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.
Now that the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, billions of dollars have been invested in figuring out and building ways to efficiently get us urbanites from point A to point B within our concrete jungles. Car companies like Chevy, Honda and Toyota seem to come up with new, futuristic city cars every other week. Million-dollar design briefs basically boil down to, “Make a small car with a small engine; it has to be easy to park and good gas mileage is a must.” So if that’s the case, don’t bother with whatever the car companies are pedaling this season; these four vintage cars are already perfectly suited for city life.
1967 Morris Mini Cooper S MK I
What we like: The beauty of the original Mini is that it’s a true exercise in beautiful mechanical engineering. It’s so compact that the weld seams had to be on the outside of the car because workers couldn’t actually fit in the car along with their welding equipment during the build process. The car is so compact you could probably pull into a parking space perpendicular to the curb and still not stick out further than the surrounding cars.
From the seller: This 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S MK I retains its numbers-matching 1275cc engine and a four-speed synchromesh manual, both rebuilt in June 2016 by Heritage Garage in Costa Mesa, California, at a cost of over $8K. Sold new in Germany, this Mini was imported to the U.S. in the late 1960s.
Mileage: 12,600 (TMU)
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
1978 Fiat 124 Spider
What we like: Possibly the most stylish of the picks here, the Fiat 124 Spider is undeniably cool, as far as compact convertibles are concerned. This particular example has been lovingly maintained, and the small, rebuilt 1.8-liter engine is more than ideal for the rigors of city traffic.
From the seller: This 1978 Fiat 124 Spider was sold new in Dallas, Texas, and stayed with its original owner for 38 years. Most of the car’s life was spent in California, and it only came to the Northeast in 2010, still with its original owner. The seller acquired the car last year, and they note numerous services performed within the last 5K miles, including a rebuild of the transmission, new clutch, top-end rebuild, engine re-seal, new control arms and bushings, and more.
Location: Riverside, Connecticut
1991 Nissan Figaro
What we like: This Nissan Figaro looks like a kei car straight from the ’60s but it’s nearly brand new and in incredible condition. Perfect for tight city streets — so long as you don’t mind right-hand drive.
From the seller: This 1991 Nissan Figaro was imported from Japan to Vancouver by the seller in April 2015. Powered by a one-liter turbocharged inline-four, the Pike car has a three-speed automatic transmission and retractable soft top.
Location: Vancouver, Canada
1972 Datsun 510
What we like: The Datsun 510 was billed as the Japanese 2002 and that’s not just labeling for labeling’s sake — the 510 made a great driver’s car. This compact little coupe from the ’70s was given a new lease on life with an engine swap from an ’89 240SX, so on top of the classic style, you’ve got a bit more modern power under your right foot — perfect for beating the cabbies to the next light.
From the seller: Purchased in 1992 from its second owner by a president of the United Five-Ten Owners (UFO) of SoCal, the car received its new engine and was driven about 9,200 miles before a transmission failure forced it off the road for five years.
Mileage: 55,000 (rebuilt)
Location: Escondido, California