Spring flowers may be lovely, but to auto enthusiasts they pale in comparison with the gleaming classic cars unveiled by owners in warmer weather.
Walking around downtown Philadelphia one spring season, I spotted everything from a custom dune buggy to a classic Rolls Royce. As I saw their brightly polished exteriors sparkle in the sunshine, it was easy to understand how even the most cost-conscious among us are tempted to buy a classic car.
Classic cars aren’t just any used cars: They are cars that — over time — often appreciate in value because of their design, mechanics, speed or rarity. Buying a car as an investment is a risky business, however. You might restore a classic and sell it for a profit. But you might not.
So, if you’re going this direction, it pays to look for an affordable classic. Consider these five:
1. Chevrolet Corvette
Do you think a Corvette sounds great, but you need a road-ready car with all of the warranties that come along with a new one or at least a certified pre-owned car? Consider a new or gently used Corvette.
A 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray starts at $55,900, according to the automaker. Pricey? Yes. An instant classic? Absolutely.
2. Datsun 240Z
In the early 1970s, the Datsun 240Z was the “cool kids” car thanks to sporty exterior styling, a comfy cockpit and an engine that Popular Mechanics notes could skyrocket from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Its top speed of 125 mph blew the doors off the Porsche 911T, Jaguar E-Type and others in its class, according to the magazine.
No wonder Popular Mechanics once named the Datsun 240Z as its top pick of underrated classic cars. Prices in Autotrader recently ranged from about $15,000 to $55,000.
3. Mercury Cougar
Road & Track has noted that the first generation Cougar has much the same bones as its cousin, the Ford Mustang. They also say it’s just as good-looking. That’s subjective, of course, but the Cougar was introduced in 1967 as a more upscale version of the Mustang, reports a Ford Mercury Cougar blog.
Retail price for the first-generation hardtop was $2,851 back in the day, according to NADA Guides. These classics now sell for anywhere from $9,600 to $32,600, says NADA.
4. Ford Mustang
Another highly desirable and iconic car is the Mustang, first introduced in 1964. Restored Mustangs from the mid-1960s are expensive, but hardtops from the late ’60s and early 1970s are more affordable. Like the Corvette, you can buy a new model and know it’s an instant classic.
A 2019 Mustang sells for between $26,395 and $46,595, reports Edmunds.
5. Station wagons
A couple of years ago, Popular Mechanics reported that the 1966 Ford Country Squire and the 1967 Buick Sport Wagon were growing in popularity. At the time, it was said that they could be had for a mere $8,000 to $10,000.
Bright colors and luggage racks — and, in my opinion, the faux wood paneling on the side — are extras that make the cars even more unique — and likely more valuable.
What’s your experience with classic cars? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.