Classic Cars & Parts decided to take a fun look at the classics for sale right now, and pick nine at nine grand or less. Our shopping spree had no other limitations: some of the cars were performance, others were luxury, and all turned out to be sporty–even the lone Cadillac in the bunch. And all have the potential to appreciate in value.
One long-standing rule of wisdom in any hobby is to buy what collectibles you like. Buying on any other basis, by this rule, is invalid. When a person buys to please himself, he does not have to impatiently wait to make money on his purchase. He has only to enjoy the car he has bought. Thus, he is already a winner. Later, almost inevitably the buyer will profit because if one true collector likes a particular object, then another true collector is likely to covet that object even more and pay an even higher price
Employing the “buy what you like” rule, we have selected the following nine classics within our budget guideline. Our suggestion is for you to pick up a current classic car pricing book like the Classic Cars & Parts Price Guide, pick your own budget favorites, and start shopping!
1960-1969 Chevrolet Corvair
The fact that a 1960s sporty car with bucket seats can be bought for less than nine grand in either excellent original or restored condition is a little hard to believe. Corvair makes our strange-but-true category.
Actually $900, or one-tenth of nine grand, will purchase many Corvairs–albeit not restored and probably not with a set of bucket seats and a turbocharger in the back.
Obviously, the most desirable models are turbocharged. For this presentation, we will omit the specialty Yenko Stingers, which are more valuable. The most desirable body style is the convertible. GM built Corvairs in a full range of body styles: four door sedans, two door coupes, convertibles, even the rather odd Lakewood wagon of 1961, the Greenbrier van, a Rampside (a pickup truck with a side-loading bed), and the Corvan, a delivery van.
The good news for buyers is that any of the regular production Corvairs fit within the confines of our nine-grand model.
I recall a classmate driving a Corvair Monza hardtop coupe. What enticed me about the car was the sound of the flat six with the turbo. It was so smooth compared to a V-8. However, Corvairs were not popular in their day as teenagers wanted a Mustang or a Camaro with a V-8. But Corvairs are a little on the exotic side with the rear-mounted flat six engine and a transaxle to shift gears
1965-66 Mustang Fastback
A friend dropped by my house just yesterday to show me the 1965 fastback he purchased for ten grand. Although this price is a grand higher, a little lesser car can be bought for $9,000. David’s fastback is a “C” code 289 two barrel with an automatic. I could see traces of GT stripes, which obviously were not factory–a GT fastback would easily top ten grand.
David was restoring his Mustang a step at a time. The latest addition was a set of pony covers, although the deluxe interior was not stock.
One of the hottest Mustang classics today is the fastback, so I am sure finding one will not be an easy task and it may have imperfections for a 9 grand sale price. However, there are deals out there. The all-important rockers in this fastback were rust free and the rest of the car looked solid, too. David removed and replaced a front fender that had some rot, but bottom line: he was driving and enjoying the car and turning down many offers to purchase it.
1967 Cadillac Eldorado
One of the most distinctive Cadillacs of the 1960s was the first front-wheel-drive Eldorado. Featuring razor edge lines, hide-away headlights, and a formal rear roofline, the 1967 Eldorado really stands out from the rest of the Cadillac lineup. Offered only in the two-door coupe, the Eldorado is big, but has a very sporty appearance. The interior features bucket seats and a Buck Rogers-style instrument layout.
Prices range from about three grand for a complete driver in poor condition to $30,000 for an incredible, low mileage original. Nine to 10 grand will net the collector a solid original.
Of the approximately 200,000 Cadillacs built for 1967, production totaled 17,930 for the Eldorado. The base sticker price was $6,277, which was big money in 1967. The ’68 and ’69 models are similar in styling and appearance, but the ’67 has more collector interest because it is the first year of this design.
1964 Ford Galaxie Convertible
The Galaxie was Ford’s bread and butter full-sized sedan in the 1960s. Ford offered the Galaxie in just about every body style, including four and two door sedan, four and two door hardtop, 9-passenger and 6-passenger station wagon, and the convertible. Trim levels included the Custom, Custom 500, Galaxie 500 and 500/XL.
One of the most collectible is the 500/XL series in the convertible. Incredibly, these cars are still available for our nine grand buy-in price. We’ve seen cars advertised with bucket seats and console that are in pretty good driving condition. Some Galaxies are loaded with extras such as power top, air conditioning, leather seats, and lots more.
At nine grand, the V-8 will be either the 289, 352, or perhaps the big block 390. Ford offered a 427, which vaults the price up and over our nine grand target. Of course, there’s always the chance one might luck onto a genuine “R-code” 427 dual quad. Collectors should always check the fifth digit of the VIN for the “R” code as the engine in the car might have been swapped out.
1972 Opel GT
Those who would like a two-passenger sports car with plenty of pep that is strong on gas mileage might favor the Opel GT. Not plentiful by Mustang or even Corvette standards, the Opel GT is a little difficult to locate. However, drivers in fair to good condition are available in the nine-grand range.
Opel was a German subsidiary of General Motors. They produced a fastback GT with a front engine and rear wheel drive for the American market. Production lasted for six model years starting in 1968. Opel built 103,463 units in that time span.
