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Hagerty Employee

Under $15K: 3 classics with wildly different personalities

No matter how you look at it, the car hobby isn’t a cheap one. There’s buying a car, then there’s registration, insurance, fuel, and storage to consider. And that’s before you even get to parts and maintenance. Luckily, though, there are tons of entry-level vehicles out there that offer the fun and satisfaction of collector car ownership.


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Advanced Driver

For me I'd take the Bmw. The TR6 is super cool but I imagine it would be a heart breaker in terms of upkeep.


Triumph and BMW both seem like a pricey upkeep recommendation for an entry-level (first-time/novice) enthusiast to get onto. Specialized dealership & service and parts availability in more places than not.


Really any truck could be an entry level collector not just special editions. Just depends what you want your collector vehicle to be able to do. In stock form most trucks might not be the best weekend cruise vehicle for most.


Miata and Mustangs are kind of the obvious recommendation for the newbie. Camaro or Challenger if that flavor suits you more.


Even various VW (bug, Golf, Jetta, etc.) would all be better for a entry-level person than a Triumph or BMW. But VW isn't necessarily cheap either, but at least they are plentiful.

Hagerty Employee

Lightning all the way. SWEET. 

Intermediate Driver

Lightning the most practical all around performer in this group.  Ready for a road trip to anywhere, with few issues and the A/C blasting. The others are nice to look at I guess. 


I would have to say the TR6. I currently have a restored MGB. British cars are a blast to drive!

Advanced Driver

How about GM 2-seaters under $5k ? (Reatta, Allante, Fiero).

Pit Crew

I have had BMWs and no thanks.  The cost of keeping one of these beauties up borders on the ridiculous.  There is a reason that BMWs are among the fastest depreciating cars on the planet.


I've owned a 3 series (with the Recaro seats, etc.) and a 750iL. Great cars both. But (especially with the 750) you needed a suitcase full of cash to service them. I just bought a brand new loaded to the max Volvo S60 Inscription for almost $60K. I still like BMW's, but when I thought thanks.
Not applicable

Since you have a 1995 model on the list,  why not stretch it out to a 1998-2002 Boxster? I believe they are still sub-15k even with an IMS upgrade.

New Driver

I have a 1997 Mercedes SL500,  65,000 mi and I love it. No maintainence issues.  Any comments folks !

New Driver

Lightning is my choice followed by the TR6.

New Driver

Why don’t the British make TVs? Can’t get them to leak oil and smoke! But I’d still choose the TR!!!

New Driver

I'll take the Triumph TR6, though I much prefer the sexy little Triumph Spitfire. Oh, and if you're really lucky, a good condition Triumph GT6  I'm one of the VERY lucky and own a Spitfire and GT6.  Parts are readily available and not absurdly priced like those of a BMW or Jaguar. These are fun little cars and with a modicum of care will supply you with a ton of smiles, giggles and looks from others.  Those who think up keep of one of these little treasures is expensive to maintain just never owned one or paid it the attention they deserve. These are old cars, of old design and do require oil changes, coolant changes, bushing and bearing greasing and the like of vintage cars. If you want something you can just drive into the ground, buy a later model, more modern car with it's 100,000 mile spark plug change, 100,000 mile coolant change and it's greased for life bearings.  Classic cars are for those who are themselves, in a word or two .... VERY CLASSIC.

Intermediate Driver

Suggesting a Triumph TR-6, or any British automobile, is akin to saying that mosquito bites don't itch. Yes, British sports cars from the past are a lot of fun; open air sports cars from the 60's are the envy of the arrogant and the smart people, together. The smart people admire them from outside the bubble. The arrogant own them, but do not reveal all of the shortfalls of ownership.

Carry spare parts and tools, each and every time that you take it out. As well, do not forget the repair manual, and, of course, your knowledge of the car. More often than not, you will be at the side of the road, scratching your head, trying to figure out

why it died, this time. 

