Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.
Getting your first classic car isn’t exactly a purchase you make on a whim. Unless you hit up eBay after a night out; we’ve all been there. But under regular, level-headed circumstances, your first classic car should be a smart and sensible purchase.
Whatever car you decide on getting, keep in mind it’s your first; so you might think you like the idea of owning a classic, but then the reality of it settles in as you’re driving away and the rose-tinted glasses fall off. Or, you picked up a German sports car and after a few miles you reconsider and realize that that sensible Japanese coupe may have been more practical. The point is to keep the price low, but not so low that the bottom rusts out after the first drive. This way you’re not in the hole for a huge chunk of change if and when you do need minor repairs or the opportunity to trade up market presents itself.
As far as vintage cars go, these five, are the perfect way to jump into the lifestyle without sacrificing too much.
1973 Ford Bronco
What we like: This Bronco is fairly broken in, but that’s half the charm of dependable off-roaders like this. It’s as basic as you get, and a great way to see if you can live without creature comforts on a daily basis.
From the seller: Solid floors, frame and body. A lot of new parts have been put in including a new radiator, hoses, fuel lines, fuel tank, front brakes and brake lines.
Mileage: 56,000 (rebuilt)
Location: Alice, Texas
1989 Alfa Romeo Spider
What we like: “Classic Italian sports car” effectively means “exotic and expensive.” The great thing about the Alfa Romeo Spider is that you have the exotic Pininfarina design, but they’re relatively common and easy to find parts for, so they’re not at all expensive. A Spider in as good as condition as this one is definitely worth a look.
From the seller: This car has been garaged since new, is all original and in need of nothing. Tires are new, brakes are excellent, drives, steers, handles as it should (no pulling, shimmy or wobbles). Engine runs great — no smoke, stuttering etc. Transmission shifts as it should, clutch is good and strong.
Location: Santa Ana, California
1974 MG MGB GT
What we like: The problem with a lot of classic British cars is that they’re very rust-prone. You can find rust-free Astons and Jaguars no problem, but you’ll be shelling out a lot of money for them. An affordable British classic like this MG MGB GT, which has been well maintained in California, is a pretty good find.
From the seller: This MG is a rust-free California Car with matching numbers. The current owner has kept this car maintained to the highest standard, but due to relocation he can no longer keep this classic, so it needs a new place to call home.
Location: San Pedro, California
1973 Porsche 914 2.0L
What we like: If you haven’t noticed, classic Porsches have skyrocketed in value recently. The 914, which is admittedly under-powered compared to the 911, is still a fun, entertaining car as far as handling is concerned. This ’73 914 is a handsome door into German engineering and beautifully simple open-top motoring.
From the seller: The 74k indicated miles are believed accurate and the car is in largely stock condition, retaining its original Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and dealer-installed A/C. The seller has driven the car 3k miles and reports it to be a strong, reliable performer with no mechanical needs.
Location: Fort Meyers, Florida
1970 Datsun 510 Two-Door
What we like: The BMW 2002 gets a lot of the spotlight from this era of compact coupes and sedans, but truth be told, the Datsun 510 could hold its own a against the German. If you’re looking for a BMW 2002-esque car, but aren’t ready to meet the prices they’re selling for, the 510 is the car you want.
From the seller: This 1970 Datsun 510 is a clean two-door powered by a 2.0-liter L-Series inline-four paired to a five-speed manual gearbox from a 280ZX. The engine was recently rebuilt and modified with twin Hitachi carburetors by the previous owner, who also refreshed the suspension, steering, and brake systems.
Location: Tualatin, Oregon
1979 Datsun 280ZX
What we like: $10,000 is generally a good number to stay under when it comes to your first vintage car, but vintage Japanese sports car prices are on the rise. So if you’re absolutely set on a Japanese sports car (no one can blame you), this Datsun Z car might be worth spending a little extra to get what your heart wants.
From the seller: The L28E 2.8-liter inline-six is a fantastic motor. Torquey, yet eager to rev, it was enlarged to better suit American driving tastes, as well as to make the automatic transmission a reality. It still has that same baritone wail that epitomizes big-horsepower inline-sixes, and because it’s a Nissan, it’s reliable and smooth.
Location: Lithia Springs, Georgia