Classic Car Watch
Real Budget Cars

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

December 1, 2015
By Scott Lewis

With the lack of funds from the selling of our house... I do not have much money left over. I have not determined exactly how much cash I have for my "Car Slush Fund" yet, but surely I need to start looking at very low priced cars. I will actually be setting up this fund in the spring... when I get my income tax check and bonus (if I get a bonus).

In the mean time I am going to try and approach this column once in a while with real cars that fit in a real budget. I have said this before, a friend on mine says you can get into the car collecting hobby at any price. I don't know if any price is valid, but surely I do believe it can be done for as little as $6,000. So, until I have more than $10,000 in my car slush fund... I will be looking at cars in the $6-10K range as frequently as I can.

Granted, there are not a lot of cars at that price point that will interest me. And, many that do would be odd-ball cars that would be considered just because they happen to be cheap, but may not be desirable. For example, the first car below is a Shelby Charger. Yes... Shelby worked with his buddy Lee Iacocca at Chrysler and built cars based off the K-Car platform. The Charger below is perfect. Perfect in the sense that this is the exact color I would want if I owned one of these. If I had $6K now I would buy this car. No question in my mind. Granted... I would need more like $7,500 since I would have to have it trailered which tends to run somewhere in the the $1,000 - $1,500 range.

Most of these cars do not fall into the normal realm of classic cars. They mostly require a stretch of the imagination. But that's OK. On a really tight budget you have to start somewhere.

One last thing... all these cars were still for sale when this went online on Dec 1, 2015.

1986 Dodge Shelby Charger - $5800

Description: I am the third owner. Two previous owners were Chrysler Execs. 39,000 original miles. Turbo 2.2 5 speed. Good condition. Always stored in Ideal conditions. Nice interior. Been stored the last two years. No rust. Never hit. This is a nice car. I have the original wheels in mint condition also.

Source: Detroit Craigslist (here)

Found: 11/27/2015

Comments: As I stated above... I would buy this car today if I could afford it. It is a REAL Shelby. Yes, the Shelby Registry recognizes these cars. Otherwise it is a hopped up K-Car. But there is history there. I remember reading something back in the day... Carroll Shelby called out John Delorean for making such a crappy car for $25K, when you could buy these Shelbys for half that and they performed better. Carroll said he could build a much better car with a $25K budget back in the 80s.

1988 Pontiac Fiero, Formula, 72K miles - $6,950

Description: F40 Motorsports is proud to offer this 1986 Pontiac Fiero. This car is 100% original and is in great shape having 72,000 original miles looking like it has 20,000 miles. Great car for cheap money.

Source: Hemmings (here)

Found: 8/11/2015

Comments: Another car I would likely buy right away. A reasonably low mileage Fiero in the BEST version of the car. The Formula version was lighter than the GT (and better looking in my option). Yet it had the same underpinnings. I always regretting not know more about these when they were new. When I bought my first new car in Dec 88, I looked past this car that was in its last year of production and bought a Honda CRX Si. Granted, that was a fun car, but the Fiero has a few things going for it now (the CRX Si was a better car then). Now the Fiero is the story of when GM really tried to do something different. It was the only mid-engine sports car available from an American manufacturer. In 1988 it got its own suspension. Prior to 88 it had a Chevette from suspension and a Citation front suspension turned around for its rear suspension (with the steering part locked). Talk about a crazy parts bin car. Unfortunately this car was a victim of Catch-22. It looked like it should be a pretty good sports car. But it needed much better underpinnings to make that a reality. Well, sales were too low by the time they did that. Had this car had a year or two more with the 88 suspension... and sales started to pick up... image how much improved a second generation car would have been. The Toyota MR2 got a serious 2nd generation refresh. Man would I like to have seen what GM would have done on its second try at this car

1979 Pontiac Firebird Base Model - $6,700

Description: Original low option survivor car in amazing unrestored condition. NO BODY RUST. 301 V8, 2brl carb, automatic trans, rear window defrost, original hub caps, interior in very good original condition. New headliner. Dash is perfect. Only 76,000 original miles. The front end was refurbished last winter, new bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends. New shocks all around. New radiator. Tagged and inspected for daily use. 20 MPG mixed highway driving. Good tires. Sound brakes and exhaust. Does not burn or use oil. Low maintenance. Beautiful lines. Original AM Radio was replaced with new digital AM/FM with input jack. The AM radio goes with the car. The dash was not cut.

