The Inexpensive Way to Begin Collecting Cars

Vintage Car For Display At Auto Show
Start collecting cars. Juergen Schmitz / EyeEm / Getty Images

Anyone who has looked through the sales results at Barrett-Jackson or RM Auctions would have good reason to think that purchasing a collector car is well beyond their means. Even the price tags on restoration project cars seem a bit high these days. For example, the popular two-door, high performance, convertible marques can hurt the pocket book and deplete the savings account. In the end, it really depends on what you’re looking for.

We've found some good news for those of you who want to get a great classic at an affordable price. Hemmings Classic Car magazine published an article with some inexpensive alternatives that we found to be quite acceptable. They listed nineteen cars that, if in top notch condition, were low mileage, show quality, unmolested, passed down by grandma cars, you could buy for under $5000 - according to the most recent ​NADA Classic Car Appraisal Guide. Of the nineteen cars on Hemmings list, these were our favorites:

  • 1973 - 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe - Throughout its life, the Caprice was the most expensive and luxurious model of the Chevrolet full-size car range and was renamed the Caprice Classic in 1973
  • 1973 - 1974 Buick Luxus Century Coupe - Buick moved the Century from it’s full-size stature to a mid-size In 1973, but kept it’s “big” features intact. The Luxus high-end trim level was only offered in 1973 and 1974.
  • 1974 - 1978 Chrysler Newport Four Door Sedan - These cars were the result of Chryslers’ huge investment in re-engineering. They were solid, well-built big cars, but didn’t sell well because they came out at a time when smaller vehicles were becoming all the rage
  • 1972 Pontiac Bonneville Four Door Hardtop - Earlier and later model Bonnevilles are commanding a higher selling price, which makes this year a good deal. Pontiac’s full-size performance reached its peak in 1966 with Bonneville leading the pack. From 1971 to 1976, the Grand Ville became the high priced model until Bonneville took back the title. We have a hard time seeing much difference between the two during that time.
  • 1975 - 1977 Dodge Plymouth Gran Fury - The Gran Fury lasted from 1975 to 1977, when all of Plymouth's full-size C-body models were being dropped. But they are probably the ones most people know best because they were heavily used by television and local police
  • 1969 - 1970 AMC Rebel SST Four Door Sedan - The SST was the sportiest Rebel package, with a standard "Typhoon" 290 V-8. We think the Rebel is an underrated car from the muscle era; after all, its big brother is the highly collectible “Rebel Machine”.
  • 1975 - 1978 Matador Coupe - The original Matador line was introduced in 1971 to replace the Rebel series, but didn’t make a lot of heads turn until the redesign in 1974. The “fastback” styling helped those who were transitioning from muscle car to plush mid-size coupes, feel like they weren’t really getting older.
  • 1976 Gran Torino Four Door Pillared Hardtop - 1976 was the last year for the Torino before going on to become the LTD II. We find that surprising because of the public’s interest in the two door Starsky and Hutch replica car Ford made that year.

You may be thinking to yourself that most of these cars, which are still on the road, usually look like beaten and banged up old jalopies. Well, guess what, many of the pristine cars on the auction block weren’t very pretty before they sold at record highs either. But just like their predecessors in the sixties, these cars will bring back memories for a whole new generation of car lovers.

In case you’re wondering, the other cars that made the list of Heming bargain collectibles are:

  • 1971 - 1972 Chevrolet Biscayne Four Door Sedan
  • 1971 - 1975 Buick Electra 225 Custom Two Door Coupe
  • 1973 -1977 Chevy Nova Four Door Sedan
  • 1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic
  • 1969, 1971 – 1972 Mercury Marquis Four Door Sedan
  • 1975 – 1976 Mercury Grand Marquis
  • 1975 – 1976 Grand Le Mans
  • 1971 Ford LTD Four Door
  • 1971 – 1976 Cadillac Calais or DeVille
  • 1971 – 1972 Buick Centurion Two Door Hardtop