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The $5,000 Challenge, you don’t see that every day edition

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One good thing about the collector car hobby is this: Somewhere, there’s a car that appeals to everyone with a passion for four wheels. Shopping at an entry-level price point typically limits the selection, but for this edition of the $5,000 we dug deep to unearth a few cars you won’t see at every car show, and most require nothing more than a bit of elbow grease to enjoy as weekend drivers.

One, however, is a wildcard, limited only by the next owner’s imagination and fabrication skills. Some of us would keep the mystery mobile’s eco-friendly theme going, while others are pondering how hard it would be to install a late-model 1,000cc or larger motorcycle engine and transmission (after welding up a roll cage and installing five-point harness, of course).

1963 Triumph Spitfire

1963 Triumph Spitfire

It’s a race car! It’s a street car! It’s both! This Triumph currently sits somewhere between these two extremes, but with a little bit of work to bring it to contemporary safety standards, this example could easily serve both masters. Imagine driving your race car to the track, running wheel-to-wheel in competition and then driving home, just like competitors did in days of old. Those wishing to return the car to a more streetable configuration could still enjoy the occasional autocross event, all at a budget-friendly price of $4,500.

1963 Triumph Spitfire 1963 Triumph Spitfire 1963 Triumph Spitfire 1963 Triumph Spitfire


1952 Dodge Coronet four-door sedan

1950 Dodge Coronet

According to the seller, this 1952 Dodge Coronet has been in the same family since new, racking up a mere 28,800 miles over the past 64 years. Following a 10-year siesta, the car received a $3,500 investment to get it back on the road, and it appears to be in very good overall condition considering its age and limited usage. Powered by the Get-Away six, this Dodge won’t be a rocket, and with four doors it isn’t likely to be chopped and channeled, either. Instead, this appears to be an honest entry-level collector car, and a potential bargain at the $4,500 asking price.

1950 Dodge Coronet 1950 Dodge Coronet 1950 Dodge Coronet 1950 Dodge Coronet


1969 Pontiac Executive four-door hardtop

1969 Pontiac Executive

While Pontiac’s Catalina and Bonneville models are familiar to collectors, the Executive, which slotted in between the two models from 1967 to 1970, remains less so. Built upon the same 125-inch wheelbase platform as the range-topping Bonneville, the Executive offered fewer bells and whistles than its upscale brother, but more than the smaller Catalina. For 1969, Pontiac built 38,813 Catalina four-door hardtops and 40,817 equivalent Bonneville models, but just 6,522 Executives. That makes the model rare enough to be uncommon on the show circuit, yet with conventional Pontiac underpinnings, easy to get parts for. Priced at our $5,000 limit, this car appears ready to enjoy in its current condition, with only the non-functional air conditioning (possibly) requiring the buyer’s attention.

1969 Pontiac Executive 1969 Pontiac Executive 1969 Pontiac Executive 1969 Pontiac Executive


1960 Ford Fairlane 500 two-door club sedan

1960 Ford Fairlane 500

Ford’s third-generation Fairlane models debuted in 1960, with the Fairlane 500 trim again offering a slightly nicer interior and a bit more exterior adornment. Under the hood, the Fairlane’s standard offering was the 145-horsepower, Mileage Maker six, but buyers wanting more scoot could opt for a variety of V-8 engines, up to and including the 300-horsepower, Thunderbird Special V-8. This example, reportedly registered and driven until November 2015, packs the 185-horsepower, Thunderbird V-8, mated to an automatic transmission. From the images supplied in the ad, the car appears to be partially restored and devoid of any serious rust, and recent mechanical work includes a new radiator, master cylinder, brake shoes, fuel gauge, spark plugs and wires. The Ford would benefit from a paint job, but could certainly be driven in its current state without shame. The asking price? $4,995.

1960 Ford Fairlane 500 1960 Ford Fairlane 500 1960 Ford Fairlane 500 1960 Ford Fairlane 500


1974 Otis electric van

1974 Otis electric van

The United States Postal Service began testing electric delivery vehicles as early as 1959, but concerns over the future availability of fossil fuels re-energized this program in the early 1970s. Among the battery-powered vehicles tested was this odd-looking van, built by the Special Vehicle Division of Otis Elevator Company, which saw limited service in select markets. This particular example is offered without batteries, raising some very interesting possibilities for modernization. Instead of conventional lead-acid batteries, the van’s buyer could drop in a high-torque motor fed by contemporary lithium-ion batteries, or go an entirely different direction, figuring out a way to squeeze in a high-powered motorcycle engine and transmission. We’re guessing the 197-horsepower, 1.3-liter four from a Suzuki Hayabusa would fit nicely, delivering both eye-opening performance and respectable fuel economy. In any case, you’re absolutely guaranteed to have the only Otis van at the next orphan car show, and to some, that’s worth the $5,000 asking price.

1974 Otis electric van 1974 Otis electric van 1974 Otis electric van 1974 Otis electric van