Many a gearhead has dreams of driving on a coastal road snaking along a white sandy beach in a classic car, looking like a character in a vintage Hollywood movie, and feeling as rich as a celebrity. Although few plebeian car lovers will ever experience that, there are ways in which one can obtain a classic car and at least feel rich while driving it – even if the car isn’t new anymore and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
According to the Classic Car Club of America, a car is classified as a classic when it is at least 30 years old, resulting in a multitude of different models and body-style configurations to choose from. Whilst the second-hand market has been hit with an increase in prices thanks to the demand for both new and used cars, many older cars are still relatively untouched by this global situation. This leads to some pretty good deals to be found on the used car market.
So, that dream of impressing a girl, a friend, or even a foe while driving a movie-like classic has become easier than ever. Here are 8 classic cars to buy for under $10,000 which you can take that Sunday afternoon drive in whilst feeling like a million bucks.
8 1990 Chevrolet Corvette
The Chevy Corvette is familiar to every car enthusiast. It stirs up thoughts of a V8 grumble and a flash across one’s vision. The C4 generation of the Corvette was completely redesigned from the C3 with a new chassis, suspension, and, most importantly – new engine choices. GM introduced a new range of engines in the form of the LT range, most of which featured in many other GM products.
The top-of-the-range ZR1 featured a Lotus-designed LT5, producing 375 hp and far surpassed its rivals in each motoring test thrown at it. The C4 Corvette reignited interest in the Corvette brand and helped General Motors to continue producing fast V8 coupés, which eventually led to the high-performance Corvettes we have today. Now, a C4 Corvette can be purchased for as little as $9,000, or an average of $15,000 for a well-looked-after one.
7 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL
The Mercedes-Benz W126 was the most luxurious model in Mercedes’ line-up before adopting their new naming strategy, which essentially made the W126 the S-Class before the S-Class existed. There were many versions of the W126, but the 560SEL was by far the most powerful and the most luxurious.
The 560SEL was fitted with a 5.6-liter V8 engine producing around 300 hp and 336 lb-ft of torque. It was the fastest production saloon in the world with a top speed of 150 mph, until the BMW 750i came along and set the standard of 155 mph. The 560SEL is a great car built in an era when Mercedes-Benz cars were still over-engineered, resulting in pretty good reliability, with good ones available for as little as $10,000.
6 1988 Lincoln Continental Mark VII
The Lincoln Continental has always been a great personal luxury car, which got even better with the Mark VII version in 1984. Whilst the engine choices were a bit on the less powerful side thanks to the ongoing oil crisis, they were at least interesting. The most popular choice was the 5.0-liter V8 which produced between 140 hp in 1984 and 225 hp in 1988, with the more interesting choice being a turbodiesel 6-cylinder from BMW, producing 115 hp.
The Continental Mark VII wasn’t as flashy and massive as the Mark V, but it still had some luxurious options, including soft leather all over the interior, a good automatic transmission, and the option of an in-car telephone – a whopping $3,000 option in 1985.
5 1986 Porsche 944
The Porsche 944 was the next step up from the 924 – which was supposed to be a new sports car for Volkswagen. The 924 was then updated to a proper Porsche in the form of the 944. It originally had a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, but Porsche added a turbocharger in 1985 to boost performance.
In 1989, Porsche increased the displacement to 3.0 liters for the S2 trim, whilst retaining the Turbo and Turbo S models with the 2.5-liter. A Porsche is an excellent way of looking wealthy – mostly due to Porsche’s reputation – and the 944 is an easy way into this lifestyle, without breaking the bank.
4 1986 Jaguar XJS V12
The XJS was the most luxurious car in Jaguar’s line-up for more than 20 years, from 1975 to 1996. It was facelifted in 1981 and a new straight-6 was added as a cheaper-to-run model. Even with yearly updates, the XJS quickly became old-fashioned and vastly outdated compared to its rivals, with the 5.3-liter V12 producing much less performance than equivalent competitors.
Regardless, the XJS remains one of the greatest Jags ever with its classic styling and comfortable ride. XJSs are still quite cheap to purchase on the used car market, however maintaining an XJS may be a bit tricky as parts are becoming rare and ever more expensive. Still, cruising down a promenade in an XJS would feel quite special.
3 1978 Chrysler New Yorker
The Chrysler New Yorker was designed as a daily driver for the busy city dweller, specifically those in New York. This was a weird concept as the ninth generation New Yorker was more than 232 inches long – a difficult car to maneuver even in a wide-open field. Still, it is a fantastic-looking car.
The New Yorker was offered with a choice of three V8s, a 5.9-liter, 6,6-liter, and a massive 7.2-liter. The latter two were offered everywhere, whilst the 5.9-liter was only available in California and high-altitude areas. New Yorkers (the car) are still available for less than $10,000, resulting in a lot of car for very little cash.
2 1966 Buick Electra
The Electra follows the same principle as the Chrysler New Yorker, being a big, comfortable cruiser with large V8 engines and lots of interior space. The Buick Electra also has one of the best names ever given to a car. Electra.
The third generation was over 223 inches long and 80 inches wide, making it a yacht or barge for the road. The top specification Electra was fitted with a 7.5-liter V8 producing 370 hp, mated to a 3-speed Turbo-Hydromatic transmission. There are many Electras available on the used car market, but be sure to look for one in better condition to avoid big restoration costs.
1 1985 Jaguar XJ6
The XJ has been the flagship car for Jaguar since 1968. There have been multiple generations all following the same design cues to keep the XJ exclusive and luxurious. The Series III XJ was built between 1979 and 1992, featuring two choices of an inline-6 and one V12. The inline-6s produced between 160 and 200 hp, whilst the V12 made 285 hp, with power going to the rear wheels only via either a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.
Older XJs are relatively easy to come by as they sold quite well during their production runs. The V12 is the less common of the engine options, however, the 4.2-liter i6 was considered to be a nicer engine to go for a drive with, while the V12 was more for cruising about. Jaguar XJs are available second-hand for under $10,000, but beware of the potential repair costs of classic British cars. That being said, the Jaguar XJ is a fantastic car to look rich in, regardless of the model.
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