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Hagerty Employee

According to you: 13 undervalued vehicles you can enjoy on the cheap

I recently asked folks in the Hagerty Community to submit their candidates for the most undervalued classics, and I received answers that were both insightful and surprisingly varied. The results go to show the diverse backgrounds of our Community fans, but they also make for good content elsewhere in the Hagerty mediaverse.
192 REPLIES 192
New Driver

I guess I'm partial, because I own one, but for my money, which, by most standards is very little I would nominate the Mercedes are 129 roadster built from 1998-2001. The 1999 SL 500 that I own, has 315 hp and is still quicker and handles better than 90% of the cars on the road today. It's a fabulous car to just drive on a regular basis, comfortable, and the quality of build is spectacular. Top-down, Windows and windscreen raised, you can cruise at 70 miles an hour and hold a normal conversation or listen to the Bose stereo. It's far and away the most impressive automobile I've ever owned. It started at about $95,000 new and the engineering, fit and finish reflect it.

Other than a couple of years in the mid-90s when they used a biodegradable wiring harness, that prematurely failed, the rest of the run was extremely well-built and reliable. The one common problem is failure of the seals in the hydraulic cylinders that operate the soft top. While the dealers want to replace all of the cylinders at a ridiculous price, you can get a set of rebuilt cylinders for $600, and get someone to install them for less than $1500. Or, if you're at all handy with tools you can buy the seals, remove, rebuild, and reinstall the cylinders yourself over a long weekend for about $250. There are excellent videos online and information from the company who rebuilds the cylinders. It literally is a job you can do in your home garage/shop.

That said, I bought my well cared for 2 owner car with with 104,000 miles on it two years ago from a used car dealer who specialized in high and foreign cars for $6000. As I mentioned above. It cost me about $250 to rebuild all the roof hydraulic cylinders. I had a new aftermarket soft top installed at a cost of about $1500. Because I'm pretty picky about handling I spent another $1650 on tires and suspension parts, the latter of which I installed myself.. Spent a couple hundred dollars on interior trim pieces, and reglued the hardtop headliner. The car is now in #2 condition and Haggerty's values. it at about $14,000... but, I'm not inclined to part with it. I really like this car, and I think based on what the predecessor 107 series is selling for, the prices of these in good condition will likely go up significantly in the next few years.
Intermediate Driver

In my semi-humble opinion, the Chrysler Crossfire Limited Roadster belongs in this group, if any rig belongs. Afterall the Crossfire represents an 'old school' M-B SLK. It was no 'give-away' when it originally sold on Chrysler Dealer lots between the '04 to '08 model years, but now that these rigs have been away from the factory for a period of 13 to 17-years, a low-miler example can be had "cheap".

Many so-called "expert vehicle-review journalists" over the years, have uncerimoniously 'panned' the Crossfire for 'numb steering feel'. I dispute this claim -- I'm super-happy with my Limited Roadster. I truly enjoy the steering and everything else between the 2-bumper covers, including its excellent 'exhaust note'.

My roadster routinely turns heads and collects admiring accolades from onlookers. If you have any interest in Great Value, or a rig that is German-engineered AND Great Value at the same time....
.... test drive a small-dollar Chrysler Crossfire Limited Roadster. You too might be convinced that many "expert vehicle-review journalists" are: Up Their Collective "Gigs".....!!

I always thought those Crossfires were a good-looking car.  Unfortunately, I bought into the negative reviews and never pursued one when I had a paycheck and might've been able to afford one.  Ah well, life is full of "only if's", eh?

New Driver

Maybe not "cheap" but since the ZR-1 and Lambo are on this list, certainly undervalued, is the Aston Martin DB7, especially Vantage with a manual transmission.
Better looking (imo), rarer (569 manual Vantage coupes) more reliable, and lower maintenance than a Ferrari 550 for about 1/3 the cost.
If you don't like the 550 comparison, consider recent values of the BMW 850 CSi, which is again more common (though obviously not common), less powerful, and was significantly less expensive new.
New Driver

This may sound crazy but hear me out. The first gen Lincoln MKZ thru 2009 model year. Ford Fusion siblings are all trashed by now hiding the base DNA (which was good after all) of these little Lincolns. First generation was hearkening back to the fabulous 60s Continental with throwback styling cues in and out. Slab sided, 4 eyed and big grill. Real wood, round chromed AC ports, and lots of goodies inside. 263 hp v6 in this little car is more than ample. And unlike the Cadillac CTS they are quite dependable mechanically. Appropriate bling without constant repairs needed sting. In the North DFW 'Golden Triangle' my metallic pearl white Lincoln turns heads today in an environment rich in Euro sleds and hence punches well above its weight as a $10k car.
Pit Crew

I’m going to open FB marketplace now and start looking for a ZR1.