However: it is not all doom and gloom. Your ego gets spiked every time that someone gives you a beep, a thumbs up, and even just a smile of appreciation. This will be the motivation to continue the suffering that you will endure with ownership.

Been there; done that, and, yes, I do miss it. It was quite a journey.


I drove a 1960 Austin Healey 3000 in high school. It was quite reliable, actually. I think your arrogance remarks are, well, arrogant.
Pit Crew

Your last paragraph kind of sums up the while point of being in the classic car game, doesn't it?

Intermediate Driver

I drove a Jensen Healy for about 4 years. Loved it, and it was my daily driver to work, 35 miles each way, as well as vacations. Keep up the maintenance and they will take you far. Treat it like an American V8 and it will bite you.

Intermediate Driver

Beg to differ with you on the reliability of the TR6. My wife bought hers new in '75 and shipped to our home in Alaska; it has since followed us to Florida. She has driven the car for these 45 years and only once did it fail her - my fault for not changing a questionable heater hose. My '58 MGA and '60 Healey 3000 followed the same trend. Come to think about it, the only non self-inflicted roadside failure we have experienced was an '87 Subaru that spit out its timing belt - warranty issue.


My thought is that many of the roadside failures are the result of 'over-tinkerng' by owners who really have no business under the hood or other 'wanna be' mechanics. I cannot count the times I was asked to help out a friend with a XXXXXX car (fill in the blank with any model of your choice) only to find out that they had adjusted the XXXXXX (fill in an adjustable part) or failed to reattach a ground wire that morning before the failure.


Properly maintained these cars were as good as any.


I recall back in the day I was in love with the TR4.  By the time I got out of the Army the 4 had been superseded by the TR6.  I looked at them pretty hard but the general "word" in those days was to avoid any Triumph with a 6 cyl. engine.  Apparently they spent more time in shops than on the road.  My best pal's wife bought a TR6 and I actually got to enjoy replacing the tranny and clutch.  What a hassle. 

New Driver

People buy a poorly maintained old Brit sports car do nothing to it and Moab when it’s not as reliable as a new Toyota. My old TR6 did 95000 miles with little trouble and no breakdowns but was very well maintained. My first MGB did 80000 happy miles with one breakdown when a water pump failed. My second MGB took me from London to Monte Carlo and back with no problems other than running a bit warm in Nice in August. 


I have had in my safe keeping many British sports cars from bug eye sprite to XKE jaguar. My wife has a great motto. Don’t go farther away from home than you want to ride back in a tow truck.

Intermediate Driver

This is the reaction you always here from the people that owned a British car but they are to stupid or ignorant to understand that you have to maintain your vehicle and with that I don't mean an oil change ones a year, and if you use the proper electrical connectors than you will not have any problems with Lucas at all.  


Count me in as an "arrogant" (and very happy) owner of a 1975 TR6 and a previous 10 year ownership of a 1974 MGB.  If you want trouble free motoring and don't enjoy tinkering buy a Chevy Equinox.....or a BMW with warranty!  

Pit Crew

And yet, the Porsche 944 Turbo is not here.  A reasonable low mile, 80's could be had sub-15k, and it would surely hold its value better than these 3, along with be way more fun to drive.

Intermediate Driver

I think you'd be very hard pressed to find one near $15K , let alone less than that.
New Driver

I learned to drive in a Spitfire, the first time over 100 mph was in a TR6, and I owned a GT6+ many, many years ago. No question for me. 


Good reading

since I have 1969 and 1976

triumph TR6 !!

i always like them 

the 1976 is completely restored and next year I’ll start the 1969

the first n the last !! 

Pit Crew

TR6 all the way!  Simple, easy to work on.   Bullet proof straight 6 with tons of low end torque.  Not as rust prone as many contemporaries.  Dual Strombergs to sync, Lucas (invented darkness) electrics and a great way to keep your garage floor lubricated.  What's not to like?  Very fun car actually.  They require a little tinkering but if you're not up for that, take up knitting.

