tiger.
- AMC AMX
The AMC AMX is a great option for those who want to own a classic American muscle car but don’t mind this manufacturer’s relatively obscure reputation. In the mid-sixties, American Motors Corporation was known for producing economical cars. However, economical cars were not selling, so Roy Chapin Jr. strategized to get the struggling company back on its feet by building a performance vehicle that would compete in the muscle car market. The two-seat AMX would become the bread-winner of AMC’s performance years. While the AMX was designed to compete with muscle cars like the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang, the AMX’s closest competition was the Corvette. In 1968, and as a comparison, the Corvette’s base price was $4,275 while the AMX was under $3,300. The AMX is a dream machine and is well-deserving of making the cut in our top 10 affordable classic cars.
This was a rather unique list of vehicles which some may have or may have not piqued your interest for one reason or another. In the end, if you’re a collector, car enthusiast or simply a casual blog reader I hope you enjoyed reading our list as much as I enjoyed researching and writing about these amazing, fun, fast, some not-so-fast vehicles. Which vehicle would you add to or remove from our list?