So many others can be added to this list but I’m going to go with a couple undervalued older classics.

Hmmmm…. “Undervalued and Enjoyable” ……… my mind shifts to any classic that’s in good shape (reliable, clean, good interior / body) and under $15-20k.

Almost any classic car is enjoyable to drive. Especially if it’s somewhat reliable and has a manual transmission (including a 3-on-the-tree). Many late 40s and early 50s American cars have been restored or kept in great shape by their owners and can be picked up for a bargain considering what it would cost to restore one today. They have a real vintage feel, look and appeal. And they are easy to work on. That’s part of the enjoyment for me.

I’d also add the 70s super beetles. These cars are a blast to drive and a nice one can be found for much less that the original classic beetles.

Ahh, the Saturn Sky. I own one just for the looks. Build quality is lousy and handling mundane. It's like GM looked at the Miata and said we can do much worse. They succeeded.
Intermediate Driver

Very glib and very funny - This is what the hobby is about, the love of your car!
New Driver

Had 2 pontiac solstice and one Saturn Sky Redline. Very fun car. No room for even a cd. When the c4 corvette came out I did not like it. Had a 79 Black trans am at the time. I have had a 2000 c5 corvette, an 81 corvette and a 92 corvette. Just bought a 96 corvette and LOVE IT!. Its quick, quiet, smooth, no squeaks or rattles. I have grown to like the c4 body will quicky become valuable..
New Driver

While I am sure the 2017-2020 124 Spider will end up deservedly on the list at some point because it is a well-hidden gem in the roadster world (thank you Fiat for never advertising the car in the US), I am hesitant to say it is already appreciating sans chip shortage. It will be interesting to see how prices settle out once chips start flowing again. That said, an online friend just sold his 124 Spider to Carvana for 32K. He bought it 10 months ago for 24K.

Off point, but needed to say: Sajeev Metha, please do your homework before writing articles. Your line, "If production is indeed about to cease, that could boost the 124 Spiders’ desirability even further.." seems a bit out of place in an October 2021 article when the 124 ceased production at the end of 2020.
Community Manager

Definitely not off point, thank you for your feedback. That was embarrassing, but I have addressed the mistake. Thanks for that. 

New Driver

Glaring miss is the 2000-2009 Honda S2000. I have an 06 that has increased significantly and still purrs and turns heads. This ain’t no Miata!
New Driver

The car you missed in my opinion was the BMW 850s from the early 90’s.
Beautiful design, V12 motors and available in 6 speed manuals. Probably expensive to fix, but stunning cars and mist go for reasonable prices.
New Driver

Mercedes R129. Cheap now and certain to go up in value.
New Driver

How about the Taurus SHO? Except perhaps the wretched 96-99 generation, they’re definitely undervalued in the enthusiast world. Hopefully their day in the sun (especially the early 5-speed versions) will come soon 🌞
Intermediate Driver

Agreed - Please check out my comment that was posted minutes ago - Thanks!

While all these cars are easy and cheap to buy. It is the repair cost, part availability and durability with a few of these that will kill your dream fast.

The GM cars are very easy to work on and parts are easy to come by. As you move down the list the Fiat is a new Mazda. So not too bad there.

The Magnum may have some issues and parts may be difficult specific to the that model.

My buddy had a 928 and the fuel pump cost was crazy. Many other parts are not cheap or easy to work on.

Subaru finding parts.

Dakota rust.

Lamborgini only if you want to polish it.

Jaguar. Rust and reliability not there.

Lexus reliable but a soul less reliable car.

The Vette is the cheapest best best. You can buy the, cheap, parts are all over, easy to fix, and they even have addressed many issues in the aftermarket with improved parts.
Intermediate Driver

Glad to see the SC300 on the list. I am on my second one and absolutely love the combination of luxury, sportiness, performance and ride. I call it the perfect highway cruiser (loves +100mph!) and still will hold 2 sets of golf clubs. (I am rarely late for a tee time). Cheers!
Pit Crew

I wanted a Alfa Romeo Spider just so I could put a personal tag on it that read "JORO", but someone in Georgia beat me to it.