New Driver

How can I put one of my antique cars for sale on here??

Intermediate Driver

I've owned a couple British motorcycles and they lived up to all the jokes about Lucas, and leaking oil and always having a set of wrenches near at hand.  But they are aesthetically pleasing and fun to drive. I've owned a few BMWs, cars and bikes. They often amazed me at how logically they were set up to work on. Some parts were expensive, many were not. Brake jobs were cheap. Great engines and fun to drive.

I've only owned one American car. A 73 Chevy Nova. Truly a piece of junk. My dad owned many as well. They all were not much fun and were unreliable. But they were big.

I can't imagine buying a pickup for fun. I had a couple. Toyota, reliable as hell. A couple Fords, unreliable as hell. None was fun. 

Overall I'd take the BMW. Good looks and fun to drive. Easy to work on. (old ones, not new ones)

New Driver

Can I sale an antique car through Hagertys?
Intermediate Driver

I had a Triumph Spitfire in the 1980s, and my uncle had a TR6 and a Spitfire.  I can't speak for other owners, but we never had any trouble out of our cars.  Of course, we also took care of them and didn't treat them the way people treat a KIA or Hyundai of today.  I also had a '71 MG Midget.  I put a lot of miles on these cars as daily drivers and never had any serious or expensive problems.  From what I remember, the worst problems I had to fix were changing out the turn signal switch on the Spitfire and replacing the starter and alternator on the MG.  Not bad for about 10 years of fun driving.


I think that many "car enthusiasts" simply like to jump on the stereotypical bandwagon and run these cars down.  

New Driver

The 633CSi is a pretty coupe, classic design and pricey - my 1977 Seville brand new was stickered a little over $14,000, and I kept it for 132,000 miles and 11 years when things started breaking, so off it went to the dealer auction and probably the recycler not long afterwards.


I believe they missed the best bang for your buck under $15K.  I don’t think you can find a car that looks better and performs better than the Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet.  It’s the best value collector car in my opinion.  Most of them sell for under $15K.

New Driver

I have owned a 1976 TR6 for over 31 years and have put more than 145,000 miles on it. It is one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. It had 30,000 miles on it when I got it in 1989 and was completely ORIGINAL.  It doesn't leak oil, everything works and thanks to a re-paint in the original Tahiti Blue, it still turns heads. I have won numerous trophies at the national, regional and local level in both Autocross and in Concours and even Jerry Seinfeld was impressed by my TR6 (see "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" on NNETFLIX.  Poorly maintained cars that were run into the ground by owners who didn't even bother to change the oil are the cause of the bad reputation that these cars sometimes suffer from. 


I was fortunate to work at a sports car dealer back in the early 70's that sold both new Triumphs and Datsuns.  I got to drive brand new TR6's and 240Z's quite often, and loved both.  They had similar power, ride, and handling:  Quick, comfortable yet firm ride, and cornered great.  I take exception to the idea that the TR6 was so outclassed by the 'Z.  Certainly 'bouncy' was not part of the experience (note that the cars were new, not riding on 50 year old fatigued or rebuilt components).  Datsun apparently considered the Triumphs a direct competitor, as they soon demanded that we stop selling Triumph under the same roof.  We had to start a separate dealership down the street and split the two brands.


My all time favorite British car is the TR-6. I had a Spitfire for a number of years and it was a pretty good car, everything considered. The TR-6 would even be better. People complain about the Lucas electronics and reliability problems with electrics. Sure, you may have trouble with light switches and the horn but the engine has a carb, a distributor and a coil. That's it. No fool injection, no ECU, virtually no emissions with the 70's versions. The pre-1972 models have regular steel bumpers too. Parts are cheap, plenty of enthusiast interest and lots of aftermarket upgrades available. What's not to like?

New Driver

I want them all, but if only one it would be the BMW, I owned a well worn late 80's 535is, with out a doubt the one of the best cars I have ever owned, even my wife who could car less about cars loved it. Always loved the 6 series cars of the time especially the M6's. God willing I may have one one day.