Source: Hemmings (here)

Found: 11/27/2015

Comments: This is what we call a Blank Canvas. It is hard to decide what should be done with this car. Clearly you could just maintain it and maybe restore it to perfection. Or... you could slowing start turning it into a nice Firebird Street Machine. I would do the later. But I would do it slowly. I would start with a nice set of wheels and tires. Then replace the springs to provide the proper stance. Next would be a good Magnaflow exhaust to let the V-8 breath and sound like a V-8. After that I would probably go through the suspension and brakes and bring them up to modern performance (think Pro Touring, but mild enough to be a great daily driver). Then we have to start thinking about that hood. Do we want to cut a hole in it and put a Trans Am scoop? And do we want a screaming bird. The answer is no and yes. I think I might keep the hood as is... but I would put some kind of Phoenix on it. I would want something custom though. Something based on the original decals, but updated. And subtle, so you had to be close to notice it. I am not sure if it would be a ghost effect, or just very subdued. But i would be looking for a shop that can do custom work to work out a plan. Of course, at teh time we do that hood we have to add a rear spoiler. We may have to paint the car. I would rather not, and just have a spoiler painted to match. Finally, we drop in some real horsepower... like an LS swap, or a 400 Pontiac motor.

1976 Ford Mustang Cobra Cobra II - $8,900

Description: A 1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II. In response to the oil crisis Ford wanted to make a smaller, fun to drive Mustang that got good gas mileage. This car exemplifies those characteristics in a good looking sporty package. This car was owned locally since the 70s by the same owner and well taken care of. Maintenance history documented neatly in a binder.

Source: Hemmings (here)

Found: 11/27/2015

Comments: This is the iconic Charlie's Angels car. This is what Farrah Fawcett drove in the show. I think she even did a poster with this car. Yea, these are the worst Mustangs. But they were right for the times. Remember... in 1974 when the Mustang II came out... it outsold all years of Mustang sales from 1968-1973. Clearly it met the needs of the public. And remember... the original idea of the Mustang was a small sporty car that could be driven easily. The vast majority of the cars in the early years were 6 cylinder and small V-8 cars that were NOT high performance cars. The serious horsepower was for the very few. It's just that our memory only wants to remember those Shelbys, K-Code GTs, Bosses, Cobra Jets, etc. This car should be able to draw a crowd at Cars & Coffee.

1993 Chevrolet Camaro - $7000

Description: 54K miles, minor paint scratches.

Source: We Be Autos (here)

Found: 11/24/15

Comments: I have said multiple times I want one of these... again. I had one and put 160K miles on it before it had some problems and I eventually sold it because I doubted my mechanical skills.

1966 Rambler Rogue - $5,995

Description: Classic Rambler - ready to drive or for restoration.

Source: Hemmings (here)

Found: 8/14/2015

Comments: This is a perfect example of a real classic at an entry level price.

1974 BMW 2002 - $9,800

Description: 1974 BMW 2002. Custom Wheels, Always garaged, Looks & runs great, Low mileage, New paint, Non-smoker, Runs & drives great, Very clean interior, Well maintained.

Source: AutoTrader Classic (here)

Found: 8/1/2015

Comments: These cars can be a lot of fun. I have seen some that are in rough shape and they tend to be the ones that get a little mods and driving a lot. At this price point this car fits that. I would want to give this car a good inspection thought, unlike the Shelby above i would buy without one.

1979 MG MGB - $5,950

Description: 1979 MG B Limited Edition Beautiful Black Finish with Matching Interior for highly sought after color combination! Wonderful history of Low number owners, California Car with 89K garaged and no rust pampered miles. Includes many receipts of service, and tune ups. Factory Mags Wheels with Nice Radial Tires, Factory Floor Mats, Factory MGB Decal, Luggage Rack, Newer Exhaust, Dual Chrome Mirrors, Top in great condition with Matching Tonneau cover, Nice Radial Tires, Includes factory jack and spare. Fun to Drive!

Source: Silver Creek Classics (here)

Found: 8/13/2015

Comments: I think this is the last year for these cars. I have attended a couple of All British car events and these are reasonably popular there. Granted, these are considered the "easy" MG, especially if it has working A/C from the factory. This is a car you can buy at a very affordable price and have a lot of fun driving your collector car.

1966 Mustang - $9,495

Description: N/A

Source: AutoTrader Classic (here)

Found 8/21/2015

Comments: I hope to find many more Mustangs in the $6-10K price range. I would love to save for a decent looking 66 Mustang for under $10K that I could drive and use as a project car for my son and I to work on. Better brakes, suspension, wheel & tires, minor motor tweaks, interior refresh. Yea... I would like one of these.

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo - $9,750

Description: Highlights of this 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Include: 350 V8 Engine, Automatic Transmission, Power Steering, Power Brakes, Disc Brakes, Seat Belts, Air Conditioning, Aftermarket AM/FM Cassette Stereo.

Source: Hemmings (here)

Found: 11/27/2015

Comments: It should be no surprise that I like the 1st gen Monte Carlo.