You collectively missed the 2007 to 2010 rear wheel drive regular cab short box (RCSB) Toyota Tundra with the 381 hp 5.7L V8. I picked one up for $5,000 in 2017, it would probably bring more than $15,000 today. Fun to drive, practical uses, and you just don't see that many of them on the roads these days.

Advanced Driver

Blown OR Turbo Buick V-6 was a good engine, but most of the cars the blown engine went in are forgettable. Last good one was the RWD Turbo Regal.
Intermediate Driver

I'm the original owner of a 93 C4 base stock coupe with 150,000 fun miles. It's still the best performance sports car for the money no matter how or who you compare it with.
Pit Crew

Nice to see the Dodge Magnum get some love. 
Low mileage SRT-8 models have been appreciating for a while. 
I wanted one ever since seeing the commercial


Price was about $30k when new, too much for me. 
I embedded up with a used one 70K miles on it. Now has 108K. 
Added a Corsa exhaust, CAI, and a tune. Suspension upgrades- Bilstein dampers and Eibach fr and rear sway bars. Kept the stock springs so the ride is sweet and cornering is much flatter than stock.

The fun to drive vs utility factor is off the charts. Hauls my drum set, plants, lumber, etc, and also hauls butt. 
Best 14.3 @ 97MPH but feels faster when the transmission kicks down and this huge barge takes off.  The only negative is the interior materials are pretty cheap. Seats are heated and comfortable, but lots of chintzy plastic. 
If Dodge/Stellantis would make a new Magnum wagon based on the current 300/Charger platform, I would probably sell my C-6 Vette and 2006 Magnum to get one with the 392 Scatpack drivetrain. 
Since America hates wagons ( bunch of crossover/SUV lemmings…) a new Magnum wagon is a pipe dream. 
so I will take care of mine NS hope to enjoy it as long as possible.

2005 Dodge Magnum Commercial "Dude, what you got in that thing?" "Open it up from either end."

All garbage
New Driver

My pick of the litter is the Magnum -- 5.7 liter V8, not the slightly more powerful SRT8 with the 6.1 liter engine. The reason is, unlike the 6.1, the 5.7 is far more fuel efficient because it shuts down cylinders (to 6 or 4) when the power is not needed. But, at full throttle, the 5.7 is almost as fast as the 6.1. I have had a 5.7 for 18 years, now with 90,000 miles, and I still love it. The car has been nearly trouble free except for the front ball joints and other front suspension joints. These need replacing every 35,000 miles. Ball joint replacement is challenging!
Pit Crew

How about my Honda S2000? First year production with the 9000 Redline screamer engine. Very fun to drive.
Intermediate Driver

A respectable list IMHO. For my taste, the Subaru SVX and the Lexus SC are ones I would consider. I would add the Mercedes SL's (R129 and R230) and the SLK mentioned by other commenters. I might consider the Toyota MR2, but not sure I would fit in it!

The LT5 is the only “special” engined Corvette where the engine isn’t directly linked to racing. This generation ZR1 was an engineering exercise, and it is cool. But the L88 and ZL1 engines were being sold to be raced. They were stout motors, and rare. And you didn’t need special mechanical skills to work on them. The LT5 is none of that. It’s complex for complexities sake, it doesn’t look special, and it didn’t race. As an engineering exercise it was impressive, but it always lacked the “it” factor, even new. I’m of the nostalgia age for the ZR1, graduated HS in 1991. I’ll take the LT4 without the Grand Sport package over ZR1. Any professional mechanic worth his wage can fix the LT4. The C5 Z06 is much more pedestrian, but more collectible, than the ZR1because they looked special, they came in Performance Yellow like the Corvette team, and the package made it track-worthy. Racing improves the breed, they say. And the it factor.
Intermediate Driver

OK, this is like finding a gold needle in an acre of hay stacks. These cars, in clean condition, are nearly impossible to find. For the average Joe? Come on, run a story of the next level of possible collector cars that might be still available. Geez...
New Driver

These articles always enlist fun comments. Everybody's personal classic - which was not included should have been. Asside from the Dodge Magnum (the wagon stepped on by an elephant), all are good candidates including all those that others have mentioned. Yeah, reading about all those megabucks exotics passes the time, but the BEST classic is the one you own.
Cheers to Hagerty for their big part in supporting the "hobby".
Intermediate Driver

I still do not know why the first and second gen Ford Taurus SHO is completely ignored. It seems that there are not many low mile clean examples left, maybe that is why the market for these cars is limited. When the SHO first arrived on the scene, it was well respected and delivered great performance for the era. Really nice examples can still be found for under $10000. A great bargain considering the cost new for a second gen started at $24000 in 93.
New Driver

I have a Porsche 911 convertible that is a lot of fun to drive, still a rather basic car, reasonable maintenance and rather low priced for a 911 because it shares a headlight assembly with the Boxster’s of that era.
New Driver

Should have 2002 model.

