So, you want to buy a classic car but aren’t sure which one is worth your time. Many questions fly through your mind all at once when buying a used car. Some of these include, “Will it be reliable?” Typically, a select few car brands build the most reliable engines – like Toyota – but even they had some duds. “Am I getting a good deal?” “How severely will my new vehicle depreciate?” Don’t worry though, we’re here to guide you through this unnecessary stressful process.
Unfortunately, there’s a ton of misleading information floating around on the web. Just take Tesla for example. Many individuals, especially social media influencers argue that Teslas are incredible automobiles, but in reality, the brutal truth about owning a Tesla is not as much spoken about. But we digress.
Today we’ll dive into some of the best used classic cars to buy that are both reliable and will more often than not rise in value as the years pass by. Also do note that this list will be in ascending order by price listings on the used car market. Let’s jump straight into it, shall we?
10 Ford Crown Victoria – $5,000
The Ford Crown Victoria is one of America’s favorite vehicles of all time. Used by the police force, taxi services, and much more, the Crown Vic proved its worth a long time ago. Not only are Crown Victorias incredibly durable, but since all of them feature either a 4.2-liter, 4.9-liter, or 5.8-liter Windsor V8, they had more than enough power to have fun with.
Best of all, since Crown Vics were everyone’s go-to car a few years ago they have a ton of miles put on them. In plain English, this means used Ford Crown Victorias are dirt cheap. To think, you can pick up a used Police Interceptor for just $5,000.
9 Lexus LS400 – $5,500
Arguably one of the most reliable cars of all time, the Lexus LS400 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck cars on the market right now. Repair Pal rates the Lexus LS400 an impressive 4.5/5 for reliability, which if you ask us might be a slightly conservative figure. Apart from its bulletproof quality, there is much to love about the LS400.
Powering the Lexus LS400 is the legendary 1UZ-FE 4.0-liter V8 engine with around 250 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Albeit not the quickest car from the ’90s, it was one of the most luxurious ’90s cars. To this day, Lexus LS400s get listed for just above $5,000 with most of their electronics still functioning, and because it’s such a revolutionary car, and proved Lexus is equal in comparison to other Germans brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, it’s guaranteed to rise in value over time.
8 Mazda MX-5 NA Miata – $11,999
They say Miata is always the answer… but why? Since the original Mazda MX-5 Miata’s release in the early ’90s, they’ve had an unprecedented fun factor associated with them. Making up for their somewhat underpowered four-cylinder engines, Miatas have a lightweight body, and a reliable demeanor, are cheap to buy, and are highly customizable.
Take this 1990 Mazda Miata that’s on sale for $11,999 on cars.com. Some might argue that classic NA Miatas are already worth too much money – especially when compared to their asking prices from a few years prior – but we believe there’s no slowing down for these tinny Japanese sports cars’ values any time soon.
7 Suzuki Samurai – $14,300
If there’s one car an adventurous off-road enthusiast needs, it’s a Toyota FJ Land Cruiser. Unfortunately, those compact Japanese 4x4s are already hilariously expensive. That said, there is an alternative… a better alternative if you will. It’s called the Suzuki Samurai, and unlike the FJ, the Samurai is affordable.
Although the Suzuki Samurai has just around 80 hp at its disposal, its short wheelbase and small size makes it an adequate off-roader. Its quirky good looks and impeccable reliability are just cherries on top of the already sweet cake. Chances are more than likely that they’d follow the same price trend as the tiny FJ too.
6 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – $16,000
Often referred to as the most beautiful car on the planet, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is not only soon to skyrocket in value, but it’s also surprisingly cheap to own and maintain. Since the Karmann Ghia shared its powertrain and overall layout with the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, it’s very straightforward to work on.
The only drawback to these cars is their bodywork. Since the Italian-built body only consists of five panels in total, repairs can be a tedious job. But for $16,000, who can resist?
5 Mercedes-Benz W123 E-Class – $19,995
The W123 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of the most underrated cars of all time. There is a large selection of engines offered in the W123 and you could choose between a gasoline-powered one or a diesel. They all had one thing in common though – reliability.
The Mercedes-Benz W123 is one of the longest-lasting cars on the road. It might not be ridiculously quick or attention-grabbing, but its opulent personality was far superior to that of rival luxury cars of its time. For just under $20,000, you can get a proper, classic Three-Star luxury car without worrying about it bankrupting you!
4 Datsun 280Z – $20,000
Most gearheads know the cult-following there is behind Nissan’s Z cars, but did you know you can actually buy a reliable Z car without paying more than $20,000? Please welcome to the stage, the Datsun 280Z (yes, Datsun and Nissan are essentially the same brand).
Underneath its elongated hood laid a naturally-aspirated 2.8-liter inline-six that produced 171 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque, and it had a curb weight of 2,875 lbs. In other words, this classic JDM sports car doesn’t just look good, but it’s light on its feet, has a reliable powertrain, and is surely guaranteed to skyrocket in value sooner than later.
3 Volvo P1800 – $25,500
If you don’t live under a rock, you knew that the Volvo P1800 would find its way onto our list today. After all, the P1800 is one of the most reliable cars ever made. If you were to ask us to recommend a classic car that provides overall quality for money, this would be it. The Volvo P1800 is just as stunning as the aforementioned Karmann Ghia, if not more, but is far more effortless to drive and has a sprinkle of performance to its blood.
Some of these Swedish sports cars already sell for north of six figures, but someway, somehow, high-mileage examples can be had for just more than $25,500. How that is, we don’t know. Not that we’re complaining of course…
2 Toyota Land Cruiser – $27,900
Paying $27,900 for an old gas-guzzling Land Cruiser sounds mental. That is until you have a look at the current market for classic offroaders… As we’ve previously mentioned, the FJ Land Cruiser has already skyrocketed in value, and the Land Cruiser is hot on its heels.
While you can acquire a classic Land Cruiser for less than $30,000, you should. They have Toyota’s traditional reliability standards, are unbelievably talented offroad, and will sure as eggs be worth a fortune one day.
1 Porsche 993 – $45,500
Now we’re treading into the deep waters… Buying a classic Porsche 911 has never been a cheap task to complete, but when you take into consideration that ones in mint condition sell for well above six figures, maybe paying less than $50,000 for one doesn’t sound like such a bad deal after all. Just last month a 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet with a 6-speed manual sold for $45,500 on Bring a Trailer.
It might not be the highly sought-after 911 Turbo S from the 993 generation, but it remains a brilliant automotive investment nonetheless.
Sources: Car and Driver, Adrian Flux, Ultimate Specs