Most of the focus on the collector car world comes from televised auctions where six-figure cars are the norm, so it’s easy to conclude that the average person is priced out of the collector car world.
But the fact of the matter is there are still plenty of interesting collectible cars out there for under 10 grand. Granted, they tend to be from the 1970s and 1980s rather than the 1950s or 1960s, but they’re all fun to drive and relatively easy to live with. Here are five of our favorites:
1985-93 Ford Mustang
The third generation or “Fox” platform Mustang brought affordable V-8 muscle back to the masses. Although it was introduced in 1979, better breathing cylinder heads and a re-designed four-barrel carburetor in 1985 pushed horsepower above 200 for the first time since the early 1970s. The relatively light and simple design of the car made the best use of the newfound ponies. While the oldest are just under 30 years old, the collector world is starting to wake up. Still, nice 5.0-liter V-8 examples of all three body styles (coupe, hatchback and convertible) are still available in LX and GT trim for 10 grand or less.
1966-77 Ford Bronco
The Bronco pushes the 10 grand budget the most and you’ll have to look hard to find an unrusted or unmodified original Bronco in this price range, but they do occasionally lurk on Craigslist. Competition for the likes of the International Harvester Scout, early Broncos look right in the way that early Land Rovers do and collectors have taken a big shine to them lately. Buy now.
1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa coupe
The poor Corvair. Shunned by Chevy fans and import fans alike, it really is a poor-man’s Porsche, with styling on the second generation cars as nice as anything to come out of Germany, Italy or the U.S. at that time. Corvairs pioneered the use of turbocharging, and later cars could be made to handle quite well with some relatively inexpensive modifications, in spite of what Ralph Nader said. Incidentally, the 50th anniversary of the book “Unsafe at Any Speed” is coming up the year after next. Good reason to buy a Corvair, we think. Jay Leno loves his red Corsa Coupe.
1983-91 Porsche 944 coupe
The vintage Porsche market is on fire right now, with some cars appreciating 300 percent or more over the last five years. All have one thing in common — they’re air cooled and the engine is in the back. Water-cooled front-engine Porsches have yet to see the love from collectors, and we think that the 944 is one of the best of the bunch. A derivative of the nicely balanced but underpowered 924, the fender bulges and smoother and more powerful balance shaft-equipped twin-cam four was just was Dr. Porsche ordered to make the 944 a credible performance car. Maintenance doesn’t come cheaply (break a timing belt and you’ll wish you hadn’t been born), but the 944 is a bargain-priced precision instrument for dissecting curvy back roads.
1976 Chevrolet Corvette
Malaise-era Corvettes get a bum rap from most Corvette fans but in reality, they’re quite nice and anything but pathetically slow. The move from gross to net horsepower makes it seem as though power was down more than it really was, and mid-1970s Corvettes came in some great colors with nice options like competition-inspired gymkhana suspension and aluminum wheels. Looks weren’t really compromised by bumper standards with Chevy’s solution of hiding the bumpers under body-colored urethane panels among the best of any manufacturer.