Lotsa cool cars mentioned here.

I agree about that supercharged Buick-derived V6: my wife drove her 1998 Grand Prix GXP coupe for about twenty years, and loved it - and she often has a heavy foot. And, it would return over 30 MPG at 60 MPH.

I also agree about the Fiat Spider, which I found to be significantly better-looking than the Miata.

That Subaru SVX, though...a sleek shape, but I just could never get past those weird side windows.
Pit Crew

I agree all of the cars on this list could be enjoyed/experienced inexpensively, I don’t agree that they are undervalued. Most of them have another market offering that is just better.

The C4 ZR-1 is a very special car with that 4-cam engine, but I cannot imagine paying more for one than an equivalent condition C5 Z06.

The kappa platform cars were never quite as good as a Miata. The extremely limited production GXP coupe is an exception, but those never traded hands below MSRP.

I could agree that the trans am deserves recognition as a special car, but my ownership experience was lackluster. The same year 3 series, which I owned at the same time for similar money, was a better car in every way.
Intermediate Driver

I strongly agree with two of these picks! I always thought the Saturn Sky was completely adorable, kind of like a mini-Corvette with more cute fun and less arrogance. If only they had given it a bit more horsepower and spice! In looks, it totally won out over the Solstice. And the Fiat 124 Spider! Cheeky, Italian looks. Again, if only they had given it a bit more horsepower and spice! As a die-hard fan of my beloved 2000 Honda S2000, I always told my husband that if something terrible happened to my Honda, I'd want that Spider or Sky.
New Driver

Sanjeev, you've got a fine list of cars here. A veritable Hoovie's Garage!
New Driver

Good list. I especially like the Dodge Magnum… Just cool cars.

What about the Porsche 951/944 Turbo? So much ability, and not many left due to their popularity and subsequent abuse as track cars. I’ve been waiting for these cars to start a big escalation in price.

I definitely agree with the C4 / LT5 endorsement. These pop up almost weekly on BaT with low mileage. I think the prices are reasonable for a 400hp OHC Vette. Will be on my radar when I am ready.

Surprised the E36 M3 didn't make this list. Most of those cars come with the S52 240hp motor and MT. Great analog experience and are not too expensive to maintain, compared to other BMWs. Tougher to find low mileage examples because these cars get driven. But isn't that the point? Anyway, an E36 M3 is way cheaper to purchase than an equivalent E46 or E92.

The 928 is just an awesome car all around. I want one. I don't want to pay for the service costs... What a beautiful design!

My grandmother had an Olds (so long ago, I don't remember which model, if it was the Eighty Eight or the Ninety Eight) with the supercharged 3.8l engine, that thing MOVED for a grandma car.
Pit Crew

lol @ "on the cheap." Look, I know Hagerty is a collector car insurer, and therefor naturally inclined to focus on vehicles of a certain value, but as the article seems to illustrate, the cheapest of the cars listed here are hardly cheap to start with a decent one (barring the rare exception). There are plenty of actual cheap (i.e. under $4k) cars that offer fun and interesting ownership and driving experience, including many imports from the currently oh-so-popular rad era. But I get it: collector market uber alles.

Another vote here for the GM 3.8 SC cars. I'll admit, they have a certain "disposable" quality to them as 90s era FWD GM plastic, but if well maintained and not abused they make for a nice car to own. I had a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP coupe for 90k miles and with a few well chosen mods, it was a pretty quick car. I ran a consistent 14 flat with that car and could have easily got it into the 13 second range with a few more mods. But I decided it was better to keep it reliable rather than try to squeeze more out of it. All this while cruising in leather lined, climate controlled, heads up display comfort! I think the GTP coupes and the Daytona pace car versions will garner the most value down the road.

Also, I would include thirdgen F-bodies on here. I get everyone is 'in the know' as far as 80's performance cars go, but these can still be had pretty cheap. The 5.7 and 5.0 TPI 5 speed cars in top trim are your best bet.