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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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.
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 thought of 2 vehicles when I saw the headline, a hot rod pickup, and Porsche 928. I'd love a 928, but the cost of upkeep... whew! But, to me, one of the best looking cars of all time.
Perhaps not YET a classic, the Jaguar XK8/XKR... $15K buys an awful lot with this car and later versions 2003 - 2006 had many of the issues worked out - including a stronger and more reliable 4.2L V8.
A truck and two imports? For entry-level classics, nothing beats Mustang. A 1966 coupe in very good shape easily fits into this price range. Maybe even a 6-cylinder convert. Easy to fix, get parts. And memories come built in...everyone knows someone who owned a Mustang.
The Porsche 986 Boxster and Boxster S with manual transmission should be on the list. As long as it has been cared for and the IMS has been replaced (likely done long ago with a clutch replacement), they are great cars. I drive my 2002 Boxster S 6-speed regularly.
I was driving home (albeit a little too fast) during a raging thunderstorm and a tree fell literally 30 feet in front of me. My 1985, 5 spd, 635 CSI was totaled. I loved that car. The reason I owned it was because of the 1985 535i, 5 spd, that I will forever regret selling.
BMWs of that era were much more reliable than the plastic stuff they're selling today. If you are handy and do most of your own work, they are actually reasonably inexpensive to own and operate. As you're working on one, you can't help but be impressed with the engineering and quality. I've encountered significantly more frustration and busted knuckles working on old Fords than I ever did on my old BMWs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
If you can get a Lightning for 15K it likely has 100K miles on it or more. I just sold a solid #2 with 48K miles at the start of covid to a dealer for $20K, he flipped it to another dealer for $22K and that dealer was asking $25K for it.
Having been an owner of a Triumph Spitfire (or maybe the car owned me?) I would not go down that slippery slope again. Likewise with the BMW. "Bust My Wallet" is the right way to look at it for sure. I am not sure about the truck thing. I'm not a Ford fan. I wonder as did someone else, where the Porsche 924 or 944 went? Obvious by their absence I think?
I had a 74 Triumph Spitfire, a 74 Midget, a 62 MGA MkII, a 67 TR4a IRS and a 74 TR6. I trained on the Spit, autocrossed the Midget, restored the MGA but had tons o fun driving the TR6. Plenty of power and I really liked the lines when I put the factory hardtop on it. Once you had the workshop manual, all of them were fairly easy to keep up, even doing master cylinder changes, water pump replacements and valve timings. The exploded parts diagrams were far superior to those available for the 81 Corvette that I added. So the car I kept was the 69 XK-E and I traded the 81 in on a new C7. Life's a bit simpler now.
The Rolls Silver Shadows of the late 60's to the early 80's are also pretty and cheap.............to buy! To own a "Roller" in the OLD days cost about $10,000 a year to maintain and repair... The old Brit's and German cars are fussy and expensive to operate... gracias pero NO!!!