Classic cars are great machines which show where the automotive industry came from and where it is going. For many, a classic car has a nostalgic connection, while for others, it is a passion or serves as an investment.
Most people believe classic cars to be expensive to purchase, maintain and run. While this is true for some vehicles, many classic cars can really be quite cheap in all regards. The reasoning behind this is that a lot of the cars in the past were completely over-engineered, meaning they had excellent reliability and were surprisingly dependable. Others – especially the British Leyland-built ones like the Land Rover Series I – were the complete opposite with them constantly and consistently breaking down. There are some models which have increased in price as they got more popular or became collectible, but many cars which one would think have high values, are actually pretty affordable.
Some classic cars may have an astronomic asking price due to various reasons, but others are quite easily attainable by enthusiasts. Here are ten classic cars that are cheaper than most people think.
9/9 BMW 5-Series E28 ($30,000)
The BMW 5-Series is a fantastic sedan for any occasion – from being a fast track-ready beast to taking the kids to school in the morning. The 5-Series is now in its seventh generation and is a brilliant executive sedan with handsome styling and timeless design.
The new one starts from $56,000, which is out of the reach of many. Luckily, the second gen E28 is a brilliant classic car which has become quite the collectible. Good condition models are around for $20,000 or less, with excellent condition ones costing about $30,000.
8/9 MG MGB ($15,000)
The MG MGB is one of the easiest ways of getting into the classic car world. The MGB is a sports car in the traditional sense as it has an engine in the front, drive to the rear and a manual transmission in the middle. It is a cheap vehicle as British Leyland produced a lot of units – with a couple of drawbacks.
For one, the MGB isn’t at all reliable, thanks to the whole situation with the British car industry in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. While it is a cheap vehicle, be sure to have about the same amount of money for repairs and maintenance.
7/9 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class R107 ($15,000)
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is one of the greatest luxury convertible models ever made. The SL began life as the absolutely gorgeous 300SL Gullwing, before morphing into the equally beautiful W113 ‘Pagoda’ generation.
The following R107 generation was on sale between 1971 and 1989 and opened the floodgates for the model into the U.S. market. The only downside to the US SL is the big, ugly 5mph bumpers required due to regulations.
6/9 Datsun 280ZX ($30,000)
The Datsun 280ZX is the much cheaper alternative to the legendary 240Z, but still retains the 1970s styling. It may be a bit larger and heavier, but it is more practical and the 2.8-liter inline-6 produces enough power to compensate.
The 280ZX was designed to be the more comfortable alternative to the sportier Z cars, adding larger rear space for the extra seats. The 280ZX also got a turbocharger in the early 1980s, which increased performance to Ferrari 308GTSi levels – for around seven times cheaper.
5/9 Jaguar XJS ($15,000)
The Jaguar XJS was the replacement for the beautiful E-Type and remained in production for 21 years. By the end, it was almost completely outdated, but still remained a brilliant GT car, despite its terrible reliability and fuel economy.
The XJS is actually a pretty cheap way of getting into the classic car market, with some good condition ones rising in value. One thing to keep in mind is that it costs a lot to get an XJS running and costs even more to keep it there. Still, for $15,000, it is a bargain GT.
4/9 Chevrolet Chevelle ($30,000)
The Chevrolet Chevelle is a legendary muscle car within the high-horsepower world of the US auto industry. The popular Chevelle SS can easily cost upwards of $50,000, with many reaching the $70,000 and even $100,000 mark.
Somehow, various Chevelles with V8s are available on the use market for around $30,000 – or about the same price as a new Toyota Camry Hybrid. The Chevelle was an extremely popular model in the 1960s and 1970s – one which has attained a spot in the muscle car Hall of Fame.
3/9 VW Karmann Ghia ($20,000)
The VW Beetle is one of the most popular and known-about models within the entirety of the motor industry. The Beetle made its way all over the world, with production spanning an incredible 65 years. More than 21.5 million units were produced.
One of the spin-offs for the Beetle was the Karmann Ghia. It was a fancier body styled by the design houses of Karmann in Germany and Ghia in Italy. It still had the same engines as the Beetle, but was marginally faster thanks to the more aerodynamic body.
2/9 Ford Galaxie 500 ($25,000)
The Ford Galaxie was the go-to large, executive sedan of the 1950s and 1960s. It was a huge vehicle with engines to fit its size – even the 6-cylinder was 3.9 liters in displacement. The coolest of the generations was the third, with its vertical twin headlamps and swooping bodywork.
The Galaxie 500 XL was the trim to go for, as it added many options and could fit the 7.0-liter V8. Today, the Galaxie is a popular model to restore and restomod, so the prices have increased a bit. That being said, good condition models are still available for around $25,000.
1/9 Porsche 944 ($15,000)
The Porsche 944 was the proper update to the 924 – a car designed and built by Porsche for VW, who then canceled the project in favor of the original Scirocco. The 924 got a Porsche badge and later evolved into the 944 – which later became the 968.
The 944 is an excellent sports car with Porsche reliability and engineering, meaning it works well for most of the time. The handling is better than many of the cars in its class and thanks to the low price, it makes for an excellent project car to start out with – especially at $15,000.
Sources: Bring a Trailer, Mecum, Hemmings