MY MATE GUS was bemoaning that he ‘couldn’t afford a classic car anymore,’ under a For Sale pic of a Valiant wagon. The Val’s price was $20k. That’s solid money for a 1970s family truckster and, yes, it’s more money than most of us can blow on a toy car.
I could see Gus’s point and feel his pain: there are several great Aussie cars that I could’ve/would’ve/ should’ve bought for next to nothing in the recent past but didn’t… and now I can’t afford them.
But that hasn’t stopped me having a stack of fun with non-collector, non-muscle, non-performance, non-wanker spec cars… And with each costing less than $6k!
First, my Beetles. I have… *ahem* a few of these. Values range between $400 and $40k but six gorillas gets a good driver that might have a few dents that could be tapped into shape by a DIY owner during a rolling restoration. One of the best things about Beetles is the parts availability: despite their rear-engined, air-cooled mechanical non-convention, popularity ensures they are one of the easiest classics to buy and maintain.
Regular readers might remember my scribblings a year ago about my beige 1982 Mitsubishi Sigma SE. Morley and I awoke it from a six-year shed slumber and I drove it home to NSW; with fresh tyres and shocks and a few other fixes, it owed me less than $6k.
I also have less than $6K in my brown 1979 VB Commodore wagon that I write of regularly in Our Cars. I’ve replaced the bent front crossmember and bumper, the worn-out dampers and tyres but the car’s crap paint will remain until I have the time and the dime to respray it.
That’s what I play with… but how about a1985-ish Ford Fairlane or LTD? Big injected six, the iconic oh-so1980s green-glow digital instruments and veloouurrr … lush! For many of us, those 80s features are as alluring as chrome bumpers and hounds-tooth trim to a retiree. And $6k gets you into one. A little less buys a tidy family-spec XD, XE or XF Falcon.
And $6k will get you into not one, but two awesome brick-spec Volvos!
How about an H-plate eligible Mazda MX-5? Rightio, it’s not a family cruiser and immaculate examples are closer to $10k but scruffier ones can still be bought for around $6k.
Maybe you enjoy a spirited drive but need more seats? How about a Corolla Twin Cam, a Nissan Pulsar SSS or Suzuki Swift GTI?
Recently, Morley and I spent some time in a rural wrecking yard that was stacked with 1970s Toyota Crowns. We jokingly decided that given a weekend and a tool-box – and some beer and pizza – we could have assembled a couple of cool cruisers from all the bits.How much fun could a wrecking-yard resto be?
On the subject of Japanese luxury, Nissan/Datsun and Mazda took a while to catch up to Toyota’s classy (!) Cressida/Crown-sized cars but by the late 1980s these brands had cars that – as do all these other suggestions – make great fun Coffee & Cars cruisers that you won’t be too scared to use for week-day duties.
Sure, a $20k price has made a nightmare of Gus’s dream Valiant wagon but there remains plenty of fun to be had with other cool cars!
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