Pit Crew

Absolutely not a truck guy, and old beemers frighten me at the service dept, I’ve always loved the TR6, my buddy had one back in the 70s, and it was a fun car, quick, handled well, ride was sub par, but that was part of the experience, till he spun it into a bank, yes a Bank window, took out the low wall, twisted the Triumph


I was 9 when my Uncle returned from Vietnam. He bought a brand new 69 Roadrunner not long after. After deciding it was too much car and he was likely to die in it he sold it and bought a brand new TR6. Deep Burgundy with tan interior if I recall. At that time, still being very young, I knew I would someday own a TR6. 

I bought mine, a 1971, in 1980 for $3300. I garaged it in 1993 as I took a job in a city that had likely the worst conditions for streets I’ve ever been in and did not want to subject my car to that kind of abuse. It has been garaged ever since and is sitting on just over 75,000 miles on the odometer.

She’s Signal Red with black interior. Hoping to hear her throaty voice before fall as I am waiting for a Patton fuel injection/electronic ignition kit that I just ordered. I’ll have a bit of work ahead of me to dust off the cobwebs and get her road worthy but sometimes there is nothing better than doing something from a “Labor of love” standpoint. 

Y’all can have ur BMW’s, Porsche’s, and any exotics as there isn’t a car in the world I’d trade my TR6 for. Well maybe an original Shelby Cobra two seater. 


Out of the three I think I’d take the Lightning. I already have a 1978 MG MGB, which can be a blast to drive around.


MG's are never included in economical classic cars. Why???

Intermediate Driver

Does the TR6 contain Lucas electrics? The smoke-powered system. When the smoke escapes it stops working.


What about the 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird, aka Retro Bird? At $14,500 according to Hagerty for a Good one it qualifies. This was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Thunderbird in 2005 and they went back to its roots as a small two seater with V8 and removable hardtop option with a porthole. People bought and parked them thinking they would be a collectible and it hasn't turned out exactly that way but I think the prices are going up. Some have very low miles. It's a Jaguar S-Type and Lincoln LS underneath with 250hp in 2002 and 280hp in 2003-2005 so these go pretty good. They put some interesting colors on them. Mine is a 2003 with < 80K.



New Driver

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia! Its arguably one of the prettiest body designs in automotive history, parts are still made, and everyone has a story about the one they had in high school or college. A nice driver can be found for $10K.

New Driver

I recently acquired a German spec '79 630CS and find it to be the perfect porridge. It has the purity of design that Paul Bracq imagined, without the compromises that the US models suffered with-big bumpers and power sapping emission controls. It has a surprising amount of torque with the manual transmission. The parts prices are less much expensive than the post '82 models, but still spendy. Grouping this with the F-150 is like comparing Margot Robbie to Roseanne Barr.


Well done, Andrew. I would not go near the Ford but the others are good choices.

I guess the Triumph for the reasons you have expressed and I never liked BMWs because of the people who drove them, not a good reason at all but who said this was a rational Hobby to begin with? 

One other thing: Are there any domestics that fit in this category? There must be some. 


Repeat after me-The TR6 engine was not derived from a "tractor design". The Vanguard 4 cyl. wet sleeve engine used in Ferguson tractors and the TR2-4A shares nothing with the TR6.

Intermediate Driver

I'd choose the Miata.

I know. There wasn't a Miata on the list. I don't really want a truck so it would be unfair of me to take one off the market and deprive someone who wants one. The Triumph is an interesting choice, but I don't like the driving experience - it is an acquired taste. So that leaves the BMW or the Miata. It has been said "Never buy a used BMW unless you can afford a new BMW." I know it has been said because I said it. OK. I repeated it.
So that leaves the Miata.
Or the 280Z. Wait I already have one of those, so, yeah. The Miata.


OR... a Lexus SC.