The base engine was a 1.1-liter straight four, producing 67 horsepower at 6000 rpm. The optional 1.9-liter CIH (cam-in-head) in-line four produced 102 horsepower in the 1960s, but was de-tuned to 83 horsepower at 5200 rpm in 1971.
The standard transmission was a 4-speed manual. A three-speed automatic was offered with the 1.9L CIH four-cylinder engine.
The car has some cool features, such as pop-out headlights operated by a hand crank. There is no trunk in the back. The storage area is a parcel shelf behind the front seats (not accessible by a hatchback). Even the spare fits back here inside a fold-up panel.
The classic television show “Get Smart” cast an Opel GT in the last year of the series. Agent Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams, drove the Opel GT. So, owners can spot their Opel GT in re-runs of that show.
The name Edsel has become a synonym for financial failure. As a result, almost everybody knows the car. Basically, Ford was trying to position a new car division between its Mercury and Lincoln. MEL was an acronym for the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company.
The concept didn’t work. The timing was also off as the ’58 model year suffered a serious downturn. The Edsel lasted a mere three model years, through 1960.
Edsel’s styling was also downright weird, highlighted by the huge “horse collar” grille up front. Inside, Ford offered the column-mounted gear selector for the automatic, called the “Teletouch.” Edsel used a novel “rolling dome” speedometer.
These oddities add to the collector status. In Edsel fashion, however, the car has pretty much stunk as far as taking off in value.
For 1958, there were four different models. The Citation and Corsair were based on the Mercury chassis with the longer wheelbase.
The smaller Edsels were the Pacer and Ranger models. Body styles included the full range of two- and four-door sedans and hardtops, convertibles, and even station wagons. A 361-cubic-inch V-8 was standard. Basically, the Edsel was a step above Mercury, which was a step above the luxury of the basic Ford passenger car.
For nine grand, a collector can buy a whole lot of Edsel. We have seen 1958 Edsel two-door hardtops priced slightly under nine grand that are advertised to be in excellent condition. The four-door models are even a little cheaper. The extremely rare convertibles can get pricey and far exceed our nine-grand limit. Of course, any Edsel model that is fully restored can fetch a princely sum.
But overall, for nine grand, anyone can be motoring in a nice-looking Edsel and reap the rewards of international notoriety. Best of all, virtually every non-collector believes an Edsel, no matter what the model or body style, is a gold mine.
1956 DeSoto Firedome
Winged Mopars of the 1950s are extremely popular these days. Prices can run into six figures for just the right model, for example the 1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible. Rarity and startling good looks make this car worth a king’s ransom.
Meanwhile, DeSoto offered a very attractive two-door hardtop for 1956 that has fins aplenty, along with a much tamer market value. For just about nine grand, the fortunate buyer can nab a complete car ready to drive. Part of the reason is production: DeSoto produced 19,136 Firedome Seville hardtops for the 1956 model year. There was also a Fireflite line. Both series used a 330 cubic-inch V-8. Firedomes had 230 horses and a two-barrel carburetor. The Fireflites used 4-barrel carburetors and delivered 255 horsepower. A three-speed manual was standard, with a PowerFlite optional. Automatic transmissions came with the famous “pushbutton” transmission for the first time in 1956.
Collectors will find several interesting accessories in the 1956 DeSoto. One is the record player, another is a gas heater that has no tie to the engine or coolant system. Seat belts and a padded instrument panel were also extras in 1956.
Incomplete Or In-Need-Of-Work Cobra Kit Car
With prices for real Shelby American Cobras surpassing $700,000 for small-block cars and $850,000 for big-block cars, the dreamers have forsaken originality and history for a kit. The trouble is, even kit cars can run $50,000 to $100,000 when the builder farms out most of the work.
Some builders claim to do most of the work themselves and get by with $25,000. For this money, they have a two-seater roadster that looks pretty much like a Cobra. They apply Cobra badges because it is illegal for the manufacturer, other than Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas (where Shelby still builds Cobras), to call the car a Cobra.
How does an enthusiast pick up a kit car Cobra for nine grand? The answer is to hunt for a used one or a car that is incomplete. The owner may have gotten tired of the project or fallen short of the money needed for completion. We’ve seen cars advertised for sale in our nine grand territory. The engine and transmission may not be included for this price. Sometimes, the car is a driver in need of work. In every case, the kit Cobra will not be aluminum bodied. The body will be fiberglass, which costs much less to build.
Although the total investment will likely be much more than nine grand, the incomplete or in-need-of-work Cobra kit car is a viable alternative.
1974 Camaro Z/28
The 1970s are equated with lower compression V-8s and a lack of performance. For 1974, Chevrolet actually dropped the 307 V-8. The 350 was the standard V-8 in the Camaro. True, the standard L65 two barrel produced a meager 145 horsepower. However, in the Z28 Camaro the 350 made 245 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque. The performance is decent, especially when one considers the net horsepower rating.
The ’74 Z28 continued the horsepower and performance themes and utilized the second-generation body style born in the 1970 model year. Yet, prices easily dip under nine grand for this classic. Chevrolet had to deal with the problem of government-mandated, impact-absorbing front and rear bumpers in 1974. In my opinion, they did a good job styling-wise, as the ’74 is an awesome looking design. The 1974s are becoming harder and harder to locate, especially with the 4-speed transmission, which is worth a small premium over the automatic.